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Anusara Teachers Speak: Responses from Desiree Rumbaugh, Ross Rayburn and Christina Sell

in YD News

The first two letters from high-ranking Anusara Yoga teachers Desiree Rumbaugh and Ross Rayburn were posted to a closed facebook group for Certified and Inspired Anusara Teachers Only created last Friday to provide a space for conversation over the upsetting accusations and revelations about Anusara founder and leader John Friend. Thanks to BayShakti.com for sharing them.

The third response is from Christina Sell who recently resigned and handed in her Anusara certificate. She shares further insight into her decision to leave the brand she was a part of for 12 years, and her own experience with confronting John on subjects “ranging from ethics, legalities, loyalties, teaching methods, personal accountability, public image, branding, boundaries, organizational politics and so forth.”

We appreciate the words and perspectives of these teachers closely involved, and hope that many more in the community are moved to voice their thoughts, opinions and personal experiences.

Letter from Desiree Rumbaugh:

Dear Friends, I have been reading the mixed feelings that you all have been sharing on this page and want to offer this: It is very clear that we all want change in our beloved organization. Thank you for being willing to come forward with all of your ideas and opinions and requests.

Reflecting on what Ghandi said: “We must be the change we want to see in the world”, I would like to offer this: While many of you feel that John must step down and stop teaching immediately, the way the company is run right now simply does not allow for that. It is ineffective for any of us to continue to shout that demand. Anusara is solely owned and supported by John. He agrees with everyone that this model is now unsustainable and as the months progress, re-structuring Anusara will be one of the important issues to discuss. Regardless of what just happened, a succession plan is necessary for the simple fact that John is mortal and he knows that.

It came to me today that the way we can all be of REAL service right now and going forward, is to discontinue expressing so much anger and upset and instead go back to focusing on being great teachers. Teach Anusara Yoga the best way you know how. Separate your teaching from the man who inspired it and BE THE CHANGE. Live YOUR life with high integrity and set a living example to the world of how you think an Anusara teacher or leader (which many of you are) should behave. When we focus so much on shouting about what we no longer want, we just attract more of the same. When we focus instead upon what we do want, we create positive change.

This suggestion comes from my heart and from the teachings which have helped me the most in my life and is not meant to be aimed at anyone specifically. I have been John’s student since 1993. I helped him with the creation of Anusara Yoga and it has always been a big blessing in my life. This is partly the reason why I am staying and working with John and all of you to promote positive change at a pace that is actually possible. I love all of you, and I feel strongly about our Kula. Please work with us and help us spread more light and goodness through these posts. Please talk about your themes and what you are offering to help bring about this change.

Letter from Ross Rayburn:

Good Morning From Singapore,

This is not the letter coming from the committee.  This is just from me.
I woke up and immediately grabbed for Facebook to make sure John’s letter had been sent and what the reaction would be.  I started to write a response and realized I was about to react without even a moment meditation.  So I stopped, went “inside” and tried to listen.

We teach this.  We teach that pausing, listening and being open comes first, no matter what.  I’ve been proud in the moments when I’ve done it and I’ve seen others do it.  I’ve been saddened and yes, even a little heartbroken when I’ve not done it and seen it forgotten by others, including the man (John) I have such love and loyalty for.

For me what is exponentially more important than how fully John falls on his sword or is publicly crucified, more important than my own past successful choices and failed ones, more important than the very survival of Anusara Yoga, is whether or not we practice what we preach.  For me, this is the primary issue for each of us.  So, I ask anyone who gives me the space to ask the question: Are you practicing what you teach?

That said allow me to be more specific about what I know now that the letter is delivered.  I’ve been speaking with John on the phone all throughout this process and I agreed with him it was best not to be on the interim committee since I’m in Asia for a few more weeks.  Still, I’ve been in communication with almost everyone involved and am proud of the way it’s been handled.
There are basically two major issues: 1. The truth of the Allegations, and 2. The future structure of Anusara Yoga.  The first one of course can and should affect the second one.  This is why there will be two major committees.

How I see this all playing out :

  • We all take individual and collective breaths and allow our divine consciousness to take the lead of our intelligent, human consciousness.
  • We follow the advice of the interim body and elect the new committees, which, to those of you that are complaining it will be the same people and that that is not a good thing, something with which I mostly disagree … I trust everyone on that committee to do this job although I don’t think every single one of them wants, should or has to be in the new committees.  In other words, it will be set up democratically.  If it’s a group of the newest teachers who are voted in … that’s it!
  • These committees will then have real power to make change.  Let me be clear about the next statement: If it becomes evident that these committees have no power or are being blocked by John, I will revisit the entire situation with completely new eyes.  But I don’t think that will happen.  I really believe John’s sincerity.  He cried with me on the phone last night. And if you’ll indulge a very personal moment, it broke my heart.

Two other important notes:
1) for those that demand something more than that, but don’t want to just walk away honorably from the system, which I would judge as a completely honorable choice: Anusara Yoga is a sole proprietorship.  The calls for him to step down are actually not very logical.  Even if he wanted to, it would be such difficult legal process taking tons of time.

Firstly, there is now strong support for the new plan.  So, I venture to say the calls for him to step down are in the minority … at least until we see if this new plan works. Also, there are very real consequences financially and not just for John … for his staff (who is fully behind this plan by the way), the students who are invested in trainings, and the many, many of us who have built lives based on building Anusara yoga in small communities and in great cities around the world.  Sure, we could rebuild something without John.  That is just not what I’m personally choosing to do at this time.

With specific regard to Miami and the rest of his schedule, remember that people have made plans to attend already … that is real.  And John’s workshops are the primary source of revenue for things we all use like the website administration to just name one.  I think actually the intense scrutiny he will face by having to teach will be both powerful and healing.

