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John Friend, Head of Anusara: The Accusations

in YD News, Yoga Crime, Yoga Feuds

photo via The New York Times

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.

UPDATE #1: Anusara Pension Documents and Timeline Support Claims

UPDATE #2: Letter From John Friend to Anusara Yoga Teachers

UPDATE #3: Anusara’s John Friend Responds to Accusations in First Public Interview

For all of the updates: Running Timeline of Anusara Controversy, Updates and Teacher Resignations

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Earlier

625 comments… add one

  • Nancy

    While this kind of material makes for juicy news it seems very unfair to put out this info if it is not yet known to be based on truth. One word for you…. ahimsa. Why cause this kind of harm and feed the rumor mill. I am not an anusara practioner, I have no emotional involvement here, but until you check your facts and know that this is valid best to leave it alone rather stir things up. As my teacher you to say…. Sometimes minding your own business is the best spiritual practice… and this about yoga, right?

  • teya

    Nancy….this is the most thoughtful response. Let’s all practice ahimsa, the most basic of Yoga principles. Gossip is just not aligned with that practice.

  • Wahini

    What about accountability? Turn a blind eye? You cannot change and evolve yoga unless you are willing to listen- to the good and the bad…..I don’a call this gossiping as much as educating yourself on what practice aligns with your goals…..

  • Greg

    Educating yourself with what? Rumours ?

  • Wahini

    Where there is smoke there is fire, and it seems if not all of these accusations are true that some may very well be…..would it make me stop my anusara practice? No. But would I invest any time & $ in the “system” to become a teacher- No! I would also question anything John Friend might bring forward at this time….but with “fire” (destruction) can also come change & maybe that is the light that might emerge, Anurara 2.0 minus JF- now that has possibilities….

  • Interesting. Kripalu became stronger after working through a similar scandal and emerging into a post-guru organization. I wonder if Anusara has the same internal strength.

  • While there is truth to the ‘ahimsa’ comment and the danger of rumors, there also needs to be honest dialogue in the yoga community, especially when teachers push the line between teaching and the damaging complex of false guru behaviors.
    When ‘leaders’ toe that line, they hurt people. Ahimsa might take them into consideration, too.

    I’m midway thru anusara training that fell into my lap. I knew from the beginning that I wouldn’t go for certification, but all training is good training, right?

    But the more I learn, the more disillusioned I become. The universal principal’s are not Friend’s genius, but basic anatomy. The love and light bastardize and plaigerize yogic texts. The whole movement causes more confusion than it does honesty, and is elitist as hell. The practice is exclusive and dishonest, and I actually am glad to see Brower, Ippoliti, etc leave. They are brilliant on their own.

    ahimsa? Or snake oil?

  • Vision_Quest2

    Fanned and faved!

    And until, now I’d thought I’d have to settle for sloppy seconds with Anusara-Inspired …

    Plus, a rationale for having kept Anusara expensive and under wraps all this time … it is not the evil gossip, but just helpful consumer awareness (yes, as long as money changes hands, we yoga students are consumers, like it or not)

  • Bravo for not being afraid to publish such disturbing news. That takes guts, honestly. My hat’s off to you.

    Everyone is innocent until proven guilty. That said, I’ve heard rumors of the “coven” that match these accusations very closely. This leads me to believe the others are true as well.

    This sort of abusive sexual power trip has brought down many “spiritual leaders” before. (Check out, for example, what Stephanie Syman says in her book, “The Subtle Body,” about Swami Muktananda, who was JF’s guru back in the day.) If the accusations are true (which won’t get proven one way or another unless there’s a lawsuit, which probably won’t happen), it’s serious abuse and should not be taken lightly or mistaken for sexual “liberation” – it’s not.

  • amen. sexual abuse needs to be called what it is. and leaders, (football coaches, gurus, whatever) should not be protected by the ‘kula’.

  • Vision_Quest2

    “Kula” sounds too much like the Spanish word “culo”

    Which is vulgar Spanish for backside …

  • Greg

    Guys the fact that this are rumours from an anonymous source doesn’t mean anything to you? You are talking about sexual abuse, a very serious accusation without any real proof! What if I come to your neighbourhood and accuse you falsely to your friends for being a pedophile? The so called proofs in that website are not proofs…just txt that someone wrote claiming to be from John! Even if you don’t like the guy you can’t just assume rumours for facts!

  • L

    I’m confused…were these not grown women participating in these “acts” of their own free will? The JF exposed website is in-accessible right now, probably due to huge volume, so I haven’t been able to check it out myself.

  • Halid

    …and should not be mistaken as truth either, as you have so moronically done. And you also obviously claim knowledge which you do not have, as JF was not with Baba Muktananda, but with Gurumayi during her time at the ashram in New York….why don’t you do some self help and keep your stupid opinions to yourself or on your equally moronic Facebook page……..

  • Oh the yoga drama. Oh my.
    I keep coming back to this: any one who wants to be your “guru”, who presents himself as a “guru”, who acts as a “guru”, is a person who has serious power and control issues. Almost without exception. I’m not saying that from a place of judgment. John Friend is on his spiritual journey and I hope he is learning LOTS! I am pleased that I apparently did my learning about gurus in another life. I have never felt any attraction to this type of relationship and I am thankful. I feel sorry for “disciples” who end up in these sickly enmeshed relationships and then feel wounded, though they willingly went along, allowing themselves to believe things no thinking person should believe. I feel for John if these stories are true as well. He has to be feeling a desperate need for this type of attention to put so much at risk to be worshiped and adored. It’s all very sad, and like many such personal stories all we can do is watch, learn and hope for healing for all involved.

  • L

    JF is not my teacher, some of his students are and have been my teachers, including two of those leaving the fold. I actually do not particularly resonate with him at all, never have. However, I do have to say this for him…I have never heard him or heard of him calling himself a guru. In fact, I have heard of him saying specifically when someone else referred to him as their guru that he is NOT a guru. Anyone who rises to public heights has some need to have their ego massaged, don’t we all on one level or another? Personally, I think it’s sad that anyone would hand over so much of their power that they then feel betrayed or hurt or injured. I have done this only in personal/romantic relationships and even in that arena, it is foolish to be too dependent on anyone else. I have only myself to blame when a mere human disappoints my childish needs for “perfect” anything. One of my beloved teachers (human being, offering me the benefit of his knowledge which I may do with as I choose as another human being with free will) talks about child and adolescent spirituality and I think that is what we are seeing here. We live in a country and a time where personal responsibility for one’s own choices and behaviors has disappeared.

    I am not “Christian” at all, obviously, however, I do love what Christ said about letting he who has not sinned throw the first stone. If people want to criticize others, especially when they have probably willingly given them too much power over their lives out of sense of laziness, then I would suggest we each look at our own behavior under an equally sharp microscope before we go into a self righteous tirade.

  • It is interesting to me that the commentators above assume sexual abuse and/or unwelcome sexual activity on the basis of a report of a coven that’s works with sexual energy. A) No abuse is implied by non-monogamous sexual behavior, and B) you can work with sexual energy without actually having sex. But the above commentators all too readily find confirmation here of their assumptions about “spiritual leaders”. The days of witch-hunting are clearly not yet over if practicing Wicca is labeled as an “accusation”. I am not a Wiccan, but I say shame on YogaDork for labelling it in this way, and for presenting only

  • Are you Kidding

    Chris:
    A) Non-monogamous behavior is fine unless you’re cheating while in a committed relationship and deceiving people.

    B) If the sex in bullet A is with your STUDENTS, it violates John’s code of ethics that govern Anusara. If it’s with EMPLOYEES, it opens a completely different can of worms.

    I don’t think this is a witch hunt, but rather a confirmation of things Mr Friend has denied to Anusarans as “rumors”.

    Oh, now I see why you take that position: http://www.anusara.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=268&Itemid=331

  • SQR

    From the link you posted:
    “Since the West’s discovery of Tantra 100 years ago, there has been 
considerable fascination, speculation, and more than a little misinformation about this spiritual movement.”
    … Just sayin’

  • hey_yoga_girl

    i took one workshop with JF about 5 years ago, and left it with the feeling that he was somewhat delusional and full of himself (and it). i wasn’t buying any of what he was selling at the time. since then, i have grown oh so weary of hearing about anusara this and anusara that in the yoga community at large. i would be relieved to to see him go down and anusara out of the spotlight. if the accusations prove true, it’s just a real shame that this situation will bring more negative media attention to yoga in general.

  • Joy

    Controversy aside (if it can at all be put aside for a split second)I don’t understand why people who are not fans of the style have to knock it so hard. We have many diverse methods of yoga practice in which to help us connect deeper to ourselves and if Anusara doesn’t work to do so for you personally, there’s not really anything beneficial to be agitated at the fact that many have found great revelation in it.

    And JF never said that he created the anatomy pearls— he just put it into a greatly concise way of connecting alignment principles into syllabi that flowed sequentially to optimize a deepening and healthful practice.

    To hear these allegations are definitely heartbreaking. I don’t excuse for illegal/pension withholding acts, and of course am not comfortable with crossing the lines of sexual intimacy when it is explicitly outlined in the Anusara Ethics document, buy all in all, we are only human and we screw up. I hope that these rumors get clarified and the pension issue is remedied ASAP.

  • L

    Wow, being relieved to see someone go down is so very yogic. How sad that anyone would wish harm on someone else and call themselves “yoga girl”. What a sad, sad commentary on modern yoga, and probably one of the many reasons yoga gets so much negative media attention.

  • Halid

    hey yoga girl, how’s that thong workin for ya? Done some “hot” yoga recently? In the spirit of that great James Bond movie, comments like yours should be categorized in the made for TV series category “Posers Galore.”

  • jimmy

    Yoga girl, I would also be relieved to see Anusara “go down” as you put it. It would be better for yoga. It’s not that I resent there being many styles, it’s that I’m not fond of yoga brands. I think that that has done some harm to yoga already. A brand has itself to protect. I haven’t seen a real growth in Anusara in the ten years I have had exposure to it, and I think it is because of the top-down brand consciousness. And by growth I mean an evolution of understanding and practice, not dollars growth.

    Besides the self-branding, what disappoints me with Anusara yoga is I have yet to find a teacher that has the anatomical knowledge to put together a workable plan for people with tight hamstrings. Every class is sequenced with the assumption people can flop down into upavista konasana or paschimottanasana. Well, not everyone can. A very senior Anusara teacher (one that left recently) gave a forward fold workshop that had the same problem. After class, I asked her for advice in advancing my prasarita padottanasana. She had a good idea, which was something I had recently figured out on my own anyway. But for the money, this was no big deal. If she had not reached celebrity status, she probably would have required to be a little more responsive to student needs and actually build the class to suit needs of people that struggled with forward folds.

    So, there’s a lot of focus on helping the “rock star” or “bad-ass” students because the foundations for dealing with anatomical challenges or limitations or just plain stiffness are weak.

    Also, the slavish worshipping of the UPA’s and loops is limiting. I took a workshop with another senior teacher that markets himself as a yoga therapy specialist. When giving advice to people with various pains it was like watching a quack at work. Everything came down to “if you practice this loop the pain will go away.” That’s just irresponsible. I think the curriculum and trainings of Anusara are just not structured to evolve a sophisticated understanding of yoga anatomy.

    Maybe if the organization is restructured and sex cult members are asked to leave there could be a democratic reforming of the curriculum with more possibility of incorporating teachings from other schools.

  • hey_yoga_girl

    Yes, and thank you Jimmy. You are more patient in elaborating the reason behind the relief. It has more to do with the dis-service that anusara has done to yoga in general than with John Friend as an individual, though these comment threads have demonstrated it seems to be difficult for people to separate the two.

    The bastardization/oversimplification of the basic tenants of yoga philosophy is one thing, and the propagation of an inflexible asana teaching method that forces the practitioner into a preconceived notion of a shape rather than honoring and exploring individual deviations is another. The universal blueprint stuff is is just as limiting as the UPAs.

    Since I trusted my instincts, and never bought into JF as a guru, the violation of ethics and trust allegations don’t surprise or hurt me as an individual. They do hurt me as a yoga teacher in the larger community – we are all connected in some way, and as such, these kind of scandals hurt us all.

    I do feel compassion towards those who have their identity intertwined with the organization, and can only hope that this situation illuminates some of the inherent challenges of the anusara philosophical & anatomical methods.

  • …one side of these four issues, which are obviously complex. I guess you don’t have to worry about journalistic accountability if you’re a blog. Jfexposed.com is obviously run by an angry person with a bone to pick with John, yet people are all too willing to take these “accusations” at face value. Ever heard of confirmation bias? Please don’t slander someone without sufficient evidence as YogaDork has done here.

  • Are you Kidding

    Or maybe it’s simply true?

    The site says it’s “just the tip of the iceberg”. Maybe you shouldn’t blindly defend someone because they published your book. The stuff posted is pretty damning.

  • John

    Or maybe its fake? I’m going to take read a renowned scholar’s posts with far more interest and seriousness then some one who is posting with cowardice under anonymity (like the person disseminating “information” about John).

  • Greg

    But just rumours without proof! Please be mindful of accusing anybody without real proof!

  • Actually, “Are you Kidding,” (and by the way, what’s with the anonymity if you are secure in your opinions?), it’s hardly a blind defense. I know John well, for many years, I know his flaws, and I know that they are no more than possessed by anyone else working their way through life. I don’t hold that yoga teachers should be put on pedestals and expected to conform to an ideal conduct that none of us are examples of. The stuff posted is “pretty damning” if you take it as face value — but human psychology is exceedingly complex, and anyone knowing the full picture of any human’s motivation would be less willing to condemn. My point is that, whatever delusions John may have (and we all have some), I believe his heart is in the right place — I say that from knowing the man, not hearsay. The readiness to condemn in these comments is what I find shocking and deeply sad. I disagree with John all the time — but that’s not the same as demonizing him.

  • Williams

    The huge violation here is John’s failure to follow his own ethic rules of the teacher-student relationship. John had been forewarned by staff and teachers over the years about his sexual behavior with female employees and students yet he denied accountability. Teachers/employees who did speak out knew implicitly/explicitly there were consequences for doing so. For all the women who thought they were “special” due to John’s abuse of power, it is sad they will pay an emotional price as a result of John’s unconsciousness and ego-centric actions.

    Another huge problem – hypocrisy – even in the softball interview at Elephant Journal, John never says he was ethically wrong for sleeping with his students and employees. He defends himself as a victim of a disgruntled employee rather then understanding how his inappropriate behavior with the teacher/student power differential can result in psychological harm to women (and the people in the organization as a whole – those who have to cover up and look the other way and for those who can’t speak up for fear of consequences). In effect, by failing to be a good role model or follow his own teacher/student ethics guidelines, he gives justifications for his behavior in this interview, ie, I am “not a guru” and these were “concensual relationships”. So, there is pain to be spread as a result of his unconsciousness…. even in this interview he is not being fully accountable for his role in the “seat of the teacher” or acknowledging his failures in following his own ethical guidelines his teachers are required to follow. His teachers have faced consequences for ethics violations so now we see how this unfolds.

    As any psychologist can tell you, there are often times serious and negative emotional consequences to a student, employee or patient for being on the receiving end of an abuse of power like this. This is really a no brainer for those who know a family member, friend or being on the receiving end of abuse of power… because as a society we have already decided collectively this violation is egregious enough to be a crime in some cultural contexts and in others, a serious ethic violation, and as a result we have created laws to protect the innocence of those who place their trust and child-like innocence in the hands of their teachers, healers and employers to behave and act with the highest intentions.

    On an energetic level, spiritual seekers understand the profound archetypal power at work within the context of the teacher-student relationship. This is a relationship that is sacred and where safe learning and inquiry can take place in order to shift and expand consciousness and grow one’s inner light. This is true within any context, spiritual or non-spiritual, where the teacher/healer/employer is in the role of showing the student/patient/employee the path. The teacher says, “Trust me, I will show you the way”. The student says, “I trust you to reflect back to me my own inner light, in order for me to heal myself, grow in consciousness, or support my family”.

    This dialogue needs to stay in a public forum for all to see so others who have witnessed violations or have been at ground level in this organization can speak up anonymously without loosing their certification, job or future support from the kula.

    This is just the tip of the iceberg and with lawyers and yes-men around, John has a long way to go before he becomes conscious of the pain and suffering he has spread to so many people.

  • In general, I agree with you, Williams. But before you assume abuse, don’t you need to hear the voice of the women in question? If they didn’t experience the relationships as disempowering abuse, what right have you to label it as such? I think the whole dialogue here has been sexist in implicitly excluding those women’s voices.

  • Pavanatanaya

    Wallis seeks wiggle room and equivocates unethical behavior. Just because he enjoys sucking JF’s C*ck, he assumes that everyone must. Since Wallis is published under JF’s banner, it is difficult to discern whether he is JF’s Pimp or his whore.

  • Pavanatanaya

    If this is slander, I would expect JF to come out and say so. Since I am personal friends with one of the women he mentions, I will just go ahead and read on. This guy is a shree filled predator.

  • Williams

    Unfortunately, this dialogue needs to stay in a public forum for all to see so others who have witnessed violations or have been at ground level in this organization can speak up anonymously without loosing their certification, job or future support from the kula.

  • Pavanatanaya

    In the interest of “journalistic accountability” , why did you omit your affiliation with JF’s publishing Co.?…Psh!!!

  • Halid

    Chris is at least is straightforward enough to post under his own name Mr. Pavanatanaya (or is that Ms.?)…you on the other hand belong to the anonymous slanderers who hide while slinging accusations like so many “lotus petals”…

  • Deborah

    and you halid, and your friend “L” are not hiding? nor slinging?

  • Halid

    no I’m not hiding, I am here with my name calling you out for what you are.

  • Williams

    The only reason for so called “cloaking” of identity is the organization has a habit of canning teachers/employees who tell the truth.

  • I’ve never met John so I’ll form my opinion after the accusations are confirmed or not. JFexposed.com is a sketchy website to say the least. Thank you Yogadork for getting this out into the open so you can confirm the accusations sooner and clear the air either way.

  • Westley Anson

    I sure hope this isn’t true! Though I get the feeling it is true based on what has been going down in Anusara-land this past year.

    If these allegations of sexual impropriety are true I feel “men doing Yoga” will continue to be viewed with suspicion. Too often male Yogis in power, abuse their power, being unable to follow Brahmacharya in their actions. The stereotypical pattern is the same in most of those cases. Charismatic “Alpha” male Yogi gathers a following of Yoginis then preys upon them. Whether it was the stories of the original Swamis’ whom brought Yoga to America or the current crop of prominent male Yogis “behaving badly”.

    The additional part about “freezing 401k funds” is flat-out illegal, immoral, and violates 2 more Yamas (Setya and Asteya)! Maybe they will find “dead bodies” and John will declare himself the incarnation of Brahma. Thus destroying all 5 Yamas in “one fail swoop”! But I digress.

    Stories like this really effect me as I have worked hard with my Yoga Practice and Teaching Yoga to my students. I get questioned and often “laughed at” by people when I tell them I LOVE Yoga! The “current” stereotypical view of men doing/teaching Yoga in America is either a “sexual predator” going to class to pick-up women or a gay man……I am neither. It is hard enough to get people to take Yoga seriously and stuff like this really sets male Yogis back further.

    There, I have “said my peace”. Namaste.

  • Pavanatanaya

    As a male yoga teacher, I second your remarks. Not Shree John.

  • Brian

    There are always two sides and the truth is always somewhere in between. These are very serious accusations, not legally speaking but to John Friend as a leader in the yoga community. I personally would like to hear his side of the story, without sensational journalism or PR spinning, before I form my opinion.

  • jimmy

    Brian, he’s surely consulting with his team of lawyers on many fronts. The next statement will be carefully or craftily worded indeed.

  • Interesting turn of events… Recovering Yogi was approached several months back (and then more recently) by someone claiming to have this insight. We politely declined the offer.

    Clearly he (or someone else) was not to be deterred. Ahem.

  • ajmac1972

    Here Here Vanessa. What was posted here are simply unproved rumors. YD, shame on you for posting unsupported information when you have yet to even speak to anyone intimately involved with the accusations. Ahimsa is called for….ON ALL SIDES!

  • Hiya Ajmac… to clarify, when we were approached we only knew the identify of the person who is likely the website author and their high level bullet points. We didn’t doubt the veracity — actually, we didn’t even care about the veracity. We turned it down because the person seemed vindictive. That’s all.

  • Yvonne

    I guess John Friend doesn’t believe Bramacharya applies to him!

  • Halid

    I guess you’re another idiot who believes anything they read……if it’
    s on the web it must be true, right?

  • Potty Mouth

    Goodness! Halid needs to have her mouth washed out with soap.
    She seems to enjoy calling people names. Idiots. Cocks. Retards. Very classy. Did you mother not teach you better manners Halid? Or were you raised in the gutter? You call yourself a yogi? A yogi with some serious anger issues – seek help.

  • jimmy

    Potty Mouth, Halid has a very new and expensive Anusara yoga studio in Santa Fe to protect.

  • Potty Mouth

    Apparently. And a Juice Bar that services the big events.
    He sure went running away with his tale between his legs when Deborah handed him his ass on a platter.
    Mr. Halid Hatic, Managment Executive in the Entertainment Industry.

  • In my opinion, publishing unverified information from anonymous sources is not journalism – it is irresponsible rumor mongering.

    I’ll reserve my judgement on any of these matters until I see some credible sources able to confirm or deny these allegations.

    Namaste,

    Chris

  • Anonymous

    I agree. It’s one thing to post it and say, “This is from an unverified source. Take a look for yourself and make your own judgment.” But YogaDork, it’s a bit disappointing to see your commentary and implications. Pretty irresponsible.

  • Credible?

    pictures and emails are not good enough?

  • Anonymous

    Pictures and emails can be faked very easily.

  • Credible as in real human beings willing to speak on the record.. Of course the labor dept info could be verified via a simple Lexis-Nexis search, sadly I can no longer afford access to it.

  • Greg

    Pictures that show parts of a female body and a txt written on a website claiming to be an email from John, no my friend they are not good enough! What made you think they are? What if I made a web site like that for you claiming whatever I want and post a couple of emails I wrote claiming there were from you and used the same photos you saw on JFexposed?! Seriously start using your brains people and keep your projections at bay!

  • And for the record, I am not an Anusara teacher (although I do enjoy their workshops and borrow profusely from Desiree Rumbaugh and Amy Ippoliti’s teaching approach) – just count me as:

    1) a former journalist who knows that this is far below normal standards of journalism.

    2) a yoga teacher who wants to see more people opening to the practice.

    3) someone who believes in finding the facts on something before making a judgement.

  • Javier

    I am a beginner yoga practitioner. But I have been practicing buddhism for a few years now. I am just learning about Anusara Yoga today as I read this. This could be true, it could be false. I think it is good to confront it. But before we judge the Anusara System or John Friend, let us remember that nothing that happens happens outside of us. If we are seeing it, reading it, feeling it, we are somehow implicated in it. Let’s see this as a teaching for all of us, for all of them, and help the suffering being directly involved with it, not by judging them, but by asking how can we make it better. Namaste!

  • Peaceforall

    Yes. Agreed wholeheartedly.

  • Willow Joines

    One of the best responses I have read thus far.

  • Pavanatanaya

    The skype would indicate that JF had the intention of slandering his former assistant. So the claim of intention to the coven members ought be viewed through the same filter that rationalizes character assassination of former employees. Unfortunately JF got caught with his ‘hand’ (C*ck) in the cookie jar.

  • Halid

    speaking of c#cks, boy are you one….with sh*t for brains..

  • Anusara-Inspired

    I’m an Anusara-Inspired yoga teacher. I agree that these accusations are unsettling. But they are just that — accusations. We’re so hungry for a salacious story in this country that we seem to have forgotten that. I’m not advocating that we turn a blind eye, but surely we can take a breath and pause before condemning John Friend, the system, and the Anusara community.

    Additionally, there is no evidence that Elena, Amy, Christina, or Darren left for these reasons. If there were something this outlandish happening, surely one of them would be responsible enough to speak up.

  • Speaking up

    How can you be so sure they haven’t spoken up privately? My guess is they have…

  • Anonymous

    Speaking up privately isn’t the issue. IF the allegations are true, and one of them knew it, and had spoken with John to no avail, I would be very disappointed if they didn’t go public. IF the allegations are true, and certified teachers are aware of this kind of behavior, they owe it to the teachers and students of Anusara to speak up publicly.

    Big IF caveat.

  • Jaybo

    Teachers probably aren’t speaking up because they still want a piece of that pension pie for the years they served…

  • FYI

    The pension fund was for the employees of Anusara, Inc. No Anusara teachers are getting a pension.

  • Anonymous gal

    I agree. I think the dots are all connecting. I think the teachers who have left know a lot more than we realize. I hope that one (or all) of them will have the courage to come forward with their testimonial.

    I am a devoted Anusara yogini and it has changed my life. I am grateful to John for his teachers and the principles. But that said, that does not make him beyond reproach. Given rumors I’ve heard over the years, my gut tells me these accusations are true.

    And to be honest, if he truly wrote that letter to the coven, then he is nothing less than an egomaniacal sociopath. Any psychologist would see the red flags of a sexual predator in that email. This is messed up.

    I love my Anusara community, but I’ve seen that many people choose to keep their heads in the sand. I think our community is strong enough to withstand this and see a reorganization of Anusara, but I think we need to confront the truth, however ugly it may be. If John is in fact guilty of these things, then in my humble opinion, he has no business leading anything.

  • Te0dosiou

    I agree, it s a bit scary that individuals are so eager to make assumptions on something that anybody could have wrote for any number reasons. The plague of Internet era is the extinction of critical thinking on information that anybody can write anywhere. This is not my theory but is a huge academic issue as well that information on the Internet is taken at face value without further research or verification. The writing style of a person can be identify easily from a skilful writer …. If you compare the email with JF writing style you may find the truth for yourselves.

  • april

    Have you heard about the four gates of speech? This sort of “sharing” of the facts only discredits you and your Yoga Dork Blog….This is neither yogic or kind…you needed to call Anusara for comments on this…Perhaps you have a specific intention? Get the facts before you hurt an entire community of people working very hard to create light in the world!

  • disheartened

    YD, I think you’re trying to gain some exposure to yourselves all too quickly to be the first ones to expose this. It’s really unfair to teachers and students of the system to leave us having to defend a human for behaving humanly. We’re all working on ourselves. John does NOT call himself a guru. THis is why we say “Om Namah Shivaya Gurave” I repeat: he is NOT a guru and does not use that term to call himself. He is a teacher and a very effective one.
    I have faith in my teacher and I believe that he will make amends where it’s needed. He does not owe it to the public to apologize for freezing pensions. He owes it to the ones affected by that activity. He does not owe me any apology to have sex with anyone in any way he and the others involved likes it. And Nones and the others may not appreciate your exposure of them as being involved either.
    While pot is practically decriminalized in this country, he owes the apologies to any person who may been involved in a drug scandal, and if this were true, let’s see the DEA reports. This is getting blown out of proportion and looks worse on paper than I think it really is.
    This is not going to keep me from getting on the mat. You were ineffective at what you tried to accomplish.

