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Running Timeline of Anusara Controversy, Updates and Teacher Resignations

in YD News

While we’re all still reeling from the events and revelations that have occurred over the past two weeks regarding controversy surrounding Anusara and its founder John Friend, we are attempting to provide for you here a stitch of clarity and organization with a running timeline of events, which we will continue to update as more news surfaces.

Timeline of events:

Friday, February 3rd: An anonymous website [jfexposed.com] publishes several accusations detailing John Friend’s sexual misconduct, financial corruption within Anusara, Inc.,  illegal drug use and involvement in Wicca Covens as a sexual misuse of power. YD was contacted by the anonymous source and posted the accusations.

Saturday, February 4th: The anonymous website is unpublished. YD is offered an interview with John Friend in exchange for removing the post. YD declines.

February 4th-7th: frenzy ensues.

February 7th: YD publishes pension documents that support accusations.

February 8th: John Friend sends first letter to Anusara Yoga teachers via email and apologizes, but does not elaborate. John Friend responds to accusations in first public interview via Elephant Journal.

February 10th: Yoga Journal posts about the controversy on Yoga Buzz blog, noting an interview with John Friend was requested, but was not granted.

February 11th: Anusara teachers begin to speak out with responses from Desiree Rumbaugh, Ross Rayburn and Christina Sell. John Friend issues a second letter to Anusara Yoga teachers via email. A letter from the Interim Committee of 12 Anusara teachers is emailed to the Anusara teaching community.

February 12th: Anusara teachers Noah Maze, Bernadette Birney and others publicly resign, starting wave of resignations. Second letter from Interim Committee outlines mediating process and shift in members due to resignations.

February 13th: Huffington Post is the first major news outlet to post about the controversy with an article from Stewart J. Lawrence entitled ‘The Anusara Yoga Scandal: Can a $6 Billion Industry Salvage Its Image?

February 14th: Amy Ippoliti, who resigned in January, speaks further on her reasons for leaving, via Elephant Journal. Douglas Brooks issues letter in response to controversy, his friend John, and the problem with “gurus.”

February 15th: More teachers resign, Anusara exodus continues. Rumors spread that Anusara, Inc. has laid off employees and has closed the Texas office. We await official announcement.

The John Friend Manduka yoga mat as part of the “The John Friend Collection by Manduka” announced in October 2011 with much fanfare, is no longer found on the Manduka site www.manduka.com/johnfriend.

February 16th: John Friend releases letter to Anusara community announcing leave of absence and that there will be another announcement to follow in the next 10 days regarding reorganization of Anusara Yoga.

Yoga Journal responds to controversy on Yoga Buzz blog.

February 20th: Elena Brower writes on Huffington Post of her experience with John Friend, the misconduct of which she was aware, and further insight on why she left. She extends an apology for being complicit, and  forgiveness to John with the hopes he may become “an example of burgeoning integrity for all the world to see.” She also trashes YD as “desperately sensationalized” and “heartless” for posting the story. We respond.

February 22nd: Gawker Media’s Jezebel picks up the story and summarizes in their own way: Yoga Mogul Turns Out to Be a Total Scumbag

February 24th: Two letters are dispersed to the community; the first is from John Friend on reorganization and the second is an introduction from newly appointed CEO Michal Lichtman. Friend will remain “founder, student and teacher” while Lichtman will oversee the new “teacher run, non-profit organization – the Anusara Yoga School.”

February 27th: Author and science writer for the New York Times William J. Broad presents his opinion: ‘Yoga and Sex Scandals: No Surprise Here’. We present ours about his lazy article: William J Broad on John Friend Scandal: Yoga is a Sex Cult and We’re All Ignorant Minions

February 28th: Another letter from new Anusara, Inc. CEO Michal Lichtman on the state of affairs. She is on a mission to save Anusara and the community and will do so now that she’s purchasing 50% of the company.

February 28th: Douglas Brooks takes to facebook to present an open letter to new CEO Michal Lichtman and his “common sense” plan for Anusara, Inc. – cease to exist and avoid further “irreparable harm.”

March 1st: Just under 4 weeks later, some 30 resigned Anusara teachers, including Bernadette Birney, Darren Rhodes, Amy Ippoliti and Christina Sell and 11 studios have joined together to form what is now the Yoga Coalition.

March 8th: More insight beyond sex scandalness: True Confessions of Former Anusara Teachers

March 15th: Official announcement that John Friend has been cut from the Wanderlust Festival 2012 lineup.

March 28th: The Washington Post is first to publish a long form article with deeper research on John Friend and Anusara offering mostly balanced insight on the scandal. Scandal contorts future of John Friend, Anusara yoga

April 15th: New York Magazine publishes an article on John Friend ‘Karma Crash’ and Anusara Melt-Down – Post-Scandal Interview. At the same time The Daily Beast posts the racier John Friend Anusara Scandal: Inside the Wiccan ‘Sex’ Coven.

April 18th: Texas Monthly publishes their take on the scandal with an article written by New York Times’ ‘Yoga Mogul’ author Mimi Swartz.

May 17th: A letter is posted on the Anusara Yoga facebook page from John Friend declaring negotiations stalled and JF retaining sole ownership, all to much confusion and frustration from the AY community.