I would even suggest that if someone is impassioned about knowing more … call him or go to the workshop … go and sit in the room without paying John a dime and confront him yourself.  Don’t hide behind the internet.  Just because we put our name on our posts doesn’t mean it’s the same as confronting the unknown or the misaligned in the light of live confrontation.

The second issue is the related to the accusations.  Firstly, as much as our “absolute truth” instincts seem to demand, I would ask how many of you would be willing to share everything in your private life.  John has shared more than I could have ever imagined and ever wanted to know, frankly.  Even in the very real specter of American views on sexuality which to be honest are not shared the world over.  If the activities of your bedroom, especially if you had done some of the things John has done, were spread over the internet would you be saying the exact things you are? If yes, I honor that.  For me, I’m satisfied putting this in the hands of the newly elected committee (which by the way is another thing you can do if you’re impassioned about truth … put your name in nomination to be on that committee!)

I’d like to close by again pausing and letting my heart’s voice have a space to speak.
I’d like to state again the principles I believe in: Community, Yoga and Love and all the other forms of Satchitananda.

And lastly, I’d like to send everyone my sincere blessing: May we all find a way through this guided by the hand of the divine.
with love to all
Ross

Christina Sell, who recently resigned from Anusara, (via her blog):

So, as I was in the deep flows of teaching at some very beautiful events these last few days,  I was also conferring, counseling and considering some pretty heavy stuff and bearing witness to the confusion, commitment and care that is circulating around the community right now. I have to say that the last few years of my involvement with Anusara yoga have been a lot like that. I have had some of my highest times teaching and some of my most profound personal and ethical challenges sitting side-by-side, sometimes in the same day. I have had more than a few difficult and confrontational conversations with John about topics ranging from ethics, legalities, loyalties, teaching methods, personal accountability, public image, branding, boundaries, organizational politics and so forth. I wrote a lot of this already and I do not want to dredge it all up again but the topic has come up again and people are asking me why I really left.

All those hard conversations eventually led me to recognize a deep and abiding feeling that I disagreed with too many things as they were to continue on in the same way, even though I loved John, was grateful for all I have gained and was deeply integrated into so many aspects of the Anusara community. It was my social life, my professional life and my practice life. Resigning felt like I was ripping apart the seams of my identity and yet I didn’t feel like I could effectively- without harming myself- continue to work for change from within nor did it seem to me that the system wanted to change.

I was living with an ongoing rub of anger and resentment that I couldn’t get to shift. I went to therapy, I went on retreat, I examined my marriage, I changed my diet, I had lots of bodywork and finally I came to the realization that I was angry because I was no longer aligned in the way I was portraying myself. My public persona did not match personal truth and so understandably I felt angry and misunderstood but the real thing is that I was the one keeping the game going. I have looked at this a lot and believe me more than few therapy sessions have been devoted to where that pattern has its origins. Add into that, the fact was that  all this stuff was also my job, my social life, etc. and that made it  difficult to face the truth  because many times the truth demands action.

John himself told me several times that anyone who is not aligned with him should go their own way and so it was a huge wake-up call to own up to the fact that it was me who was not aligned, plain and simple. I disagreed with a lot of things that all added up to the stark and sobering realization that I was no longer able to hold my seat.

Did I know facts about covens, pensions, etc. and fail to expose them? No.
Had I heard rumors? Yes.
Did I mention them publicly? No.
Did I give feedback privately and repeatedly? Yes.
Did I protect John Friend by withholding my suspicion and comments from the public in forums like my blog or other articles? Yes.
Was that right or wrong? Did that enable the dysfunction or spare the innocent? I am still not sure, honestly.
Am I bit upset that my ethics are called into question because of my yoga teacher’s actions? Yes.

The hard thing about secrets and rumors is that they are not always ours to tell and yet once we know them we can become complicit as much by omission as by commission. I am sorting through that for myself. This cycle of events as been the hardest ethical challenge of my entire life. I am sure I made mistakes. If my actions- outright or otherwise- cause you or anyone else harm, I apologize and I ask for your forgiveness and understanding. If you need to speak to me directly about it, please email me or call me.

In my experience, which admittedly  is not everyone’s, there have been very few formal channels for feedback in the corporate structure of Anusara yoga and very few, if any, checks and balances.  The times that I tried to contribute in that way were painful and unproductive. With so many nuances and domains of relationships in play, it has not been easy to know what is best for me, for my friends and for the thousands of people who are associated with the method, most of which is very positive. Never in my whole life have so many people been so potentially affected by my choices.  It is sobering to say the least.

I still don’t know about how best to really speak to some of these issues. When I resigned my legal right to use the Anusara trademark, I kept thinking about how many people run studios and make their livelihood on Anusara yoga and how much I love so many of those people and did not want to hurt them of give them a problem as a result of my choice.  What’s a tricky thing to really look squarely at is that when John Friend was riding a popularity high all those years and and his reputation was good, we all benefitted from that and in some ways- not all ways- but in some ways, made a method that revolved around him and capitalized on his good name. And if our success is hinging on his good name, the hard thing is that the opposite sits close by as well. It’s hard to get one without the other, it seems, when it comes to esteem by association.

I think the cool thing that can happen now for the community is that it can begin- if it chooses to- to make some distinctions between the man and the method, the teachings and teacher and the practice/principles vs. the personalities involved. I don’t think it will be easy or quick and I think the road ahead will be fraught with difficulty. That being said, I think it will be a worthwhile process  to engage.

——

Earlier

71 comments… add one

  • My first reaction to this is how sad for all those who have invested–time, finances, and lives.

    Even though, from Desiree’s letter, it seems like many Anusara teachers are asking him to step down or stop teaching, the first two letters above state that such calls are “illogical” and “ineffective”. Why?

