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Anusara Exodus Continues: Amy Ippoliti Latest Teacher to Publicly Resign

in YD News

Is this contagious?  Amy Ippoliti is the latest teacher to hand in her Anusara sash and branch from the pack, just as, we remind you, grand leader John Friend did with his Iyengar certificate years ago before creating his own empire. Elena Brower made huge news when she gracefully stepped down from her throne as reigning Anusara Empress back in November, along with Christina Sell and Darren Rhodes also sayonara-ing around the same time.

This time, Amy announces her departure via her blog and doesn’t beat around the bush. She has found herself “no longer in alignment with the direction of the organization.” Oh? Though there are no specifics, nor direct address or thank you to Mr. Friend, as there was in Elena’s explanation.

Whatever the reason(s) it’s still an interesting thing how these high-profile teachers (as in festivalness and YJ covers) are deciding to exit Anusara just as it’s about to explode, and have made the choice to go public with the announcement. It may have been Elena’s bold move that helped open the door for others to follow. It may be a side effect of teachers not wishing to be pigeon-holed and melting their hearts under just one umbrella. Or, it could be something else.

Here’s Amy’s complete message posted on her blog:

Dear friends, students, and dear Ones,

I have decided to Leave Anusara yoga.

It’s been a wonderful ride and one that has deeply influenced my life in infinite ways; however, I have found myself no longer in alignment with the direction of the organization.

Some of you will be upset with this decision, others will be elated, but one thing I can assure you is that I am not going anywhere. I am still Amy, and will continue in my mission to expand the horizons of yoga, and to teach from my ongoing practice as creatively as I know how, and in doing so, I will not compromise my personal values or commitment.

My calling is to help yoga teachers and practitioners of all styles.

Over the past several years I have developed professional programs for yoga teachers that are helping to bring more students to the mat. I am proud that these programs have helped equip thousands of our prized yoga teachers around the world with the tools to serve students better.

My move from Anusara Yoga will allow me to best serve students and teachers from all schools, and I am committed to doing so with the integrity they deserve.

I know that the world will be a better place with more yoga practitioners, and my dedication to this goal will always continue.

Thank you so much for being a part of my life and for your presence in yoga.

I can’t wait for what the future will bring, and to practice with you in this New Year!

Be the light,
Amy

The pressing question now may be more about the direction of the organization that’s throwing everyone out of alignment.

——

Earlier

43 comments… add one

  • Nicole Mark

    yawn…

  • dayita

    In all seriousness, there may actually be nothing to see here. Anything which encourages people to connect their own individuality to the infinite resources of love is going to end up with a multitude of individual expression. Our culture of personality-based tribes and branding really doesn’t have a way to express this without causing confusion. As long as the separations start and end in a place of love, I think it is a beautiful process of increasing maturity.

  • Mado

    If I remember correctly, it was actually Darren and Christina’s resignation that sparked Elena’s rather than the other way around as implied above. Either way, it is interesting to those of us involved in the organization from the fringes. Its been nice to get a bit more in depth explanation from Christina Sell’s blog. I doubt we’ll get the same from Amy though who tends to keep her blog more marketing focused.

  • I think the basic thing here is people not wanting to be ‘pigeon-holed.’

    When I worked for a specific style of yoga, it became a real struggle. It was no big deal to teach the teacher-set sequence, but how it was taught was pretty free in the beginning. There were a few rules like “no music during class” as well, but again — easy enough to work around (and imo, window dressing anyway).

    As I became more confident as a teacher, as I began to “see” more in my students (misalignments, injuries, and special needs that weren’t being addressed during instruction), I started to teach to what I was seeing. Still, the same sequence, but how I was teaching it became much more modified (meaning offering more modifications, props, etc) and perhaps “technical.” People flocked to my classes in droves at that studio.

    After several months, someone decided that how I was teaching was “uninspired and stale, and the students hate it.” Which of course was the converse of my experience teaching classes that were 10-30 students larger than the other classes taught by the other teachers and even the studio owner.