  • disheartened

    I did an immersion with Martin Kirk years ago and we discussed the meaning of guru, we talked about how Anusara makes its teacher training manual accessible to anyone who has $12, and the meaning of “Om Namah Shivaya Gurave.” We also discussed things about Himalayan Institute’s Swami Rama, who is alleged to have had sexual relations with his disciples, the Dhan yoga system which has been noted for doing similar practices, and I recall Martin saying, “I have never once experienced John behaving inappropriately in the classroom.”
    So, with that said, what he does out of the classroom, should it really concern us?
    I wonder, YD, if you practice another system that seems to dislike Anusara? What’s so interesting to you to do this? Should we look at Ana Forrest’s behavior next? How about Mr Iyengar? Bikram? Jois? Are they all squeaky clean?
    “Let he who without sin cast the first stone” ~JC

  • L

    Yes! Thank you! I tried to say this, though I was less articulate! Glad to see I’m not the only one quoting JC ;-) Thought I might get stoned for that…

  • the problem for a publisher is what to do with anonymous accusations. the site the person put up is full of allegedly complete emails, skype calls, photos. … perhaps this would not see the light of day but for the long list of prominent disciples making for the exits. Friend’s claims in an elephant journal article that teachers had altered their teaching so it didn’t comport with the official Anasura(TM) teachings always seemed weak. This is frankly a more likely explanation….

    having worked with a teacher who enjoyed a certain cult of personality especially among lovely, insecure ladies, it really doesn’t seem like baseless rumor….

  • Deborah

    I would just like to ask that if there are any commentors who are drunk on the Anusara Cool-Aid, they please be open and transparent about it before they make comment. In other words, if you are an Anusara teacher, or an Anusara-inspired teacher, or even in love with one, PLEASE identify yourselves …. It matters. ALOT. Thank you.

  • Deborah

    I would just like to ask that if there are any commentators who are drunk on the Anusara Cool-Aid, they please be open and transparent about it before you make comment. In other words, if you are an Anusara teacher, or an Anusara-inspired teacher, or even in love with one, PLEASE identify yourselves as such …. It matters. ALOT. Thank you.

  • thay singh

    why, precisely, does it matter “ALOT”? Someone with a vested interest in opposition is to be believed anonymously, but all supporters are subject to an inquisition? Can we talk double standard here?

    Oh yes, you just made one. so sorry…

  • Deborah

    It matters alot because Anusaris would have a vested interest in defending their “guru”; it matters alot because there is a particular “psychology” attached to defence mechanisms and blind faith. Anusara is a cult and JF a cult leader … and if you’re drinking the cool-aid then you’re drunk … love drink .. shri drunk … and are not thinking with clarity from outside the cage your jumped into …
    Irregardless of who exposed the corrupted conduct within the Anusara inner circle – the ongoing dialogue would have more integrity if participants identified themselves and affiliations. Two wrongs don’t make a right as the saying goes … :)
    Anusaris are well known to blindly defend at any cost ….

  • thay singh

    “the ongoing dialogue would have more integrity if participants identified themselves and affiliations”

    Yup. Anonymous accusations == who cares? Except, of course, for the collateral damage to your reputation and possibly your livelihood during the storm caused by someone who is hiding from the consequences in the first place. And frankly, there is no good reason for someone to post these accusations anonymously. This is not a case of whistle-blowing on a major corporation – or a government with armed enforcers – it is an individual or group of individuals with some grudge.

    Maybe they are right, maybe not, but the issue of anonymity cuts both ways. Marking out “defenders” as suspect for being anonymous only demonstrates your own bias.

    And no, I am not affiliated with Anusara, and I have had my doubts about the system as well. But frankly, I’ve seen quite a bit of what looks more than a little weird even within the local studios where I practice. Western society doesn’t really have a social model for the way that we practice yoga, but that is a debate better left for a different day.

  • Jeri

    My goodness,Deborah, you are being so hateful. Plus, you don’t know what you’re talking about.

  • Deborah

    “”This is not a case of whistle-blowing on a major corporation “”
    Seriously? If Anusara isn’t a “major Corporation” then I just don’t know what is.

    Not being hateful – just know what I am talking about. Get paid LOTS of MONEY for my analytical skills.
    :0

  • Te0dosiou

    Any of the commentators can have a vested interest in white they are writing! You might, I might …. Are you looking for objective comments?!? They aren’t any, observation is affected by the observant , ALWAYS! If what I say doesn’t make sense then research it, don’t take my world for it.

  • thay singh

    Deborah, Anusara is puny compared with Monsanto. And the vast majority of the people involved with it are – at best – franchisees that run their own business with very little support from the mother ship. If anything the money flows from the Anusara teachers in the other direction, so I really don;t see that there is anything like the power relationships involved for an employee of Exxon, Monsanto, Halliburton, your-favorite-evil-corp-here.

  • Anonymous gal

    Deborah,

    I have been a member of the Anusara community for 5 years now and in no way do I think it is a cult. I have practiced all different types of yoga: Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Bikram, Hatha, and for me the principles of Anusara, and particularly it’s root in Tantric philosophy have resonated with me more than any other type of yoga.

    It is not much different than most yoga classes. Like many yoga styles, we have a chant that is unique to our kula, and anyone who learns the meaning of the chant, knows that it is a beautiful message and nothing of blind devotion.

    As a member of the kula, I am also a free-thinker. While we have no concrete proof, given the rumors I’ve heard, my gut tells me that these accusations are in fact true. To be honest, the letter to the coven, etc, seem way too out there (and too in depth) to be made up.

    It is my hope that as a kula we will not choose to keep our heads in the sand, and that we will seek out the truth on this matter. To that end I hope the senior teachers who have left, who I believe know more than they are saying, will speak out about this. Given what I read in John’s supposed letter, again IF true, then it is clear to me that this guy is a sexual predator.

    Does that change my views of the practice and how much it has helped my life? No. It is a beautiful community and I have had nothing but beautiful experiences with all of my teachers. And all of my personal experiences with John in workshops have been nothing but incredible and uplifting.

    That said, if he has in fact been behaving in the ways of which he is accused, then I do not believe he has any business touting himself as a leader. It would be my hope to see Anusara reorganize itself without John. Because to be honest, given the situation with the pensions, if the government has a real case against him, I think it could be more likely that he’ll be going to jail.

    While I do not believe as a whole that Anusara is a cult and that has certainly not been my experience, I do agree with you that blind devotion is dangerous. We as a kula need to open our eyes and demand the truth. None of us, including John, can be above the law because the Shiva/Shakti energy is protecting us. That is the most sociopathic statement of all!

  • Angela

    Anusara-Inspired yoga teacher here.

    I embarrassed for anyone that regards Yoga Dork, or any blog that states they feature celebrity gossip, as a worthy news source. I am not defending John Friend, just saying blogs are not news sources any more than Wikipedia an encyclopedia of anything but misinformation.

    Considering the source and the maliciousness of the source, it may be best not to pay much mind. Sounds like these are personal grievances best aired directly at the source, not the worldwide web.

  • HY

    Deborah, don’t you know where the “drinking Kool-Aid” phrase comes from; which massacre it is associated with? Or perhaps you do know and are just throwing it around like that for cheap effect?

    I am not Anusara teacher or related BTW.

  • Deborah

    I do actually know where it comes from and its not cheap affect: its calling it as I see it. I see Anusara a cult and it has all the characteristics. Do the research. Peace.

  • HY

    Deborah, I am not going to debate the accusations which are outrageous if confirmed. I am just somewhat disturbed by the throwaway manner in which the Kool-Aid phrase is used on yoga sites. No contemporary yoga school or branch I’m aware of had a thousand men, women and children assassinated. Why to invoke this extreme violence all the time? Perhaps I am just overly sensitive…

  • Deborah

    if the shoe fits — as the saying goes. its metaphor. move on.
    you can choose to attach to the massacre — or you can choose to attach to the Electric CooL-Aid Acid Test — or you can just choose to attach ….
    drinking the cool-aid can reference many different “dominant vibrations” … it means the anusaris are buying what is being “sold” – lock stock and barrel.

  • jaiKaliMa!

    Reading some of thecommentary on here and there is alot of junk to wade through. Itts very obvious how love drunk on JF and blind the anusaris are as well as lacking in “shree”
    Its like they have lost all reason and sense. Absolutely flat out denying that any of the allegations are possible –
    (how would anyone know that)?
    Such dyanmic a sign that there is a very perverse “blind faith/mob mentality” at play. I agree with Deborah.
    He has really brainwashed them. Men that have that ability are scary — like Jimmy Jones in Jonestown who got all his followers to “drink the cool-aid” ….. JF has got them all on his own brand of cool-aid. Is the Encinitas new Anusara world headquarters (in his quest for world dominatin of the yoga $$$$market$$$$) “Anurara-town” … and what’s next?
    Wake up sheep.

  • Halid

    Boy you are an ass…..hows that for a yogic response

  • Ramond

    Hi,

    I always feel so bad for the Kool-Aid company & the Jonestown connect. Jim Jones didn’t use Kool-Aid, Flavor Aid, a Kool-Aid knock off was the drink. Not that either company should be associated will such an evil act.

    Thanks!

  • Te0dosiou

    Irresponsible journalism! The interesting thing is that there is little critical thinking both from the journalist that wrote it and from the readers that jump into believing it without serious questioning!!! In any case I m sure yoga dork has increased its web page hits with publishing something that affects such a big community! I hope they get a nice lawsuit to learn their lesson !!

  • Vision_Quest2

    Not yet a cult, as proclaimed by fellow Texan, and a vinyasa teacher:

    http://yogamodern.com/categories/culture/are-the-kulas-of-today-the-cults-of-tomorrow/

    and not directed at John Friend, specifically …

  • Deborah

    Here is some reading material for anyone interesting inchallenging their cognitive skills and putting their higher order critical thinking abilitites to task. PLEASE – do identify yourselves as Anusaris – or not. (I had a sip of the cool-aid – but my keen vision made it very clear to me years ago that “this was coming” … and here it is …)
    :)
    http://www.fwselijah.com/psychopa.htm

  • Greg

    Deborah try reading a book on logic and critical thinking . Reading what a cult leader is has nothing to do with accepting rumours for facts! Also before project all your anger outwardly have a look what is happening within. Your comments really don’t make you look too good…mostly they expose you and your level of intelligence, not anybody else. Why do you assume an anusarian bias has different validity than your anger-biased comments?! What motivates you is not truth but hate. I m not a ‘anusarian’, I don’t even do yoga systematically. I m a psychodynamic psychotherapist with quite a bit if experience in my field. I was attracted to this blog out of prof interest…

  • Deborah

    Yes Greg? One word for you: transference. :)
    I am not in the least bit angry. I am awake. Stop projecting.

  • LMAO

    don’t give up your day job …. pyschodynamic pschotherapit. guffaw

  • Jenni

    Totally agree with Deborah about transparency in commenting. Anusara yogis have a vested interest in being defensive about this story. A little transparency when offering opinions here would be appreciated!

  • Bullshit!

    You’re going to post anonymously and ask that commenters show transparency while commenting on an anonymously authored blog post which points to an anonymous source. Really?

  • Raymond

    Hi Jenni,

    As someone who practices Anusara yoga I have no vested interest in being defensive about this story. The method is bigger than the man and will survive beyond any one teacher. If these accusations prove to be true, so be it. Let it be dealt with. My only issue was I found the anonymous nature of the website to be unproductive and not terribly classy. These are important issues for any organization and I wish they were presented in a more adult way. The cartoons of the pentagram, the thief etc.. didn’t do justice to the seriousness of these claims nor to the credibility of the person/people making these accusations.

    Thanks!

  • LMAO

    Raymond:
    “As someone who practices Anusara I have no vested interest in being defensive ..” >>> Really – how does that work)?

    “I found the anonymous nature of the website to be unproductive and not terribly classy …. and I wish they were presented in a more adult way” ..>> Please tell us how you would have liked it Raymond? Full disclosure is full disclosure. What was tawdry was John Friend, his actions, and his correspondence. jfexposed simply laid it out bare on the table. Good for them. No cover ups, no excuses, no white washing. right out there for the world to see. As it should be done. There is no other way. And its obvious as to why they would have to do so anonymously. WHo would paint a target on their own back? Raymond -you’re drunk on the cool-aid. Smarten up.

  • We are discussing sexual and financial misconduct. This is sexual abuse. Whenever an accusation of sexual abuse is made, it should be taken seriously, and it should be public. The comments here are frightening in the way they echo ‘she shouldn’t have worn that mini-skirt’ or ‘boys will be boys’ arguments.

    YD is behaving exactly as they should: transparency, concern, and dialogue are the ethical response, not slander, nor selfishness, nor looking for a quick bump in their own ratings.

    The earlier comment on Kripalu is entirely apt, and their experience might help anusara now. Kripalu asked for the immediate resignation of Desai, and went to every length possible to be open and public. They made every possible financial, public, therapeutic amend available. Desai himself willingly turned over his mantle to the wider community. Kripalu learned, survived, and become stronger.

    Is Anusara as a community capable of asking for Friend’s immediate and absolute resignation? For even asking for transparency and investigation?

    Or will they bow to sick system and family patterns of denial?

    Will we, as the wider yoga community, participate in insular denial, or in ethical behavior?

    YD is spot on.

  • Deborah

    very well said.

  • Stephanie

    “We are discussing sexual and financial misconduct. This is sexual abuse.”

    Whoa. Slow down. Sexual misconduct and sexual abuse are not exactly or directly equivalent terms; not legally, not morally. Someone can engage in sexual misconduct (cheating on a partner or spouse) and not in sexual abuse (using a power relationship to manipulate via sex or force sex on another). From what I have read over on the JFExposed site, this coven was formed by mutually consenting adults. They all appeared to agree sex/sexual magic/sensual energy work, however they phrased it, was part of the process. But eventually someone’s expectations did not meet another’s expectations, lies were told. omissions were made, hearts got broken…. that’s all lamentable, avoidable, etc. But none of that equals in itself abuse. I think we have to not take a batch of prior bad feelings for this John Friend guy (which seem rife here, reading some of these comments; I’m one of those who knew littel to nothing about Anusara or Friend before this debacle) and automatically start down the road of accusing people of being abusers. People can be ‘bad’ without being criminal or abusive.

  • Sam

    Stephanie: you display an astonishing ignorance of a particular form of sexual abuse (teacher-student) in the JF situation. A teacher-student relationship, even with both members being adults, is NEVER a relationship of equals. Hence, you saying they are all “consenting adults” completes misses the whole point. A student never has the option of full consent due to the lower status in the relationship. This is why there are laws against school teachers, university profs, etc having relationships with each other. Companies often have rules against bosses/supervisors dating subordinates.

  • Stephanie

    Not ignorant at all, Sam. Well informed. I know what I am talking about, professionally and personally. Please remember, we are talking about adult ‘yoga students’ here — a term that often (such as it appears in this case) is used to encompass people who are veritable equals and associates enaging in a voluntary association in an endeavour that is largely recreational.

  • Sam

    No Stephanie, you still do not appear to understand. It doesn’t matter that it is a yoga class, a university physics class or whatever, there is a power dynamic operating. This is why teacher/student relationships are frowned on, and thankfully, against the rules in many yoga studios, TT’s, universities, etc. For whatever reason, you seem to believe in the fallacy that if it is two adults than all is well. That is not the case. The student, no matter their age, is not an equal in the relationship. In the case of JF ( if this scandal is indeed true) it is an even more serious breach of protocol as he is not just any random yoga instructor at any studio in town. He is a well-known, charismatic leader of a popular yoga movement – Anusara with thousands of followers. He certainly knows better than to be dabbling in sexual relations with his students, abusing his position. Again, if the allegations are true, it is despicable. He is going against his own, Anusarian code of ethics. Sadly, this would put him in a long line of teachers/gurus/swamis who can’t seem to discipline themselves and abide by the rules they ask their followers to adhere to.

  • Stephanie

    Oh, dear. Sam, once more — I understand what you’re saying, but I do know what I’m talking about. Sorry you are too deep into your grievance to really read what someone else is saying and only get defensive. I’ll leave it there.

  • Sam

    You’re quite condescending aren’t you?? Like you, I knew very little about JF or Anusara before this scandal broke wide open. You are reading something into my writing that isn’t there.
    I am discussing the teacher-student relationship in an objective manner.

    You may wish to read up on the psychology of teacher-student interactions and the toxic, dysfunctional relations that occur when famous leaders with narcissistic tendencies (amongst other psychological problems) come into contact with students with their own psychological weaknesses (abusive past, low esteem, plain old loneliness). It ain’t pretty. JF seems to fit the model. As to why you think all the onus should be placed on the students is your problem to sort out.

  • Anonymous gal

    As a devoted Anusara student, I completely agree with what you said here. Well said.

  • Ben

    Wonder how long it will be before John’s lawyers contact you. Whether all this is true or not, libel or slander, he has deep pockets and will spend it to clear his name. Good luck!

  • Halid

    yes, i hope you sleep well with your self proclaimed “clarity” Deborah, and I hope your phone rings bright and early tomorrow from Dewey, Cheatum and Howe representing JF to sue your ass into oblivion…..

  • dayita

    of all the accusations, the one that matters is the pension scandal – and presumably that will be resolved in the courts. the other accusations are all well within the bounds of alternative lifestyles. whether they were practiced ethically (which is certainly possible, even with outcomes that appear bad on the surface) or not is a question that i certainly do not have enough information to answer.

    what i find most interesting is that http://www.jfexposed.com is apparently not available now (early AM EU-time 4 feb 2012) on the web. troll? takedown? failure through massive overload?

    and no, i am not affiliated with anusara – my experience is with a total of 4 teachers: one i got to know a little, two from a session at a weekend seminar, and one whose class i recently attended for the first time.

  • Cheryl

    You should all be ashamed of yourselves.

    Rumors are vicious and hurtful.

    JF never put himself before anyone as Guru but as a wonderful and skillful teacher. I am forever grateful.

    Anonymous = Lies and no Integrity.

  • anonymous

    5 things:

    (1) Who else is having trouble getting the jfexposed site to load?

    (2) the UPA’s are more than just anatomy, they are a method of describing actions in the body that are consistent with anatomy, which is most certainly a novel contribution john has made.

    (3) journalists report based on undisclosed sources all the time. the rule of thumb is whether it can be corroborated by 3 credible sources, not whether the source is labeled anonymous. Such a label might be applied at the request of the information provider.

    (4) Ad hominem attacks are fallacious where the ideas of the person are in question. The question is what you are seeking from john. Are you seeking a savior? (god help you) Or are you seeking a good asana teacher? If the former, character probably matters. If the latter, i put it to you that the ad hominem principle applies.

    (5) I could care less about whether john has done these things. I have never assumed he was beyond anything, and I’ve always known he was prone to some illusions of grandeur and wacky ideas. But he is a kick ass asana teacher, which is all I care about.

  • Danielle

    Anusara came to my town in a big way about 7 years ago. I have personally always been a little leary about the devotion to the style of practice, then the use of the (TM) at local yoga studios; however I have always appreciated the sweetness and quality of all teachers I have ever encountered (some of them really big on the international scene) and the technique.

    With respect to the sex abuse comments, all involved were grown adults. Yes, some women can get all caught up in the teacher or guru, but they are adults. I have not seen any comment with respect to the intimate pictures posted on the website of one of the women involved. That is the part that I find disgusting and abusive. I feel badly for the person involved, if in fact these are intimate pictures of her. Actually whether the pictures are of her or not they will always be associated with her, and you can easily google her to put a face to the story, so to speak. It’s never cool to send pics of yourself like that, but they were private.

    As an aside, I don’t feel it is right to force posters to divulge their styles when posting, but I’ll add that I am not an Anusara (TM) or Anusara Inspired (TM) devotee but I appreciate the practice along with the many other styles I try to fit in my practice!!!!

  • Deborah

    (2) Universal Principals of Optimal Alignment are basic anatomy cues and can be found in any Iyengar Yoga class.
    “Relaxing into the arms of Grace” is clever marketing lingo (probably dreamt up by a highly paid advertising copywriter)
    as another way to say/ promote/ exploit Ishvwara Pranidhan. ETC> ETC> ETC>

  • anonymous

    No, Deborah, they are not found in an Iyengar class. The point I was making about the presentation. I am not saying that the same things aren’t described in Iyengar classes, just that the presentation that john created is unique and novel. I take Iyengar classes many times a week with a senior teacher and I studied Anusara yoga for 5 years very intensely. The presentation is clearly distinct.

  • Deborah

    My point is that this is BRANDED Iyengar (in terms of Asana). I have studied Iyengar since 1979; all of the “loops” and all of the “anatomy” and all of the “spirals” are PURE IYENGAR.
    YES – JF has created a “unique presentation”. Yes indeedy. He is a VERY clever business man. Havint spent over 20 years employed in the advertising industry, I know clever branding and a clever campaign when I see one, and I know how they are created. The “presentation” of which you refer, is exactly that.
    Packaged and highly marketed in order to exploit the N>American “marketing trend” towards MindBodySpirit Yoga … um-h …. With the requisite TM. Sorry – but branding is branding. And it is NOT yoga. JF is a brand wizard … and that is without question. Free world – more power to him. Just don’t pretend to be something “else”.

  • Halid

    Boy, what is your beef lady…..you need to take a tonic or saomething

  • CottonHJ

    I think anusara yoga is a feel good Iyengar yoga without the rigor that the latter school of yoga entails. I took several workshops with teachers from both disciplines. The UPAs are exactly The alignment principles of Iyengar yoga. I was shocked when I took a workshop with Christina Sell shortly before she resigned her Anusara certification at how closer her teaching was to Iyengar yoga than to Anusara. Hers was no nonsense teaching without the heart opening jargon you hear from Anusara teachers. I live in a town with a dearth of good yoga studios, and the only way that I can improve my practice is to take workshops from whoever qualified teacher comes to town. I have been practicing yoga for about 15 years, and I still find it hard to subscribe to any school of yoga. Every school of yoga has their own share of jerks and snake oil salesmen. if one cannot abide by the 8 limbs of yoga, you would better not be a yoga teacher.

  • Deborah

    my experience exactly Cotton HJ. I first met “Anusara” in a 500 Hour Advanced YTT about 7 years ago : a local IYENGAR teacher had hooked up with JF and was Ansuara Inspired, working towards Anusara Certified. Spent the entire 20 hours focusing on the loops and spirals (all physical, asana based) and working to perfect our handstand (yawn). It was a good weekend, very fine alignment training for folks who had no background in Iyengar. But for me, with 20+ years as an Iyengar student, the commonalities were palpable. At the end of the weekend we were asked “so – what did you think of Ansuara” and I replied “it was great, but it seems like very cleverly repackaged Iyengar to me”. From that point on – Mr. Teacher was and has been extremely hostile and very passive/aggressive towards me each and everytime we have crossed paths! So — how about that for open-hearted shri-filled hypocrisy? And we have crossed paths many times. Most recent comments to me were “you could “go all the way” if you would just behave yourself adn were not so un-manageable”. LMAO! (My reply: what makes you think that A) I’m not already “all the way” and B) why do I need Anusara to get me somewhere other then “here” as if “this” isn’t “good enough”. ??? I have experienced many mind games and attempts at mind control in alot of the Anusara events. The organization has a feel of MLM (multi level marketing) to me. No need to go all red in the face and post a never ending stream of denials regarding what an outrageous statement that is. Its just MY opinion. I smell MLM or something very akin to it … is all. There is quite a heirarchy and rank/order. I started to get suspicious when I noticed that very few of the “Cool – A – List Teachers” in the ™ organization mentioned their history with yoga prior to Anusara (for eg. Noah Maze studied many years and was Ashtangi prior to Anusara) but that doesn’t get mentioned. Why? All the elites were superlative top knotch practitioners from other traditions (many Iyengar teachers such as Desiree, etc.) long before they came to Anusara. So why is that negated in their bios? It makes me wonder if they have a “contract” not to mention “the competition” (in particular Ashtanga/Vinyasa/Iyengar). YES yes I know JF is open about his history with Iyengar and Siddha (which IS a cult) but many of his “executive teachers” are not transparent about their path prior to meeting JF. It is part of yoga tradition and lineage to honour all our teachers (guru shishya) … so … it feels kinda ‘suspect’ when that is neglected. It makes me think that they are not giving credit where credit is due and I personally don’t dig that kind of falsity.
    see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guru-shishya_tradition

  • Deborah

    afterthought: I was looking at a training with some Anusara teachers I like and have studied with in the past (Todd/Ann) not because of Anusara, simply because I found them excellent teachers (which they were long before assoc. with Anusara) … but not to digress. In looking at the Pre-Requisites for Anusara TT there was something that just didn’t sit right:
    “A sincere desire to learn, grow, open your heart, and be coachable”. AND BE COACHABLE. Hm. Intersting pre-req. Esp. after being told that I am “unmanagable”.
    (Damn those unmanageable women who come to class and ask too many questions without accepting blindly!) Graduated suma cum laude and have a mind of my own ; clearly that renders me “uncoachable” and therefore undesireable. Pandering sycophants – get in line – and just for YOU ! we have some shri-filled Manduka mats that will make your practice more sacred !! ;)

  • Halid

    well ms. Suma Cum Loudly, your really quite the catch…..

  • D

    Why thank you Halid Hatic, President, Curious Software, Inc.

  • Rock

    I just want to know how many of them hot yoga chicks he banged. John is the Man!

  • anonymous

    Seriously, lots of hotties in those classes. Not bad for such a funny looking dude.

  • Deborah

    My point is that this is BRANDED Iyengar (in terms of Asana). I have studied Iyengar since 1979; all of the “loops” and all of the “anatomy” and all of the “spirals” are PURE IYENGAR.
    YES – JF has created a “unique presentation”. Yes indeedy. He is a VERY clever business man. Havint spent over 20 years employed in the advertising industry, I know clever branding and a clever campaign when I see one, and I know how they are created. The “presentation” of which you refer, is exactly that.
    Packaged and highly marketed in order to exploit the N>American “marketing trend” towards MindBodySpirit Yoga … um-h …. With the requisite TM. Sorry – but branding is branding. And it is NOT yoga. JF is a brand wizard … and that is without question. Free world – more power to him. Just don’t pretend to be something “else”.