    Both Desiree and Ross allude to the fact that John is and always will be #1 because ” Anusara is a sole proprietorship.” and “Anusara is solely owned and supported by John.” (I may have to amend my ethics vs. power graph here: http://yogainthesky.com/2012/02/10/ethics-power-life-cycle-rise-fall-guru-politician-star/ it looks like the fall from power will not be so conclusive. )

    This line stood out to me: for John to step down, “it would be such difficult legal process taking tons of time.” This saddens me. If a CEO of a multi-national company were discovered to have erred, and the stockholders were clamoring for removal, how would it look if the board stated that it would be too much work/too hard/take too long to remove this CEO? And so everyone should get back to work and stop complaining. Or at least think of other ways the company could evolve by keeping its CEO.

    But wait, that situation doesn’t even apply , because stockholders imply that said company is public and not privately owned by one individual.

  • A

    I believe, from my understanding, that there are plans to switch from a company with one boss, one owner, one stockholder, etc… I just think that they are explaining this is literally not something that can happen overnight, and so — in the meantime — these other things are being instituted to oversee the longer-term changes.

    Of course, the coming weeks will tell a lot more about what the short-term and long-term plans are, and I could be completely wrong.

  • hmmm

    In regard to Ross’ response. I am sure the staff is ok with whatever keeps them their jobs. That being said. “Also, there are very real consequences financially and not just for John … for his staff (who is fully behind this plan by the way)”

    Did you confirm that the staff is behind this? Perhaps the staff should also have an elected representative in this process.

  • Sadhna

    Kudos to Christina Sell for addressing most of the questions raised. I understand that it is possible because she has removed herself from the organization. My question then, is that if Christina has heard rumors, there must have been others who have as well. Disappointed that others have not come forward.

    As an regular Anusara student, I am left wondering if there will be mention of this is any of the classes I will attend next week.

  • Where's The Boycott?

    I know many yogis who rail on and on about corporate greed and are ready to boycott a company at even the slightest whiff of what they perceive as unethical behavior. This is greed and abuse at the very top and through-and-through since John is the single shareholder. Where is the outrage and boycott? My understanding is that John’s workshops this weekend are still packed. The clearest message, and probably the only one that John will listen to, would be to boycott John’s events (not the local teachers, they are innocent pawns). I know that I, for one, do not intend to spend one more dollar to fund John’s lifestyle.

  • Jen

    No kidding. What is wrong with yoga people. The only thing I can think of is that this scandal has not hit the mainstream and thus the clueless still shelling out money to a sexual manipulator and an abuser. Someone needs to contact the New York Times. Yogadork?

  • D_Bob

    The NYT got burned last time around by the very people who find themselves so disillusioned now. Unfortunately I think you’ll have a hard time convincing them to step into this mess again.

    Give them credit, though; they brought attention to the cracks in the wall of ‘Shri’ that eventually became this dam burst.

  • Sadhna

    I guess most folk don’t realize that 10% of whatever they spend goes to Anusara which I am learning is owned solely by JF.

  • arthur

    Not sure that’s accurate. I spoke with an Anusara Inspired teacher recently. She kicks $50 a year to Anusara for the license.

  • Compassion

    untrue

  • Jane C.

    Christina’s blog post is great – I love the title – Dance of Yes and No – what a difference a week makes.

    JF, his co-conspirators and enablers, have created a big ol’ mess. Love and strength to all who invested in the brand in good faith. this too will pass.

  • Where's The Boycott?

    Sadhna, my understanding is that 100% of the proceeds for John’s events that he holds directly (such as this weekend) go to Anusara Inc.
    None of the money from local teacher classes, workshops or retreats go to Anusara Inc., just the annual fee for certification. The 10% that you’ve heard about is for any of the products that are branded as Anusara, such as DVDs and books.

  • Brad

    Does anyone know what John Friend is pulling in per year as personal income. Any gumshoes out there who know how to dig into personal tax records?

  • Gen

    Does anyone have a Google map of his personal residence?

  • HolyMagickalAdulteryBatman!

    His house in The Woodlands is fairly modest. He inherited it from his mother. His house in Encinitas, CA is a rental. I won’t be the one to post his addresses; even a guy like him deserves some measure of privacy. He’s not actually rich–he makes terrible financial decisions both personally and privately and burns through money faster than he can possibly acquire it to impress his yoga bunnies and yes-men. This is likely why he added additional tour dates this year and also likely why he flat out refused to cancel his dharma talk on “relationships” today.

    So sad…

  • Gumshoe

    According to the NY Times article in 2010, Anusara Inc. had $2 million in revenues and was expected to double by 2012. John paid himself a salary at that time just under $100,000. Many of his expenses are paid through Anusara, Inc. so his living costs are lower than the average person’s. And, of course, as sole shareholder he owns all the equity of Anusara.

  • HolyMagickalAdulteryBatman!

    Don’t you think if revenues had doubled (or more) since those figures in the NYT article that John would have already built his Super Magickal Center of Wondrous Enlightenment Centrally Located in Vibrant Highly Populous Encinitas, CA?

    The guy can’t even get his shit together long enough to get even ONE class or ONE dharma talk on iTunes. Come on.

  • kelley

    I read that he earns a yearly income of $100,000.

  • shadier&shadier

    Kelley, he pays himself a salary of $100,000. In no way does that indicate that is what he “earns”. He owns 100% of Anusara Inc. therefore ALL profits are his! That is basic business 101. Whatever profits are in the business coffers in no way is representative of what he pays himself as a “salary”. My husband pays himself a salary of $100,000 per year but in no way does that represent what his share of the net profits are. You folks must learn to start thinking critically. Seriously.

