More trouble in Anusaraland. Let’s pause for a moment. Take a deep breath. Because this is some heavy shit. An anonymous tipster has sent us info that could potentially muddy the shiny, happy, image of John Friend and Anusara Inc., and shed some light on the recent flurry of exits by some of the brand’s foremost teachers like Elena Brower and Amy Ippoliti.
Up til now, we’ve had our share of poking fun at the Anusarans, their meltiness and King Melty Heart Mogul, John Friend. But if these accusations are true, they paint a whole new perspective on the innerworkings of one of the most popular yoga corporations and the possible misdoings of its grand leader.
Let us state that we don’t take this stuff lightly, and that we are simply reporting on what was tipped off to us. We do not wish harm upon the Anusaran folk or outer yoga worlds. This info was provided anonymously, and we have not spoken to any of the other people notedly involved. The claims also published at a dedicated site www.jfexposed.com.
Accusation #1: JF as a Wiccan leader and the Wicca-Anusara Connection.
John has been the head of a wiccan “coven” that claims to use sexual/sensual energy in a positive and sacred way to help build the efficacy of our practices. John engaged in sexual relations with women in the coven unbeknownst to his girlfriend, Anusara teacher Christy Nones. The Coven has caused rifts in the marriages…d
In a letter to Laura Miller:
You and I always shared a love for what is Good, Shri, and Delightful. We shared a love of Wicca, which is grounded on doing that which enhances Nature, affirms the Goodness of Life, and fosters love. We shared our love for Anusara yoga, which is a philosophy and practice that is totally aligned with Wicca on every level. With this common ground of wanting to bring more Light and Love into the world you and I started a small circle to use our knowledge and power to manifest our elevated intentions. Tiffany joined us in this auspicious and sacred endeavor. As part of our rituals you and I both agreed that we would use sexual/sensual energy in a positive and sacred way to help build the efficacy of our practices, which is a common element of most Wiccan circles, as you know.
Accusation #2: JF as Homewrecker and Sexual Deviant.
Sexually graphic images, explicit emails from -name removed- (the purported home that was wrecked) and revealing skype conversations between -name removed- and John Friend are provided to support the claim that JF used his power and position to engage in shady, sexual relations with his employees.
Accusation #3: JF and Anusara Illegally Freezing Pension.
Sexually graphic images, skype sessions, Wiccan woopie aside, what stands out to us as the real kicker is that stuff about offering pensions to Anusara employees, then freezing them illegally without notice. This would be enough for us to quit too:
John Friend has always touted the excellent benefits of working for Anusara. One of these benefits was a defined benefits pension plan, a highly desirable alternative to a traditional 401K retirement plan.
In January 2010, John Friend froze this pension plan without notifying any of the employees. This was an illegal act. (source)
In December of 2010, almost one full year later, Anusara employees were verbally informed that their pensions had been frozen in order to obtain a loan that would be used to expand the company and “make them all millionaires”.
When pushed, Anusara acknowledged that pension contributions had been frozen in January of 2010. People who had been working passionately in support of John Friend and Anusara had believed they were working towards vesting and had full faith that they had been earning pension contributions found out that John Friend and Anusara management had intentionally deceived them, robbing them of the retirement they believed they were earning.
In December 2011, the US Department of Labor intervened. Anusara responded by passing out RETROACTIVE notices of the pension amendment — backdated to January 2010 — and communicated to the employees they had simply “forgotten” to do so previously and attempted to leave it at that.
In January 2012, the US Department of Labor stepped in again, informing Anusara that the illegal act had not been remedied by passing out retroactive notices. They offered Anusara the chance to bring the pension fund up to date and into compliance to avoid being cited and penalized for their illegal freezing of the pension funding.
According to sources inside the company, the pension fund is slated to be frozen again in March of 2012. This time John Friend has been forced to do the legal thing, even if his actions are still morally reprehensible.
Accusation #4: Pot Assistance
While not the most shocking of all new agey revelations, John Friend is being accused here of endangering Anusara assistants by having packages of marijuana delivered to various places, requiring employees to accept illegal substances on his behalf.
Conclusions? While this information may be difficult for some to swallow, it’s not so outrageous in a time when power can so easily be misused, which we’ve seen time and again in the yoga world and beyond. Do we care what JF does in the bedroom with his Wiccan Coven? Not really. But we do expect taking responsibility for actions, and truthfulness and transparency when it comes to adhering to your own principles that thousands of people around the world believe in.
The website www.jfexposed.com has more.
We welcome you to share your frustrations, experiences, emotions (or lack thereof) and opinions in the comments.
For all of the updates: Running Timeline of Anusara Controversy, Updates and Teacher Resignations
- Anusara Exodus Continues: Amy Ippoliti Latest Teacher to Publicly Resign
- John Friend: The Man, The Myth, The ‘Yoga Mogul’