  • anonymous

    You are obviously not informed, deborah. The method of describing the actions in anusara is way more effective, at least at the earlier stages of training, to get people into the forms. And the application of universal themes independent of their particular context exponentially increases the rate of learning. That’s why in an Iyengar class you see people who’ve been training for 20 years but still look like anemic cows in their poses.

    To reiterate, I am not saying that an Iyengar yoga teachers don’t describe the same actions. What I am saying is they don’t describe it as elegant of a way (elegant meaning as simply as possible but not too simply), in every pose, starting from the ball joint up through leg into the kidneys. Teaching from a global perspective is a much more effective way to teach than small discrete actions. Iyengar teachers strive for the global, but the method is just not as good as the UPAs in that respect. On the other hand, a lot of times, detail can be lost in an anusara class to the detriment of the students. That detail is available through the loops and the subtler aspects of the UPAs but they are often lost, unless you have a really good teacher.

    I agree the branding is sort of off putting and undermines the system for many, but I am not referencing the branding. I am not talking about the heart language of anusara when I say “presentation.” My point was that anatomy is not what we are talking about here. We are talking about applying a system of thinking about anatomy, which is obviously lost on you to understand.

  • Deborah

    Oh anonymous … you are not seeming very “shri-filled” with your insults. Something that eventally reveals itself about “Kula” people; there is an underlying current of the “bully”. As to your “elegant” languaging. Really? How much of it is truly genuine and “heart felt” as opposed to pretentious posteurizing? Cuz I’ve seen more anusaris then I can count get quite gnarly and uppity when confronted with ideas that are inconsistent with their “conditioning”. Which always points to “groupthink” and mob (sic Cult) mentality.
    I assure you that I am most familiar with yoga anatomy and — I find Ansuara to be grossly lacking beyond only the most superficial. The “material”. I doubt that many anusaris ever move beyond anamayakosha. I find no focus on bandhas … the vayus are conspicuously absent … lines of tensegrity … energy moving in equal yet opposite directions …. etc. Not there. Reminds me of a bright shiney sportscar thats empty uner the hood– missing its engine. :)
    Is all moot anyways because yoga is NOT about the asana. Its about the presence and … the prana …. and thats not Anusara is it? Personal experience indicates that Ansuara focuses primarily on the asana … a circus show … and huge events that generate millions of dollars. Pictures of John Friend in front of thousands of people remind me of picture of Hitler in front of his minions and …. its creepy. http://t0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTrq-7a620ZbY0e223WsAU2LAIi7LC9Yhe39e1dNPOoEkGao-YW

  • Pavanatanaya

    Now Deborah, the expression SHREE ™ is wholey owned by JF and you now owe him $8.00. Om nama Cha chinga

  • Deborah

    LMAO — cheques in the mail … bwahahaha.

    hail to the king!

    http://t1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcR24_TbfRyxuAmYBccYIWXSODwmlMux_v9aK6tqm8EgyvyN5h-wgA

  • Anonymous

    Deborah, can you tell us please what Iyengar system, which you’ve studied since 1979, teaches about satya? Ahimsa?

  • Deborah

    Well, not the one that Mr. Friend was practicing, obviously … haha.
    Always the one up with Anusaris on the defensive.

  • anonymous

    I like you deborah

  • debbydoe

    deborahs an idiot

  • CottonHJ

    Iyengar yoga is based on the eight limbs of Ashtanga yoga. AShimsa is a basic limb of Iyengar yoga. Read light on Astanga Yoga. It explains the limbs quite nicely.

  • Deborah

    The Yamas & Niyamas are not exclusive to any school of yoga, Iyengar or otherwise. They are part of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali that goes beyond any lineage, tradition, or “branded tm”

  • CottonHJ

    Agree with you.

  • CottonHJ

    Sorry I agree to what Deborah says.

  • I am a dedicated Anusara student.
    As with ANY information given to someone else “Anonymously” and lacking proven evidence…one should take it VERY lightly.
    If it was your intention to attract lots of traffic to your site via this particular blog post – Bravo!
    Unfortunately, this kind of hearsay is something you might find on Perezhilton.com

  • Are you Kidding

    Just curious… what would it take for it not to be hearsay…? aside from pictures, e-mails, etc?

  • Yogini

    I AM an Anusara-Inspired Yoga teacher/student, and I just want to say that I’ve always been taught in this system that I AM MY OWN GURU. I’ve never had the feeling that JF was “The Guru.” I have seen the changes in students bodies when the UPA’s and loops are taught to them. I’ve taught other styles of yoga, but have not seen the changes in the students I’ve seen with Anusara, and more importantly, free of injury. So say what you will about the man…but the ‘system’ WORKS. I know that the Truth will be revealed in its own time. It always is…

  • Anusara-Inspired

    I totally agree.

    I will admit that there are people who see John as a guru and hang on his every word. Those people disturb me, and I regularly question the integrity of a system that attracts those kinds of folks. That said, the majority of teachers I’ve encountered are smart enough to question the leadership and often do. That’s what keeps a system working. Not following blindly.

    The commenters here who are castigating Anusara are just as much of a problem as the followers who move through life not questioning John or their own teachers. Opposite extremes, sure, but equally guilty in a dysfunctional conversation.

    For the folks casting aspersions, if you want to have a real conversation about facts, let’s do so. I can’t and won’t claim Anusara or John is infallible. But let’s talk about facts and first-hand experiences, not rumors and hearsay.

  • The injuries are starting to show up.

    I’ve been experiencing an interesting influx of Anusara students (most who have moved here from the US). And, I’m not the only teacher who is experiencing this. Many of my friends in the US are as well.

    I suspect that as more people are learning to teach Anusara, I’m discovering that many are lacking in understanding about how these principles actually work, and try to “force” the principles (for lack of a better description) onto the bodies, rather than teach people how the principles apply. This is leading to a considerable amount of pain and injuries — and really messing up the really nice method that JF created (imo).

    (not Anusara affiliated; 15 years teaching yoga — taught in kripalu with kinesiology focus, iyengar, and astanga; currently teaching my own ‘style’)

  • Deborah

    Interesting article on young woman working towards her Anusara cert; submitting her 3rd video (at $375 a pop I might add):
    http://www.elephantjournal.com/2011/10/dear-anusara-yoga-certification-candidate/
    And I quote: “Some of your students didn’t have their knees bent to 90° in Warrior II,” my newly assigned certification mentor said. (really – all students in class must have their knees bent to 90 in V2 in order to get certified? Really? C’mon) …
    more:
    “I made a second video. This time a frail, elderly woman whom I’d never met before showed up, and unrolled her mat right in front of the camera. Not only could this new student not touch her toes, or step to the front of the mat–she refused to accept my instructions for modifications.
    I needed her to follow my instructions so that I could demonstrate I had command of the class.
    “Put your back knee down,” I said.
    She ignored me.
    “Put your back knee down.” I fisted my hands on my hips, and fixed her with a stink-eye to show her I meant business.”
    “PUT YOUR BACK KNEE DOWN, DAMMIT!”
    I walked off camera and hyperventilated. What hospital bed had this lady crawled out of for the express purpose of RUINING MY LIFE?!

    Well, how about that? Good on the frail elderly old lady for listening to her body … Machiavellian naricissm comes top down in the buisiness of Anusara and seems to attract more of the same.

  • Deborah

    if link doesn’t work, look for :
    Dear Anusara Yoga® Certification Candidate,
    by Bernadette Birney on Oct 2, 201 in Elephant Journal.
    (I believe Waylon is in bed with the Anusara fok- might have some interests in the Brand, just saying … but thats another blog … :)

  • Deborah,
    Waylon is a personal friend and I can tell you that he is neithe a devotee of Anusara nor “in bed” with them. Rather, he tries to keep Elephant Journal on the high road – keeping the door open to as many voices as possible but keeping it closed to rumors and unverified accusations.

    Peace,

    Chris

  • This will be my only comment on this site–please do not twist my words out of context for use in your smear campaign, Deborah Whipple.

  • Hey Bernadette,

    I spent some time reading your blog post. It was well written and witty, and I believe that the “take away” lesson was really about how to see certification as a process. I get that.

    But, I actually disagree with the “certification standards” that you mention. I cannot say how “actual” those standards are from the blog, though, as I do not know about the certification process.

    So, here is where my mind forms a question mark — that 90 degree angle that Deborah quotes. You go on to say that if no knees are injured those knees are in 90 degree angles because that *is* warrior ii.

    I question this. Because for me, warrior II is not predicated on a 90 degree angle, and many other factors beyond knee health may inhibit why the knee would not be at 90 degrees. So, the idea that this element — above others — would be “enforced” by a certifying teacher and thereby the teacher being certified seems . . . strange.

    The school on which Anusara is founded — the Krishnamacharya lineage — asserts that we teach the bodies in front of us based on what is presented. I was taught to adapt the class sequence and the individual postures to the bodies in front of me.

    There are a myriad of reasons why knees may not be 90 degrees and why I may not ‘enforce’ that in my classroom. When I was in my training, my teachers observed easily over 100 of my classes, and in each one, often helped me with specific students, questioned which modifications I was using and why, and also why I wasn’t using some over others.

    Instead of “the student’s knees aren’t 90 degrees” it was “why aren’t the student’s knees at 90 degrees? what is the relevance of that angle, if any?”

    Part of the problem of modern teacher training programs is that the standards are there, but the standards may not be the relevant standards. And now, I wonder if the Anusara teacher training isn’t teaching relevant standards.

    If that is so, then I am sad to hear it. Because honestly, the information and principles are good. But they are principles, not laws, just as the 90 degree angle does not make warrior II warrior II. The standard in this case is not the standard.

    I really did find the article you wrote humorous, and didn’t take the same perspective or experience of it that Deborah did in her quotes.

    But it certainly leads me to question whether or not the Anusara standard is as good or as safe as I once thought it was.

  • Raymond

    Dear Bernadette,

    Thank you so much for being one of the few people making comment on this thread who is adult enough ( I’m not one of those few people!) with the guts to comment with your full name, a picture and a link to who you are! The anonymous nature of these comment threads allows people to be so nasty without taking any responsibility.

    Thank you!

  • Deborah

    Dear Bernadette, this is not MY smear campaign. I have no affiliation with YogaDork whatsoever, nor http://www.jfexposed.com – I am merely a spectator – along for the ride and throwing my two cents in … cuz I can … Each of us is nothing more then another facet of the divine having an experience. Why? Cuz it can.
    Truly. I feel terrible for the many people who will be hurt if these allegations wind up being true, but in my GUT, I feel there is some validity to them because they resonate with the “feeling tone” and accumulated experiences/impressions I have had in “trying” to fall in love with Anusara. And I have tried. Something always feels wrong — off – disingenuous — manipulated & contrived. Too much SHAM WOW yoga and too much focus on “performance”. Like a circus. And alot of trained monkeys. Sorry – just my opinion and … I’ze entitiled to that.
    Having said that, I don’t dispute the fact that there are many mnay FINE & brilliant teachers associated with the ™ brand … and just as many people who stand to become disillustioned if this news proves to be factual. End of day, the sufferings of maya are our greatest ally to awakening. Maybe that be the greater gift that is being offered by the universe in all of “this”. If you truly do get “still” and “open to grace” and explore your hooks and triggers (aka shenpa) as they arise – and listen to the spaces between the thoughts , resting there and letting it (rather then egoic defence mechanisms) inform you (om tat sat) – I have no doubt your heart will explode wide open in a way that is mind boggling and all your attachments and identifications to Anusara ™ will dissolve … bursting like a soap bubble into oblivion. And you will be free …and experience the truth of what yoga IS. Yogash Chitta Vritti Nirodha.

    A Tendency to Shine :

    If you prefer smoke over fire
    then get up now and leave.
    For I do not intend to perfume
    your mind’s clothing
    with more sooty knowledge.
    No, I have something else in mind.
    Today I hold a flame in my left hand
    and a sword in my right.
    There will be no damage control today.
    For God is in a mood
    to plunder your riches and
    fling you nakedly
    into such breathtaking poverty
    that all that will be left of you
    will be a tendency to shine.
    So don’t just sit around this flame
    choking on your mind.
    For this is no campfire song
    to mindlessly mantra yourself to sleep with.
    Jump now into the space
    between thoughts
    and exit this dream
    before I burn the damn place down.

    ~Adyashanti~

  • Deborah,

    Full disclosure, I am a certified Anusara teacher. Having been through the process, I just want to clarify a single point of fact. The $375 fee is a one-time fee for all of the work that is done to review a very lengthy and thorough written exam and as many videos as one needs to submit until they’ve met the standards for certification. It is not a per video charge.

    Laura

  • dan

    disappointing, the only real scandal is the pension which has no supporting information, the rest is just saucy talk and behavior i assumed would be going on having only seen a few videos of the guy… loving the finger pointing and huff and puff about finger pointing and huff and puff though (:

  • Stephanie

    All I saw on that anonymous website were some emails between people that should have been left private and between those people. Proves nothing to me but that people can be shits sometimes. Many of us already knew that.

    Someone above asked why the photos weren’t proof enough? Proof of what? That women have vulvas? why do we need to see those photos? They don’t prove anyone was manipulated or abused, only that someone sent pictures of her anatomy to another. Again, why is this of import to the whole yoga community?

    I’ve read rationales here and elsewhere that this is evidence that yet another predator is amongst us — but I disagree. A man, even a rich and powerful man, can be a real shithead without necessarily being a predator. A woman involved with such a man can be wronged, even horribly wronged, without being a victim of predation. As a feminist, I don’t immediate posit the man in a sitation with all the power to hurt and harm and the woman/en as the only ones able to be hurt and get harmed.

    And I will not even dignify the ‘aspersions’ related to marijuana (“Oh, no. Not that devil weed!”) and Wicannism (seriously? “They be witches!” is still scandalous? I recall a time when saying you were Hindu had people raising eyebrows and wondering what that “heathen idolator” was doing among them).

    The only accusations that appear really worth focusing in on are the financial misdealings of the heads of this Anusara company and the trustworthiness of John Friend who leads the company. Those have far reaching importance, beyond the personal lives of these 4 or 5 families whose names and private lives have now been made public for all to read. And all those people hurt for what? So the world can titter? This was being handled privately among these people and their families and I don’t see why anyone with journalistic integrity would repeat any of this except for the financial stuff. Oh — except to get more readers. You have. Well done.

    And since it’s been demanded by some here that all commentators verify that they are or are not part of Anusara: I am not. I never heard of them before a few months ago when I started reading here and elsewhere about teachers leaving them. But then I also never heard of Lululemon before last November when they became hot news for their bags. Yes, some yogins live under proverbial rocks, I guess…. But regardless of my lack of full entry in the contemporary western yoga ‘world’, I’ll make it clear I’m not an Anusaran yogin so that my comments cannot be dismissed as merely being ‘one of them being defensive’.

  • On the Other Hand

    On the other hand, if you DID have some experience of Anusara and of John Friend in particular, you would experience some major cognitive dissonance between his and their claims to maintain the “highest ethical standards”. You might realize that these kinds of involvements, such as in secret covens, don’t exactly match up with the public face of what you thought you were on board with.

    Everyone is focusing on the pictures, which really do prove nothing. But did you read the letter of “apology” to Laura? The kind of thinking on display in that letter was truly messed up.

    People devote a lot of time and money to that guy.

  • Stephanie

    Yes, if I had invested my time, money, personal/professional identity and ego into Anusara yoga and Mr Friend, yes I guess I could feel hoodwinked that he has clay feet and a desire to fiddle the financial figures. But there is a great deal of ‘buyers remorse’ in yoga — people give their dedication more lightly that it was ever meant to be given to anyone breathing.

    But nothing is convincing me that details of his coven, their sex lives, marriages and infidelities — particularly naming everyone involved and posting all of that private correspondence and the pics — is of public benefit. It’s salacious. It hurts people and achieves nothing but making people feel good to say “oh, but I told you so!” Innocent people who have done nothing but be related to those named (like their chldren) are being dragged through the mud and their private family matters aired. Why? So some folks who parted with yoga money and commited themselves to someone they now see as a false guru can feel self-righteous? That was worth naming and shaming all these people? I dont believe so.

    Anyway. I’m finsihed with it now — I’ve aired my feelings enough. I’ll only keep repeating myself if I don’t let go here.

  • On the Other Hand

    You seem to be assuming that the people named in these revelations did not consent, and are not actively participating in any way in putting this information out there — thus they are being unjustly harmed.

    It may very well be that this is happening because they want it to happen — to protect others from being similarly sucked in. Perhaps the ‘naming’ going on represents a very considerable sacrifice on their part, which might turn out to deserve more than just a shrug and a ‘shit happens’ response.

    Perhaps the people involved see the ‘public benefit’ somewhat differently than you do, and they and their husbands no longer wish to carry the secret as their own private burden either.

    What ‘public benefit’ is served, or what is ‘achieved’ by bringing forth the salacious details of behavior in the distant past by football coaches and priests? Plenty.

    It is really weird that you are focusing more on your distaste for the ‘self-righteousness’ you see in the critics, while giving a shrug and a pass to the (alleged) behavior that led to the criticism and all the pain and shame that followed from it. Apparently you just want them to shut up and not spoil your day.

  • Stephanie

    Those are a heck of lot of perhaps-es. Do you have inside knowledge? Are you yet another anonymous person feeding the rumour mill? Or do you have evidence of something?

    The alleged behaviour was a private matter between consenting adults. The fact that someone chose to make someone elses’ sex lives public does not behoove me to judge them. Sorry. Find another stake-holder for your witch hunt.

  • On the Other Hand

    Stephanie, there is at least some reason to believe that at least some of the materials published on the site were provided by the people who received them, such as the ‘letter of apology’ published there.

    I’ll grant you there are a lot of ‘perhaps’s’ here — ones that are not entirely unreasonable, if you’ll grant you’ve made some assumptions yourself. I’m content to sit back and watch it play out. Both ‘sides’ have a point to make, and time will tell.

    So far I’ve held out for having Mr. Friend respond, and even asked if their own Ethics Committee plans to look into it. That is hardly a witch hunt, so calm down.

  • Stephanie

    To “On the Other Hand February 4, 2012 at 2:39 pm” — how rude & condescending of you to tell me to ‘calm down’, which I’m sure you know. It’s a well-worn tactic to discredit someone who continues to (dares to?) disagree with you and whom you are having a hard time silencing. It’s poor form.

  • On the Other Hand

    You are also making an assumption that the people involved did not know this was coming, and that it was done by a third party. That is also a ‘perhaps’ which you are taking for granted. Or do you have evidence that they are not involved.

    My apologies for being rude and condescending in asking you to calm down. You have of course commented on how your ‘back is up.’

    And you seem to be focusing almost exclusively on the sexual issue. Other issues such as the pension did not involve mutual consent, and can be more clearly resolved.

    We’ll wait and see.

  • Stephanie

    Now, now, dont be disingenuous: with a headline that reads “Wiccan Leader, Sexual Deviant, Pension Withholding Homewrecker?” — it’s clear that only 1/4 of the interest YD had in publishing this, at best, had to do with people’s pensions. The headline itself is designed to gear the conversation that follows on the purported ‘deviancy’ of a sexual nature and the anoymous website spends more than half it’s time trying to get readers morally outraged by the sexual shennanigans and ‘deviancy’ of this ‘Wiccan’ coven member.

    And, yes, I most certainly have dealt with pensions issue in my statements. Quite clearly.

    And if you genuinely had a ‘let’s wait and see’ attitude, you’d not be trolling the thread making sure you get the last work on anyone not agreeing with the publication of this gossip or not agreeing that it does more good than harm.

    But I’m sure nothing I say will stop you, so… enjoy. It’s bedtime in my real world.

  • On the Other Hand

    Hmmm. Pot. Kettle. Black. You do seem to have a penchant for continued commenting too, and your own special brand of condescension as well. But I wouldn’t go so far as to call you a ‘troll.’ That’s your own tactic.

    In the beginning, you said you didn’t know Mr. Friend or anything about all this until it came up here. You’re very sure of your pronouncements on this issue, despite the fact that there is well over a decade of history involved.

    Anybody who has been around for a while knows the score, and quite frankly you really don’t know what you’re talking about, apart from voicing your indignation over this apparent ‘witch hunt’ and the irrelevance of accusations about sexual conduct.

    People who have been around know the difference between the public face and the private business face (which yes indeed acts to punish critics and those — including studios — who do not stay in line. Or is it ‘in alignment.’) Not to mention the other faces.

    And those who have recently ‘left’ have by and large been pretty careful about what they say, and for good reason. The knife comes in the back, not the front.

    And I’m pretty sure that YD is standing by this despite the flaming being dished out by critics because she knows there is truth behind the story.

    People who have been around for a while know what HASN’T been written yet. When I say ‘Wait and see,’ it’s less of an accusation and more of a prophesy. But you wouldn’t know that. Perhaps you should ask more questions, rather than telling people off and lecturing from your distant vantage point.

    Don’t get me wrong — much of what you have said is valuable insight and true, though you overlook the power differentials at play. It’s just that your very valid insights don’t necessarily apply to the present situation with the kind of force you think they do.

    I yield the remaining time to my esteemed colleague, and grant her the last word. Me, I’ll sit back and watch. It’s been something like a year since the NYT article. There’s more to come.

  • Stephanie

    via OTOH: “In the beginning, you said you didn’t know Mr. Friend or anything about all this until it came up here. You’re very sure of your pronouncements on this issue, despite the fact that there is well over a decade of history involved. ”

    No, what I said was I hadn’t heard of Anusara yoga until a few months ago when people began to publicly leave the organisation. It’s just not big where I live. And, no, I do not know Mr Friend or any of the people involved. I had heard the name John Friend (it’s unique enough to remember) but don’t recall in what context before the whole exodus-of-teachers aspect of this scandal began to unfold. That’s it really. My issues are general.

    You are certainly right that I don’t have an interest or deep knowledge in the 10 years of back scene nonsense of this or any of the branded/commercialised forms of yoga. That is not required to comment here. Other people are deeply vested (as your last statement appears to make you; suggesting, as you say, that you have insider knowlege of more to come etc and people who will be making claims, so you can sit back and wait and see), well great. I’m not. I’m commenting on what I have in front of me and the general dynamics of relying on unverfied sources, of a scandal unfolding, and of the witch hunt and rush to judgement mentalities.

    Not everyone commenting here is from the USA and steeped inside it’s yoga world and issues (we all don’t read Yoga Journal, for instance). I’m glad for that. Allows for perspective. Most of what I know about what is going on in the US yoga scene I have gathered from sites like Yoga Dork, Recovering Yogi and Elephant Journal over the past few months. But what I understand about the dynamics of abusive relationships, authoritarian organisational structures, and the dynamics of the growth and spread of scandals comes from a few decades of personal experience, some professional experience, and research. If that makes comes across to you as “special brand of condescension” — well, very sorry about that. I am not a condescending person, to my mind, but I’m not a wallflower in a conversation either.

  • On the Other Hand

    A ‘witch hunt’ suggests an imagined crime that ultimately gets laid upon the innocent for irrational reasons. This is not a witch hunt.

    You are perfectly right that you can comment on the general issues. And history does matter, despite your calling it “back scene nonsense.” Many people are looking upon this as scurrilous gossip generated by some disgruntled misanthrope with a keyboard. Some awareness of the context tells a different story: that pressures have been building for some time around these issues which led to the dam finally busting in a way that is messy, ugly, even unethical, but entirely inevitable.

    You are entirely justified in commenting based on what you “understand about the dynamics of abusive relationships, authoritarian organisational structures, and the dynamics of the growth and spread of scandals comes from a few decades of personal experience, some professional experience, and research.” I would not take that away from you at all.

    But do take the context into account. Not only is Mr. Friend an employer who determines salaries, positions, and also manages the pensions of the employees; he also directs the certification process for teachers seeking the economic advantage of certification, and he provides the fast tract to certification. He also has the power to pressure teachers into giving up their certification, and has exercised it. He also has the power in very public forums to praise, promote, and raise the status of those whom he favors, pulling them up on the stage. And he has indeed done much good in encouraging and promoting teachers who have blossomed into their own.

    He also has the power to publicly correct, criticize, embarrass and even humiliate teachers with whom he is displeased, and he exercises it. There are quite a few witnesses to that. He is even capable of ostracizing people with whom he is displeased from the community, and also to direct surrogates to harass them. This he has also done, and he has by and large managed to keep this out of the public eye — so this will come as a shocking and ‘unfounded’ accusation to some. (It’s true that he has. Deal with it.)

    There is plenty of reason to seek his favor, and plenty reason to fear his displeasure.

    So I would find it hard to believe that you, based on your experience, would not find this to be a situation ripe for abuse — and on many levels, far beyond the simply sexual. And I find it hard to think that there is really an argument between us.

    But to understand the abusive nature or possibilities of the situation requires a knowledge of the context, and of the forces at work that led pretty much unavoidably to the present situation. And also the nature of the situation makes it extremely unlikely that it all might have been resolved in private. That hasn’t happened so far.

    The anonymity of it all is yes, quite unethical, but speaks to the very situation itself. The person providing documentation both to EJ and here is very concerned to maintain anonymity for personal protection. That should tell you a lot right there; the harassment even of people who CAN back up what they’re saying is very real, and it does happen.

    How much can you blame a person for not wanting to paint a target on his or her back? And how much blame should go to those who promote the kind of harassment that generates fear and makes openness and transparency dangerous?

    I really don’t disagree with you, Stephanie, and I would like to get to the place where we are beyond the idea that I am a persistent troll who can’t let go of making you ‘wrong’ at every turn. Count yourself lucky indeed that you are not at the center of all of this, and can maintain something of that perspective. I don’t begrudge you that.

    You say I have a vested interest in this. My vested interest is this: I’m sick of it too, and hold on to the notion that if what has been brewing beneath finally gets out in the open, we can all resolve it, get beyond it and move on, with some kind of resolution for all who have been hurt by it. The longer we do not deal with such situations as a community of people practicing and promoting yoga, the worse it will fester.

    The accusations are not just gossip or a rush to judgement any more than the eruption of a volcano is a sudden and arbitrary event; forces have been building that eventually HAD to lead to a vomiting forth of this smelly lava, and suppressing it just leads to an even nastier eruption later. Planting flowers on a volcano doesn’t stop it from erupting.

    You’re right that the way in which this has happened is wrong. But the accusations are not baseless, nor are they in any sense silly. An awareness of the pain, fear and anger behind the experiences of the different people affected lead me to say I would have been surprised if it happened in any other way. That doesn’t make it right, but there’s more to this than the ethics of journalism at stake. It almost couldn’t NOT happen.