May 18th: The letter that caused a tsunami of comments is followed by a series of after shocks: an apology for its prematureness, a letter from The Leadership Committee, a letter from assistant Wendy further apologizing and a community feeling utterly perplexed and frustrated because the Future of Anusara Still a Confusing Hot Mess.

May 26th: A video surfaces online of John Friend gleeful and salivating (and possibly stoned) over The Center, money and taking over the world.

June 12th: John Friend launches latest and longest statement yet, on the allegations, his state of mind and the state of Anusara, via facebook.

September 11th: After a long silence, John Friend is back with a new website, a new teaching schedule, a new style of 60 poses in a sequence a la Bikram and a new book about to come out. Also, newfound confidence.

Teacher Resignations:

We’ve shared the resignation letters of Noah Maze, Bernadette Birney and Sarah Faircloth, and we have heard from another teacher who has recently resigned on facebook, that at least 60-75 teachers have done the same by resigning online within the closed facebook group.

Thanks to SF based yoga blog, Bayshakti.com, for their work compiling a list of teachers who have publicly posted their resignations to date. Here are the teachers so far who have posted their own resignations online.

Laura Christensen

Emma Magenta

Sarah Faircloth

Lara Demberg

Sue Elkind & Naime Jezzny

Bernadette Birney

Noah Mazé

Katrina Ariel

Olga Rasmussen

Sara Rose

Erin Hansbrough

Sue Elkind & Naime Jezzeny

Bruce Bowditch

Katie Myer

Stacey DeGrasse

Erin Nealy

Michelle Synnestvedt

Cat McCarthy

Lila Rasa Brown

Lucy Lomax

Sarah Jane Higgins

Susan Wiens

Shelley Bello

Jenn Asplundh

Dianne Falk

Naomi Gottlieb-Miller

Alisa Rose

Kendra Hodgson

Michelle Berman Marchildon

Kelley Gardner

Heidi Kyser

Jonathan Shoemaker

Jordan Bloom

Todd Norian

Dara Brown

Betsy Poos

Tara Judelle

Stacey Millner-Collins

Susanna Harwood Rubin

Dianne Bondy

Buffy Barfoot

Natalie Miller

Joe Miller

Betsey Downing

Cheryl Chaffee

Holly Horvath
Chris Gordon
Patience Armstrong
Tara Lemerise
Erin Keeley Phillips
Liz Belile
Jordan Louise Kirk
Maria Cristina Jimenez
Jordan Mallah

Noted public resignations of high-profile Anusara teachers prior to accusations:

Jan 24, 2012:

November 2011:

We will continue to update this timeline with news as it happens. For more timeline commentary check out It’s All Yoga, Baby.



405 comments… add one
  • lovely day

    thank you

  • chan

    frenzy ensues.
    kinda sums it up

  • Arturo

    I just assumed JF was rollin like a rock star, even with the highest principles in mind. I can’t believe anyones surprised or feels betrayed.

    • Lamichael

      Look at the other yoga rockstar, Bikram Choudhury, he is a loon.

      I guess we just need a wake up call now and then. John Lennon warned us through “Sexy Sadie” that a Guru with power will make ” a fool out of everyone”.

  • SJ


    we’re still talking about this

    off to practice pilates for 6 months until the yoga world gets its act together and stops obsessing about this lunatic organistion.

    it’s not the only game in yoga town. it’s not the center of the universe. move on.

    • Dan

      Agree! Yoga’s religious roots mean there’s going to be some cult stuff going on in some groups, it’s just par for the course…

    • It Is Important

      SJ, I’m glad you have the option of walking away, but it’s not that easy for the teachers and studios that have committed to this style of yoga. It will take time for transition of attitudes as well as business logistics. It is important that we are talking about this in a public forum – just look at the change in tone of comments from when it all started. The facts needed to come out, be repeated and three-peated before people believed them or could no longer sweep them under the rug. I applaud YD for providing a forum for the truth to win out.

  • Scott

    Doug Keller split with the organization about 10 years ago and the issues involved the same dynamics. This stuff has been going on for at least that long. One has to wonder why it is only now coming to the surface. One has to wonder a bit about those who stayed for so long in an organization with the kind of cultish inner workings revealed in Amy Ipolliti’s letter of explantion.


      Remember the days when Doug was the star of Anusara yoga. Still have the manuals he wrote for them. Leaving Anusara did not seem to affect his career.

    • Scott – I can understand your frustration, and all those involved with anusara, wondering why things didn’t come out until now. I saw your comments on EJ also. But I don’t think we should blame the senior teachers, people were very afraid to speak out – especially when some of it was just gossip they were hearing. You keep bringing up Doug Keller – and in fact he is one that has spoken out over the years since he left, but every time he did he got slammed by the Kula. When he was quoted in the NYTimes article about Anusara about a year ago, his facebook page went crazy with all these girls saying he was a bad, evil, negative man! I suspect very few of these Kula members actually new him, or had ever practiced with him.

      • Hogstadter

        Slammed by the Kula-! oh horror of horrors to be slammed by the J.F. Kula- truly ridiculous!!

        • Heisenberg

          Your sarcasm basically sheds light on your own deep well of cluelessness, Hogstadter.

          • Hogstadter

            We’ll reserve judgement as to who exactly is or was clueless- in the meantime would you mind detailing exactly what “Slammed by the Kula” might entail since your comment suggests you know something? I’m very interested.

