Finally, we are handed the words from Head of Anusara Yoga, John Friend’s mouth (or computer) via Elephant Journal. We appreciate EJ’s approach in asking some of the tough, yet painfully and glaringly obvious questions we’ve been waiting to hear answers to, though this ends up being primarily about Mr. Friend’s sexual relations and lacking any real elucidation.
(In full disclosure, YD was contacted by Anusara PR, Saeger Media, Saturday afternoon, the day after we posted the accusations from the anonymous site. We were offered an interview with John Friend in exchange for removal of the post. If, and only if, we would remove the post and “start over” with an interview would we be granted communication. This offer was obviously not accepted.)
Since the original accusations were published, documents have surfaced to support the allegations over pension freezing and violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). A letter from John Friend to Anusara Yoga teachers has also been released and published.
In the interview posted this evening, while answering questions about the departure of high-level Anusara teachers, his sexual “mis-steps” with employees, students and teachers (including married ones) and the future of Anusara, John Friend apologizes and admits fault without actually directly addressing anything, nor most of the non-sex related accusations like the Wicca Coven, the Wicca-Anusara connection and employee-endangering marijuana habits.
Here are some excerpts:
JF: This has been such a painful time for me as I self-reflect on how my personal decisions within my private life have become a source of deep anguish for my friends and community.
I am so deeply sorry for any harm that my actions have caused anyone.
JF: …first off, I do not use the term “Guru” to describe myself, and work hard to stay away from being so designated. Above all, I am a student of life and yoga, and then a teacher, and the founder of Anusara Yoga.
Secondly, it’s true. Over the course of my private life I have had consenting sexual relationships with women, some of whom have been my students and also my employees, some of which included married women.
JF: For the community, my deepest hope is this brings us closer together, in a more intimate and honest conversation around life. Some students and teachers will inevitably decide to move on, others will become more involved and take an expanded leadership role within the Anusara organization.
So, I envision the future of Anusara as including greater cooperation from all of our community.
We must all remember that any mis-steps by me do not invalidate any of the greatness of the Anusara yoga method.
Read the full interview at Elephant Journal.
What is frustrating and saddening is not only the deception involved here over time, but the fact that any of this could have been going on for years (and it did from what we gather) and not a soul involved made a move, or felt empowered enough, to speak up about it. Until last Friday.
*There is no intention to disparage Wicca or alternative spiritualities (or any lack thereof). Please see comment below.