    The spilling of the story led to a rush to judgement on the part of those reading about it; but you too have made a rush to judgement of your own when you rail against it as a gossipy witch hunt, effectively passing judgement on those who brought forth and stood by the story without being aware of the bigger picture. Some awareness of the context on your part — which I don’t at all blame you for not having (I wish I didn’t know about any of this crap either) — might have added an extra level of perspective and insight to your comments. I have been trying to suggest the bigger picture as ‘on the other hand.’

    I hear and understand your complaints, and I don’t believe that we really have an argument here. I’m just hoping that you’ll put your guard down a little and understand.

    For real, I’m done here.

  • verysad

    I am an Anusara student/teacher and also a former Dahn Yoga student/teacher. Along with 20+ other former Dahn Yoga students, we filed a lawsuit against their guru Ilchi Lee about 3 years ago that is on-going and related to some of the topics on jfexposed, though I must say a million times worse which is why we are suing. Rape, Rico Violations, serious labor violations, serious abuse.

    My opinion having been through this before:

    John Friend not being a guru takes the degree of these violations down a notch-lapses of integrity are human. They become a serious crime when you’ve declared yourself above human, which he hasn’t.

    Stock answers like “This is a conspiracy, the women are all liars” yadayada are not going to cut it for me. We all knew Herman Cain was a liar, Ilchi Lee acted the same way as Herman. Ilchi Lee’s students have treated us the same too-I am a hated person now in Dahn, a supposed love focused and truth seeking community. So stock answers from JF and stock defenses from Anusara yogis will only serve to distance me at this point, even if I continue to practice and teach.

    John, you need to either prove this is a conspiracy or fess up to your humanness. Labor violations: BAAAD; love triangle……you need to learn better boundaries in your relationships-dont become the dick that soooo many men become. Pot, who cares. Coven, who cares. If you are just a man as you have claimed, then be a man. Restore your dignity either with proof or with humble honesty. Stock answers may convince your people who want to have a stock response because it hurts too much to think how your life must change now that you know this about your teacher. But the people who really need to be convinced are those of us on the outskirts and not involved at all. We are the ones who will continue to spread the word, whatever it ends up being.

  • On the Other Hand

    Mr. Friend does not declare himself to be above human — but does remind us at every opportunity of how Anusara maintains the ‘highest ethical standards’ and of excellence while preaching love and compassion, seeing only the good, and performing actions that enhance the good. His actions do need to measure up to those claims, or else he shouldn’t be making them.

    The tendency against critics is not only to offer up stock answers, but to attack and demonize them. Keep your eye out to see how much that happens, especially through surrogates. YD is already taking heavy flak.

    The question needs to be redirected toward the man himself: “Is this true?!,” and attention should be paid to the quality of his “Hell no” answer — especially his tendency to paint himself as the victim of his “betrayers” (a word he has often used, including in public workshops).

    You’re right that he should fess up to his humanness if there is any truth to anything that is being said, so people have a better idea of who they are dealing with, rather than swallowing his ‘dharma talks’ uncritically.

    And who knows? He might win himself a whole new group of eager coven participants.

  • Williams

    Thank you the clarity and for what you are saying here. It confirms everything I have already realized a long time ago.

  • Deborah

    Anusara is to yoga and spiritual growth what Monsanto is to seeds and physical nourishment. Anusara is a charlatans game comparable in its fraudulence to prosperity theology.
    -betsy purvis-

    Many comments that the sex, the drugs, the coven doesn’t really matter and is none of our business, all that matters is pension fenagling. Really. Think about it. The man is worshipped by thousands, hundreds of thousands, and is capitalizing upon his svengali like influence. I am not a prude … far from it … I enjoy sex, I smoke pot (when I want to clean my house LOL), and I am a practicing witch with a deep connection to nature and its rhythms. I take no umbrage against any of it … except that I don’t use my status power and influence to manipulate fawning young women as my playthings, I don’t use my employees and put them at risk to run my drugs, and I don’t get involved with married people who have young families that stand to be very hurt. (Clearly the man has some serious entitlement issues) … Black tantra and sexuality have nothing whatsoever to do with Wicca. “An Ye Harm None, Do What Ye Will” is the wiccan creed and he has broken that also so he is a fraud on many levels. Such conduct of a “spiritual leader” is morally reprehensible. For shame. And that does matter when his corporate Brand uses and exploits the faith that “his people”(good people) have in him. Anusara is indeed a charlatan’s game comparable in its fraudulence to prosperity theology.

  • On the Other Hand

    Well said.

  • Halid

    ….and you know this all to be true based upon what? Your anonymous source who gave you such a hot story after Elephant Journal rightfully told them to go elsewhere…I guess the world is lucky it has you to keep the story straight…..or at least to keep it going so you can get more CPM’s on your bullshit site.

  • Deborah

    This is not my site Halid. FYI.
    Although – thanks ! :) I may have to start contributing more often.

  • D

    Why thank you Halid Hatic, President, Curious Software, Inc. … Spandarama Yoga, Santa Fe, Rasa Juice Bar …. and part of the inner clique that is known as “Lets scam the public and get filthy rich Anusara”.
    (I know it to be true because it is true).

  • Deborah

    Anusara has VIP afterparties at their events.
    VIP afterparties. I think that “says it all”.

  • Deborah

    stinky housewife just thinks that any sangha … kula … satsang … call it what you will, drifts away from having any hint of integrity or validity; inclusiveness, and shri-filled open hearted community which creates a dividing line between “VIPs” (elitists) and “others”. that sucks in yoga community and is appalling to me. just saying.
    it also creates an atmosphere and area where the element of “social climbing” enters into the equation and … in my experience, that is what Anusara ™ is all about … and how they make much of their coin. Kinda hypocritical dontcha think?

  • Halid

    hah, the pot calling the kettle black…when you are the biggest hypocrite of all, claiming any shred of partiality or journalistic integrity.

  • Deborah

    I am not a journalist Halid and am not bound to uphold “partiality” (I think you mean impartiality) and … if I were you I’d be very careful about using the term
    “integrity” since of all the commentators on this thread, you seem to be the one with the least amount of it.

  • Pablo

    Give me a break, move on, it’s beginning to smell like housewife

  • Deborah

    stinky housewife just thinks that any sangha … kula … satsang … call it what you will, drifts away from having any hint of integrity or validity … any hint of inclusiveness and shri-filled open hearted community when they create a dividing line between “VIPs” (elitists) and “others”. That sucks in yoga community and is appalling to me. Makes me feel like all the flowery love and light languaging is just pretentious postuerizing and is what initially put me on “anusara alert”. I think they are many many people who have experienced yogic snobbery and elitism within Anusara ™ community. And, from what I understand quite a bit of social bullying as wel. Just saying.
    Such dynamic creates an atmosphere and arena where the element of “social climbing” enters into the equation and in my experience, that is what Anusara ™ is all about … and how they make much of their coin. Wanting to be with the “in” coolA and spending copious amounts of coin to do so. Kinda hypocritical dontcha think? N.American commercialism is based upon exploitation of the “needy” and all major brand managers and promoters know this. Ansuara is a very cleverly managed product.

  • wandering_dervish

    This is just schlock…..who cares about this guy and what he’s done personally behind closed doors. So, what! The women were equally willing to participate, didn’t sound like the guy coerced anyone. The assistant who stole the private information, emails, Skype logs and photos is the one who should be on the hot seat. What a vindictive creep to want to ‘ruin’ his employer because he lost his job. And all of this story looks contrived. What a waste of time to bring this to the eyes and ears of the internet. Children have access to these photos also. The whole article is in bad taste and no backing to really know if it’s truth or not. Everybody involved is guilty from the assistant who stole the private materials to the writer of this story for having ulterior motives and dubious agendas.

  • Halid

    bingo, and speaking of agendas, what do you think of the agenda of our dubious host to this stupid blog? Deborah, your turn…..

  • Spencer Stein

    John Friend changed my life.

    6 months ago I had spinal cord surgery leaving me with awful back pain and numbness and tingling constantly radiating down the lower half of my body. Part of my legs were so numb they felt like wood and other parts were so sensitive to touch that it was painful for even bed sheets to touch my legs.

    After a lot of pain and frustration, John took me under his wing and treated me like family as he texted me daily to hang out and do yoga with him. I am now pain free and have seen MAJOR improvements from the nerve damage. He also mentored me and taught me a lot more about life than just yoga.

    He changed my life. Stop this noise now.

    You can learn about my story on this TED Talk.
    http://www.tedmed.com/videos-info?name=Lee_Stein_at_TEDMED_2011&q=updated&year=all

  • Awesome Spenser!

    I’m glad that you have gotten such great results from yoga. :)

  • All this appeal to ahimsa and community cohesion so early on in the discussion is lamentable – there is nothing about yoga that suggests we should be putting our heads in the sand! So how about some exotic classical Nyaya Indian logic? It’s called INFERENCE and it goes something like this:-

    1) There is fire on the hill (called Pratijñā, required to be proved)
    2) Because there is smoke there (called Hetu, reason)
    3) Wherever there is smoke, there is fire, e.g. in a kitchen (called Udāhārana, example of vyāpti)
    4) The hill has smoke that is pervaded by fire (called Upanaya, reaffirmation or application)
    5) Therefore there is fire on the hill (called Nigamana, conclusion)

  • Stephanie

    The ‘where there is smoke there must be fire’ argument (no matter how dressed up in any language) always gets my back up.

    I think I’ll refer to the “Thinker’s Guide to Logical Fallacies: The Art of Mental Trickery”, p. 27, segment entitled: Dirty Trick #16 – the where there is smoke there is fire fallacy:

    “The manipulator knows that once serious charges have been made against a person, it may be difficult if not impossible for the accused to clear away the suspicion that there must be something to the charge… Rumors take on a life of their own. This is therefore one of the foulest of the 44 foul ways to win an argument.” — http://goo.gl/UB7YX

    Again, I have no idea if the rumors are true, will be proven true, or if ‘worse’ things will surface. But this whole rush to judgement, pitchforks raised, there must be fire, let’s make damn sure we discredit anyone who gets in our way mentality is so highly disturbing it is taking away any credit from those who have a problem with this man or the way he runs this organisation. If he is so dastardly, you are running the risk of making him a martyr with all this hastiness, judgement, muckraking and diving into the mire of salacious gossip.

  • Pavanatanaya

    Ya know, my 4K investment in Yoga Teacher Training seems a waste of time and money now . A teacher training that required I buy JFs manual. A manual that included an ethical statement about the Teacher Student relationship. Seems to me that the “KULA” ought to be filing suit for Fraud. This guy is a Charlatan of the worst kind. Like Pierre Bernard, he skirts the ethical standards he himself preaches and changes locations often enough to seem Mystical.

  • VedaGurl

    Am I the only one actually *impressed* that John Friend offered a pension plan to his employees to begin with? Does Bikram or Iyengar or Core Power Yoga offer pensions to their employees? It sounds like he at least intended to do something good for his people. Apart from the unfortunate and illegal fact that he ended up freezing the assets, it’s still a nice thing for a corporation in today’s world to offer — even though the path of his good intentions led clearly to hell. John Friend tries to be a nice guy, which is his problem. After reading the interview in elephant, I felt like I’d eaten too much candy loaded with corn syrup. Nothing is “all good.” We live in a dual world. Light depends on shadow and vice versa. And I think JF is now learning in a very public and hard way that he has a shadow side and instead of tip-toeing through the shree-filled tulips, he ought to confront it and deal with it. Just because you’re a “nice” guy doesn’t save you from the wrath of women scorned who are only screwing you because of your power and certainly not because they’re turned on by a poochy middle-age man who was a former accountant. Just because you’re a “nice” guy doesn’t save you from the real limitations of running a corporation in greedy america and the bottom line realities of offering pensions and health benefits — and preserving your profits. And just because you’re a “nice” guy doesn’t mean that everyone who you trusted won’t turn against you when you’re gaining more success than you ever dreamed possible. Maybe John Friend needs to stop being so “nice” and start being real. It would be refreshing. It’s his blissy one-sided-ness that’s causing all the trouble for him. Pull out your freak flag and let it fly. Show us that you’re human.

  • Deborah

    whoot whoot ! well said.

  • Pavanatanaya

    Well, I agree that it is nice to offer a pension in this day and age. I would bet that the pension was compensation for lower earnings. He also equivocates as to his reasoning for doing so and as I understand it, the Dept of Labor is not amused. Smokin Shakti wont keep him out of the Pokey if he is convicted of Pension Fraud.

  • anonymous

    Friend will not go to jail for the pension plan thing. If you look at the source provided by yoga dork, the penalties outlined in the document are pecuniary. Yoga people are notoriously bad at worldly matters, such as legal issues. But you would think that he would have lawyers to advise him against this choice given the clear guidance from the IRS.

    Depending on the organizational form of Anusara, Inc., Friend may be able to block his removal, especially if it is an LLC and he is the sole member. I think it’s a far-fetched idea that Anusara would continue without Friend as the leader, I think the organization depends on his leadership. Sure, the organization could try it, but I think it would flounder.

    I predict that Friend will maintain the leadership position and the market will punish him and Anusara based on this information. Maybe his classes won’t be so full that they are hard to enjoy anymore.

    I don’t think this spells the end to Friend. He will survive this, and assuming the penalties from the pension issue don’t bankrupt the business, Anusara will survive as well. Friend will almost surely be protected from personal liability for the pension thing, standing behind the shield of the corporate form.

    He’ll probably stop sending pot through the mail, or at least he should. Surely he can get marijuana now that he’s relocating to california without shipping across state lines, implicating federal law. Lots of people do this, but it is dumb. He should just go without smoking pot if he can’t get it in any of the locations he teaches.

    I also predict some major lawsuits from Friend against the actors behind this website. And I think it’s a perfectly reasonable thing for him to go after these guys.

  • VedaGurl

    There’s something else that bothers me about what’s now being revealed about John Friend and Anusara. It’s the Wicca thing. And no, it’s not because I’m some kind of prude who finds offense in imagining the leader of the most popular form of yoga combining his doughy body with the hot orifices (unfortunately photographed) of his inner circle chicks. And it’s not because I think he “wrecked” anyone’s marriage. (IMO, if you value your marriage you don’t join these kinds of “covens” unless your partner doesn’t mind. It sounds like it was consensual — but I digress…) I’m bothered by the Wicca thing because JF seems to imply that it has some kind of close ideological relationship with Anusara but in all the years that I’ve dabbled with this practice and hung out with some of his most dedicated teachers, I’ve never heard of such a connection being made. And I think that’s deceptive. He tries to make it out like Anusara is some kind of authentic tantrika *lineage,* when really it seems more and more like a hybrid invention with Wicca closely aligned at its core. (And no real Guru, by the way, which is the most important aspect of any real tantrika lineage that I’ve ever come across in my long and extensive scholarly studies on such topics. There is no Tantra without proper initiation by a qualified Guru. As a recipient of shaktipat from his Gurumayi, you’d think JF would really get that aspect. But since no one in American yoga wants to accept the role of the Guru it doesn’t do well for marketing. But again, I digress…) I’m not against Wicca, but I think it would be appropriate to know if it’s a part of the yoga I practice so I can choose whether it fits with my spiritual motivations in practicing Anusara Yoga. I’m sure many, many Anusara teachers and students would like to understand the connection as well. And decide on their own if the made-up and so-called “lineage” of Anusara is really aligned with anything authentically tantrika.

  • Right, VedaGurl. As a professional scholar of original Tantra, I can confirm that Anusara is not a Tantrik lineage, nor does it claim to be. It is inspired by some of the Tantrik teachings, no more and no less. While JF appears to be also personally inspired by Wicca, he did not make those principles a part of the Anusara curriculum. He is, surely, allowed to have personal views and preferences that do not form part of his public teaching. Anusara immersions form a context in which people can get a little taste of the Tantrik teachings, and then investigate more if they want to. But it is not a Tantrik yoga, as anyone who reads about that topic in my book will see for themselves. My book is published by Anusara, because John wants to promote scholarship on the subject. He also published Bill Mahony’s book, but that hardly implies a claim to be in Nārada’s bhakti lineage.

  • Meredith

    thank you. This post is the most important thing I’ve read in the last 48 hours. And, I ordered your book on Thursday morning…thank goodness I’ll have that to focus my attention on too!

  • Halid

    Right on Chris, thanks for bringing some clarity to this screwball discussion

  • VedaGurl

    Well, I certainly appreciate the intelligent response — and the pitch for your book! :-) Perhaps you might have a tiny interest in defending the integrity of Anusara, no? This isn’t a criticism. We all need to promote our work, but I think you can address the issues here without putting forth a dig in for your book. It’s starting to seem a bit tacky. Just sayin’. But I digress…My comments arose partly out of response to JF’s interview with elephant (which perhaps is a now a no, no to bring up here on YD, but swaha) in which Anusara is referred to as a “lineage.” Perhaps that term was used more loosely than I define it, but I do think that a lot of Anusara people think that what they practice is some kind of authentic lineage with an actual tradition behind it. And that’s not true. Perhaps I shouldn’t respond to JF’s personal email about Wicca as some kind of official statement about Anusara’s guiding philosophy — but since the reasons the departing teachers are giving is a misalignment with the “teachings” of Anusara it would be nice to know if there’s more than just the party line on that one — especially since they never had any problem with being “misaligned” over the past 10 years. In fact, these teachers helped create the Anusara curriculum. From a scholarly perspective, I think this whole issue brings up very, very interesting questions about lineage — mixing and matching — and if there is anything that could be considered “authentic” tradition. (By the way, you should at least include the url of your book promo site so we can order it!)

  • Stephanie

    VedaGirl, to be fair, I’m not sure it was (just?) a dig in for his book. I remember reading yesterday (I don’t have the time to go through all the posts to find it) that this same author was taken to task for not making it explicit that Anusara had published his book when he made his first comment and he was chastised for that silence. So I only saw his mention of the book as a way to address that critique and making his connection to Friend explicit…. but I could be wrong. Maybe he is just plugging his book ;)

  • Correct, Stephanie. I was just trying to be transparent, not plug the book per se. And I agree with VedaGurl that the use of the term “lineage” with reference to Anusāra is inappropriate. Thanks for your comments.

  • D_Bob

    Chris, your book is excellent and worth promoting. It is a valuable contribution to an understanding of tantra and of Kashmir Shaivism in particular.

    I’m a little concerned about the direction your argument is taking here. Anusara has a fairly well-defined philosophy that aligns with major concepts drawn from Kashmir Shaivism, as defined by the founder of Anusara. Teachers who have recently decided that they are no longer fully in alignment with that philosophy chose to resign their certification, citing this philosophical departure as one of their reasons. They had personal views and preferences that did not conform to what was expected of their public teaching, and so they chose to be true to their own views, so that what they taught matched fully with what they themselves felt.

    You seem to be suggesting something close to saying that the founder himself can hold views and pursue practices inspired by a very different tradition, setting up a pretty significant disconnect between practice and preaching. And that it’s OK.

    You risk suggesting that he demands of others an ‘alignment’ with teachings that he does not require of himself.

    Let’s indeed give John Friend the benefit of a doubt owed to him, and agree that none of the accusations leveled have provided any conclusive and compelling evidence. Therefore, innocent of these alleged deeds unless proven otherwise.

    The real issue is this question of disconnect between the public face of a ‘yoga’ that is quite literally packaged and trademarked, and the private beliefs and convictions of the person who created it.

    Many of us believe that yoga includes the quest for authenticity, for the consistency between ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ that is suggested by virtues such as truthfulness.

    I would be careful with suggesting justifications for a disconnect between the two — to suggest that for a person teaching yoga to say one thing for public consumption and yet think something quite different from that is fine. Don’t be surprised if people get upset. Many many people will reasonably withhold judgement on whether any of this is true, and will still be unsettled by what seems to be a pretty significant dichotomy (i.e. Wiccan v. ‘Tantra’) between the inner and outer man. Don’t be surprised if they are disturbed by that, especially when they ask themselves whether they want to align themselves and invest in that.

    Leave aside the issues of whether there is any truth to the accusations or not, and also leave aside the issue of being human, fallible, subject to temptation and mistakes.

    The issue is one of trust — especially trust in a teacher.

    Please don’t suggest that it’s OK to say one thing and to think another. That’s not what teaching is about. John Friend can certainly support the expression of divergent views in any way he likes. But what is demanded of teachers is authenticity in the expression of their own views.

    The current issue has shaken people’s trust in what they assumed was that authenticity. And for people in — or entering into — yoga who are concerned and conscientious about remaining true to their own spiritual views, that’s a big deal.

  • Wow, D_Bob, thanks for your really thoughtful comments here, they are much appreciated. I certainly did *not* mean to suggest that it’s okay to say one thing and think another. To teach something very different from what one practices — agreed that that is not the level of authenticity that we require from our teachers of yoga. The question is, is it in fact the case that John teaches one thing and practices another? He has testified that Wicca as he understands it is aligned with the teachings he gives as a public Anusara teacher. So he was not (consciously) being hypocritical on that front. The question is, to what extant is that belief delusional? To judge that one would have to be both close to the man himself and possessed of acute discernment. I don’t know enough about John’s Wicca practice to make a statement about it. But you are certainly right that we should be concerned about any possible disconnect between the public and private persona of a major teacher. My point was just that we don’t have enough information to make a call about whether that disconnect is really operative here. Now, if anyone says “I don’t want to study with a yoga teacher who’s also a Wicca practitioner, since I don’t want a syncretistic practice, and that private identity is bound to influence his teaching” then I totally respect that decision. I just don’t think it’s going to be everyone’s decision. Does that clarify things? best, Chris

  • D_Bob

    Thanks Chris — I didn’t think you were advocating it, and thank you for sharing your thoughts further. The ‘Wiccan’ involvement has certainly not been secret, so it’s not a question of hypocrisy in keeping that hidden, since it wasn’t hidden. And a number of people are nevertheless shocked or concerned with what the larger ramifications of the apparent associations may be shaping up to be. That includes some Wiccan people who are concerned that Wiccan itself is being misrepresented, if only by association.

    And there should be enough clarity that people know what they are signing on to, without being shocked later. Even some Anusara teachers may find themselves uncomfortable with how far down the rabbit hole the mixing or syncretism of these two systems goes.

    As far as any disconnect, apparently Mr. Friend is taking the opportunity to speak to EJ soon, and we may get some light on that based upon his answers.

    In any case, your reply does clarify things as far as your own position, and thank you. Best to you too.

  • karmafairy

    Why is everyone being so mean to each other here?

  • Katie

    For reals.

  • anonymous

    shutup!

  • Laura

    What an incredible story, Spencer! Thank you for sharing!
    Thank you, John.

  • anonymous

    Deborah = complete retard that obviously has a bone to pick and way too much time on her hands.

  • LOL

    Ya think? ;) I love how she refutes any valid point with “Anusarians are so defensive!”, rather than engage on the merits.

    And that she didn’t get the sarcastic question about the yamas/niyamas. Clearly we’re dealing with a genius.

  • Deborah

    i have no bone to pick; just like to exercise my critical thinking skills much the same as i like to exercise my body and my breath (its important to stay sharp) …
    but seriously … i truly do feel your pain…
    obviously i have pushed your buttons and triggered you into a defensive and negative reaction. usually that means that the ego is threatened so — embrace it for whait is “anonymous” … and practice svadyaya.
    I must thank you for being so willing to support my argument regarding small minded mob mentality and how quickly the shri filled, open hearted, seeing the good in all … (um-hm) …is so ‘empty’ and pretentious that it “turns sour” when confronted with contradictory ideas which don’t support their spiritual intoxication and conditioned programme. Prati Paksha Bhavana … try it – you might like it. blessings from the other side.

  • suck it

    suck it deb. I am not a part of the mob you speak of. You are just retarded…very obviously stupid…totally full of shit. You are probably sitting back drinking your daily bottle of wine right now, staring away at your computer, deeply in pain from lost love and the tragedy of life, hoping for a better tomorrow while forcing yourself to be okay with your spiky hair and the present moment…talking shit about things you know very little about is not going to make your life better. good luck finding your happiness, which was clearly lost long ago.

  • Deborah
  • Deborah for President

    Because clearly she doesn’t give a shit at all about this. She is so beyond all of this, it’s truly amazing. What a woman. She is merely exercising her critical thinking skills and she does so well with them! Kudos to her. I hereby move to nominate her as president of the People-Who-Clearly-Don’t-Give-a-Shit-About-Anusara-or-John-Friend-Because-The-Graph-Says-So Committee! Yes, I realize that she is has spent the last 24 hours attending to this matter. But she is just exercising her thinking skills people! She doesn’t care at all. Clearly she is the right gal for the job.

    IdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiotIdiot

  • Karls

    So you are a therapist and are able to diagnose people on internet forums. Truly amazing!

  • L

    Well said, suck it! Thank you. I have practiced anusara for awhile, after trying many other styles and getting injured. I really appreciate the system of alignment that has helped me to heal those injuries. John seems nice enough, but I’m pretty indifferent to him personally. I do think that Deborah might want to research Borderline Personality Disorder. Alhtough it won’t earn you “lots of money”, perhaps you can use your significant analytical skills to diagnose yourself. Or perhaps you should make an appointment with a professional asap. You are spending a lot of time on this for someone who doesn’t give a shit…

  • Halid

    Yes, appropriately named, except it should be “retarded dork…”…quoting an anonymous source as if is reliable, wait until a witch hunt stalks you and accuses you anonymously of abhorrent behavior…..of course, you’ll just “breathe it away…..” with the same sewer smell that wafts from this stupid non-story….

  • Halid

    That site you listed is already down…so I hope you get your ass sued off just like the moron who put up that totally libelous trash….have you no journalistic standards at all? Not to mention any real yogic standard of ethical treatment in your “reporting” if that’s what you call it….”www.retard_dork.com”…kinda catchy, wouldn’t you say?

  • tathaastu

    The internet provides a cloak of anonymity for the type of open schadenfreude that is displayed in the comments and immature attacks upon “Deborah” displayed here. They do nothing to contribute to open, intelligent discussion about important issues that affect the yoga community. The personal is political and vice versa; we each have our own experience and opinion and each is equally valid. Whether the allegations against Friend are true or not – it is clear that many people on this thread have had less then positive experiences within the Anusara fold and that is relevant overall in exploring our relationship to the teachings as well as the community. I have read Dborahs comments and the comments of others, and although I have not had the same experiences, she makes some very valid observations which have made me re-think some of my own experiences. Thank you Deborah (and everyone) for having the courage to share openly in such a hostile environment.

  • HY

    “it is clear that many people on this thread have had less then positive experiences within the Anusara fold ”

    It is clear that many people on this thread are jumping on the “it’s a cult!” bandwagon without having set foot inside at all. My own involvement with Anusara is marginal and only as a student, but on the level of a Tuesday night class with a not-a-celebrity teacher it is certainly not a cult nor a money making machine, it’s a class like any other I attend in my studio. Therefore I can see that all the “Anusara is a cult” comments only show that the persons speaking have no direct experience with the whole of Anusara – unless they qualify their remarks as regarding only some people or cases and provide examples.