  • Sadhna

    That makes me feel much better; I love our local teachers.

    So how does Anusara make money then? Just from John’s workshops? What about immersions and teacher trainings?

  • Where's The Boycott?

    I’d like to invite someone that knows more to clarify or correct, but it’s my understanding that Anusara makes money from John’s events, John’s DVDs, the annual certification fees, the teacher training manuals, fees for becoming certified and the 10% royalty for Anusara endorsed products that they sell on their website. And, of course, the cut from events like WanderLust, the Anusara Grand Gathering at Yoga Journal and John’s endorsed products with Manduka and any other corporate sponsors.

  • Wake Up!!

    Where’s the Boycott-Yes, you are correct. Just so you know, one of John’s weekend workshops can gross more than $80,000. He makes more at special trainings. The annual dues for all of the teachers brings in at least $70,000 per year.

  • kelley

    Teacher’s leading their own immersions and teacher trainings do not pay any of what they earn to Anusara headquarters.

    As someone already mentioned, only 10% on actually products, such as books or DVD’s.
    Anual dues for Inspired teachers is $50 and for fully certified is $100/yr.

  • MAL

    Wake up, people.
    The solutions are all around you.
    The solutions are within.
    What would love do?
    What would Patanjali the grammarian have us do?
    What would the bramacharya BKS Iyengar have us do?
    Let them stare– it’s not my business what they think.
    Shun the nonbelievers!
    More is being revealed every day.
    Live in the moment.
    Be healed.
    Heal.
    And be healed.

    The only place to point fingers is in asana.
    Principles before personalities.

  • David

    Of all the letters and interviews I have read about this topic, Christina Sell’s letter is the first to avoid any of the new age jargon or spritual double speak that has permiated every other communication so far. Finally a breath of fresh air and some straight talk from someone who has a first hand point of view. And, someone willing to be accountable for what they did and didn’t do and the impacts those actios might have had.

    Regarding it taking “a lot of time” to change a sole proprietorship into a corporate structure … Please!!! This is done all the time in the business world. A couple of lawyers and accountants and the paper work could be filed in a week.

  • Anti-Authoritarian

    It seems Christina can speak freely and in plain language because she resigned.

  • not so sure

    It strikes me that something a bit more (like a lot more) shall we say “salacious” took place and nobody is saying anything. It is clear that the allegations in JFexposed were ongoing for some time (the pension issue was well over a year old). The sex stuff didn’t start yesterday either, or the weed. The way the yoga world (and especially the anusara kula) gossips, seems that this was common knowledge for a long time and did not compel any resignations. Everyone was content to ride the gravy train. Nope, something happened in the Fall (around the beginning of Oct) that these folks realized would be “over the line” shall we say. Nobody is talking about this because JF uses legal threats all the time (note the softball interview on EJ). Worse to come…

  • Stand up for your own ethics

    I applauded Christina for her honest, insightful and well thought out words and actions. Your strong ethical and moral position puts you in the highest place of respect of any voice in the Anusara sphere right now.

    She appears to be one of the few who sees this situation for what it truly is. A complete and utter willful failure on the part of JF to uphold his own ethical, moral and possibly legal standards.

    I’m sure DR and RR are good people and teachers who mean well, but their responses and actions are utterly disappointing and inadequate.

    “Reflecting on what Ghandi said: “We must be the change we want to see in the world”

    Gandhi? Reallly? Gandhi was physically beaten because he would not stand for injustice. He didn’t form a committee approved by his persecutors to come up with a solution that would be acceptable to them.

    “While many of you feel that John must step down and stop teaching immediately, the way the company is run right now simply does not allow for that. It is ineffective for any of us to continue to shout that demand.”

    Not true. It can quickly be arranged for JF to step aside, stop teaching, provide replacement teachers while the future of Anusara is worked out to everyone’s (except maybe John’s) benefit to save the “school.” This comes off as a sad attempt to shut people up, when dialogue, truth and transparency are more important than ever.

    And…

    “So, I ask anyone who gives me the space to ask the question: Are you practicing what you teach?”

    A better question is, by agreeing to allow John to continue to teach are you practicing what Anusara teaches?

    From Aunsara’s own Ethical Guidelines:

    “Classical Ethical Guidelines

    Satya (Truthfulness): Being genuine and authentic to our inner nature, having integrity, honesty, being honorable, not lying, not concealing the truth, not downplaying or exaggerating.

    Asteya (Non-stealing): Not taking what is not yours—money, goods, or credit. Not robbing people of their own experiences and freedom. Non-desire for another’s possessions, qualities, or status.

    Brahmacharya (Walking or having ethical conduct like God): Relating to another with unconditional love and integrity, without selfishness or manipulation. Practicing sexual moderation, restraining from sexual misconduct, and avoiding lustful behavior. Includes sexual chastity.

    Aparigraha (Non-clinging): Non-grasping, non-receiving, non-possessiveness, non-covetousness, voluntary simplicity, not accumulating things beyond what is necessary, non-attachment to possessions, greedlessness.”

    The fact is… JF IS UNFIT TO TEACH BY ANUSARA’S OWN ETHICAL GUIDELINES.

    Dou you have any doubt that another certified teacher would have has his/her certification revoked having admitted what JF has now admitted?

    JF has no moral authority to teach unless and until he undergoes treatment until the safety of his students (and their spouses and marriages) can be reasonably assured and that the teacher/student relationship will be upheld.

    The “committee” is acting irresponsibly by agreeing to go along and allow him teach in violation of Anusara’s own ethical guidelines without taking immediate disciplinary action that precludes JF from teaching.

    And…

    “The second issue is the related to the accusations. Firstly, as much as our “absolute truth” instincts seem to demand, I would ask how many of you would be willing to share everything in your private life.”