          • Heisenberg

            For goodness sake, Hogstadter, read this thread as well as the reams of information linked to by Yogadork. It’s all there, so you’re either being disingenuously coy or lazy in throwing down your judgements.

          • Hogstadter

            You’re having a hissy fit over nothing- I’m not judging anything since you’ve rendered nothing to judge- I simply asked you what being slammed by the kula could possibly entail and you seem to have no answer–or do you?

          • Heisenberg

            OK, so you want examples and it’s too much work to scroll up and down this thread.
            What does ‘slammed’ mean?
            1) Concerted and organized effort at cyberstalking, particularly on social media. For examples, see apology by Bernadette Birney, and also the following comment by a former employee of Anusara:
            “As a former employee, I can verify that this is 100% correct. There was a Doug Keller response team that basically swarmed his postings to the point that it was irrational and insane assuming everything was about John.

            For example, if Doug posted, “It’s raining outside… hope it stops soon.”, it would be blown up as Doug saying “John is the rain outside.” It was a very unhealthy obsession and I remember being baffled when they were seemingly considering suing Doug for slander/libel for comments that THEY interpreted as being negative.
            While John did say he’s never litigated against anybody, he sure has tried a lot.
            I personally think that John owes Doug a huge apology regarding his behavior towards him that I witnessed first-hand.”
            This was of course carried out by the ‘Kula’ members.

            2) Students and trainees were discouraged both directly and indirectly from attending his workshops, affecting him financially; moreover, workshops were cancelled when Kula members ‘reported’ the scheduled workshops to Friend, and the studios were pressured to reconsider. Keller did well despite this, because he worked all the harder. And this is not just about Keller; read accounts such as by Amy Ippoliti when she crossed Mr. Friend (Elephant Journal); also ostracism experience by Mitch Bleier as well as the experiences of studio owners threatened with ‘ethical investigations’ when they didn’t give choice classes to Friend’s love interest at the time (www.leavingthekula.com). “Slammed” takes on many connotations and meanings, and Keller was used just as an example.

            I suppose I could go on, but I think you just got called on your snark and aren’t really serious about any of this.
            Now, I’ve done my part: if you want to demonstrate that you do indeed have a clue (and perhaps have read at least some of the other posts in this thread), please proceed.

          • Hogstadter

            Finally an answer to what is being slammed by the Kula- thankyou! The big floating obvious question will always be how did such a large group of seemingly intelligent people allow themselves involvement with such a transparently negative and cultish outfit as Anusara- I once asked John directly what the Sanskrit letters on his Anusara T shirt meant- Anusara dot com perhaps?- yes I can be snarky- his taken aback reply was no it means flowing with grace- I had him pegged pretty much from the time he left the Iyengar fraternity- I truly don’t get how so many others didn’t. Someone who suddenly jumps ship from a well respected lineage and declares themselves a “new” lineage clearly needs to be eyed with a good deal of suspicion. You can be in a “merry band” but clearly that has nothing to do with Yoga.

        • Heisenberg

          Thank you — now I understand you better. I don’t get it either. Keller left early for the very reasons you cite. Others stuck with it because Friend made it too attractive with promises of riding on the gravy train. Their resulting participation in cultish behavior was truly ridiculous, as you say, though in their minds entirely justified by the ‘something bigger’ that they were participating in.

          I apologize for misinterpreting your post, or the motives behind it.

    • Elizabeth

      Scott, by “this stuff” are you implying that the reasons Doug Keller left are related to the current state of affairs (re John’s relationships with employees/teachers/students, marijuana; and business dealings such as those outlined by Amy Ipolitti)? If so, I’d like to hear more about your basis for that.

      I have no personal knowledge as to why Doug Keller left, but even in his book on hatha yoga in the Anusara method, he’s not 100% on board with the Universal Principles of Alignment (his diagram of the loops, for example, shows them overlapping; while that seems insignificant perhaps, it is and incorrect representation of the model and has implications for how you instruct the pose). He has also always (at least to my knowledge) been more intersted in incorporating prnayama–not just ujayi–into asana practice. Doug’s subsequent work took a path more towards anatomical and therapeutics work.

      Anyway, I’m interested to know if you are implying a specific relationship to current events, and if so what the basis of your knowledge is.


      • Doug Keller

        There was a time when I represented the Loops as overlapping at the joints because, frankly, the muscles controlling the bones overlap at the joints. So it was a more correct representation of the actual anatomy at work than the abstraction of intersecting loops.

        The loops, by the way, were already long established representations in the bodywork community in the work of Bruegger and Janda (cf. Leon Chaitow, Muscle Energy Techniques p. 261 — showing the Bruegger relief position) and thus were not an entirely original idea on the part of ‘Anusara.’ Bruegger and Janda were more anatomically specific and precise. The ideas were already ‘out’ there. (And no, Leon Chaitow did not get the term ‘Muscle Energy’ from Anusara.)

        I’m not sure how this ‘incorrect representation’ affects how you instruct the pose, except that the overlapping at the joints alerts you to specifically which muscles are being activated, and the effect of their forces upon the joint. In any case, the illustration was corrected in later editions to satisfy the demands of the system.

        On the matter of being 100% ‘on board’ with the system: if trying to be more precise and inquiring into the anatomical realities behind the principles amounts to ‘not being on board’ with the principles, then I suppose I wasn’t. But then by the same token, scientists are thus not on board with their science, and philosophers are not on board with their own philosophy.