    The dictation I was given was clear “Teach exactly like me, using our scripts verbatim, or head out.” I ultimately headed out. While I loved the style of yoga, the students, etc — I simply couldn’t teach within the strictures.

    So, I think that might be happening here. Anusara is codified. That is it’s strength; it may also be a weakness in some aspects. That’s ok. Some will stay and some will go.

    Many of my friends still — 10 years later — teach that same style and same script that I left behind back then. I have no issue with this. It works for them, it works for their students, and that’s all well and good. But for me, that was not enough. I needed more for myself and for my students.

    It doesn’t have to be so sordid, you know? :) Plain and simple.

  • Oh, and I have no clue who these people are. . . these people leaving anusara. I’m so out of the “know” of who is a popular teacher these days. LOL But, she is one pretty lady, huh?

  • BG2

    Agree with the yawn. So she’s doing what I (most of us) did upon graduating from my 200 hour TT. Made my way in to the teaching world using my own voice and heart to teach my own unique style. Don’t know how draconian the Anusara community is, but must be pretty heavy if leaving requires such huge personal pronouncements (denouncements?).

  • Emily

    Methinks it has a more to do with the almighty dollar than any of this flowery language… is Mr. Friend taking a larger cut?

  • Janaya

    Agree with the yawn again! And yes BG2 the Anusara community is VERY draconian and in constant celebration of the ego. At least here in South America we’ve got tons of Anusara fanatics and Mr. Fraud’s…Ooops, sorry, Mr. Friend’s followers

  • Chas

    Lot’s of people talkin’
    Few of them know…

  • Brian

    Anusara is a fantastic hatha yoga system. It empowers all practitioners and encourages exploration. I have tried almost all “styles” there are under the sun. They all have their perks and flaws.

    I don’t think this has anything to do the system, but rather something personal. Public (and loud) resignation as such is a statement. You can speculate all you want, but what does that do for you? Nothing.

    Yoga should be label and brand free.

  • Sara

    I still love Anusara.
    I don’t care what she does because there are many other great teachers to study with.
    I also won’t be signing up for the training she is also promoting at the same time.
    Making a public statement about this is a public diss no matter how you want to skirt around it. Take it up with John Friend, not the public. Her letter was icky and dramatic. Let’s get back to the mat.

  • Scott

    There are a good number of yoga teachers who have been with Anusara Yoga for many years who never went after the certification because the rules that came with it were too constricting. Some of them took the Anusara inspired track, some just went about teaching without needing a brand. I suspect that there is a lot of truth in the comments about not wanting to be pigeon-holed. It is also clear that at least some of the teachers who are leaving are doing so in part because they no longer want to be a part of an onerous and emotionally destructive training experience. One other issue among some of the teachers I know is the increasing influence of Kashmere Shaivism and a particularly unrestrained expression of Tantric values. It will be interesting to see where this organization goes.

  • Carlos da Silva

    Right on… Very important if you read between the lines…

  • Stewart Lawrence

    Indeed.

  • “One other issue among some of the teachers I know is the increasing influence of Kashmere Shaivism and a particularly unrestrained expression of Tantric values.” To which I would add, so-called Tantric values. Basically, they are manufacturing their own mythology and presenting it as the One True Yoga. It’s fake, creepy, and controlling. I’m glad these senior teachers are jumping ship. Take the method that works on the mat without all this manufactured ideology and dogma. Leave the rest behind.

  • Cheryl Dzubak

    Something is wrong when top teachers are leaving Anusara. My personal opinion is that John Friend is commercializing it way too much. He’s making a big business out of it and that is not what yoga is and what it’s about. Granted, Bikram, too, commercialized his brand of yoga and even patented the name. Anna Forrest has her brand also. Of course, we can even go way back to Iynegar and Sivananda yoga. It’s come to the point where any top teacher turns it into their own special brand of yoga. The bottom line is yoga is yoga and it all falls under the umbrella of Hatha Yoga, except for Kundalini which is practiced differently. Plain and simple!