  • Karls

    You yoga folks are a little nutsy…

  • Stewart Lawrence

    Deborah, independent thinking’s not allowed in Anusara! You have to check with John first. Didn’t you get the memo?
    Tsk, tsk…

  • Amanda

    I am seriously offended by this article. I think that true Yogis don’t gossip or spread un-verified information.

    I am an Anusara student. I have met John many times and have close friends that have taken many trips and sessions with John as well and NEVER has any of this ever been a topic. We strive as teachers to keep our proper space AS teachers.

    The money thing is something that they need to work out, but the rest I don’t buy AT ALL.
    Namaste

  • Karls

    Namaste – really. LOL. Maybe you should have typed it in CAPS.

  • sean

    Whether these allegations are true or false, anytime I read about people being seduced or harmed by a spiritual leader or guru I think of this Buddhist quote:

    “If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.”

    Good advice.

  • Stewart J. Lawrence

    NO shit. The whole American yoga movement is filled with deranged narcissists and psychopaths. Movements like this ALWAYS draw people seeking to ensnare others in relationships of psychological domination, to fulfill the leaders’ own pathological ego needs, and sadly, there are plenty of willing sheep willing to trundle the path. Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa…..Thank God this stuff is finally coming out. Anyone who had their eyes open, their wallets shut, and their pants zippers zipped, knew that Anusara was evolving into a cult. Maybe we can finally start building a yoga “movement” worthy of the name. Or none at all. Stewart Lawrence

  • Pavanatanaya

    Well said Stewart

  • Whst a friggin joke this article is. Haaa!

  • dianthe

    So, he smokes pot, and has pot sent to him in the mail. So, he likes sex. And he has had an affair, or two or three. So what?! Why is there such an uproar about it all? He’s just a guy with a yoga empire. Like any other business person he has made mistakes and those mistakes have gone public. How is this any of our business anyway?!

  • jimmy

    He has misrepresented the intentions of Anusara if secretly he says it is aligned with Wicca but publicly he has not. Most people, I think, would NOT have associated with Anusara if they had known the model was a Wiccan sex cult. You might say no big deal, Wicca is just a nature religion, but it would have been just as unethical had Anusara been a cover for a secret Catholic sect.

    His “mistakes” are the kind that damage peoples’ lives. He takes advantage of young women that think they have his attention and have a shot at a spot in the organization because of their amazing alignment.

    He does not have pot sent to himself– he has it sent to others so he does not risk arrest HIMSELF. He asks others to take that personal risk.

    How is it my business? Well, I am nosy like everyone else but I find this story very informative because most of my teachers have been Anusarans and one teacher is asking me to get involved in Christina and Darren’s new School of Yoga that seems to have similar Tantric underpinnings and a worship of Lee Lozowick and Guru Ramsuratkumar. I had been thinking, “Wow, this is all seeming so cult-like, but it can’t be, because it’s just yoga.”

    Now I’m seeing I should trust my instincts. This is all very much my business. I notice you must have thought it was your business, too, since you followed a link to the article.

  • Almost 160 comments. Wow! There seems to be a mix of yogis that are commenting in this thread, and who practice various styles. It’s a shame we couldn’t all come together on a more postive note.

  • Amy

    Seriously people . The way in which this is written is crap .
    The over use of the Word Wiccan
    Makes me think that it’s Some religious person writing this
    And really pot is easy to come by that’s the biggest
    Joke of this whole stupid piece . Even if other allegations are true lets here it from

    The alleged people involved . And why so quick to write something
    That is just a “tip”. Wait for the real truth .

  • Stewart J. Lawrence

    Wrong, thankfully, some people are willing to leak. Time honored American tradition. Get used to it. Or join the Denial and Cover Up club.

  • hombre

    While I do have some reservation towards Mr. Friends’ Anusara “Tradition”, the way YogaDork is exposing these news – in my opinion – is hurting yoga as a bigger image.
    Putting out the news in a tabloid manner without
    a) consulting / checking your anonymous source and their motivation behind
    b) not contacting John Friend for taking position
    is just as unethical as freezing pension funds or illegally shipping weed.

    What shocked me more is to see the flock of unquestioning sheep (aka the kula) following every syllable of JF’s brabbling during several workshops I have attended.
    As a savy businessman Mr. Friends has found a way to bring his invention to the masses, using basic pschology and sales techniques, also called brainwashing…

    I have been enjoying yoga in all its forms for the past 15 years and always been learning from every class I ever did attend, embracing all styles and had the great fortune to study with many great masters, mentors, some call them gurus…

  • I am not affiliated with Anusara Yoga or any teachers. What happens in someone’s personal life is no one’s business. This article does not seem to be written with an intention to inform or reform, the intention seems to be slander. If laws have been broken, it is the responsibility of the people affected to let it be known that an injustice has been done. You cannot discount a lifetime of work in one article. It is extremely distasteful and disrespectful and very unyoga like. That Yoga Dork has indulged in cheap gossip is extremely disappointing.

  • Agreed!

  • A little more about “Accusation #1″, and about Wicca. Wicca is classified by scholars as a “new religious movement” (NRM), being founded by Gerald Gardner in the UK in the 1940s, inspired by Margaret Murray’s research into the history of the indigenous Celtic religion of Britain, labelled as “witchcraft” by Christians, and persecuted as such. Wicca is now considered a legitimate, if diffuse, religion, documented in many academic sources (see, e.g., The Encyclopedia of Religion, p. 9728). Part of that religion is working with sexual energy in a beneficial way, which is exactly what John Friend claimed he was doing. Practicing the religion of one’s choice is protected under US constitutional law, as long as such practice does not cause harm to any person (harm provable under US law). Since the central Wiccan “rede” or law is “Do what thou wilt, [as long as] it harm none,” Wicca is clearly a valid religious choice, morally and legally. The word “coven” unfortunately triggers peoples’ fears, but it is important to note that “coven” is simply the normal designation in Wicca for a group of practitioners who meet regularly, and it in no way implies any nefarious intention in that context. To sum up, then, John’s decision to practice Wicca with other interested people is a personal choice that stands apart from his Anusara curriculum and therefore from his business interests and public image. If any harm is proved under US law, that is a different consideration — but none has been as of yet. There are reasons we have laws, and one of them is to protect the innocent by placing the burden of proof on those making accusations. Thus, I would argue, those who “convict” a public figure of wrong-doing based on hearsay on the internet oppose our legal system, the morality of yoga (ahimsā etc.) and the morality of Wicca as well.

    Finally, both Wicca and yoga share a belief in karmic retribution (“whatever a person does, for good or ill, will inevitably return to him threefold or more”) — thus, the attitude for those committed to yoga as a spiritual path is “judge not”, since the deeper pattern of reality is so arranged as to ensure accountability sooner or later regardless of your judgment. Therefore I ask, what do you have to lose by giving John or anyone the benefit of the doubt? And “benefit of the doubt” does *not* mean turning a blind eye — it means honestly and authentically saying “I don’t know” when it is the truth. No one here has the evidence to claim certainty in this matter. You can believe whatever you want, but I hope I have indicated that failing to give the benefit of the doubt is not aligned with the teachings of Yoga, or indeed of any spiritual path I know of. Those who call yourself yogis — I call upon you to act like one.

  • Halid

    Lord, one sane voice can really calm the agitated nerves of this mala covered samsarin, thanks Chris….just glad there are such dis-enlightened suma cum laudes like Yogadork to shine light on the “truth” as she (thinks) she knows it….without her biased and moronic “journalism” it would be harder for the brilliance of people like Chris to come to the fore.

  • halidexposed

    HalidHatic & Wendy Borger:
    Owners of Spandarama Yoga and Rasa Juice Bar.
    Part of the Elite Anusara inner most circle.
    Classy Halid you are such a good ambassador for Anusara …. NOT

  • Pavanatanaya

    Chris Wallice is affiliated with JF. He is a shill because his contrived book is published under JFs ‘umbrella. How is that for yogic transparency?

  • Kathryn

    Pavanatanaya,

    Chris is posting under his own name, with his own photo and a direct link to his website which clearly outlines his relationship with Anusara Press. It doesn’t get much more transparent than that.

  • Stephanie

    He’s at least used his real name and photo and made his affiliations crystal clear. None of that invalidates what he has said.

  • “Part of that religion is working with sexual energy in a beneficial way, which is exactly what John Friend claimed he was doing . . . John’s decision to practice Wicca with other interested people is a personal choice . . .”

    Are you saying that JF does in fact engage in Wiccan sexual practices with a coven as stated in that now-defunct website? Because that’s certainly what it sounds like.

  • c'mon carol

    don’t be stupid carol. He was obviously considering it in the hypothetical. He should of said that “that is what the website said John Friend claims he was doing…”. Don’t be petty.

  • Laurie

    C’mon Carol … or is your name Suck It … or is it Halid … or L … or maybe its Peter? Don’t be a troll .

  • Stephanie

    Ah. How sane and reasonable. And, to my mind, entirely correct.

    Bless you, Christopher Wallis.

  • Stewart J. Lawrence

    Wallis, I hope you’re getting your 30 pieces of silver. When you’re done, I’ll show you to the nearest tree?

    The thing you’re missing is the psychological, emotional, and sexual manipulation that is at the heart of these practices.

    The people involved have no scruples about trying to dominate and subjugate others – violating their interior psychic and personal space – through esoteric exercises on various physical and non-physical planes.

    I have been “preyed” upon by Anusara yoga teachers who indulge in these practices. Do you want names? They know who they are. All women, all deeply sick power whores.

    It comes from people who are pathological narcissists, and immature young women who confuse psychic power with spiritual authority.

    But then, look at who teaches them – the same breed.

    The deal is this:

    No one under 35 – same requirement for the US presidency – should be allowed to bccome a certified yoga teacher because younger “aspirants” (“I’m being generous) don’t know anything about life, very little about themselves, are not emotionally responsibile and accountable, are usually still living off their parents, and overall, are operating at the plane of ego.

    Beyond that, there needs to be a much longer and in-depth apprencetice period – 2,000 hours over several years. Also, I would require a BA, so the person has a basic clue, and he or she must be in therapy or some other program (perhaps 12-step) where they are dealing with their issues – rather than acting them out with others.

    And John Friend should be in jail – or forced out of Anusara, maybe publicly flogged, and shamed out of the country. Anusara might also want to consider disbanding its incipient cult because after all, there are only so many deprogrammers available.

    Maybe I’d chip in to provide resume services?

    NAMASTE

  • Stewart J. Lawrence

    But IT’S ALLL GOOODDDD!!!!

  • Deborah

    AGREED! 150%.
    Put LuLuLemon (Landmark Education), Manduka (Shri-filled mats that make your practice more sacred) and Anusara ™ Branded Yoga together .. and whadda ya got? An insult to the intelligence of all truth seekers.

  • Concerned

    You lack a basic understanding of the pagan/wiccan use of energies which if you had some idea of how energy is used, you would understand the (to me) natural marriage of yoga and paganism. I have no knowledge of the John Friend nor or this group, I do know energy and chakras. The proper use of energy, sexual or otherwise, is NOT something any ethical practictioner would attempt. They know that what they put out there will be returned, threefold.

    Felt the need to interject. Gardenarians do not make up the majority of what is called Wiccan these days. Everyone who practices magick is not a Wiccan.

  • Deborah

    thank you concerned. i concur. tenfold.
    have to go off an eat my Yoplait Asana Yogurt now ….
    merry meet merry part merry meet again

  • Deborah

    I mean my Yoplait Asana ™ yogurt now …

  • Pavanatanaya

    I just recieved my order of Anusara tm TP. For that blissful release and shree filled ‘movement’. I feel so inadequate without my John Friend medium tighty shorts and XXS Tee Shirt in practice. If only I had enough hair left to curl and whiten, then I too could pick a few of my students and abuse them too. Om Nama Cha Chinga. ॐ

  • Thank you Chris!

  • Emma

    Hi Christopher

    How interesting.

    It is indeed quite a thing to take one persons experience, then build a case against an individual or a community or indeed a school based on that experience and backed by information found online without actually speaking to the accused or giving them any opportunity to explain or defend or deny and without verifying anything in any official capacity whatsoever, or even speaking to different people on the inside who may know an entirely different story and be able to shed light. But to instead make harsh judgements and damaging claims against people whilst throwing scandalous accusations around.

    I’m sure you would never do anything so un-yogic.

    For something so marvellous, authenticity is all too rare in yoga circles. I guess some people have lost what it means to be truly authentic because they ‘belong’ to someone else’s ideals. Or maybe they have a vested business interest or something.

    Life’s mirrors never cease to amaze me.

  • For readers not privy to the meaning of Emma’s comments, she is implying that my (non-public) criticism of Agama Yoga in Thailand is comparable to the criticisms being leveled against Anusara here, and thus hypocritical. I disagree that they are comparable, but I am taking the opportunity of her reflection to self-examine in case there is some truth in her words. Thank you, Emma.

  • Chas

    Are irony and authenticity even compatible? I know for myself that when I am expressing myself ironically I am coming from a space of pain and bitterness that is a deep deep well, usually 99.9% unrelated to the subject that I am ostensibly ironizing about.

  • Pavanatanaya

    CHRIZ WALLIZ POLISHES OWN APPLES THROUGH ANONYMOUS SOURCES. BUT THAT IS DIFFERENT:
    “Chris Wallis’ ability to eloquently distill the basic tenets of non-dual Tantrik Shaivism is nothing short of miraculous. The power of his teaching lies in the combination of his consummate scholarship and his own profoundly felt practice. Each class opened doors to new possibilities of consciousness and existence for me and was more delicious than the last. Chris’ academic rigor, the level of his own spiritual development, his fiery passion for spreading this knowledge and his open heart is, quite simply, a recipe for mighty powerful transmission. The Heart of Recognition was a life altering experience for me; I can not say enough about Chris Wallis’ awesome ability as a teacher and spiritual guide.” ~2010 Heart of Recognition Series Student “”"Self promoting Fakir

  • jimmy

    Yeah, yeah, yeah, Wicca is just European paganism. It also shares an association–one perhaps based in public perception only–with worship of Satan. Mostly undeserved, of course, but there are certainly a few satanists out there calling themselves Wiccans.

    The point Christopher ignores is that people rightly want to know if their yoga school is a cover for the leader’s Wiccan sex cult rites. Most people do NOT want to have an association with Wicca. I’m sure most Anusara teachers would not have allowed themselves to get sucked into the endless pyramid of trainings if they knew the Anusara name would be soiled like this. When this hits the NY Times your neighborhood Anusara teacher is going to have to explain to her students that she is not a sex cult witch and the Anusara chant is harmless and not a Wiccan hex, and so on.

    Now, regarding Christopher’s statement that it is perfectly legal and moral for a group of interested people to form a coven and practice Wicca. Yes, that is true. More power to them. And if we discovered that Bill Gates had surrounded himself with young females as his personal assistants and vive presidents and coincidentally they were all part of his personal sex rite Wicca group, we would conclude that there is an unsavory power dynamic at work.

    It seems to me to be a kind of psychological and sexual abuse of women. Perhaps these women went in with eyes open or closed, but I don’t like it.

  • This article is so lame and ridiculous it actually made me laugh out loud. As a result, there’s a very slim chance of me ever visiting Yogadork again. Hope ya get sued for libel.

  • Halid

    I am with you…this has been like an evening of reading trashy pulp fiction, but significantly less entertaining…but I will be entertained when all these idiots involved get served for a big juicy libel suit. Especially the “host” of this crappy Blog…good riddance Yogadork, you really are a retard.

  • Kristin

    Halid,

    Please stop using the word ‘retard’ in these posts. In case you care not aware, this is not a politically correct word and people and families with developmental disabilities are very offended by its incorrect use.

    Name calling is a very low-minded method of making your point.

  • Halid

    Sorry Kristin, no offense intended except for the person to whom it was intended to offend. But I must wonder if you are equally incensed over the stupidity, bias and unsubstantiated claims made by Deborah Whipple and others in these threads? Not withstanding, I stand “politically” corrected…..

  • mayibefrank

    What “claims” Halid? I state my opinion based on my experience. Fully substantiated from that standpoint. I have no bones about having my name known … although you show your lack of class yet again.
    I share nothing here that I haven’t said and posted openly on my own pages and I don’t hide behind anonymity like a coward the way you do. You are, clearly, from the many comments on this thread, a inane bully with nothing of value to offer. That aside, the question that bears asking is why DO my comments rile you up in such a way that you stoop to such base levels of inane and immature functioning? Theres a back story there forsure ….
    Whats it to you how I think and feel? Just my opinion, no more, no less. And I speak from personal experience. Perhaps you have alot at stake? Do you have an interest in the Brand? Money at stake? If I am as stupid as you say then my words are of no consequence here whatsoever and make no impact. If you are secure in your faith with Ansuara ™ then why not just shrug it off?

  • Deborah WHipple

    halidexposed … bwahahaha …. thanks for the tip anonymous! and … um … WOW!

  • Deborah

    REPLY
    halidexposed February 5, 2012 at 10:55 pm
    HalidHatic & Wendy Borger:
    Owners of Spandarama Yoga and Rasa Juice Bar.
    Part of the Elite Anusara inner most circle.
    Classy Halid you are such a good ambassador for Anusara …. NOT

    REPLY

  • Halid??

    Wow. Spandarama Yoga in Santa Fe??

  • Deborah

    Oh Halid Exposed! I got an anonymous tip about your identity and strong affiliation with Anusara (cha ching cha ching) and searched you out on Facebook. I even added you as a friend Halid. :) But you’re FAST and SMOOTH halid
    (um — not) … and have already blocked me from facebook. That says ALOT “Hald” …

    OCCUPY ANUSARA! JohnFriend and his “inner circle” (like Halid) are the 1% of yoga and they profane the sacred and exploit thousands who believe in them for personal profit and gain. Asteya! Aparigraha! (etc.)

  • Deborah

    Im just a petty tyrant, in gurdjieff’s words. -President Whipple

  • Deborah

    Halid – stop using my name on your posts … President Halid Hatim, Entertainment Management Executive ….
    love Gurdjieff …

  • Deborah

    I don’t know who owns YogaDork or who moderates it, and I am absolutely not a fan of censorship in any way – but occassionally there are trolls such as Halid and L who contribute nothing of value and have no point, no argument, and no crediblity – they offer nothing – why not just delete them?

  • Deborah

    http://youtu.be/T549VoLca_Q
    not acceptable. spread the word to end the word.

  • debbie does doodoo

    poor deborah!

  • Deborah

    My vagina smells.

  • Pavanatanaya

    That smelling vagina is one of the Siddhis that Anusara sells in their new publication…”I am Yoga and So Can You…for a price”(c)

  • Halid

    my apologies deborah – i made that last post and i’ve never visited your vagina so I wouldn’t know . i’m just very upset and very worried about how much money i be losing … i’ve got alot of debts …

  • Pavanatanaya

    Halid has not only never visited D’s Vagina. He has never visited A vagina. Truth be told, Halid (If that is your real name…Hmph) has no testicles to speak of. Just a couple old grapes wrinkled on the vine. Of course it doesnt really matter because his sheep love him regardless. Yer backin the wrong pony Halid. Halid eh? sounds like a Lebanese Blanket (Yoga) Salesman.

  • Halid Hatic

    Business & Market Development at DVS Digital Video Systems
    Past
    Managing Director at Signiant
    V.P. & General Manager at Silex Media Americas
    VP Business Development at VIZRT
    President at Curious Software, Inc
    Vice President of Sales at Fairmarket, Inc
    Director of Sales at Avid Technology
    Director of Sales at International Music Company

  • Deborah

    Halid stop using my name on your inane ridiculousness.
    Stop facebooking friending me and poking me. I am not your friend and I have no interest in communicating with the type of person you are. I have blocked you from Facebook.
    Stop pretending to be someone & something that you are not.
    You people are ridiculous.

  • I have to admit...

    I laughed out loud at this bit of information.

  • Dear pot, meet kettle

    HAhahahahah!

    Oh, Deborah. You just made my night. Thank you!

  • Analytical Skills

    Deborah talks smack about anyone who disagrees with her for post after post, and now wants someone else’s posts deleted? Right, then… Donald Rumsfeld gets paid lots of money for his “analytical skills” as well.

  • Deborah

    LMAO. Wrong. I love a debate and would never ask for anyone who disagrees with my opinion to be deleted. I just find trolls who throw personal nasty insults around (such as suckit, etc.) and call people “retarded” etc. to be crass, tasteless, and offer nothing of value. Disagree with me, and support your argument. Name calling is for cowards, and bullies. Thre is some evidence that has surfaced in the online world which points to the fact that PERHAPS all is not rainbows and lollipops in the Ansuara kingdom. That is worth exploring and taking our rose-coloured off for a moment and diving in deeper. In fact, when kula members start getting dark and nasty and acting like schoolyard bullies — all it does is add fuel to the fire that perhaps there is more to the rumours about the fraudulence of Ansara. Good on ya.

  • Analytical Skills

    “some evidence that has surfaced in the online world”… meaning a website with a hidden domain that no longer exists? I would agree that in the “online world” that often does count as real evidence. Are “kula members” acting like bullies, or just some folks in an online forum? You’re right- it adds fuel to the fire, but mainly for those that want it to.

  • Anusara-Inspired

    Thank you for being one of a few reasonable voices, Chris. I fear most have abandoned the discusion, given the quality, but I appreciate your contribution.

  • Kathryn

    I second this. Thank you.

  • Stewart J. Lawrence

    Whoops!

    Looks like Manduka’s going to need another product whore?

    Oh well, plenty of understudies!!!

    I was thinking Kathryn Budig could pose with a giant mat driven between her legs – or perhaps with one tightly rolled end in her mouth?

    YO-GUHHHHHHHHHHHHH !!!

    FREEDOMMMMMM!!!

  • This site no longer exists

    But the drama machine keeps spinning out of control. I think whoever made that stupid site which is now defunct has accomplished their goal. Let’s all stop being pawns to the sensationalism and quite simply stop this nonsense now.

    YD – hope you learned a lesson here about pandering to unsubstantiated rumour.

  • Birneys Blog

    Did anyone see Bernadette Birney’s comment on FB? What an angry hypocrite. The fates intervened and exposed her fraudulent duplicitous nature? How is it that that Anusara teachers can be so viscious and dark? Their vitriole is surprising. I am ashamed to be in kula or have my name associated with anyone who conducts themselves in such fashion. No grace there.

  • Pavanatanaya

    Too funny. How Shree Birney…not

  • keep it real

    It’s not there any more… I refuse to believe that it was ever there. These are just rumors. Wait till Birneys lawyer sues your yoga pants off. No grace in you spreading these lies. Oh wait….. sound familiar?

  • suckit

    threats of lawsuits and lawyers being tossed around like rice at a wedding! this is an online blog in a country that prides itself on free speech. get a clue.

  • LMAO

    Keepin it Real :
    Bernadette Birney (Facebook)
    knock knock: who’s there? cleo.
    cleo who?
    celopatra ain’t the only one in denial!

    Saturday near Weston, CT
    Ugh! A strange glitch in the FB matrix resulted in a private message being publicly shared on my wall. Please know that I would never have intentionally shared the disreputable link that was shared as a result. (I did intentionally use the C-word but I apologize for the inadvertent, inappropriate public profanity.)

  • tathaastu

    Anusara is Faux-Ga and as such is riddled with fashionista poseurs lacking in spiritual awareness or understanding. The community is plagued with the disease of one-upmanship and rivalry. Members claim to be spiritual seekers yet only want material positions in their community and to stake their claim for position and power. They hide their lack of spiritual advancement behind their Faux-Ga postuerizing and they present themselves as very advanced, yet all the while compete intensely for material benefits and attention. Their purpose of being a seeker of divinity is defeated by the enormity of their egos and they become guilty of hypocritical behaviour. Then the whole community gets adversely affected and the spiritual advancement of many others is throttled; people’s innocent faith is broken and the atmosphere is surcharged with terrible negativities. Anusara Faux-Ga is ego food and attracts narcissists and ambitious charlatans.

  • SQR

    OK, you’ve described certain people pretty well, but those folks can be found anywhere… it’s sort of like saying SUVs are bad because some of the owners use cell phones while driving them- generalizations like that tell the rest of us more about you than about Anusara.

  • Gianna DeFlice

    In the bigger picture, this is a lesson on how we practice and why we practice. If you are a practitioner of Anusara yoga and this negative press shakes you to your core, you have to wonder why you practice at all. Don’t we put ourselves in difficult positions so we can better learn to breathe through them?

    I am not certified or inspired in anusara, but I have done all the immersions and teacher trainings. Ultimately I did it because I was aligned with the teachings, not with the man.

    In the human experience, we will prove again and again that we are human.

    I do find it disheartening, however, that I see a pattern (in this case perhaps real or perhaps false) that male yoga teachers in positions of power engage in sexual behavior with numerous female students. There is something to keeping sex out of the student teacher relationship, no?

  • Stephanie

    What I find interesting in this whole thing (being a person who lived in the USA for 30 years, but who has lived in Europe now for over a decade) is how insular and specific the USA yoga ‘world’ thinking is, particularly about the yoga teacher/student relationship.

    It appears from comments here and elsewhere in magazines, books, the web… that in the US yoga scene seems to invest every asana instructor, or popular business person, with the knowledge, gravitas and responsibilities of a ‘guru’. It is something the instructor takes upon him/herself and something bestowed on them by the public.

    In the end, the vast majority of people are simply consumers of a product and the instructor is providing that product — a class or course of instruction in postures and possibly other aspects of traditional yoga.

    Why does the ‘student body’ of America seem to want every single instructor to be a guru? What is it in the psyche of American yoga that this position just must be filled? Why can’t you just take a class and get good instruction and be happy with that?

    I have absolutley nothing against the process and success of finding a true guru. But that relationship is no less important for the seeker to attend to than finding a spouse; not less necessary to nurture than the one you have with your children. A true relationship w/ a genuine ‘guru’ (the word means ‘teacher’ after all, not ‘overlord’) is just that — a relationship — a give and take. Can it turn hierarchical and abusive, sure. But so can a marriage. But neither of those relationships ‘need be’ or ‘must be’ abusive. But they do need to be well established, beneficial and healthy. This need not impossible in today’s day and age. It need not even be terribly rare. But it should be well judged, well nurtured and open to constant evaluation, re-evaluation and maturity.

    That is not a relationship you enter into just because some teacher has a good marketing campaign and does a retreat in a green, lush setting with happy looking trees.