        I’ve certainly been more interested in incorporating more pranayama into overall yoga practice, though not specifically asana practice. But I’ve been told I teach all kinds of things that I wasn’t aware that I teach — usually by people who never took a class or workshop from me, but heard it from someone else.

        I would certainly rewrite the Anusara book if I could, and it would be a better book. I haven’t been allowed to produce it or do anything with it since the beginning of 2004. Though I originally wrote the book at JF’s suggestion, and he sold it in his online store for a number of years, he eventually came to tell me I could not produce it any more, revoking his original permission. Ostensibly at the time he was in the process of writing his own book….

        Many in the Anusara community continue to use the book, and on EBay a used version fetches up to $200. None of that, of course, goes to me, and the price just attests to its value to people. Though I do not sell or produce the book, I do provide an electronic version to anyone who asks for it — for free — since I don’t agree with how people are being scalped for second-hand versions.

        Beyond that, I’ve moved on. It would be interesting to have a discussion about the ways in which the principles have it ‘right’ and the ways in which the expression of the principles are not quite ‘right’ enough — or are missing elements of a 3-dimensional representation of the bilateral physiology of the body, but I would likely get sued for breaching the trademark if I took part in such a discussion.

        I did not leave because of issues related to the current state of affairs, because they were not known to me. But there were seeds of that behavior evident in the way he handled his certification system and business dealings at the time, as well as traits in the way in which he handled those who did not fully ‘align’ with him that did not bode well, and I voiced my disagreement with how such things were being handled. For more on those issues and the challenges of addressing those issues with him, Any’s letter is quite specific and accurate. I too experienced many of the same difficulties that Darren did with regard to rights to my own work. If I wanted to ‘remain’ with Anusara, I had to stop producing ALL of my books and submit to a retraining with a certified teacher to bring me back into alignment. And it was quite evident that the path back to his good graces would have been far more difficult than that ultimatum made it seem. That was reason enough to just let it go.

        • Elizabeth

          Thank you very much, Doug, for your detailed response. I didn’t mean to imply that the loops are “right” or that there is only one way to instruct a pose, and I’m certainly not bashing your book (which was required reading in my first yoga teacher training, and which I still have and refer to; I always thought it was sad that it was no longer available in print at a reasonable cost, but figured it had something to do with licensing and legal crap–and since I’m an attorney, I think I am allowed to call it legal crap, ha ha ha). I stand (sit, actually) corrected as to your intent in overlapping the loops, and it makes sense if you are looking at the way muscles act on joints v. giving students a single point of reference. I was not aware that the concept of the loops already existed in the bodywork community (since I’m not really a part of that in any tangible way), though I am familiar with Janda’s “upper crossed syndrome” and subsequent articles addressing it due to some research I did last year. I will definitely make a note to go investigate more. Thank you for the references.

          I knew you had resigned your Anusara license, but had no idea there was a swat team assigned to stake out your electronic territory. For as long as I have studied with Anusara teachers, I have always had great respect for your work (especially the depth and clarity in the detailed explanations–I remember spending 30 minutes or more working with my fingers and arms in vira 2 after reading one of your articles). Perhaps you can take a little solace in knowing that us unimportant people on the middle to bottom of the food chain were not affected by any venom spewed from the top of it.

          My impressions of what you teach are based on my somewhat limited interactions with you via the online trainings you have recently offered, and by reading your books on the breath and yoga as therapy and articles in yoga magazines. I highly value the insights I have gained from this limited exposure, regardless of any other instruction or training I have had. I have previously stated an intent to get to attend a live workshop/training (and registered with Swantantrya after my independent investigations undertaken as part of a not-Anusara teacher training) and hope to make that happen this year.

          Thank you again for your detailed and thoughtful response. I truly appreciate it.

          • Doug Keller

            Hi Elizabeth,

            No prob — I appreciate hearing from you and just thought I should clarify. I’m glad to hear that the important people benefitted from what I had to share, despite whatever else was being said.

            Yes, I affectionately referred to the swat team as the ‘Anusara Ninjas.’

        • Colleen

          Doug, thanks for telling your story and clarifying. I would love to have the electronic version of your book! It’ll go alongside all your other fine books in my yoga library, which are quite dog-eared and highlighted. You have shown yourself to be an honorable, generous man who imparts knowledge without ripping people off and without encouraging any sort of cult of personality around yourself. I have only the highest respect you and your way of teaching, and always look forward to your workshops.

        • MENHEVAR

          Bruegger and Janda??– please loops spirals circles- cripes whatever- it was all there In the Iyengar system and generally referred to simply as rotation- which as you’ll remember is where Friend spent the most time prior to anusera, (over 10 ardent years)- you clowns are as bad as bikram trying to patent or copyright words, just cloying about Universal Principals as if this was a wheel that had just been invented- why the ignorance about all this? You were all so star struck by JF that you couldn’t actually discern that his work was derivative- ?- Clue; the wheel was invented a long time ago by B.K.S.I.—- (those are patented initials by the way)

        • Morton15

          In fact I’d been looking for a copy of your book- I just went to ebay and there is just one copy, second edition for sale bidding starting at $100.-!!- yipes, perhaps you are the Rock Star!

          • Doug Keller

            Morton, you can save $100 and download the book for free at http://www.doyoga.com/book.pdf with my compliments. I’m not the one trying to make money from it on Ebay.