    This is not JF’s private life. By his own actions he has involved employees, and the entire Anusara community (and now the yoga world) in these events.

    What is most important is that the entire truth of what has occurred comes out (not necessarily with names attached) so that the entire Anusara and Yoga community can make informed decisions about the credibility of Anusara and their own choices regarding their relationship with Anusara.

    I realize that you are good people trying to do the right thing, but standing by while an admitted adulterer (and potential sexual predator and sex addict) continues to teach Anusara students is a complete and indefensible abdication of your responsibility as teachers who have essentially vowed to uphold Anusara’s ethical standards designed to protect students.

    The very future of Anusara depends on what you do next.

  • Bravo, well said!

  • He's still the boss !

    “We also want to remind the community that we are strictly acting in an advisory capacity without having been granted any authority, either by you the community, or by the principle owner of Anusara, Inc., John Friend.”—– from the committee newest letter.
    They can’t do a damn thing, because the boss still call all the shots.

  • Stand up for your own ethics

    Solutions?

    Here’s one idea for some elements of a framework that might save Anusara in the long run.

    1) Anusara attorneys draft a legal document that gives full temporary control of Anusara INC to a board of certified teachers. The term could be something like 6 months.

    2) The interim board would be elected by a vote from all certified Anusara teachers, not appointed by JF.

    3) JF steps down as head of Anusara during that period, stops teaching, seeks treatment, and reflects on what has occurred and his path to healing.

    4) During the interim JF’s teaching schedule becomes “Anusara’s” teaching schedule, and is staffed by experienced certified teachers. This would continue to generate (at least some) income, while making it clear that Anusara is upholding it’s ethical standards as an organization.

    5) When JF returns, (assuming he meets standards) he reports to the Anusara Board of Directors. His fuuture ownership steak and position to be negotiated.

    6) A newly constructed Anusara with a more typical corporate governing structure moves forward, with greater diversity in teachers and offerings.

    7) Clear standards and promotion of teacher generated Anusara products are established.

    This might be the only credible way for Anusara to move forward with the good faith of all members and the greater yoga community.

  • mayibefrank

    This is for the Anusara “interim team”. There’s a train wreck coming folks. Educate yourself on narcissism and sociopathy.
    JF can take all the therapy in the world – it won’t work. Most therapists don’t want to work with Narcissists and Sociopaths because they have no conscience; Read that again. NO CONSCIENCE. Therapists often wind up needing their own therapy after dealing with such master manipulators.
    JF is not going to give up control and he is not going to allow his teachers to step up and run the show and he is not going to cowtow to anyone (as he clearly stated in his first letter) and he is not going to change. Sociopathy is stable across a lifetime (meaning that the characteristics are deeply ingrained and they can’t change).
    How are those teachers going to run Anusara Inc. and maintain their own practices, studios, and trainings while fragmented and dispersed all over the countryside? They are not Executive Administrators, Financiers, nor Managers and I highly doubt they want to be. This is a dog and pony show; nothing more then smoke and mirrors. A pile of shit fed to the sheeple. Time to wake up. More and more is revealed each day and it just gets worse. More and more is coming.
    Boycott John Friend and Occupy Anusara. FREE YOURSELFS. You’ve fallen into bad satsang and …. bad satsang is a detriment on the spiritual path. The tighter you hold on, the harder it will be in the end. In other words, run and don’t look back. THere are plenty of other amazing yoga teachers, schools, and traditions out there that actually ARE truly shri filled and aligned with Grace. Anusara INC. ain’t it. Explore – start shopping … you might discover that your Kula aint the coolest after all and there’s plenty of teachers who are not aligned with Anusara that can and will float your boat. ……

    Your Conscience, The Sociopaths Weapon of Choice:
    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/take-all-prisoners/200912/your-conscience-the-sociopaths-weapon-choice

    Characteristics of a Narcissist/Sociopath:
    http://www.mcafee.cc/Bin/sb.html

    Cute: and correct: Narcissists and Sociopaths have no conscience. They can not “grow” a conscience and are not rehabilitatable.
    http://youtu.be/c6xU_CPE310

    Last, but certainly not least: http://youtu.be/f9jRDHGabp8
    There are many correlations.

  • HJCOTTON

    Lots of senior Anusara teachers have left and became successful on their own. Chritina, Elena as well as Doug Keller before them seem to be doing great. It only takes some guts to leave the system.

  • Wake Up!!

    Mayibefrank- Thank you for the info and links. I can recommend a book on the subject that I think would be helpful to Anusara teachers at this time. ” The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists” by Eleanor D. Payson, M.S.W. Warning: It is difficult to come to terms with but it helped me through the process of disengaging from Anusara. I had to read a little at a time.

  • mayibefrank

    You’re welcome … Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists is a great book. :)
    pranams,
    deborah

  • HJCOTTON

    I wished that the senior teachers showed more spine and guts in offering their resignations from Anusara yoga. I took workshops with most of them, and they are accomplished teachers in their own right. Since John Friend is the sole owner of the company, all the teachers have to obey him and do his bidding, no dissent allowed. (If you don’t like it then leave). Anusara is Friend’s fiefdoom. My feeling is that they are trying to cover his behind and let the storm pass without taking any remedial actions. Christina’s blog illuminated the situation quite nicely, and I understood that it took her a great leap of courage to leave the abusive marriage with Anusara. Her grievances could not be even addressed. The ethics committee and the grievance process are jokes. I am happy that she and Darren are finding success on their own. I have lost respect for those senior teachers , and they could have left and beome successful on their own like the other senior teachers who resigned their certification.

  • cowpattis

    Herders and pack animals on a skunk farm.