    Far too many yogis give up their common sense and self-awareness to throw themselves into the arms of a yoga instructor (literally or metaphorically), then have ‘buyers remorse’, then want to soley, completely and utterly blame the ‘false guru’ for leading them astray. What about your own responsibility? to yourself? your own growth? What about the part you played in giving up and handing over what never should have been given up and handed over? What about your abdication of responsibility in the hope this other person, this expert/guru/teacher, would take on your burdens and make it all better for you?

    I am not saying these ‘false gurus’ should not be exposed and made to bear the burdens of their bad behaviour. But please, do stop acting like they are herders of mere sheep. People have to be responsible for themselves and their journeys as well.

  • Vision_Quest2

    You wanna know the real reason?

    Sunk costs.

    Yours truly does not have deep enough pockets to experience that trauma. But the Anusara method is very expensive and time consuming.

    And now, there are a lot of sunk costs. Particularly if the unquestioned leader has a possible scandal brewing, and all the second lieutenants of Anusara seem to be jumping the ship, except for the Yogaglo star, Noah Maze; and of course, Nisha Zollinger (who used to provide eye candy for when I worked in an organizational Siberia) … and who knows what they might do … ! Noah and Nisha got some mondo name recognition worldwide …

    [Disclosure: My fusion-with-pilates yoga practice--no Anusara influence]

  • The Real Reason

    Politics.

    Personal accountability and responsibility is hard and takes effort. Some in America have become afflicted with a victimhood mentality that views people as not really responsible for their bad behavior or consequences of their behavior; instead, other people are and should be responsible. Many in the yoga community have bought into this hook, line, and sinker. It is much easier to rely on someone else, believe them unquestionably, and then blame them when something goes wrong or they don’t live up to the fake standards you are imposing on them. The idea that you have choices and a responsibility for exercising your choices (and your intelligence) makes you an a-hole and probably a Republican or, worse, a conservative (which, to many self-obsessed yoga devotees, is worse than Hitler). The idea that people are and have been predictably “people” (in all senses of the word) conflicts with the vision of naive utopianism that someone or something can solve all our problems, if only we can find them or get it quite right.

    Instead, Americans spend time complaining that other people don’t do enough to help the poor, the government ought to take other peoples money and do something about housing, something ought to happen, so long as other people do it. (Then the shock and outrage when government turns out to be inept and corrupt! Like the history of government in the world hasn’t demonstrated that ineptness and corruption are a feature of government, not a bug.) Buddha forbid that we actually do something personally about it. Other people caused the problem and other people must fix it. Everything will be great once other people do the right thing. Maybe if the government forces them to? (Many totalitarian regimes started as an attempt to make things better or beautiful. You just have to kill those that don’t go along.)

    Somewhere Gandhi is trying to let us know that “be the change you want to see in the world” isn’t about forcing other people to do what you want. It’s about changing yourself and thereby changing the world. The change may be a little bit at a time, but real, meaningful change nonetheless.

    Regardless, until personal accountability and individual responsibility becomes the cornerstone of the political thought of yogis (and moving away from deification of collectivism), this kind of silly obsessiveness with the “personalities” of yoga will continue, and the drama that accompanies such matters will only grow. In the meantime, many yoga devotees in America will look for other people to take them to the promised land.

    Others of us will get on our mat, look to ourselves, and work on ourselves as a cornerstone of the change we’d like to see. After all, it is supposed to be our practice, and we should take responsibility for it.

  • Raymond

    Tathaastu,

    That a pretty broad stroke that you have painted the thousands of people from many countries that practice Anusara worldwide. Do you truly believe everyone involved in Anusara is like that? You may have some good points to make. I wasn’t able to hear them because of your language. “Faux-Ga” “…ego food and attracts narcissists and ambitious charlatans.” Statements like this don’t help the dialogue. Please try to make your points with more level headed statements and people might be able to engage with you in a serious way.

    Thanks!

  • tathaastu

    Point well taken. Thank you. I agree.
    There are many gems within the Ansuara community.
    Many beautiful blossoming lotuses within the quagmire and the muck. They will continue to blossom irregardless.

  • Jerome Spencer

    Provide sources and active links for your article otherwise you lack credibility.

  • The website jfexposed is an invalid domain, and was registered first on January 28. Unsubstantiated, this story seems as true as the idea that Saddam Hussein sought yellowcake uranium from Niger.

  • Nancy Dionne

    You DO NOT have permission or any rights usage to use this photograph of John Friend, which I took and is not your property to post or use in any way and you are in violation of copyright laws. If you do not remove it you will be contacted by my attorney, along with Wanderlust from where you “obtained” it. Please remove it ASAP or you will be contacted Monday morning by attorney KC Maxwell. This is not a threat or a joke.

  • Jane Cameron

    charming.

  • Deborah Whipple

    Amazing how bloodthirsty (some of) these Anusara devotees are isn’t it? Its been most interesting watching the “reaction” amongst the Kula … which ain’t looking too cool …

    This is for all the angry negative Ansuaris who engage in name calling an bullying and closed minded pettiness, but in particular for Halid (I know who you are BTW and it explains alot) …

    “If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself.
    If you want to eliminate the suffering in the world,
    then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself.
    Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of
    your own self-transformation.” Lao Tzu

  • Deborah Whipple

    p.s. don’t be jealous because some of us have an open Ajna and you don’t. practice practice and all is coming ..(SriKPattabhiJois)

  • Stewart Lawrence

    Well, it’s nearly COB on Monday and the photo is still up?

    It usually is, when people make threats via a web site – instead of just having their attorney make the call.

    You should probably just enjoy the attention, as should John Friend.

    The fact that you think your photo only exists for the promotional purposes of Friend or Anusara or Wanderlust – a perfect nickname for Friend, by the way – says a lot about you – and your professional ethos.

    I’s a good photo by the way.

  • anonymous

    Ah yes–make the legal threats. Nancy, please head down to the local sporting goods store, pick up some knee pads…put them on…get on your knees…and KISS MY ASS…have ur lawyer do the same.

  • Amanda

    Are we really surprised?
    All of these yoga students who brand name a tradition in their own image? Sutra 1.30 – check it out — especially the part about Bhranti-darshana. Put these folks on a pedestal and watch how fast and hard they fall.

  • arthur rotfeld

    Are you talking about modern postural yoga in general? The recently resigned Anusara teachers? John Friend?

    Seems to me everything in current hatha yoga is related to a brand name, be it Iyengar, Vinyasa (via Pattabhi Jois), etc. Tradition? Our asana practices are so new in yoga’s history, it’s hard to consider “tradition,” though one is often imposed or adapted, which is great. Yogic philosophies are wonderful to apply to a physical practice. Anyway, yoga is evolving. It always has been!

    (Anusara student here. I’ve met many wonderful and deep yogis in the practice.)

  • D.S.

    I, for one, appreciate that the title of the article has been changed by Yoga Dork from the original (“Wiccan Leader, Sexual Deviant, Pension Withholding Homewrecker?”) to the new one: “John Friend, Head of Anusara: The Accusations.”

    Much more responsible, journalistic and in the spirit of inquiry rather than accusation or sensationalism.

  • Anonymous

    Agree with this, though at least it was a heads up regarding how biased YogaDork was from the outset.

    If only YD would change the url, since it still includes the slurs.

    http://yogadork.com.s157905.gridserver.com/news/john-friend-head-of-anusara-wiccan-leader-sexual-deviant-pension-withholding-homewrecker-the-accusations/

  • D.S.

    Also, now that the original website has been taken down, why is Yoga Dork still extensively quoting from it above and keeping it alive? Why is Yoga Dork still printing the first and last names of the people accused (but not proven) of wrong-doing here? I find that troubling. The original anonymous person and his website has gone but YD continues to, in effect, turn the rumor mill for him. Not good. Personally, if I were YD, I’d be worried legally about this, if not ethically.

  • mayibefrank
  • cHorton

    That anonymous website had a lot of documents, links, and names – it was hardly just vague rumors. I feel badly for those involved and my Anusara friends. But if there is even a reasonable suspicion that these accusations are true (and I for one believe there most certainly is), then doesn’t the yoga community have a responsibility to look into it? Because if we just sweep it under the rug in the name of ahmisa, peace, and love, then aren’t we aiding and abetting having more people potentially getting ripped off, deceived, and abused? I think that Yogadork did the right thing and applaud her for it!

  • Jane C. Cameron

    I totally agree.

    I looked through the website pretty carefully. It appears to be the work of a whistleblower – an insider unhappy with the how the operation ran. S/he had their own motives, but it doesn’t mean things were right. To me it warrants an airing of issues.

    The worst thing is the pension issue – which is illegal.

    I have no problem with identifying as wiccan. The sexual material is creepy – not the sex, or even infidelity, per se – but the power trip – its a student teacher relationship – he’s the head guy -they’re following him – and they also have students.

    Generalizing a bit – aren’t you glad you got me started? Anusara has always had a smarmy vibe. I mean, what is it? Iyengar with a “heart”? JF leaves Iyengar, hooks up with Gurumayi, dumps her after a while, hooks up with Douglas Brooks – now he’s doing his own thing, and its George Ortega (do I have the name right?) – all following an unwritten tantric lineage that apparently requires a wiccan overlay to give sufficient room for the sex parties. I mean, WTF?

    The practice – which a step up from alot of vinyasa – has always been too pinacle pose oriented – kind of flashy and shallow. Loops and spirals? I mean – maybe. Its kind of cliff note course – don’t you think?

    It doesn’t really address deeper strutural alignment issues, and you see JF’s better teachers drawing on Iyengar, Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, Alexander Technique, etc.

    Now the emperors clothes are are unraveling. I predict a serious crash in the not to distant future.

  • Deborah

    i do think you nailed it sistah …

  • Pavanatanaya

    As a Male yoga teacher, it is difficult enough to overcome the stereotypes that people have about it.(predator, gay, effeminate…) So thanks John, for reinforcing that crap into the Lay world.

  • jimmy

    Thank you. Even though I have no problems with Wiccans and sex parties and don’t sympathize too much with the female “senior” teachers that willingly submitted to this to get more power, I have an automatic reflex against the whole thing because of the way it reflects on the public image of yoga, on its teachers, and on male teachers specifically.

    John Friend is a fucker. Probably a sex addict but I don’t sympathize with him. People like this need to be publicly shamed to hell and back before there is any chance for the merest possibility of genuine remorse. Even then, I wouldn’t count on it. Expect a cheesy book with movie option rights.

    And for all the kula out there claiming it’s fake because the website is down: Where is the statement from Anusara? Would they really let this spread like wildfire if there was no basis?

    John Friend and his minions are all on the phone with lawyers right now– that’s what the silence is about. I’ll bet the text messages and phone calls back and forth between coven members are hilarious right now, what with the panic. How does one totally lose one’s shit and express it within the confines of the highest-intention, heart-melting love muffin lingo?

  • mayibejustasfrank
  • truth

    Use ceremony for personal gain or to harm others and you will see what happens. This goes much deeper than JF banging students. They were using ritual to generate negative energy in order to cause harm to others. Mark my words on this–I know. This goes much deeper than what came out on that website and it involves others outside of anusara inc. If you want to know whom, check out the promo video on anusara:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lkPguTmW6F0

    mayibejustasfrank is pointing you in the right direction if you want to know what’s behind this. It is blowing up in their faces and I assure you, this is only the beginning. They tried to marshal dark forces to harm a particular outsider who is very popular in the yoga world, but beholden to no system or person. This blow-back will get much worse and will involve much more than anusara.

  • TemplePriestess

    I’m in Canada and live very far removed from Anusara; there are only 2 inspired teachers in my area and I heard whispers of this “black magic” 2 years ago. If it made its way to me – its obviously been permeating throughout the organization at all levels …..
    I’ve been outspoken and raised my voice in objection via blogging,commenting and posting when I see Anusara non-sense surface; as a result I have over the last year or so, received a good many private messages from people inside the Kula thanking me for speaking up and telling me they feel the same way I do, but are afraid of the bullying and the backlash. I rec’d a letter from a prominent teacher in California telling me they have been trying to put her under and ruin her business (studio) …. This is appalling!
    I think we have seen alot of this same dark dynamic occur on these threads (i.e. Halids vulgar online bullying and his subsequent exposure as investor in the Brand as well as numerous others )… This is very dark energy and it comes from the upper echeons of the business investors in the Anusara pyramid “scam”. I believe there is much more to come and it is far worse then what has thus far been revealed. I hope that ALL the truth comes out and we discover more then “just the tip of the iceberg” as jfexposed.com promised.

  • designer

    “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” –

    so this information was provided anonymously (btw: the links included in the article do not work), and it’s OK to print this kind of stuff?

    You guys obviously have no journalistic integrity whatsoever.

    YD is such a joke.

  • keep it real

    Their was more proof of these actions then most of the nonsense many new-agey people believe in. I’d argue a lot more proof then say a the amount of magic that a yoga mat can bring to your life. Can emails, skype conversations, pictures, etc. be faked? Sure. But Why? That is a pretty damn elaborate setup for none of it to be true. Should YD have waited…. maybe so. At least they responded to the criticism and have explained themselves. More than can be said of some people…..

  • Larry

    This is very harmful information. I ask myself, why is there a: a ‘tip-off’ and b: why would Yogadork put it out there? One step away from phone-hacking scandals, or perhaps we are already there…..to coin an Anusaraesque term, there is a deep contraction going on, the malas are at play…If the penison stuff was true then was it in the mainstream media….links please??? Sounds like a whole lotta gossip to me….

  • Karen

    Shame on your for giving slanderous garbage any space on your web site at all without at least providing verifiable sources. And that website you mention is no longer active, for good reason! Don’t attempt to position yourself as a yoga news web site if you aren’t going to present facts, not hearsay.
    I am not a ‘yoga person’, but this is still disgusting to me, to say the least. And here’s a big hint as to the lack of credibility of the supposed ‘source’. It would be the state of New York Dept of Labor getting involved- not the Feds. Not that there is even anything going on that would merit investigation.

  • Karls

    Hop off your bandwagon.

  • Get Educated

    You again? Why NY? Anusara has zero presence in NY.

    The Dept of Labor regulates pensions, not the state. Read something.

  • Karen

    The really unfathomable item here is that anyone would believe something so patently false. Wouldn’t matter who or what was being discussed. Just putting up wild accusations and broad speculation with no verifiable sources for all the world to see is tabloid journalism at it’s best, and only the most irrational of minds buys into this garbage.

  • Karls

    Spoken by yer another glassy eyed follower.

  • jimmy

    Why is the upper echelon of the Kula so silent? It’s always the littlest of the lowly minions that still keep believing even as the upper generals are fleeing the scene.

  • Karls

    Anyone who takes an existing form of Yoga (Iyengar) and brands it his own is at best questionable.

  • LMAO

    SHould be re-named
    Anus – are ya?

  • D.S.

    Wow. You know what. People like me just gotta duck. Reading all the comments, it is obvious there are a lot of Anusara people who are really defensive and not thinking straight, but there are also a lot of anti-Anusara people who who are just out for blood and just as irrational. I don’t know much about this man or his practice but it sure seems to have made a lot of people angry. I don’t care enough to get stuck in the middle. But before I go I’ll just point out that it’s as bad to be hyper defensive as it is to be so obviously out for blood. It’s all pretty ugly.

  • john

    Surely the pensions stuff could have been easily checked? Isn’t that what differentiates journalism from gossip? The Wiccan sex stuff… well… unless it involved employees it only matters because Friend seems to have set himself up as a spiritual leader so making his character and personal life relevant to his business.

    Can’t say the Anasura classes I’ve tried have done much for me personally except trigger a couple of annoying and lingering injuries but it seems to work for plenty of others and if I was one of them I wouldn’t care about any of this unless Friend was my direct teacher.

  • europe

    Oh dear, will we ever get tired of the same jesus-narrative: Take one man, place him on a pidestal, then pull him through the gutter and finally nail him to the cross for public diplay. It´s a classic story and it makes no difference if the man is a president, a guru, a top manager or a rock star. It´s lovely that someone is finally addressing the problems in the contemporary yoga world and letting go of the obligatory yoga-PC that tends to make us shy of conflict and inhibits self-reflection. But doing it by way of the jesus-drama makes us project the problem onto external figures and keep us from seeing our own role in this as consumers and teachers of yoga. Even if these unsubstantiated rumours hold water JF and the anusara profit machine is just a symptom of something much more general and more disturbing which ought to concern us more: The erosion of everything that yoga stands for by large scale commercialization and the greed that is hard-wired into it. This is an occation to think, not judge. What are we busy doing? What is yoga for?

  • babaji oh wont you comfort me

    Wiccan accusations. Not that I have anything against paganism or wicca …. I don’t and I am one ….
    but John Friend was wearing an amulet with a pentagram on it when I met him) which I thought was strange. You’d think he’d be wearing an Om … or some such piece of bling.
    Shortly after that, an Anusara teacher who teaches on schedule where I am, returned from intensive training with JF and immediately started to offer workshop on “How to Develop Your Siddhis” . That also struck me as strange and suspicious since my teacher (a bona fide Guru initiated into the Vairagi Vaishnava order in 1942) and the Sutras advise AGAINST using siddhis as they arise and say they are to be ignored and are just another temptation of the ego. Is he playing around with the siddhis and encouraging his teachers to do the same? Siddhis are not something to be offered in a workshop ….. very strange indeed. This whole thing seems to be evolving into a very bad Hollywood sytle scandal.

  • Deborah

    thats interesting; it also happened in my neighbourhood. how to develop your siddhis workshop. in one afternoon.
    does this stuff come top down?
    icky.

  • Pavanatanaya

    Anusara YTT in our town incorporated a breathing workshop by an irresponsible Trainer. He unleashed all kinds of energies then sent everyone on their emotionally shattered way. I came on the scene the next day and found a train wreck in progress. Siddhis are gifts, not toys. If they happen great. Put a feather in your cap and move on. These teachers used Siddhis and casting shakti around as glamour and did some real damage. When all was said and done, none of the YTT trainees were prepared to teach. Jesus would turn these tables in a heartbeat.

  • Let's get real

    Umm, so a big time megalomaniac sleeps with his followers and smokes weed? So what. Grown ups doing grown up things. The article and accusations are boring – doesn’t seem like anyone did anything against their will. What is most revealing is this slinging match going on in the comments….That’s where the real truth lies. Geez, calm the f*@k down. If you think anyone is holier than thou in this world then you’re just plain delusional.

  • Joy

    To Let’s get real-

    I know right??

    Sheesh.

  • The Real Reason

    Word.

  • Timothy

    An interesting thing about this whole story is, Yogadork is an anonymous site (no names of the editor or writers) citing another anonymous website (JFexposed.com – which is now defunct).

  • SQR

    The storm in the comment section may turn out to be bigger than the storm the comments are about. If I were an advertiser on this site, though, I might be torn between wanting the extra page views and wondering if I should be represented here…

  • SQR

    Then again, there aren’t any ads down here on the comment section, so they’re not getting their money’s worth

  • Pavanatanaya

    If it was my wife he was diddling, I’d take a baseball bat to his head and suffer the consequences of Karma. Ahimsa is not passivity. This Pasty, pudgy, fame whore should meet with the husbands and Fathers and Children of the women he seduced and when the dust settles see if he can collect up his teeth and see the good in THAT.

  • Let's get real

    Pavanatanaya, it’s true that Ahimsa is not passivity but it certainly isn’t high school meanness. What would your karma then be after you took a baseball bat to someones head? The guy’s an egotist who fancied women, well Duh!. Is anyone really surprised? Perhaps his girlfriend did not know about this, but this is certainly none of our business. The worst thing he has done, if he has, is cheated people of money. Now that’s a whole other story. I am not part of the anusara community, nor do I have any emotional attachment to it’s philosophy. My own teacher I revere for his intellect only – I could give a shit what he does in his personal life. That’s not what I am asking him to teach me. We should all start to be a little bit more accountable for our choices. If someone seduces you, as a grown woman, then you have to chalk it down to insecurity and you need to grow up. If someone cheats on you, as someone has done to me, chalk it down to insecurity on their part and they need to grow up. If someone forces sex against your will…..baseball bat!

  • Pavanatanaya

    Point taken. That being said, when I don the hat “TEACHER”, I accept a greater responsibility than simple consent. If I manipulate a student into a sexual encounter with the promise of liberation, is that not Rape? Is that not Theft? Is that not Fraud? Legally speaking of course, the pension freeze might be the only issue. But the underlying power play by a professional ‘Teacher’, is tantamount to Rape. If only Rape of Trust.

  • We are not conversing in German

    I love how yoga people seem so inclined to capitalize nouns gratuitously. This is English, not German, Pava. You don’t change the concept into a more meaningful one by capitalizing it. It means the same thing.

  • Pavanatanaya

    Oh My Thanks. If I Run Afoul In The Future, Please Feel Free To Correct Me. I am Surprised That The Prestigious Internet Allows My Presence Still. Cause Everyone Just Loves To Be Corrected. That All You Got PEANUT?

  • We are not conversing in German

    Any idiot is allowed to comment on a blog. I bet you do it all the time anyway. Wait and see, I bet you will stop doing it now that you know only idiots do it. I am just trying to save you from the pathetic and meaningless impulse to convey deeper meaning through capitalization.

  • Pavanatanaya

    FYI We…, I am not just any Idiot commenting on a ‘BLog. I am an exceptional Idiot in all aspects of my life. Thanks for your service to humanity. The Punctuation Police can sleep a little better at night with Wissenschaftlers like you around.
    ja in Frieden gehen

  • Mia

    OH MY GOD!!! How can you really discuss on this text? Have you ever met John? How can you really believe in this? Iam so sad about how you all argue, really!!

  • Mark

    I would not trust any website or person that identifies itself as “yoga dork” and has articles about how to do yoga while taking a shit. If you’ve ever heard John Friend speak you’d know that he presents yoga far beyond what most people can understand. Hence, I think yoga dork might need to brush up on his study of yoga because it seems to me he is a little jealous. Seriously, most of what John is accused for is like PG middle school bullshit compared to what is really going on in the world. You aught to close you site, Yoga Dork, cause you are not offer anything to the yoga community.

  • Pavanatanaya

    Keeping in mind that JF’s background is in finance. He is indeed very enlightened (Financially)

  • jimmy

    Maybe it’s beyond what most people can understand because it’s bullshit at some levels? Whenever an Anusra teacher tries to explain the entire inner spiral energy through the body they end up like a fool trying to explain something that either does not make sense or is totally useless.

    As to not trusting yogadork because of the name? You’re not a very effective or convincing shill. I trust much of the Anusara method even though it has the word “anus” built in.

  • Jane C. Cameron

    Yes, I’ve met John Friend.

    Pavanatanaya – that’s exactly right – its the power relationship. It impacts not only the women in question, but other community members. Its creepy. It would be unremarkable if we were simply talking about a health club – but Anusara is marketed as a spiritual path.

  • LFred

    I think it’s absolutely abhorrent that you posted names. I know these people and they have children and families. What were you thinking? You could have talked about this scandal without going into those types of details. Very poor judgement call. Very poor integrity.

  • sarah

    deborah, clearly you are a drama/attention seeker. look deep within yourself to see what needs healing. prisoners don’t want to see other prisoners escape from prison. karma is real.

  • Deborah

    I won’t insult your intelligence by suggesting that you really believe what you just said.

  • pillagingpirateofthesubliminalseas

    sarah (or whatever your name is) are you not worshipping the biggest drama “queen” and attention seeker of all? all allegations aside, that can not be disputed.
    so why not look deep into yourself and ask yourself why you worship it in one and yet condemn it in another? hypocrisy runs pretty thick through the kula and these comments make that very clear to anyone with half a brian and a mind of their own.

  • pillagingpirateofthesubliminalseas
  • HY

    It’s this attitude – that all we have is a choice between two different drama queens – that speaks volumes.

    Actually we can be completely unattached to the persons accused and find the accusations quite shocking if true, and yet still see that some people like Deborah and her helpful trolls are on this site day and night, revelling in the bad news uncovered and instead of sympathising with alleged victims, community members or students – victimising them further by name calling, gossip spreading and generalising.

    How is this viciousness morally better? You think you’re taking the high ground but in fact it’s all quagmire and you’re sinking in it willingly.

  • pillagingpirateofthesubliminalseas

    HY – I’ve just rec’ed an email alert that you commented on my post. Perhaps Deborah and her helpful trolls receive the same and as active participants in a convo regarding something that is important to them, respond accordingly. Don’t ask us to believe that you are not also trolling the debacle as it unfolds. I have looked at your posts and I have looked at Deborah’s comments as well, and I’m with Deborah. I think you’re on the payroll. Perhaps Deborah and people like her have beloved daughters, neices, friends whom they have seen sucked into the brainwashed fraudulence of this branded, materialistic, delusional, “feel good”, highly commercialized fraudulent yoga and are simply standing up for what they believe in and fighting the good fight. I see nothing wrong in naming it for what it is. OR in sharing personal experiences. The personal is political. Like Ghandi. ETC.

  • HY

    The fact that you accuse me of being on the payroll – and therefore also of lying – only reflects your way of thinking. Again.
    I have stated above what my connection is (a weekly class from a no name teacher, among a lot of other yoga). I sign all my posts the same way. That’s all.

  • Deborah

    My name is certainly getting mentioned alot and many anonymous people are calling me names; Wow! I’ve obviously hit a few nerves which tells an epic tale…. cackle cackle cackle …
    I’ve always enjoyed keeping the online Anusara police (response team) on their toes …. Life is such a rich and a wonderful adventure in consciousness, ain’t it?
    Keep on rockin in the free world.

  • In the end, yoga is good for you. This has been proven. Yoga is good for kids, good for adults, good for our country. Good for the planet. Who really cares about JF’s wallet or penis. He’s done great things. We need to take the message and disregard the messenger.

    People who do not practice, but merely write nasty things about yoga, should probably practice so that they can write from a place of knowledge – the byproduct might even be happiness and understanding.

  • Jane C.

    @ C Jane – My guess is that everyone who has posted practices yoga. the word “yoga” is not an excuse for power trips, pension malfeasance, or Mad Men era workplace misconduct. JF hitched himself to a lineage rife with misconduct, even crimes – then his ego got to big for that circus, trivialized it, and exploited it. We are not saints. Don’t follow leaders. When you see the Buddha on the road…

  • Mary

    This really all just speaks of the need to find belief, faith, ethics, and the guru within ones self. I have taken JF workshops, as well as others, in addition to hosting certified teachers and although I appreciated the positive spirit- thought it was all a bit much and unrealistic. I took the workshops to learn more about yoga and relax and I enjoyed all of them. I did not try to turn JF or any other teacher into some kind of idol to follow. He (and they) are human, like us, and have likely made mistakes. Is he hiding behind a mask that is the tantric philosophy…maybe. Truth is I don’t care. I look to myself to be my own guru. For if you put to much faith in anyone or any system- you will likely walk away dissatisfied.