  • Jen

    How can you make a thousand years culture to be your own creation ? Are we following those creators’ own personal philosophy to practice the spiritual part of yoga ? How can merely 20,30 , 40, even 50 + years yoga experience makes those creators thinking that they have learned everything about the yoga and they are good enough to create another new style of YOGA for the world ?

  • rob

    Amy is a whole different thing entirely than the other three. Spend just a few minutes on her blog and see. She’s in it for one thing: more money, more trips to Tuscany. I love her piece where she bemoans yoga superstardom and regrets that local teachers are just “chopped liver” nowadays. I guess that might be true in her world. For the rest of us that don’t have the bucks or time to fly off to Morocco or Italy for a retreat with her, local teachers are quite valued and loved.

    It looks like she’s got her own little worshipful cult following now and hopes to get by without paying her cut to Anusara. Unless she can come up with less ridiculous things than the following, she’s likely to fizzle out:

    http://www.amyippoliti.com/2011/06/love-pasta-and-the-seemingly-impossible/

  • Brian

    Right on! I especially like the bit “I have developed professional programs for yoga teachers”… where did she think she got the information and templates from? did she come up with new groundbreaking alignment principles? did she wake up enlightened and come up with a new school of yoga philosophy?

    … didn’t think so.

  • TP

    Leaving the organization actually means less money (no more immersions and teacher trainings). I’ve taken Amy’s new programs and they have nothing to do with Anusara and are about giving local yoga teachers business tools to make a living… more towards getting more students on the mat.

    BTW- the cut to Anusara is improper…you can’t ask people for money or kickbacks without letting them know before you start their trainings. i sacrificed dearly for my yoga education and can’t believe that an organization would have the gall to ask for more after the fact. Imagine if your university started restricting what you can do and taking a cut of your work?

  • Get the facts straight everyone. The cut back to Anusara is only 10% and it is only on products not trainings or immersions and it is only because Anusara allows them to use the name on their products and promotes them. I would gladly pay Anusara 10% to use the name. This is normal business stuff everyone. Do we really need to create drama. John is helping to heal the planet. Don’t buy into everything you hear. Take a class with John and form your own opinion.

  • TP

    I do have my facts straight and have taken plenty of classes from John. He should stick to teaching Asana and not try to control his teacher’s lives like he’s god. It’s funny many find Anusara and think their awakened. Next thing you know you have a secret language (UPA’s etc) then you preaching some bastardized/constructed form of the tantra, and you think your yoga is better than anyone else’s yoga. You even believe it’s ok to have business terms changed unfairly..you’ll believe anything because it’s from John.
    But the true awakening is the realization that there is much more than Anusara and John…AND that we can ALL practice yoga together.

  • Jane

    And Just 9 days prior she was in Tokyo teaching Anusara teacher training. You know that she probably charged each of the 30 students a grand or more for it, and then she comes back and 9 days later says, wait, I don’t align with this. UGH! Return the 30 grand and don’t accept to do something that’s no longer in your heart!
    And the high 5′s and the “big love” from Christina is grossing me out. I don’t need to publicly see that your fellow departees are celebrating your departure.
    At the same time, Christina Sell takes a picture of her newly certified by the YA of the “School of Yoga.” We’re already seeing these teachers trying to trademark and capitalize in just the same way John Friend is being criticized by so many people posting on this page. Frustrating to see this all unfold. I’m not yawning at all.

  • Annie K.