  • Yogadork, why won’t you talk to me? You know I have the hots for you. We could meet at the Anusara Love-Shack in California. Hopefully, this picture of me will motivate you. Stop being mean to me.

    http://www.jiggaroo.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/nakedyoga.jpg

  • LMAO

    For those who suffer I offer you this:

    Resist your resistance.
    What is the opposite of resistance? Acceptance. Wide eyed acceptance of the isness of what is. Santosha.

    “In the pursuit of knowledge, every day something is added. In the practice of the Way, every day something is dropped. Less and less do you need to force things, Until finally you arrive at non-action. When nothing is done, nothing is left undone. Go up when the water goes up and down when the water goes down. There is a benevolent force flowing through all reality. When you are aligned with that force, you move forward with tremendous power.” — Lao Tsu
    Like · · a few seconds ago near Aurora

    Deborah Whipple
    ‎”Therefore, Ananda, be a lamp unto yourself, be a refuge to yourself. Take yourself to no external refuge. Hold fast to the Truth as a lamp; hold fast to the Truth as a refuge. Look not for a refuge in anyone beside yourself. And those, Ananda, who either now or after I am dead shall be a lamp unto themselves, who take themselves to no external refuge, but holding fast to the Truth as their lamp, and holding fast to the Truth as their refuge, shall not look for refuge to anyone beside themselves, it is they who shall reach the highest goal.”
    – Mahaparinibbana Sutta

    You enter the forest at the darkest point,
    where there is no path.
    Where there is a way or a path,
    it is someone else’s path.
    You are not on your own path.
    If you follow someone else’s way, you are not going to realize your potential.

  • HY

    Noah Maze is leaving, to teach with Christina, Darren, Elena and Amy:
    http://www.noahmazeyoga.com/letter/

  • Jane C.

    whoa, Noah. good for you.

    the second John Friend letter is a disgrace. Time for the talented teachers to regroup and rename.

  • John is leaving

    http://bayshakti.com/breaking-news-letter-from-ross-rayburn-on-anusaras-future

    John is teaching this weekend in Miami and then he’s leaving the scene for an indefinite period of time. Perhaps with space and time free of John, Anusara can survive. At least now it will have the chance.

  • HJCOTTON

    John Friend owns the whole Anusara corporation. He is 100% shareholder. If the teachers are not happy with what is going on, they have to leave. It is as simple as that.

  • arthur

    That’s current. Subject to change, no? John could sell any percentage off—and might have to. (This is just my speculation….I’m just a watchful yoga student.) It is in the realm of possibility that another party (be it a network of teachers, employees, some outside party, etc.) could become shareholders, even with a majority stake. There are still bigger changes to come, that’s my guess.

    In the meantime, I practice….

  • Where's The Boycott?

    As long as his money-making machine continues to chug along without penalty, where is the incentive for any of the organizational changes you list as possibilities? Teachers can quit and people can write on blogs, but until Anusara Inc’s bottom line is affected there will be no change. I’m not surprised that John offered to take time off AFTER the Miami events. He already filled his coffers with his main fund-raisers for the year. After that, the only other thing on his schedule until March 31 was a trip to Isreal – probably not a big money-maker and best to save on expenses at this time anyway. I’m guessing that he will think that is enough time for introspection and continue his money-making tour circuit starting again in April. And as long as he’s making money, there is no need to change the Anusara ownership structure – if he’d wanted to share the wealth and power he’d have done it long before now.

  • John is leaving

    I respectfully disagree. Anusara is both a corporation (organization) as well as a hatha yoga system. John presently owns the organization, but that can change. Anusara Inc could become a partnership where teachers are admitted legal partners upon certification, it could become a not for profit organization, it could also sell the trademarks and the intellectual property to a new legal entity in which John has no ownership stake. If John follows through and follows the will of the kula, the organizational choices are infinite. Him stepping back from teaching should give the kula the space and time to collectively explore the right path.

    The question for the teachers (in my mind) really is – do you believe in the system. If you do, one option available to you is staying in the Anusara organization and allowing it to evolve. If you don’t like the way it evolves, you can always leave later. This is what Ross has chosen and I respect that.

    Another option, if you believe in the system, is leaving, as Noah has done. Noah clearly states that he is still a certified Anusara teacher, even if he is returning or resigning his legal certification / right to use the name. Reasonable people can disagree on the right approach, but this is the approach Noah has chosen, and I also respect that.

    But organization limitations are not (for me) a determining factor here. And in my view, the system which is presently called Anusara is and should be bigger than John Friend. And that really is what Ross is saying. There is a collective acknowledgement that Anusara Inc. as presently constituted cannot and will not survive. That was actually quite clear long before the recent revelations came to light. Whether the best way for the system to survive and thrive is thru an redesigned Anusara, or through a constellation of independent former “Anusara” teachers, or through the establishment of new “organizations” such as the School of Yoga remains to be seen.

    Blowing up Anusara Inc may or may not be the best choice, but it certainly is not the only choice.

  • John is leaving

    I respectfully disagree that it is that simple. Anusara is both a corporation (organization) as well as a hatha yoga system. John presently owns the organization, but that can change. Anusara Inc could become a partnership where teachers are admitted legal partners upon certification, it could become a not for profit organization, it could also sell the trademarks and the intellectual property to a new legal entity in which John has no ownership stake. If John follows through and follows the will of the kula, the organizational choices are infinite. Him stepping back from teaching should give the kula the space and time to collectively explore the right path.

    The question for the teachers (in my mind) really is – do you believe in the system. If you do, one option available to you is staying in the Anusara organization and allowing it to evolve. If you don’t like the way it evolves, you can always leave later. This is what Ross has chosen and I respect that.