    You have to give the guy this much- he knows yoga and business and has built an empire. You can only blame yourself if you held him in a light that is hard for any earthy body to uphold. True or not- He is not the first person to smoke pot or have an affair or engage in questionale business practices.

    On the same note- for his staff and certified teachers who have placed alot of time, $, and value investing in the Anusara style, I am sure they feel the right to be upset and want answers. And I hope they get what they are seeking. Vesting in any one system, company, philosophy, or stock for that matter, is risky. Buyer Beware and diversify!

  • Pavanatanaya

    Funny,,,isnt it that the deluded Kuls Conflates JF for Anusara Yoga inc. then attacks any and all criticizm of Jonny “Free your Soul Through the tip of my Penis” Friend. Anusara is a system of Yoga. John Friend observes this system except when he needs some ‘Strange’. At which point his moral and ethical compass points in the direction that is in alignment with his pathology. Sex with students is wrong. Even when all are consenting adults, the confusion and jealousy that it churns is disruptive and when this interloper slept with married women, he violated more than just his own ethic, he hurt families.

  • Stuart Hanna

    Dear scorned one(s)

    To take someone’s personal vendetta website (obviously this is someone who has felt personally hurt or betrayed ) and then blog about it as though it is probing the deepest truths about a person or organization, and believing that by doing so they are exposing it’s hippocracy and abuse of power, is utterly disgusting and illuminates Yoga Dork’s lack of credibility and the author’s lack of regard for anything journalistic or fair.I would even go as far as to say its libelous.

    Even if you have first- hand knowledge that the accounts are based in fact, or if you are personally the object of what you believe to be abuse of power please take some personal responsibility. If you need to write about how you have become disillusioned because of your personal experience(s), there are plenty of forums to tell your story. But to use names of real people and use innuendo, emotionalism and unsubstantiated hearsay, point out their vulnerabilities during what is obliviously a very fragile time, wreaks of the worst in our humanity. Shame on you for not being the best you could be in this moment. I’m sure if you dug into every yoga organization , you would find double standards and what some would characterize as abuse of power on some level. If you wanted to start a discussion about this dynamic in our culture, you’re off to a great start but not without taking a lot of people down with you.

  • Pavanatanaya

    Fiat justitia ruat caelum

  • Christy Nones Quote

    Christy Nones:
    A repost of something i put out there a couple weeks ago: Blind dedication to an individual person = disappointment; conscious dedication to the vision & truth of your heart = disentanglement. If you are involved with a method in adoration of its figurehead, you are setting yourself up for pain, but if you are involved in method because of the truth and vision of its principles, then you are setting yourself up for clarity. To err is human, to forgive is divine.

  • Christy Nones Quote
  • sarah

    HY, thank you for speaking with some sense. In no way am I worshiping anyone. I’m a light seeker and welcome those who want to share truth with love and compassion. Clearly this forum is filled with judgements, slanders, drama, and EGO. Pillaging…………………………… & Deborah, you both clearly are not communicating your thoughts/concerns in a way that is diplomatic and respectful. To me, this only represents something deep within you that needs healed. With sincerity, I bid you peace.

  • LMAO

    sarah – you’ve got some bird poop in your hair. flock off.

  • Halid

    I’ know why people go anonymous on this site, but when weirdos start using my name to place their negative posts (because I was stupid enough to place some stupid posts under my own name), then the whole discussion has degenerated beyond whats sensible….BTW, I have not posted here in days, and will not post again, so if you see my name know it is not me.

  • Pavanatanaya

    THAT GIANT SUCKING SOUND IS THE LIES THAT HALID IS SPEWING>

  • Seriously

    any “retard” or “idiot” as halid likes to put it could go back and read those posts and see that they are from the same person. the grammer/syntax, thought structure and generally mean-spirited and self-superior tone reveals all.

  • Halid Hatic Bio

    …Business & Market Development at DVS Digital Video Systems
    Past
    Managing Director at Signiant
    V.P. & General Manager at Silex Media Americas
    VP Business Development at VIZRT
    President at Curious Software, Inc
    Vice President of Sales at Fairmarket, Inc
    Director of Sales at Avid Technology
    Director of Sales at International Music Company

  • Cindy

    Oh yes, Halid Halic the husband of Wendy who owns Spandarama in Santa Fe…the Halid who is known to threaten teachers and students who do not fall into line.

    The Halid and Wendy whose antics were reported to the Anusara office and NOTHING happened except the split of the Anusara kula in Santa Fe.

    Yes, that is the Halid you are seeing here everyone.

  • LMAO & Why'dEy'd

    Well now … do tell more please. What’s the story?
    From the sound of it, it won’t give us much faith in the Anusara ethics committe that is going to put everything right now, does it?

  • Cindy

    The word I recived was that John wouldn’t come down hard on them because they had some lucrartive business arrangements with Halid and Wendy. If there was some other explanation, we never heard it. Meanwhile, Halid continues to intimidate people in the local yoga community.

  • TemplePriestess

    And in the online yoga community also.

  • sarah

    correction: Deborah, you both clearly are not communicating your thoughts/concerns in a way that is NOT diplomatic and respectful.

  • YD
  • Pavanatanaya

    Whats that sound? Crickets from the Kula?

  • Deborah

    Sarah, this actually is deborah, and I have tried to be as clear and dplomatic and respectful as possible while still stating my personal experience. I have been called every name by HY and Halid and the other fakers, etc. (moron, idiot, retard, shit for brains, ass, ETC). I haven’t made any such posts (Feb. 7 2pm )
    I would appreicate it if you would be so kind as to point out any posts that I have made that are not, in your opinion, respectful, and “why” (I’m actually not very concerned about diplomacy because – diplomacy can also mean pretence, falisty, biting your tongue, disingenousness, fraudulent optimism, ETC. There can be much falseness with diplomacy and I’m all about raw authenticity). So — please, Sarah, dear, enlighten us as to what you find so offensive and I will be happy to reconsider. Support your point otherwise — its worth nothing.

  • Wellspring
  • Deborah

    okay – i’ve had a chance to look at all my posts and I’ll admit that my comments about anusaris being drunk on the cool-aid might have been a bit too global and harsh; surely there are many who are not and – I apologize to them. Aside from that … ?
    I do believe there is much cult/mob mentality and I think the way this thread has evolved and all the name calling is evidence of that.
    Nasty nasty nasty.
    I wonder how you would think its okay for your kula members to post in such a way? that is clearly messed up.

  • LMAO

    Sarah? have you no answer for Deborah-ji?

  • Larry

    Woah!
    This is one hell of a mess!
    I recall being at a teacher training workshop years ago with JF and him talking directly about not having sexual relations with students, only if they were no longer your student. Seems he created some hidden clauses. Such a shame! Human yes…..the power of the seat of the teacher again abused. Disappointed…

  • Wanna Play Hide the Linga?

    I have to honest – what pisses me off about this is not so much that John is getting some unethical yoni – of course he is. He’s obviously some kind of fucked up weird warlock perverted dumbledore power whore. Who isn’t?

    What I hate is having to choke down all of the bullshit yoga-speak from the likes of Amy and Elena, and the whole time I KNEW for a fact, because I used to hang out with them and I was privy to how these people gossip and keep secrets- that there was a “real story” and that everyone in the “in crowd” knew what was really going on and the rest of us were just being fed a nice heaping plate of vague covered in hello kitty stickers.

    Amy – all you needed to say was “I’m leaving Anusara because I don’t like the fact that John is having his Black Solar Fuck party behind everyone’s back” – or – “I can’t understand why a grown man would spell “magick” like that.”

    I know you probably think that it wasn’t your place to say anything. I’m sure Mike McQueary tells himself the same thing. Good luck on your journey – I hope you fucking grow a pair. Oh and…namaste!!!!

  • Agreed

    The fact that those teachers knew something fishy was going on and left without having the courage to speak up really bothers me. But then again, if the whole Anusara community is living out that tired clichee, Guru misbehaves and community is complicit in looking away, then those teachers were probably scared silent by the controlling power dynamic.

  • Larry

    they probably thought it best he trip himself up…….

  • yeah

    “what pisses me off about this is not so much that John is getting some unethical yoni – of course he is. He’s obviously some kind of fucked up weird warlock perverted dumbledore power whore. Who isn’t?”

    You Sir Made My Day!!!

  • chas

    “Who isn’t?”
    Exactly!

  • DoTheMath

    Some Characteristics of Cults :
    The group is focused on a living leader to whom members seem to display excessively zealous, unquestioning commitment. …
    The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members…..
    The group is preoccupied with making money…..
    Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished….
    The leadership dictates sometimes in great detail how members should think, act, and feel ….
    The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader(s), and members …
    The group has a polarized us-versus-them mentality, which causes conflict with the wider society …
    The group’s leader is not accountable to any authorities …
    The leadership induces guilt feelings in members in order to control them …
    Members’ subservience to the group causes them to cut ties with family and friends, and to give up personal goals and activities that were of interest before joining the group.
    Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to the group. ..
    Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members….
    Attack Independent Thought – Critical thinking is discouraged as prideful and sinful, blind acceptance encouraged …
    Absolutism – They insist on total, unquestioning obedience and submission to the group, both actions AND thoughts…
    Group “love” and acceptance becomes dependent upon obedience and submission ….
    Unconditional love…isn’t.
    Totalism – “Us against them” thinking…. Strengthens group identity. Everyone outside of group lumped under one label…
    Motive Questioning- When sound evidence against the group is presented, members are taught to question the motivation of the presenter. The verifiable (sound documentation) is ignored because of doubts over the unverifiable (presenter’s motives)…..
    Information Control – Group controls what convert may read or hear …
    They discourage (forbid) anything critical of the group….
    Ex-members become feared and avoidance of them becomes a “survival issue.” …
    Isolation, Separation & Alienation – Group becomes substitute family…..
    Coercion – Disobedience, including even minor disagreement with group doctrine, may result in expulsion and shunning….
    No one ever leaves for “legitimate reasons” …
    Uses psychological coercion to recruit, indoctrinate and retain its members …
    It forms an elitist totalitarian society….

    Its founder leader is self-appointed, dogmatic, messianic, not accountable and has charisma…..

    It believes ‘the end justifies the means’ in order to solicit funds recruit people…..
    Its wealth does not benefit its members or society….
    Inducing a state of high suggestibility by hypnosis, often thinly disguised as relaxation or meditation….
    Peer Group Pressure : Suppressing doubt and resistance to new ideas by exploiting the need to belong….
    Love Bombing : Creating a sense of family and belonging through hugging, kissing, touching and flattery.
    Confusing Doctrine : Encouraging blind acceptance and rejection of logic through complex lectures on an incomprehensible doctrine.
    Metacommunication : Implanting subliminal messages by stressing certain key words or phrases in long, confusing lectures…
    Disinhibition : Encouraging child-like obedience by orchestrating child-like behaviour…..
    Etc.

  • HolyBlazingSolarFlames!

    Anusara Inc. is very well versed in the psychology of the cult and has researched it extensively and intentionally to exploit the psychology of the needy in a very spiritually bankrupt society/culture ….
    Intentional branding and cult creation for Fun and Profit!
    cha ching cha ching
    John can be the GuRu and Peter can be the Bliss Brother and Halid can be the Hit Man … etc. etc. etc.
    Now thats what I call a marketing plan! Clever. Very very clever. And very very devious.

  • Deborah

    Interesting ….. I see many parallels ….
    Why is there only the one chant? when there are thousands of beautiful chants to explore. Yoga is different every moment, every day — I am different every moment, every day … as are you. Should not the practice be a reflection of that? The moment it becomes rote and repetitive – the essence has been lost.
    Many of the elite teachers had a long path and many years of practice and teaching long before they came to Anusara/met JF. Why is that negated/neglected in their bios and promotional material? Esp. since it was those years that “taught” them Yoga and created their excellence before they came to the BUSINESS of highly commercialized/branded ™ marketing with which to “ignite thier fame” and make their fortunes.
    Is Anusara Born Again Yoga?
    Guru-shishya paramparā asks us to honour ALL our teachers on the path.
    when Hiring sub teachers for a new studio(which honours all traditions) a nothing very special newly graduated out of work local Anusari snottily told us “I’m not interested – I only work for Kula” … (well then!) ……
    Yeah — there is ALOT of reason to view Anusara as cult. As a light warrior – I ask you to set your bias and your anger and your hostile defences aside and just “consider” … think about it. Explore. Yogis are truth seekers and as such, philosophers. Philosophers rip everything apart to analyse what is true? What is real? What is “this”?

  • jimmy

    Anusara is not exactly a cult. It seems like a hybrid between religious cult and multi-level marketing organization or other amped-up business model that asks for extreme devotion. And this is actually a more worrisome development. Other writers have expressed a similar corporate kool-aid mentality at Lululemon and other companies. To get and keep the job you have to publicly lick the asshole of the vacuous positive-thinking corporate motto and show all the other interns you can lick better than they can. That you would LOVE to work 5 hours a week off the clock!!! It is creeping unnoticed into society. Classic cults don’t go unnoticed because they do demand true isolation from non-cult friends and families.

  • chas

    Sounds like any Microsoft, Apple, The Catholic Church, Democratic Party, USA, The Beatles, hell, just about every group out there except OWS (yet!).

    Sounds like basic human group dynamics.

    Then of course crucify the king when the time is right.

    Steve Jobs got it right…Die with your boots on.

  • Kula-Ade

    Maybe the Kula ought have a coup
    Then maybe I could rule the stew,
    Seventy two virgins for my stability,
    Alibis for plausible deniability,
    $100,K for me plus expenses,
    glasses for all with rose colored lenses.
    When my virgins grow stale
    and decide to set sail,
    I’ll send my assault team,
    to thrash them and bash them.
    I’ll decide not to pay them and hope they evaporate,
    then place the blame on they who tell tales or exaggerate.
    But in the end, with much Earth scorched behind me,
    I’ll set sail for Bimini where I hope noone finds me.
    John Frend

  • with my apologies to loudon wainwright III

    Down in Anusaraland
    There’s a guru that is guruing there
    He’s got 5 hundred million followers
    They’re following him everywhere

    He’s got all of the answers to all of the questions
    And he promises to make us “shree”
    He’s got all the solutions to all of the problems
    That are plaquing our society
    All the followers they love to follow their Guru
    Everything else is a hoax
    They kiss his lotus feet,
    You know they jump in his bed
    You know they’re laughing at all of his jokes
    He protects his people from the outside world
    His people need never be afraid
    Cause if you’re his disciple and he happens to like ya
    I can tell you, that you’ve got it made

    Well if you’re not part of this special,
    Selective, exclusive, elite family
    You’re considered a heathen, and a sap, and a sucker
    Devoid of yoga spirituality
    They try to sell you some mats,
    And some seminars
    Or a DVD to show you the way
    Yeah they’re looping and spiraling and it’s mesmorizing
    And they’re making moulah everyday

  • Anonymous

    I’ve known JF since the earliest days of Anusara and have watched the changes in him and the organization. It was very exciting in the beginning and I was proud to be part of it. It changed my life. But it didn’t take me too long to realize there was something about it that didn’t feel right. So I backed off…never got certified and drifted away as the Kula got more and more elite. He’s a Gemini, you know…really good at being the inspiring, charismatic leader and really, really good at being an asshole. And really good at believing his own shit. It’s sad. He used to be a nice guy.

  • oi!

    he’s Cancer, not Gemini. Sheesh. Look at his body, you think that frame contains an Air sigh??

  • rewind...

    he might be a gemini in vedic/hindu astrology.

  • Julian

    He’s born on May, 30. So, he’s gemini…

  • Matt

    I think the big story here is that John is a human being. People thought he was an Avatar or something and he turned out to be a regular guy and people are disappointed or shocked or whatever. It’s no big deal. People will be people. Let them be. Be the best person you can be before passing judgement or criticizing someone else. Be careful about casting stones. Also, be careful of holding inflated, God-like images of people, any people, in your mind. Feelings of disappointment will be a thing of the past.

  • chas

    As Elvis once said:
    “Don’t criticize what you don’t understand, son. You never walked in that man’s shoes.”

  • yeah

    Meanwhile…. No official word from John or Anusara yet. Just the one document from a friend. If none of this was true, surely they would have spoken up by now. A simple, hell no I didn’t do that, I have contacted my lawyers to handle this. Yet……nothing. pretty strange. The original site said something about being only the tip of the iceburg… maybe they are waiting for something even more damning to be revealed before speaking, who knows.

  • Anonymous

    He was born May 30, 1959… how is that Cancer?

    I too met John Friend when he was nice and cool.. Aldous Huxley said Absolute power corrupts absolutely. AH also said that the more corrupt you are, the more society rewards you, as long as you don’t get caught.

    Once upon a time John Friend was a real person, but does a real person really sell you a yoga mat and tell you that it will make your yoga practice more sacred? That’s exactly what he said (there’s a video of it). Bill Hicks, the delightfully acerbic comedian told us to ask “What’s this guy selling?” of the charlatans of our society (the one’s that Bill Hicks said are “sucking satan’s pecker”).

    However, long before you could buy the yoga mat that makes your yoga practice sacred, John Friend was selling something… every step of the way.

    L. Ron Hubbard set out to make a religion. He did it consciously and with intention and today the amount of money that people give to Scientology is helping it to acquire land, assets and more followers. There are big celebrity names in Scientology and even with L. Ron Hubbard gone, the followers uphold the science of the religion, using lots of gadgets and methods.

    Have you ever looked at a pyramid scheme and thought, “Damn, if only I’d been there at the beginning…. because those at the top are raking it in from everyone underneath them”? Well, that’s Anusara. Pyramid scheme… Peter “Bliss Brother” bought his way into his first Inner Harmony workshop he took with John Friend. They have joked about it at workshops. Those at the top are corrupting their souls by syphoning off of what John Friend started. Those at the bottom who want to climb their way to the top are paying “ivy league” prices (in the yoga world) to become a part of the club and every year the bar is raised higher or the hoops you have to jump through are more expensive and tedious since the beast called Anusara has an insatiable appetite for power & money.

    I often ask myself “what would Anusara look like without John Friend?” I think he should resign as top chef and see what the collective can salvage out of the whole ship (which is sinking like the cruise ship on the channel while John Friend-the Captain is off with a chick like Zorba the Greek).

    If people really love Anusara, then it should survive without him.

  • peacelovemama

    Thanks for this post suggesting that Anusara should and will be salvaged by those who love the system. I think the Aldous Huxlwy quote is also appropriate, essentially “power corrupts.” As a student who just started teacher training the week after this story broke, I feel incredibly fortunate for the timing. It is a perfect reminder that the true guru is within. I feel free to embrace my knowledge of the system but not be exclusive to it. I have many teachers from many traditions and I study with them because they speak to my heart. I was encouraged by my certified Anusara teacher trainer to make sure that I attend Anusara classes, but I will continue to train with those who I feel have yogic integrity and not just a brand name for their class. Very auspicious timing for me. I also want to say that many of the certified teachers are really wonderful and accomplished teachers in an industry that may be lacking in comprehensive training. They are the true heart of Anusara and they will be its redemption.

  • LMAO

    http://youtu.be/7ryvBNNh2so

    Shit John Friend Says.

  • Anonymous

    Why is no one calling this “The Fall from Grace” because that’s what this is. A massive mess on multiple fronts.

    If you set yourself up to be a leader (Bill Clinton) and you get caught with evidence left on your girl friend’s dress, then shouldn’t there be an inquiry?

    Was not the nation consumed with blood lust when our president had sex in the ovum office? (pun intended). How much time and energy was spent to find out what ELSE he did? If your ethics as leader are questionable then your position is questionable.

    Everyone who wants to defend him and the system is obviously charmed by this Bill Clinton. Bill Clinton is charming. He was compared to JFK. Bill Clinton had serious charisma.

    When I met John Friend he stole my heart by acknowledging his wife and how much she helped him to become the man that he was. Within a year of that meeting, John was divorced and within a year of that, he was dating a Latina Hottie (Christie Nones).

    His next girlfriend is even younger and less fiery (Tiffany). In his workshops the ladies that get the most attention are the young sexy lithe ones, with the occasional props to the elder menopause ladies who are already certified and knew him when he was married.

    John Friend is like Bikram Choudhury, except that he doesn’t gloat about his power, he exudes it the way Bill Clinton does. And people are lining up to be a part of this group. Why? Oh oh it’s Magick! you know! You have to believe that it’s So (so mode it be).

  • Though I am hesitant to post amidst the vitriol here, this is a link to a blog I just wrote — not specifically about JF but about confusion surrounding any student-teacher relationship. It could be called “How to never get hurt by a guru while still honoring the Guru principle.” May it uplift those who read it. May all beings be free.

    http://bayshakti.com/how-should-the-teacher-behave-vs-what-can-i-receive-understandings-and-misunderstandings-around-the-role-of-the-teacher

  • Pavanatanaya

    Holy Cow. Chris Wallis deletes posts from this link. Simply because he disagrees. What an A-hole

  • Pavanatanaya

    Hey Douchebag Wallis, stop shilling your trashy monotribes on other blogs. Fakir

  • Pavanatanaya

    “The teacher is anyone offering you something of benefit to you on your path”-C wallis. And by ‘offering, Chris means charging exorbitant prices.

  • Cathy

    I actually applaud YogaDork for publishing this and taking a stand instead of remaining silent like Elephant Journal did.
    The yoga community suffers from not enough scrutiny and these sexual shenanigans with the likes of Rodney Yee, Bikram Chowdury and now John Friend is pointing to a deeper problem within the yoga community itself. It’s not the yoga which is the problem, it’s the people who are leading it, making a lot of money and going on power trips so that they think they are so exceptional as to be beyond the reach of basic morality. Whatever happened to ahimsa, and the Golden Rule like treating other people the way you want to be treated yourself?
    There is nothing wrong with sex between consenting adults. However, there is a problem when someone gets hurt along the way, like a spouse, members of family or long term girlfriend, either through lies, deception or dishonesty.
    There is nothing wrong with making money.
    However, there is a problem when you’re making money at the expense of the future livelihoods of your workers (pension scams and Wall Street thuggery).
    As clients and consumers shelling out our hard-earned monies, we have every right to ask serious questions about the credibility of those we are paying. Yogis and yoginis alike need to understand that they have tremendous power in this. And aside from yoga related websites, there are many, many consumer complaints and consumer advocacy websites where they can do this.
    In an age of Wikileaks and exposing wrongdoing, shame on John Friend for doing this and kudos for YogaDork for standing firm.

  • Wahini

    Cathy- You deserve a standing ovation.
    The comments I have seen here up unto this point have been….pathetic.
    These yoga teachers are people, making mistakes- and while I see by the comments here many have them on pedestals, they should not be.
    Wrong doing is wrong- period………….

  • Timothy

    Interesting that Sean Corn had an affair and no one cared…but when John Friend or Rodney Yee does something similar there is a huge uproar.

  • Tina

    Yes, a HUGE UPROAR!!!! And people here on this site are really taking the opportunity to rip into everyone in the community. Why don’t you all kick them while there down. Do any of you do Yoga, are so fucking perfect that you can stand on your high horses and shit all over a whole community of people, that actually help others?!! Wow, do you have that much time on hands to sit on this blog on your asses and just bitch about how JF fucked all up, and how his supposed Cult followers are blind? Yeah every single person in the community is an idiot? You people kill me, with your unintelligent hurtful banter, can’t you even try to be a little more constructive in the conversation?

    Cult blah blah blah, I have heard this claim a million times!

    One Chant, yeah this why they all do Anusara Yoga.
    Hello???? Ashtanga has also had one chant for ever, and I don’t see you calling them a cult

    What system of Yoga hasn’t had it’s Drama…oh wait! All of them have.
    Kripalu
    Sean Corn
    Rodney Yee
    Inyengar
    Bikram

    Paaaa Lease people!!!

  • Jane C.

    Tina, my suggestion to you is to think/feel through how your post impacts the reputation of the Anusara community. Compassion begins at home. It reads “defensive”, bordering on “petulant”.

    For the record, the Kripalu community set the gold standard in responding to its guru crisis. The kula – not the guru – rose up and demanded the right thing.

    Iyengar (just one “n” – an old Brahmin name) has never had an institutional scandal – I’m aware of one misconduct issue with a senior teacher – they came down on him. Iyengar, himself, has never had a sex or money scandal – which is quite amazing, given the track record of most schools.

    Anusara claims part of its origins in Siddha Yoga – scandals galore (guru having sex with minors, physical abuse of members, financial improperiety). Read John Friend’s chapter in Yogi Bare, then read the New Yorker article about Siddha.

    In any event, as suggested by several other posters, the issue how we collectively respond to teacher/leader/guru failings – which are inevitable. “Don’t follow leaders” – to quote the highly flawed Bob Dylan.

  • paul

    There is the Siddha yoga that is the name of the very old and varied medical and mystic South Indian practices, and there is the Siddha Yoga of Muktananda. The latter is what (I think) you are referring to, the former what Anusara finds inspiration from. Mystics of all stripes will be accused of charlatanism; it can be difficult to figure out who doesn’t deserve the slur!

  • Yogini

    @Cathy
    I so agree with you! We living in a time where TRUTH matters!

  • Grace

    Wow. The vitriol of these comments is shocking.

    I trained in Anusara. My teachers were intelligent, thoughtful, kind, nurturing, and studied people. I went to a few of John’s workshops, found him an excellent and charismatic asana teacher, but never really got the fever to follow him around like some of my compatriots.

    A year or so after my teacher training I split off from my all-Anusara studio because I found it too confining and clique-ish (clique not cult–we’re talking high school, not moonies here). I’m really sad to see John got too big for his britches, but honestly, I’m not surprised. It seems he was trying to grow Anusara too fast and got desperate for cash (hence the Manduka endorsement and the pension freeze). My guess is he was gambling that everything would turn out the best for everyone in the end (or at least that’s what he told himself).

    The nastiness of some of these comments says more about their authors than it does about Mr. Friend. I will continue to value the education I received from my Anusara teachers and I will continue to build on that education with others. I’ll also continue to watch this story with interest. John will have to answer for his missteps. It is my sincere hope that he’ll atone, grow from the experience, and settle the fuck down and let what he created be what it is: a lovely way to practice yoga asana.

  • SQR

    This is one of the better, more informed comments I’ve read here

  • Carlos da Silva

    Veteran Yoga instructors Joel Kramer & Dianna Alstad wrote many many years ago a book about the risks of cults and other authoritarian models & institutions in the Yoga community (and elesewhere) in their exceptional book ‘The Guru Papers – Masks of Authoritarian Power’.