    I am a devotee of Anusara yoga and have had the good fortune to study and practice with many wonderful, gifted teachers (none of them famous) I also aspire to teach Anusara yoga in the future. I admit that when I saw the ad that John Friend did for Manduka yoga mats, I lost all my resolve to ever teach Anusara yoga. I thought I had finally found the style of yoga that fit my needs for healing and my personality and when I heard/watched John Friend saying the things he used to say about Anusara yoga, about having a wider yoga mat, I lost all conviction. After some soul searching and my weekly Anusara Inspired yoga class (with a very gifted and inspiring teacher) here’s the conclusion I came to, that even though John Friend is now sullying the name of Anusara yoga, before he was infected by big dollars, he passed on the awesome teachings of Anusara yoga to some really awesome teachers (who are not famous). So Anusara lives on in the little name teachers around the world. It’s what often happens when someone creates something great, the ego gets big, the money gets big and it’s the first students he taught the great idea to who become the purveyors of the great idea. Whether or not these are the reasons for the exodus, these four teachers are some of JF’s early students, and the first three left Anusara very close to the time that the Manduka mat ad came out.

  • So disappointed in the way Amy resigned. Where is the gratitude is for her teacher? Amy would not be anywhere without Anusara and John Friend. Elena stepped down graciously, Amy’s resignation showed no grace, embarrassing for her. I am quite sure this will come back to haunt her. Amy lost sight of the light for marketing and dollar signs. We get entrenched in karmic patterning. This is Amy’s ghost. I hope she apologizes to John for the unconscious way she handled this and remembers the light.

  • To those of you who made all kinds of assumptions here on the Dork – I get it, either you don’t know me or you don’t know the full scope of why I made my decision.

    @Natalie – I’m yawning along side you, believe me!

    @Isvari, I’m sorry if I have offended you – that said, you have no idea about the details regarding my decision, the circumstances of my leaving, and/or what I have said privately to John. So why judge? I served the Anusara organization for 14 years and did not make my choice lightly. Not sure what I did personally for you to give me so little credit or respect. If you want to connect in person, let’s talk.

    More soon…
    Big love, Amy

  • HY

    Amy, I am in no way associated with Anusara formally, apart from being an occasional student. I like it, but don’t love it, and I do not wish to pursue any closer association. I must agree, however, that your curt statement suggests there was bad blood in your leaving, as opposed to Christina Sell’s for example – she sounded very gracious in her parting and also took time to somewhat explore her differences and reasons in her blog, which made for a fascinating read on choices and philosophy. Your wording also does suggest that your parting of ways was about business, since you launch straight into promoting your own trainings.

    I do not know you personally and I am not writing this to judge you, but just to give you some feedback on how your wording might have sounded to an outsider. If I was your student, immersion student or Anusara teacher I would have felt concerned or even upset, since so little was said but so much suggested.

    Wishing you the very best on your new path. Progress is good and I hope you will find your best independent voice.

  • Brian

    This.

    Very well put.

    There is a fundamental difference between parting ways and snubbing your own teacher. If you don’t want people to judge, why made such a loud public statement? Or if you don’t care, why come here and try to justify yourself? Or if it’s a personal private matter, why not keep it as such?

  • TP

    Hmmm…so that means she should kiss John’s ass in the middle of a falling out? How is not publicly thanking John a snub? John and Anusara is a business and was paid for his time with his students. How many times have you thanked your high school for everything you have?

    Personally, I find the fact that she didn’t publicly as a great indicator of the problems with John. Maybe she was too worn out from having to profusely thank the guy and his ego for the past decade…

  • Amy,
    Best of luck to you in your teaching. You don’t need a brand to teach your yoga. Do your thing, girl. Om shanti.

  • Jane

    I am offended and I’ll tell you directly why. You are so obviously self-promoting and you used Anusara up until you were ready to launch your own thing. I don’t know why else you left and you decided to not say why either, and that’s why I don’t know. I am just watching you self-promote, I’m seeing Christina’s photos of her new School of Yoga certificate from YA and her facebook high 5′s and “big love’s”, I’m seeing how you used the name Anusara to take you to Japan to train 30 thirsty Anusara students who want to teach because they do align with it and then 9 days later you say that you don’t align with it. You could have done this in better timing and with more grace. That is why I am offended, as your student for 2 years, hundreds of dollars, and thousands of hours, I am.