    Another option, if you believe in the system, is leaving, as Noah has done. Noah clearly states that he is still a certified Anusara teacher, even if he is returning or resigning his legal certification / right to use the name. Reasonable people can disagree on the right approach, but this is the approach Noah has chosen, and I also respect that.

    But organization limitations are not (for me) a determining factor here. And in my view, the system which is presently called Anusara is and should be bigger than John Friend. And that really is what Ross is saying. There is a collective acknowledgement that Anusara Inc. as presently constituted cannot and will not survive. That was actually quite clear long before the recent revelations came to light. Whether the best way for the system to survive and thrive is thru an redesigned Anusara, or through a constellation of independent former “Anusara” teachers, or through the establishment of new “organizations” such as the School of Yoga remains to be seen.

    Blowing up Anusara Inc may or may not be the best choice, but it certainly is not the only choice.

  • D_Bob

    I respect your clear and forthright consideration of the choices available — very thoughtful and insightful.

    If you believe that these are possibilities, then you do not know John Friend.

    This is what the ‘committee’ is facing right now. Noah was smart enough to see the writing on the wall — and had probably already made up his mind before this. The others who hang on, even with sentiments such as Desiree’s and Ross’s, are in for a bumpy ride. More passengers will be thrown off.

  • Agnes

    I find it so disappointing time and time again, men with power somehow just chose to let the fame and money gets it to their heads and dicks. Very sad. There are no exceptions is it?

  • Andy

    I find it so disappointing time and time again, women who can’t keep their panties on for men with power. Very sad. There are no exceptions is it?

  • Agnes

    true :) I guess we humans are weak… What to do…

  • WTF

    women have had been diminished by the patriarchy for centuries, objectified, trivialized, sexualized , oppressed, and depressed. reduced to being appreciated and basing their self worth on the merely physical. modern times are the worst. how many silicone boobs in your Anusara class? (something I always found interesting – alot of silicone in the Anusara community) how much botox and restylane? how many acrylic nails? the culture bombards us with images via the media and hollywood – images that are unreal to live up to. images that determine and damage womens worth and esteem because they are merely photoshop creations and not representative of the truth of a womans beauty. the gender species is collectively suffering from depression and low self esteem. and some serious overcompensation issues. the majority of kula members are made up of this type of a female. UG! fashionista faux yogis. look at the pictures on their websites and fb pages. scantily clad, poseurs desperate for attention. probably a good majority suffering from BPD or NPD. like begets like. Anusara is just another brand that has exploited women with low self esteem desperate for attention and willing to spend lots of money to feel better about themselves. women who will drop their panties because that is how they value themselves – as sex objects. throw the word tantra into the equation and it makes them magical sex objects feeding even more into their collective delusion/s. collectively they become stepford wives and that is frightening. its a good thing everything has come out so these poor desperate wannabes can wake up, shake it off, take a good long look at them selves and GET REAL. or — just move on to their next feel good drug. and thus the wheel of samsara keeps spinning.

  • dayita

    “thus the wheel of samsara keeps spinning”

    wow. an actual pointed observation. YES this is exactly what its all about. if the point of the practice is to prepare the body for samadhi (in any sense), then how much of this matters? if the point is something else, well then i guess one could get pretty tightly wound about it all…

    Om Shanti

  • Leigh

    I live in Hong Kong. There is a STRONG Anusara community here. I was a part of it as a student and teacher for 3 years. I quit cold turkey 2 years ago and it felt like I was being ripped from my mother’s tit. It was NOT healthy. I was involved in every which way in the community and it was affecting my marriage…..The community socialized together all the time i.e. heavy drug use, casual sex, etc…..and a general feeling of if you didn’t partake, then you weren’t really one of the cool kids. I cannot tell you how many marriages have gotten into trouble because a certain famous male Anusara teacher here (with a little Google search, you could find his name) can’t keep his dick in his pants and cannot stop making women feel “special.” Talk about a sociopath and a narcissist. He would show up to the studio in his new designer duds constantly. He could never focus on you if something better was happening, someone better was calling or if he was getting a funny text. I think he really believes in what he is teaching, but really just enjoys the show he puts on in front of the class. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree that’s for sure!!!!!!! Anyhow, to make a long, boring story short…..it’s very cult-like….or maybe I should just say that here, it is a cult. You were either in or you were out. I can only speak from my experience, but this is the same story I seem to hear over and over again in different yoga communities. It happened to mine here in Asia. And I am honestly glad this happened. The famous male yoga teacher here who works at Pure Yoga has not had to face his actions publicly, so I am glad his “teacher” is. He shall remain nameless out of respect for my family, not for him. I have no respect for him and yes, a lot of anger. It has slowly dissipated over the years and continues to every day.

    That is not a spiritual path people. I thought I was on one. I never found my path til I quit that yoga bullshit and focused on my priorities in life.

  • PeaceOm

    The Pure Yoga “cult” that you are clearly referring to is different from the Anusara community in HK, which far includes yogis & yoginis who don’t even go to Pure. There are good people here who I’ve met & known personally over the years through my studies across Asia. Like-hearted individuals who’ve experienced transformation through the practice of Anusara, from the inside out. People like you & me who are at crossroads, or have their own marriage issues to deal with, or simply fighting their own battles.

    A mere physical yoga practice isn’t a spiritual path. Involving oneself in a yoga community isn’t a spiritual path. Up to one point can we really hold another person accountable? Up to what point does the blaming end? We have to take responsibility for our own choices & our own actions.

    I wish you peace.

  • PCEXPOSED.COM

    http://Www.pcexposed.com

    This should be a new website. This was the reason I could no longer go to his classes- I felt this in my gut, and once I found out the truth from the students, colleagues, some married some not who were involved with him, broken marriages, I could no longer listen to his teachings. There was no integrity. It’s interesting how much his behavior mirrors JF. but this goes for numerous men in the yoga teaching community. Yea, and the teachers at pure hong kong are pretty incestuous it’s sickening.