    At one time Yoga Journal used to give a crap and used to even recommend it as required reading to any aspiring Yoga student in their Book List. As a long time Yogi and Yoga Teacher this book ) was definitely required reading for me and has continued to help provide perspective in a community where it sooo easy to lose it.

    Here is a link to the book:http://www.amazon.com/Guru-Papers-Masks-Authoritarian-Power/dp/1883319005/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1328731696&sr=8-1

  • sarah

    an excellent book. i’ve just dug it back out to re-read!

  • Jane C.

    @ Carlos – exactly – a re-acquaintance with the Kramer/Alstad Guru Papers is called for. Also the 1994 New Yorker article about Muktananda and Gurumayi – O Guru Guru Guru http://www.leavingsiddhayoga.net/o_guru_english.htm

  • Janet

    Rick Ross’s website also has some very good pointers on the cult and guru-based movements which everyone should keep in mind:

    http://www.rickross.com/faq.html
    http://www.rickross.com/warningsigns.html

  • Tina

    Yes, a HUGE UPROAR!!!! And people here on this site are really taking the opportunity to rip into everyone in the community. Why don’t you all kick them while there down. Do any of you do Yoga, are so fucking perfect that you can stand on your high horses and shit all over a whole community of people, that actually help others?!!

    Wow, do you have that much time on hands to sit on this blog on your asses and just bitch about how JF fucked it all up, and how his supposed “Cult” followers are blind? Yeah every single person in the community is an idiot.

    You people kill me, with your unintelligent hurtful banter, can’t you even try to be a little more constructive in the conversation?

    Cult blah blah blah, I have heard this claim a million times!

    One Chant, yeah this why they all do Anusara Yoga. ( you figured it out, it’s the chant that made them a cult) OMG these comments are killing me!! lol
    Hello???? Ashtanga Yoga has also had one chant for ever, and I don’t see you calling them a cult!

    What system of Yoga hasn’t had it’s Drama?…oh wait…..All of them have!
    Kripalu
    Sean Corn
    Rodney Yee
    Inyengar
    Bikram

    The list goes on…..

    Paaaa Lease people!!!

    As if any of you have never made a mistake in your life?
    I am not one for hiding behind false hoods, but I am also not interested in celebrating the fall of an individual either. Hopefully the whole truth comes out, and he can, as any human would have to do, is move on and make better choices in the future

    You people are fucking sick, seriously! True Americans!

  • Carlos da Silva

    I can only speak for myself when I say I don’t mind and actually celebrate when people make a mistake(s). We are all doing that as we grow and that is how we grow right? But I think what we are objecting to is when someone is consciously and subversively participating in acts that do not honor other people…and continuing to do it and try to hide it and to profit from these actions their so called mistake.

  • Sat Cit Ananda

    Yogadork is a lot like Gawker for “yogis”.

  • Concerned Yogi

    I don’t think enough is being made of the allegations of JF placing Anusara teachers at risk by having them accept shipments of marijuana. Yes, who cares if John smokes pot, but due to insanity of our drug laws, marijuana is a scheduled substance in the same category as heroin. Being involved a conspiracy to smuggle pot across state lines could potentially land people long sentences in prison. To repeatedly subject to his loyal teachers to that risk, if the accusations are true, would take his behavior out of the realm of narcissism and firmly into sociopathy.

  • I took a weekend workshop with John Friend and his ‘merry band’ in Scotland back in 2006 and while I had nothing against the man himself and knew very little about Anusara I could not stand the sanctimonious attitude of the people I met at the workshop. His ‘disciples’ really thought he was a god. And now the words of Brian’s Mother (From Monty Python’s Life of Brian) ring in my ears – “He is not the Messiah. He’s a very naughty boy!”

  • Williams

    The huge violation here is John’s failure to follow his own ethic rules of the teacher-student relationship. John had been forewarned by staff and teachers over the years about his sexual behavior with female employees and students yet he denied accountability. Teachers/employees who did speak out knew implicitly/explicitly there were consequences for doing so. For all the women who thought they were “special” due to John’s abuse of power, it is sad they will pay an emotional price as a result of John’s unconsciousness and ego-centric actions.

    Another huge problem – hypocrisy – even in the softball interview at Elephant Journal, John never says he was ethically wrong for sleeping with his students and employees. He defends himself as a victim of a disgruntled employee rather then understanding how his inappropriate behavior with the teacher/student power differential can result in psychological harm to women (and the people in the organization as a whole – those who have to cover up and look the other way and for those who can’t speak up for fear of consequences). In effect, by failing to be a good role model or follow his own teacher/student ethics guidelines, he gives justifications for his behavior in this interview, ie, I am “not a guru” and these were “concensual relationships”. So, there is pain to be spread as a result of his unconsciousness…. even in this interview he is not being fully accountable for his role in the “seat of the teacher” or acknowledging his failures in following his own ethical guidelines his teachers are required to follow. His teachers have faced consequences for ethics violations so now we see how this unfolds.

    As any psychologist can tell you, there are often times serious and negative emotional consequences to a student, employee or patient for being on the receiving end of an abuse of power like this. This is really a no brainer for those who know a family member, friend or being on the receiving end of abuse of power… because as a society we have already decided collectively this violation is egregious enough to be a crime in some cultural contexts and in others, a serious ethic violation, and as a result we have created laws to protect the innocence of those who place their trust and child-like innocence in the hands of their teachers, healers and employers to behave and act with the highest intentions.

    On an energetic level, spiritual seekers understand the profound archetypal power at work within the context of the teacher-student relationship. This is a relationship that is sacred and where safe learning and inquiry can take place in order to shift and expand consciousness and grow one’s inner light. This is true within any context, spiritual or non-spiritual, where the teacher/healer/employer is in the role of showing the student/patient/employee the path. The teacher says, “Trust me, I will show you the way”. The student says, “I trust you to reflect back to me my own inner light, in order for me to heal myself, grow in consciousness, or support my family”.

    This dialogue needs to stay in a public forum for all to see so others who have witnessed violations or have been at ground level in this organization can speak up anonymously without loosing their certification, job or future support from the kula.

    This is just the tip of the iceberg and with lawyers and yes-men around, John has a long way to go before he becomes conscious of the pain and suffering he has spread to so many people.

    Just read the article, there is a very serious lack of full accountability and awareness in John’s responses in the Elephant Journal interview and as a spiritual leader who reaps the rewards of fame, power and status he demonstrates in this interview his failure to understand the purpose of the teacher-student or healer/client/patient, ethical guidelines to protect the innocence of those who place trust in their teachers, healers and employers. When he says “I never meant to harm.” He has an ego as big as Icarus, who flew to close to the sun, and the denial symptoms of an addict.

    And likewise….we never mean to harm our children when we don’t strap them in with a seat belt but there are laws and consequences (like dead children) for such ignorance or unconsciousness.

    It is unfortunate many don’t realize the seriousness of the ethical violations because they haven’t walked in the shoes of a student, employee or patient who has experienced the pain and actual negative and very serious life consequences that can result. Also, you can’t feel another’s pain if you don’t have the ability to empathize. Many don’t feel because living from the heart means feeling everything – good and bad – and acknowledging your own shortcomings, where you cause harm due to those denials, and taking a full inventory of your own shadow. John won’t be able to do this because he is still in his ego and removed from a heart-centric response and the emotional honesty that is required for self-knowledge and wisdom. Consciously or unconsciously surrounding yourself with yes men and naive but hopeful young employees is a perfect environment for power abuses.

    So his actions….this interview… wasn’t a mistake. John knew his own ethical guidelines and those operating in similar organizations and he has over many years made justifications to not follow them to both himself, his staff and his students. He had many warnings for those who put integrity over fear of loosing a job or status. The people who called him out are the tip of the iceberg – 9 out 10 women (and men) don’t ever come forward due to shame, fear, guilt and more. The few people who did shine the light of truth on what has been going on for years, had enough painful rage to forgo any negative consequences this exposure will cause them. There are NO winners. This karmic drama could have easily been avoided for hundreds if not thousands of eager yoga students had John stayed aligned with the highest principles of the teacher. What more proof do you need then this forum for the pain and confusion this has caused? The anguish expressed in this forum alone is one of the many reasons WHY ethical guidelines are important to follow.

    Unfortunately I seriously doubt they will be unbiased ethics review – after all John certified his panel and appointed them to be on the ethics committee. Besides, this was so well known within the tighter circles of the community I can’t imagine that some on the committee didn’t already know about the ethic violations however they chose to look the other way.

    Its a double edge sword, isn’t it? Speak up, your out but you get to keep your integrity. Stay quite, keep your status and job and loose your integrity.

  • Yep

    Here’s how you know it’s an abuse of power – none of these gorgeous women would have even considered fucking him if he wasn’t “John Friend”

  • Nope

    Your statement is flawed. Second part of your statement is true, but that doesn’t make it “abuse of power”.
    John Friend is a charismatic powerful man. Woman want to fuck powerful men. Men pursue power largely for pussy. Is it “abuse of power” to then fuck the woman who are attracted to you because you have it. No!!
    Abuse of power is something else. Did JF abuse power?
    Maybe. I have no idea.

  • Nope

    Here’s a question: when a woman sleeps with a man to get ahead, improve her situation, get in good graces, advance herself, is she a prostitute?
    Is the man who sleeps with her and is aware and complicit in this, abusing his power?
    Welcome to the world.

  • Vision_Quest2

    Another armchair evolutionary psychologist speaks …

  • Nope

    Another snide comment devoid of any substance . . .

  • Jane C.

    @ Williams – totally.

    JF – and the organization – could be sued for sex harassment. Its a hostile, crazy work environment. He put the entire organization at risk and still seems to believe he can sweet talk his way out. Delusional. Power mad.

  • ogden from yoga journal

    Playing with the pension fund – WRONG!

    Sex and Drugs! Right on! We could all learn a thing or two about lightening the F up!

  • Yogamamba

    America taking itself seriously again. Who gives a toss about this american variety of the tradition or the guy who heads it up. Do american not do sex ? All the movies and television do is promote sex as a good thng so why when someone does do we give him a hard time? Wake up. All are here because our parents had a good time. Get over yourselves.

  • As someone outside of the anusara community, and not a fan of JF, yet love many anusara teacher’s, my question is……What can we, the yoga community as a whole, do to support our fellow yogi’s in need. Being outside of the Anusara Kula, many of us wish to open our hearts and extend a great big welcome to you. Your pain is our pain as we are all one. How can we come into a universal alignment of unity with in YOGA, minus all the division of styles and lineages. We are all spiritual beings living in a physical body with many different stories, yet thru the practice of yoga, YOGA, we find a common denominator, one of love, joy and unity.

  • What I believe warrants some explanation is how the practice John is teaching, advocating, marketing, and proliferating is actually efficacious in his own living.

    It is not, to me, a matter of perfection nor is it a matter of coming clean (after being caught). John is not the first to fall prey to such a path (in Yoga, or asana) and he will likely not be the last. And I do not judge or condemn him…I simply question the efficacy of his tools within his own construct.

  • Treesong

    Does anyone have access to the original content of jfexposed.com, either via a mirror or some other form of backed-up copy? It’s not even showing up in Google’s cache, so I suspect someone has made a serious effort to remove it from the internet. I have no intention of putting it back into circulation; I just want to see the content. You can send it to me anonymously if you like.

  • I just noticed that the comment doesn’t include my contact information, so I’ve included my website in this reply.

  • ricca

    Attn web noobs: Hardly serious effort… the images folder is still there. just go to the site and go to /images, and ONLY look at s1 – s4.

  • Suni

    I’ve been practicing yoga for over 35 years, and have taken classes from many, many teachers over the years. The one thing I know for sure is that teachers are people. I’ve been in trainings where the leader, like Michael Lee from Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy, have behaved in a very creepy way with their students. I made a choice at every point to take what I needed from the situation, and leave the rest. I opted not to move into the space of intimacy in that way. Some people made different choices.
    Yoga creates such a deep physical opening, and when people open up physically their hearts and sexual energy opens too. It take making a choice to be with the openness and not act on it. To me, that’s all it is – a choice.

  • HJCOTTON

    Also there is something called setting bouderies with students and people with less senior positions. Why yoga teachers should be exempted from that? JF violated the ethics rule of his own corporation. He can flout the rules while a mere teacher that is not one of his pets would have been fired and oustracized.

  • Anon

    OMG! The yoga dude doinked his student??!?!?! THE HORROR!!!

    Seriously? How about the elementary, middle and high school teachers violating their students?

    SMH @ a bunch of sheep.

  • Arturo

    I was SHOCKED. Then I realized I overreacted, as many still are.

    If you think about we were just a bit obsessed- it’s good to realize/remember people are flawed and power corrupts.

    Anusara will live on, even with a 24 hour news cycle and a scandal.

    Let’s learn from this, redefine, and try again.

  • Donovan

    Amigo,

    How can you be shocked at a Guru doing what all Guru’s and powerful men do; abuse their power and have sex with as many women as they can. This is human nature and will continue until the end of human existence. Us men can be real scums.

  • Nope

    Why are men always considered the scums?!!
    Women are attracted to and want to fuck powerful, charismatic rich men. That’s one reason men pursue power and money, is cuz those dudes are getting all the pussy!! It’s not rocket science.
    And, I hate to break it to you, but this is God’s design. (which, if things went according to HIS plan, without contraception, would lead to more powerful genes in the gene pool, and stronger species and survivors, blah blah blah)
    Both sexes are complicit.
    The women in this tale are not innocent, I assure you.

  • Jane C.

    oh wow. The dance of Yes and Nope.

  • TigersEye & TP

    nope – you are obviously a man.
    i am a woman and i am not attracted to nor would i ever fuck a man because he is rich and powerful.
    wrong nope.
    just wrong.

  • Gossip isnt very divine!
    Forgoveness is…

  • Nope

    But, it’s a hell of alot of fun.
    Seriously, all this venting, discussion, etc. is very healthy.
    Cause the truth comes raging forth, is processed, digested and turned into new cells and change.
    And ultimately, will end in forgiveness.

  • Well…. I think It’s an EXCUSE you’re using here….
    It’s not healthy I believe, It fills the heart with negativity.
    And where is the LOVE??
    But it’s your choice to let this negativity happen. I choose not to and that makes me smile.

    LOVE MORE!!

  • knockers

    Love More – a joke for you:

    Knock Knock.
    Who’s there?
    Cleo.
    Cleo who?
    Cleopatra ain’t the only on in DeNile.
    :)

  • Com’ on people! (yogadork to start with!)
    Gossip isnt very divine!
    Forgoveness is…

    In sex there are always two people involved (or more) as long as they are old enough to make their own decissions – I believe that’s their joy – let them be, who cares? Smoking weed – well, I’m from Amsterdam, I don’t smoke but again… Who cares!
    And the money stuff: he should be thankful he’s alive to have an opportunity to learn here and work his karma back.

    Lokah samasta sukinu bahvantu – may ALL beings be happy and free – so also JF.
    -Anneke-

    The House of Love [dot] nl
    Twitter@ Yoga_Amsterdam

  • Valerie

    The only issue that is of any real importance is the pension. I don’t know who Yoga Dork is, but the “I don’t mean any harm before I post unsubstantiated gossip” preamble transcends intellectual dishonesty. You have done harm. This is the problem with the blogosphere. Anonymous accusations should not be given this kind of legitmacy.

    I am not a follower of John Friend although I admire the Anusara style and John Friend’s personal problems do not change that.

  • It is probably these kind of stories that the yoga community needs to see things clearer, sooo much fluff around….

  • john

    for consideration:
    http://iynaus.org/teach/ethical-guidelines

    “In yoga, three very important things have always
    to be united in everything: Love, Knowledge and Action” bks iyengar

  • honomann

    JF to responder:

    Thanks for the suggestions. I get a little fuzzy around the “avoid intimate relationships with your students.” And it says nothing about having 42o mailed to your associates attn: to you.

    Sincerely,
    JF

  • Nope

    I am happy to hear that about you TigersEye. That is always refreshing. My statement was of course a generalization. But, certainly a true one. To deny it is naive, I believe. I see it way too much. Don’t you?
    Of course, I live in LA.
    I am a man, yes.

  • TigersEye

    Nope … Nope … Nope ….
    Is it the ONE reason men pursue power and money? To get all the pussy? Or is that just symptomatic of alpha-male syndrome with too much testosterone? I won’t argue the point … It’s not rocket science … ;) …. I don’t think it is the ONE reason; I think it has alot more to do with one-upmanship and power hungry “dicks” who have little respect for women except as playthings to feed their immense egos.
    It may be God’s design, Mr. Nope — but let me tell you this: the GODDESS is waking up, reclaiming her power, and this patriarchal model of male superiority/dominance/corrupted power is not part of HER plan. BwaHaHa. Woman is to nature as man is to culture and ….. things are gonna change BIG TIME. Already are and we are seeing it right here – right now.

    I agree with you that the women in this tale are not innocent. Abso-fucking-lutely not. And as you said in one of your other posts they are like prostitutes. No argument there. However — such casting couch dynamic represents only a very tiny inority of women and I assure you the vast majority of women I know would NEVER demean themselves in such a way. And esp. not with a pudgy dough boy. Please do not sully our gender by painting us all with such a paintbrush. Thank you.

  • Jane C.

    What about the women, and men – maybe the lesbians and gay men – who want to be anusara teachers and who aren’t on the couch? – how does this impact them? harassment is not just about the active participants, its a culture of corruption in the workplace. Its illegal for crying out loud.

  • Nope

    I obviously touched a nerve Miss TigressEye, but you’re reading what you WANT to read. I said it is “one reason”, not “THE one reason”. Big difference.
    I, of course, agree with you that not all women are prostitutes, nor are all powerful men sexual harAsses. But, many women (usually hot ones) do use their pussies to get what they want in the world, in the same way many men (often the ugly or pudgy ones) use power and money to get what they want. And both men and women often get abused in the process.
    If you disagree with that, I would say you are naive.
    Also, I seriously doubt all of JF’s sexual “exploits” were victims of sexual harassment or casting couch situations. Perhaps many were, I have no idea. But, I’m sure they fall on a wide spectrum.
    I was at a retreat with John and women were fawning all over him. But I’m not in the Anusara circle, so I have no idea what dynamics were truly operating.
    Hey, I’m all for the Goddess waking up and taking over. I just wish you would would hurry up before the planet is baked into a big nuclear casserole.

  • TigersEye

    I did misread your original post to say the one reason. My mistake. Irregardless – its not about “touching a nerve”. Give me a break with the one-up domination bullshit.
    I don’t disagree that many women do use sex to get what they want, I just think it sucks that they do that. It reduces EROS to plasticized pornography and there is nothing “tantric” about that. I also won’t disagree about the many women at Anusara events fawning all over JF; from the gist of these threads, those who were drunk on the kulaid were not the brightest lights on the tree, were they? So sad that is all they had to go by. Brings shame upon the entire community.
    I do hope the balance of power shifts from patriarchy to matriarchy sooner rather then later before the planet “IS” baked into a big nuclear casserole …. or all her resources are stripped bear and there is nothing left in the way of water or air because megalomaniac sociopathic narcissistis without conscience are holding the reins …..or she gets so angry she erupts via volcanoes/earthquakes/tidal waves … oh wait — maybe that IS the Goddess waking up and purging this planet of the disease known as MAN …. but I digress …

  • Nope

    “purging this planet of the disease known as MAN”.
    Really?! And no nerve was struck? OK. If you say so.
    I do look forward to more female influence all over the planet, but I really don’t think women taking over things is going to make things “all better”. Women can certainly be as cruel and as stupid as men.
    But, it would be nice to have some balance.

  • DebW (TigersEye)

    No nerve my friend. Just passionate about what I am passionate about. Some women can be like that … ;)

    Sometimes our intense passion can get us labelled as being emotional …. irrational …. angry/defensive … a bitch … or “psycho” … LMAO! All negative labels designed by patriarchy to maintain and control power .

    Meanwhile – we know what we know and some of us will accept no less form ourselves then raw & authentic passion.

    You can read more about this “notion” in Audre Lordes work The EROTIC as Power : http://www.metahistory.org/guidelines/EroticUses.php

    I use that term”purging this planetof the disease kown as MAN” because in nearly all the societies on record the MEN seem to have been running things. Hence the mess we are in. :) The 1% who are wrecking havoc on this planet are primarily made up of MEN. It is MEN who sit in the coporate boardrooms and make the decisions that affect the exploitation of our planet. Responsible stewardship of the earth and its future play no role in their decision making process; it all comes down to profit and greed. You wont’ believe me, but I am NOT a man hater.
    Contemporary anthropology suggests that when WOMEN were holding the reins, during the times when God was a WOMAN and matriarchial cultures ruled the earth (earliest known cultures) there were no implements of war …. the people were at peace … and worship & respect of Nature were priority.
    From Cecil Adams: “J.J. Bachofen kick-started the ancient matriarchy theory with his influential 1861 volume Das Mutterrecht (“Mother-Right”). Based on his reading of mythology, he hypothesized that a peaceful, female-led agrarian culture had once prevailed in Europe and the Near East until the rise of militarism opened the door to a male takeover. American feminist Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote of a pre-Christian “matriarchate,” while Friedrich Engels suggested that matriarchal culture was brought down by the capitalist evils of private property and slavery.

    In 1971 Elizabeth Gould Davis published The First Sex, wherein she mused about an enlightened female-dominated culture in ancient Antarctica. (It was a lot warmer then, she explained.)

    Subsequent advocates have elevated the notion into a kind of new age religion, looking back to a time when women ruled nations of happy folk living in harmony with nature, free from war and sexual violence, and focused on intellectual and artistic pursuits.

    Is there evidence that any of this existed? The female statuettes known as Venus figurines, created 20 to 30 millennia ago and found throughout Europe, are often held up as a sign of goddess worship and a female-oriented culture, and it’s true that contemporary depictions of males are much rarer. Many prehistoric excavations — notably at Catalhoyuk in Turkey, but also in Crete, Malta, and elsewhere — include burial sites that seem to honor older women of high social stature, and prehistoric artwork is full of curves and whorls that can easily be interpreted as vulvas, breasts, the moon, etc. The respected archeologist Marija Gimbutas, for one, has argued that a matriarchal society flourished from about 8000 to 3000 BC in southeastern Europe and Turkey; it ended, she postulates, with the invasion of the Kurgan warrior band from eastern Ukraine.”"

    S0 – when we went from matriarchy to patriarchy – things got pretty fucked up. Just saying. Jai Kali Ma!

  • Victor

    I’ve taken John Friend’s yoga workshops and found him entertaining though he acted like he was the king of the mountain. He called himself “The Man” and when questioned by students, he replied, “Oh you’re questioning The Man.”

  • Nope

    I found John’s humor to be self-effacing. Especially what you referred to and quoted. He said that kind of thing in jest. Of course, self-effacing humor can be posturing and belie a huge ego and be manipulative, certainly.

  • Koi

    The pension thing is dishonest & pretty bad. As for the sex – so what, as long as it was consensual. You, YD, are exploiting the inner puritan for some cheap self-promotion.

  • Pavanatanaya

    As for “The Sex”, it was completely unethical. It split families apart. That is ‘So Friggin What’. John( Enlightenment Through My own Vas Deferens) Friend deserves to get his skull crashed by one of those Husbands. Maybe that’ll put him in his place. The King of Cheap Self Promotion finally gets called for his own shit. Ha!

  • yoga dorkess

    the only thing he did wrong was disguise sex as therapy in a student teacher relationship, which is akin to a doctor saying him having sex with his patient will cure her ovarian cysts. thats very wrong, as for the other things people in the yoga world smoke pot all day. But this guy was raping!

  • Virginia

    Exactly! And the cover-ups were re-raping.
    Unacceptable!

  • Jack

    you cant rape the willing

  • Rebecca Oliver

    Rape it is. I have been doing yoga and teaching wellness and working as a massage therapist for 20 years and never did I have to use sex as a therapy tool. Being a victim of sexually inappropiate behavior (not to mention social and financial and emotional inappropiate behaviors) I find this hurtful and not surprising. All the time I have spent promoting yoga and body work and the works of John Friend, and locally the Health Advantage Yoga Center and the Yoga Connection and other Anusara Centered yoga studies, although I have not been affiliated personally, has now hurt my small practice and the hard work I have done to bring these arts to the public. It is a shame. I have always believed, “To whom much is given, much is expected”. He is now in the ranks of so many atheletes and fat cats and the politicians that use our trust to abuse our people. He signs his business letter “Love to all”, isn’t that what got him in trouble? Not to mention, all the work that has been done not to make yoga a “cult” in the eyes of so many and now that has been greatly undone. As this spreads around the communities it will be a platform to create more discourse and less harmony. Congrats John, you rank right up there with Obummer. Preaching love and spreading destruction.

  • ISvara

    It’s easy to shelter hatred, anger, and himsa under the holier-than-thou guise of hurting pride or disillusionment. Authentic yogis/yoginis do that not.

    We assume that paganism, consensual sexual intercourse, and tantra are neither crimes nor are they betrayal. I consider the judicious use of MJ also a personal right, while it is criminal to criminalize its use while at the the same time tolerating prescription drug, alcohol, and cigarette abuse. In regard to illegal allegations or ripoff of funds, I would allow for a fair trial to decide, rather than to enter premature judgments.

    I am astonished by the magnitude of resentment that “the faithful” are displaying to JF. Perhaps he had it coming, by allowing himself to be placed upon a pedestal, I wouldn’t know. My advice is to try to think positive about sex (that’s how we got here), about paganism (the original nature religion), the sacramental and healing use of herbs, and continue your practice of ahimsa in body, speech, and mind. PEACE AND LOVE!

  • WStar

    No discipline, religion, corporation, grouping, family, or individual has the market cornered on ‘scandal’. If we keep our own council and decide what is right for ourselves, then we will avoid the trap of ‘following’ someone down a road that we are not in alignment with. Whomever we learn things from, doctor, lawyer, philosopher, we need to always be checking in with our own inner radar to receive what we feel is ‘right’ (for us) and leave the rest. Responsibility is on everyone.

  • Stella Yfantidis

    What a wonderful distraction from the war, unemployment, wall street abuses and other dysfunctions …the list goes on…..

    Clearly sex, herbal drugs and naughtiness…. wow so newsworthy?

  • Robert

    I just left the an “Anasura Center” in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. . The owner stated that the Anasura teacher should “wait and see” before she flies down South to see for herself. This is a business, first and foremost, more than a cult,

    I was a student of Swami Rama. He ruined more peoples lives in the name of Tantra. He was a ritualistic sexual abuser and sociopath. I have never returned to the Himalayan Institute. Swamis Satchitananda, Amrit Desai, and Muktananda were also sexual predators.

    If you want to swing, join a swinger’s group, go on a swinger’s cruise, or, yes, join a coven. In yoga these days, you never here about the yamas and niyamas! Hello!!!

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