            Menhevar, the human body is the human body, and the same insights into the workings and health of the body have come from different directions, all referring to the same central reality.

            No one has a monopoly on understanding the body, and I deeply respect BKS Iyengar’s contribution to yoga. Further credit which has gone to Mr. Friend, especially for the concepts of ‘loops’ and ‘spirals’ should have gone to those who actually originated them (and the language of which DID have roots in Mr. Iyengar’s work and teaching, though the concept is MORE than simply ‘rotation’), and from which he took and trademarked them — notably Richard Freeman, who never sought to take credit for or profit from those ideas. Richard is a teacher. Mr. Friend showed himself to be something else, and continues to do so. And those who are unaware of or dismiss the past will be condemned to repeat it.

  • Doug Keller

    Hi Scott,

    I’m glad you commented here as well, so that I could respond. EJ automatically blocks anything I post from my IP address — I was only able to post the one comment commending Amy for her article because I used the modem connection on my IPad, and they have since figured that out, so now all my comments to EJ are automatically rejected. Nothing in my language has been abusive — just inconvenient.

    The truth is that I have spoken up over the years, and paid a price for it as well. And the Anusara people have been successful enough in marginalizing my voice, so you really haven’t heard anything of what I have had to say. I do not blame you for that at all.

    I have indeed been critical over the years, though I did not know of the worst offenses that have come to light (I only came to know of the sexual charges in the last few months, and have long been wondering how long it would take for this to come out). For the criticisms I have made in the past, I have been largely shunned by the community and blacklisted by Anusara studios. A specific group of people was assigned to closely follow my every statement in blogs and on Facebook (which I progressively discovered after the fact) and they would immediately denounce every criticism and even rather tame jokes and accuse me of “hate speech” and worse as well as suggest that I had a personality disorder. Just a couple of months ago I asked, in a comment on the EJ interview with JF about the first departures of Christina et al, why there was no follow-up question on Anusara philosophy. My comment was labelled by Anusara commenters as ‘controversial’ and ‘inflammatory’, and a studio in Brooklyn was pressured to cancel my workshop.

    JF himself spoke to one prominent studio owner in Europe and urged her to stop employing me in their trainings because I had “mental problems.” The studio owner chose not to listen to him, and ceased to invite or support him. I continue to teach in their program.

    All this and more happened AFTER I left Anusara, and was no longer in a position to make any claims I could substantiate from being on the “inside.”

    Within the past year, a longstanding Anusara teacher in the midwest was decertified simply for the crime of associating with me, and helping to promote one of my workshops. The action of decertification came directly from JF, and teachers in her area seriously badmouthed her (for instance, one in particular accused her of physically and emotionally abusing her students. I have that in writing, though I will spare the accuser of that embarrassment at this point. She has enough embarrassment to deal with already.)

    So I have indeed been critical and have largely been unheard except by those who carried the same suspicions (and thus only preaching to the choir). I largely dropped being critical through blogs, etc. because it was a fool’s errand.

    I never made such criticisms directly in workshops because that is not what people in the workshops are paying for: they come to learn yoga, not to hear complaints.

    In sum, I have been rather successfully demonized for a good number of people within the insular Anusara community, while the majority ‘outside’ honestly don’t care because they don’t know or care about Anusara. And those who were involved in Anusara but harbored doubts were encouraged to have no contact with me, and not to believe a word I say.

    So it does lead me to ask, until this whole thing broke, what more would you have had me do, beyond continuing to teach and study, and try to set a different example of being a yoga teacher? I had been successfully discredited as the messenger and had nothing compelling to offer against the firestorm I invited any time I opened my mouth.

    I do believe it had to come to this, because even a week ago these ‘accusations’ were being loudly denounced as gossip, slander and lies, even libelous claims that should be prosecuted under the law.

    I hope that clarifies things somewhat. As a teacher I’ve done fine since Anusara, through my own hard work and without association with any brand or style. The world of yoga is far bigger than any brand or style, as many who are leaving Anusara will progressively discover. And I wish them well, and welcome them to freedom. This includes those who previously denounced me for suggesting what they now know to be true.

    It would be a rather bitter paradox that, after years of taking heat for speaking up — and being ignored — I should now be criticized for having said nothing at all.

    • Den

      Doug Keller, great letter. I’m so glad to read the insights you shared in how this cult is operating (I acknowlege that’s my word & sentiment, not yours).

      And I’m glad you’ve outed Elephant Journal for their censoring tactics.

      They appear to have blocked comments from our IP address as well (a couple of us have been trying to post all day and posts just disappear from the screen, never to be shown), even though everyone here but me has been supportive of EJ and left all nicey, nicey philosophical comments. But I’ve been hyper critical of the crap they’ve been posting, especially from the new crop of ex-students who I just see as doing damage limitation and rebranding — so I guess I’m the badboy who got the lot of us banned. Comments that are genuinely critical of Anusara are simply not allowed on EJ anymore it seems? They say it’s all just good journalism but now that we’re seeing how they use behind the scenes censorship, I wonder about how deep their connections to Anusra and Friend go?