    I also have to recognize, that there are 2 people in the philandering…. Not just the man. Both are responsible for their actions considering as long as it is consensual. Not some sexual healing crazy shit.

  • Yes, it's true !

    It happens all over in Asia ( Taiwan too). Male Anusara teachers uses the flowery languages preches free love ( part of the teaching,) casual sex……
    Naive young people willing to spend lots of money to taste the hippy like cult life style and they think they are practicing the most popular yoga from the western/American world. ( Asia is a big cash cow for JF! ) I gusee those teachers learn from their master.

  • Laura

    well said. I know about the Pure Yoga dude in Hong Kong but was never interested in taking his classes. His reputation was an immediate turn off. As to Friend, he does come across as someone suffering from NPD.

  • Anonymous

    I also know of the teacher of whom you speak and his moral and sexual transgressions and complete lack of accountability. One of John’s star pupils — isn’t that interesting. Is John somehow encouraging this type of behavior? Are there other Anusara teachers out there engaging in such reckless and harmful activities? Or is this just a big coincidence? Why should John be held accountable and not others who have done the same?

    Allowing people to get away with these deeds and hoping they will remedy the situation is simply allowing a wound to fester. The truth should come out and there should be serious repercussions

  • bks iyengar

    what a shame

  • Anonayogi

    Let’s just say, John Friend passed away a couple of weeks ago instead of this scandal that was leaked…then what would the future of Anusara yoga be? We have to look at it more globally, anusara and yoga is bigger than one person, one man, one life…John Friend isn’t going to live forever, none of us are. How would the story be different?…let’s try and separate John Friend from Anusara for at least a moment to find the real answers.

  • PeaceOm

    So very well said.

  • simply yoga

    Since it seems to have been made up out of whole cloth by a “salesman” it may have wound up been marginalized. Or maybe it would have become mythical, depending on the ambition of his teachers going forward.

    Either way, I’m sorry, but what is the big deal? Aside from the money spent for certification, it’s just not all that important.

    There’s Iyengar, Hatha, Kundulini, Ashtanga, and a lot of beautiful freeform type of asana being practiced these days, many with no gurus and all are doing just fine.

    I say, bag it.

    Admittedly I only took one anusara class (not by design, it was being taught at the time I could make it to a studio so I tried it). It felt kind of dopey. Neither here nor there and I wouldn’t seek it out again.

    Aside from the “hey let’s watch the trainwreck” aspect, the anusara system is completely over-rated and not worth the drama.

  • simply yoga

    Yeah I know Iyengar and Ashtanga are under the hatha umbrella, but the point is, some very sound yoga practices are in place and ready to be explored, systems that weren’t created yesterday.

  • Rock My Soles

    EEKS may be time to start TrainWreck Yoga who is onboard?

  • J. Fox

    I know JF is a man who is willing to listen & learn. With a mediation committee much will be gained. Too much is misunderstood & JF’s true intentions would surprise many who don’t have a clue. I will continue to thank him for his endless generosity.

  • MOsboone

    Thank you Christina Sell!

  • Yoga Truth

    Let’s be clear… JF will be completely unwilling to give up ANY control over Anusara, Inc. Any board – elected or not – will continue to answer to one person (JF.) I have seen, with my own eyes, JF “ousts” people who do not support him in every way. I have seen, with my own eyes, what he and his closest followers (including Wendy VP) do to people who do not agree to cover up his mess. These victims include corporate staff, students AND teachers. In John’s own words… “Anusara certification is mine to give to others, and mine to take away.” Agreeing to continue “business as usual” with him and his dysfuntion is NOT an option for anyone with any moral standard. While John’s missteps have come to light, we have seen GREAT people resign because of their own moral convictions. Kudos to them! The only way to make him truly accountable for his actions is to DISASSOCIATE oneself from his iron fist. So the decision for action really lies within each of us. Let your own character shine thru. Take your business, practice AND money elsewhere. When all is said and done, THAT is the only way to send a loud message.

  • ndmeyer

    There are 2 things which must be separated when viewing this controversy – the integrity of a person and the integrity of a system. Here, the key problem is that we have a singular person, John, who did a very good job in establishing a system of yoga practice which many people found meaningful, and who at the same time made mistakes and represented the worse aspects of an organization lead by one very powerful and charismatic figure which attacted susceptible recruits, mainly young women. I’ve known John for many years and myself turned away from the institutional form of Anusara in part because of my early perceptions of its excessive reliance on the following of a person who clearly had weaknesses which were undermining the benefits of his practice. To be clear, this decision does not distract from what I learned from his system of teaching yoga nor from the may aspects of his life which I found ethically inspiring. So, my view is that it is the weakness of those who invested themselves in following an individual, John, who are as much at blame as their leader, John. In the end it doesn’t matter except to the extent it causes you to reflect on your own habitual way of thinking and what drew you towards or away from the person and the system. I may not like a lot of the things he did, but inner spiral and organic energy still come to my mind each time I move a certain way, and it’s a good thing.

  • Eve

    Following a human an expecting a god is pretty silly. If you want to have sex with your yoga teacher because he said you were hot or beautigpful or a spiritual superstar, isnt that your own ego and sense of adventure getting the best of you? It’s a good lesson for everyone. I learned it a few times. Was he a child molester or sometmg?
    People get all bent out of shape over sex. Really, who cares?

    How did he die? That’s what I want to know.

  • Thank you for the good writeup. It if truth be told was a entertainment account it.
    Look complex to far delivered agreeable from you! By the way,
    how could we keep in touch?

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