  • Jane

    The other thing Amy, is you may feel attacked or as you say, we are making assumptions, but you are a public figure and you chose to be that. This is the response you’re going to get and if you don’t like it, well it’s not all rainbows and butterflies. My honesty is coming from a place of feeling hurt and abandoned, confused and kinda lost. I and we looked on to you for your leadership and when we don’t agree or like what you did, please don’t just come back with a “you don’t know me” response. That feels like you are just putting off our strong yet honest words. We’re trying to understand. Please understand our frustrations too, and accept them just like you accept the “big love” responses you’re getting too. Didn’t you remind and inspire us about our courageous hearts? Have the courage to accept criticism here. It can support you in your growth. And I can work on my response to the frustration and anger I am feeling over this as well so that I may continue to grow.

  • Brian

    Exactly!

    My previous questions remain unanswered.

    If you don’t want people to judge, why made such a loud public statement?
    Or if you don’t care, why come here and try to justify yourself?
    Or if it’s a personal private matter, why not keep it as such?

  • TP

    Isvari-
    I am surprised you call yourself a yoga teacher passing judgment without knowing the facts. Hopefully, you take the time to work on your own yoga instead of just drinking the kula-aid. The approach to controlling teachers with a licensing agreement is draconian…are you sure you’re not just defensive because you didn’t have an attorney review your contract and you signed blindly?

  • While several of you have made some excellent points, I’m going to stay with my “yawn” reaction to this. Who cares why Amy decided to leave Anusara? That’s her thing. If you like her as a teacher, cool, if not, there are many other amazing teachers out there. I’d like to echo the non-judgement sentiment expressed quite eloquently by several commenters. There’s a yoga and a teacher for everyone, so this is a non-issue. Om shanti.

  • HY

    In fairness, an individual decision is an individual decision indeed. Those decisions, however, are portrayed as “exodus” (and therefore are no longer individual decisions), which may or may not be the intention of the teachers in question, depending on how connected they are among themselves.

  • carlos da silva

    Personally as a teacher who has be involved. In the yoga community since 1985 and who has been teaching since 2005 I am very interested in peoples stories and reasons for why they have done what they have. I appreciate the courage of someone who is willing to be candid about their experiences.

  • Grace

    Nicole (and others)
    Your attempts to minimize are transparent. I for one am not buying it. Yawn all you want, the continued exodus is not “nothing”, especially to those of us who’ve studied with Amy. Any teacher who isn’t at least a /little/ interested in the inner workings of the organization that blankets her/him is not someone I’d trust farther than I could throw.

    While I agree, there is a teacher for everyone, I don’t for one second understand how anyone can think that a mass-exodus of first-tier members of any organization is a “non-issue”.

    I studied Anusara yoga for years. My initial 200 hour teacher training is in Anusara. If the leaders of this organization are committing malfeasance, you damn well right I want to know what the issues are. True, some of the commenters on this board, and surely many others out in the larger community are taking positions that seem very judgmental. Others of us are pricking up our ears and waiting for more information (which will undoubtedly come with time). There is nothing wrong with paying attention to signs that something is awry in an organization in which you have put faith and trust. Jumping to conclusions is one thing, prudence is another.

  • This sounds like a Soap Opera (Yogapera)

    We are human beings and full with flaws,,,,,,,people make mistakes no matter how big or small, and some people might be able to forgive,,,forgive & forget,,who knows.

    I am so glad I am not perfect,,,,,many blessings to everyone:)

  • Eileen

    Yoga is becoming the Catholic Church. Power breeds this.

  • HJCOTTON

    JF remindes me of Jim Bakker and all the charismatic preachers who rip their parishiners.

  • Sylvia

    Does this mean that being able to do handstand dropbacks in the middle of the room does not lead to enlightenment? This must come as such a shock to the elite teachers certified by John.

  • Eileen

    I love that!

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