      • Elizabeth

        My close friends are and have been skeptical of EJ’s stated commitment to “good journalism,” and since I first recall doubting at least a year ago (it was pre-California Wanderlust…I just cannot recall by how much) it had zero to do with treatment of Anusara, John, or the teachers and students of Anusara. I actually wondered if comments were censored, or if they just got eaten by the interwebs. It is too bad that commentary that might further the conversation on EJ is being obliterated, while useless smack stays online over at Yogadork. Sigh.

        • LMAO

          Elizabeth, this convo is taking place on the YogaDork website. Do you consider it useless smack? YogaDork leaves everything on – openly & transparently. As a result, this conversation is happening and Doug is allowed to share his valuable insights HERE. At YOGADORK. Just saying.

      • Leah

        Hi Doug,

        I’m a somewhat recently inspired teacher (almost two years) although I suppose not anymore. I never paid my dues this year so I figure that will be my way of resigning– just let it float away…I have been keen to the extremely problematic structural issues of Anusara for some time and chose to be licensed for the simple reason that it allowed me to study with John and go deeper into a methodology that strongly resonated for me. I thought of writing a satire of a grandiose resignation letter from an inconsequential (or low in the pecking order person as I am) person but than thought better of it because I was afraid peoole might not get the joke!

        Anyway, I want you to know how sorry I am for what happened to you. Although I had heard vague references to some kind of a falling out between you and John I had no idea as to the extent of it or to how you were treated. It’s appaling. How awful. I have taught at a muti-disciplinary studio in Washington DC for several years and I co-teach a teacher training there with teachers from various other traditions. We have used your Yoga as Therapy manuals in our trainings because they served as an excellent bridge for our collective knowledge, made great sense to me as an Anusara trained teacher, and contained information we could cohesively and coherently present to the students as a team.

        I want you to know, (perhaps you already do) that we were not all automatons for Anusara just because we were affiliated or licensed. I have taken workshops with you at Boundless and recommended “Refining the Breath” to every single student I have ever taught in a teacher training. It never even occurred to me not to do these things simply because you had left (or been kicked out) of Anusara. I have many teachers. I’ve always been it in for the knowledge and getting the most potent, refined teachings I can get and offer to others regardless (and in spite of) personal dynamics, politics, and cult of personality shenanigans. I have to say it irks me that there is so much retroactive integrity going on these days–some of us have had it all along. Also, it sounds to me like Elephant Journal needs to be boycotted. Why are so many prominent teachers and scholars posting letters in a journal of such questionable repute and almost non-existent editorial rigor? Where can this conversation be had outside the entirely self referential Anusra FB forum and yet not on scary 1984ish Elephant Journal? It seems Yoga Dork is the best hope we have for now. Perhaps if EJ invited you for an uncensored interview they could get some of their credibility back. It is not right that more official forums are allowing the people who came by their credibility through a tainted chain of command to dominate the discourse. I guess the great advertisement must go on…



        • Doug Keller

          Hi Leah,

          Thank you — and I’m certainly aware that there are plenty of people in the ranks of Anusara who have never had any differences with me, and we’ve maintained very happy connections as teachers with plenty of mutual respect. The behavior I described I have always known to be a way of thinking that was encouraged from the top down, and quite often that did not reach down to teachers on the local level. While that behavior is annoying and irksome, it hasn’t really stopped me from going ahead with my life and dharma just fine.

          Thanks so much for your gracious thoughts. I do meet plenty of great people through yoga, including many who choose the Anusara style of expression as their preferred way of teaching.

        • LMAO

          Beautifully said Leah.
          Agree tenfold about EJ; it is trash and there there should be a boycott . Its a forum for egomaniacs to find a spotlight and “posteurize” on their postuerizing. Pretentious bullshit for the most part.
          Love the term retroactive integrity.

    • Employee

      As a former employee, I can verify that this is 100% correct. There was a Doug Keller response team that basically swarmed his postings to the point that it was irrational and insane assuming everything was about John.

      For example, if Doug posted, “It’s raining outside… hope it stops soon.”, it would be blown up as Doug saying “John is the rain outside.” It was a very unhealthy obsession and I remember being baffled when they were seemingly considering suing Doug for slander/libel for comments that THEY interpreted as being negative.

      While John did say he’s never litigated against anybody, he sure has tried a lot.

      I personally think that John owes Doug a huge apology regarding his behavior towards him that I witnessed first-hand.

      • observer

        Such smearing behavior in response to a threat to a grandiose self-image, are a classic example of the projection of one’s own faults onto a target that is a hallmark of NPD.

        I agree with you that John owes Doug an apology for the actions he directed. But I don’t expect any heartfelt apologies or true requests for forgiveness will ever be forthcoming from John. In his mind he will probably always believe all his actions were justified – even as his money-making, cultish organization dissolves around him, as it should.

        Mr. Keller’s behavior in response to the smear campaign is to be applauded.

        Perhaps the largest lesson from all this is that with time, the truth always surfaces.

    • Hi Doug and thanks for your comments. You were at Gray Bear fall 2004 and I attended my first workshop ever with you..I still have pictures! I was not a teacher then nor had I been practicing long. I have always felt grateful to have attended that informative and fun weekend with you and my only regret is that I’ve not been able to experience your teachings first hand again. So much of that weekend went over my head due to my own newness to yoga. If you ever get down to Atlanta (even better, Decatur!! I now teach at Form Yoga here), please let me know…I know you’d be more than welcomed! Namaste~Lisa

    • Jane C.

      Wow Doug Keller. Thanks for this. I’d love to see it in article form – its hard to track back to these posts on YD. I’ve had bits and pieces, intuitions about this – and I appreciate the detail. Love your work.

      Elephant Journal deletes your comments? I’m so over that self important rag.

    • NoShame!

      Bernadette Birney on Doug Kellers facebook.
      Hi, We don’t know each other but I used your manual in my Immersion–before that was disallowed. In the culture of “With Me or Against Me,” that I have been operating under, I believe I have unfairly pre-judged you. I know that I have been pressed, on occasion, to publicly reply to your comments. I would like to apologize. I do not presume to know how you feel but if I were in your shoes I might feel bitter. Perhaps some day I’ll have the opportunity to take your class. Best, Bernadette Birney
      Like · · 6 minutes ago ·
      For Shame Ms. Birney. For Shame. Too little too late : You are very transparent .

      • Jane C.

        I disagree. B. Birney shows herself to be a class act. This is a straight up, unequivocal amend – it took humility and guts. Good for Bern.

      • It's never too late !

        I think it’s a nice gesture of Ms. Birney, at least she apologized for her past behavior which she may or may not act intentionally…… (unlike some people.)
        It’s never too late to show your sincerity.

      • Say what ?

        BB Loosely translated : ‘You can’t blame me I was just following the bosses orders & abusing your good name because I was not responsible…oops sorry , now I get a do over & I will see you in your class fer sure. You must be really bitter just like I am.
        Your sister victim, BB ”

        Footnote: not ONE hint of current bitterness did I note in any of Kellar’s story !!!

        • oH gOOd lORd!

          Dear Yoga Community,
          Over the last couple of weeks, there have been plenty o’ opportunities for self-reflection. In the light of recent events, I am seeing things I probably should have seen a long time ago, but did not. I would like to come clean.
          For years, I have been thoughtlessly reiterating–and actually believing–things like: “The Anusara method is by far the most elegant and effective hatha yoga method in existence.” It has been my experience that these kinds of grandiose and self-aggrandizing claims are common in–and to–the Anusara culture.
          It is true that I have personally witnessed the healing power of the method. I have seen it work many times over throughout my teaching career to date. So, I can personally attest to the efficacy of the system.
          However, it occurs to me now that in truth—-I have no idea whether or not the method is definitively the most healing method of all hatha yoga methods. Having never made comprehensive study of every single method of hatha yoga in existence, I actually do not have basis for such comparisons, or conclusions.
          Jaysus, I have slugged down a fair amount of Kool-Aid. I have parroted self-aggrandizing and offensive fabrications and lies hyperboles.
          I’m sorry for being such an arrogant, elitist asshole. No wonder you don’t like me. Maybe if I’m lucky, you’ll give me another chance.

          Yours Truly,
          Bernadette Birney

          oh good lord. i believe ms.birney is spiralling. she seems extremely unstable, is hugging the extremes, and might be splitting. out of compassion, I suggest she see a therapist to talk it out. please BB. stop. you are doing damage to yourself.

      • Doug Keller

        My own reply to Bernadette on FB:

        Hi Bernadette — Thank you, and I know well the environment in which you found yourself. Don’t be too hard on yourself; it’s going to be a process. I’ve been following your writings as this whole thing broke, and respect your honesty, good heart and openness as you navigate your way through it. I do wish you well in your continuing journey!

        I will say that, since we do not know each other personally, I don’t take it personally. I do appreciate it that she did step up to apologize. I do remember the time it took me to sort through things as I separated from Anusara and all that came with it, and that gives me some perspective. Everyone has some distance to travel, and what the teachers who have left are saying now is not the same as what they will be saying a month from now or a year from now, as their own feelings and perspective becomes more clear. I can certainly give everyone that bit of consideration.

        Being human, I will certainly admit that I would be more cautious with my forgiveness toward those who did know me and nevertheless jumped on the bandwagon. It’s harder not to take that personally — but it’s of little consequence anyway, since they basically severed communication with me and have as yet not quite displayed the kind of thoughtfulness that Bernadette has.

        • oH gOOd lORd!

          The gravy train is sinking fast … JUMP …. lets get off this doomed John Friend bandwagon ! Oh — there’s Doug ! How timely. Lets apologize, hopefully he will forgive us .. we can deify him as our new GooRoo, decorate ourselves with daisies … and the show is on. Really Big Show …. and we barely missed a beat! shri ram jai ram jai jai ram …

    • Doug, for what it’s worth, as a student of Anusara for the past 7 years I never heard anything negative said about you. Every mention of your name has always been made with tremendous respect. So the attacks on you seem not to have trickled down to the “little people”.

    • paulette

      thanks for your letter Dough, I enjoy your books and information on the web page……

  • Cathy G

    Soooo, the whole thing began when YD posted an anonymous post accusing JF of drugs, sex, financial theftand Wicca??

    While if true, much of these actions are against the law.. and there is a more direct and honest way to report lawbreakers and get ‘justice”.
    Call the police if someone asks you to mail drugs. Do not have sex with your boss. People who find their pensions frozen with no explanation have many means of immediate recourse- lawyers, the FCC.

    So the anonymous person could apparently didn’t know how to call the police, refrain from sex or demand help with a pension and saw serious harm in wicca?

    I still love my yoga. I stil respect some Anusara teachers I know. However, I am mystified why anonymous and YD did nto contact Yoga Alliance or Yoga Journal rather than blat outdrama and in so doing deface yoga as much as the offenses apparently commited by JF.

    • Yogaurt

      What if the anonymous person DID call the authorities regarding illegal actions? What if the anonymous person was told “we have to catch him in the act”? What if the person called the appropriate authorities regarding the pension fraud–which by the way is NOT the FCC. And what if this person WAS NOT having sex nor practicing alternative religions?

      These aren’t “what if” statements. They actually happened. If you refer to the timeline, certain events were triggered PRIOR to the posting of the anonymous webiste. And there were other innocent people being led down the merry path. Too many for one person to take aside and tell the facts. Rumours spread that way, so an online single source of information was much more practical than word of mouth.
      How many people inside the organization saw this coming and left? How many of them tried to warn others that things were happening not in the best interests of the company or the individuals that made up the company.

      I’m sorry for all the ignorant persons who were caught as victims in this and lost employment and have had harship thrust upon them by the actions of a single selfish man, JF.

  • Manduka must be pissed. I’m going to keep an eye on Overstock.com for “over-sized yoga mats.”

  • Thank you for your letter Doug. Enjoy your books and hope to meet you one day.

    • Doug Keller

      Thank you, and happy to oblige!

  • Truth

    the Universe (and a certain monk) thank you…

  • Tony Giannetti

    I’d like to suggest that Yogadork start citing the articles they are reposting from BayShakti.com. The article above is lifted completely without attribution. As I page back there appear to be more instances of this. EJ, would you mind putting the appropriate link back to your source material? Thanks,.

  • Kim Wilson

    I’m pretty far removed from the Anusara world but have been following this ever since reading about it here on YD. Strangely now, I’m more affected by the above posts re the censoring tactics at EJ. Strange how the brain works: “Uh-huh, ok, wicca, pension, sex, pot, manipulation, ok, yeah.” “Illumination now on what is and has been going on over at EJ” *brain goes into state of can’t-wrap-my-head-around-this-one shock.

    It’s like the Airplane movie when the plane is going to crash & everyone is fine until they find out the coffee has run out.

    Or maybe this is just the last straw for me in a week fraught with all of this information that does personally distress me, because what happens to one of us happens to all of us collectively as human beings.

    I’ve seen firsthand in my own studio the students who adhere to only one method, rejecting all others. I’ve seen the act of placing the yoga teacher on a pedestal and closing off to all other traditions & styles. To me, that’s a very scary place to be, and to see. And to feel, actually. I’ve also seen the students who embrace a variety of teachers and realize the value of practicing with many instead of the Guru-ization of one, which is a very dangerous place indeed.

    I guess this isn’t really a comment… more of a pointless musing, really.

    And actually, a “thank-you” for standing your ground. To YD, and everyone else who has stood it wholeheartedly in truth. I’m grateful for those who have been so strong, so honest & open.

    (apologies for any grammitical errors; it’s been a long week)


    • Peaceforall

      Kim, i am so with you, I have a similar perspective. I hope you have a wonderful weekend:)

      • Kim Wilson

        I don’t know why I just saw this. You too, Andrea 🙂

        I love my “main” 2 teachers; but I absolutely love learning from others when I have the chance & being open to new things; practicing being nonjudgmental when I feel a judgment sneaking up in my own mind. It’s good practice, at least for me.
        I’ve gotten cues from other instructors/subs/workshop leaders that have changed my practice for the better. Keeps my mind open.

        Although it may depend where one practices. Since I started practicing years ago, I’ve never had anyone tell me I’m doing anything “wrong.” Just suggestions to try things another way occasionally. All part of learning the vastness of the practice.


    • ambroulard

      It doe’s qualify as pointless musing I’d say…..- some teachers are very very good, I mean all the way around- not saying they don’t have faults- but not major ones- not ones that are going to do harm to their students- I’d go further and say there are lots of good teachers around and it makes perfect sense to work just with them- why wouldn’t it?? who wants to be running to a different yoga studio every class? or constantly adapting to someones teaching style that’s new to you?- (the “danger” here is that you won’t learn much about being consistent and you won’t build up much trust in your practice as you’ll always be wacking it with some new teachers take on what you’re supposed to be doing. So I don’t really see your point at all- I don’t see working with one good teacher as a “very scary place to be” at all, I see it as a very safe and sane place to be. You see if John Friend had taken this kind of advice on girlfriends he might not be in the confused and fallen state that he’s in today….

      • Kim Wilson

        At least I was kind.

        There are many points of view. This is why yoga is such a wonderful place to be. If everyone honored the teacher inside, what a great world we would have.

        Working with one teacher may resonate with the student. There are benefits to be had with working with several. I’ve seen it approach a cultlike state in several situations where “My yoga is correct and yours is not.” This can be limiting. When it reaches the point where people judge as other yoga as “not real yoga,” this to me is not coming from love. Something comes from love or it doesn’t. Yoga is based on love.

        My favorite thing to listen to on this topic is The Yoga Matrix by Richard Freeman. He sums it up without emotional attachment, beautifully, artfully and eloquently.

        • bonanzaJellybean

          Kim – i am not trying to be confrontation nor difficult – but please tell my where you got the idea that yoga is based on love?

          • Kim Wilson

            my studies may be limited, but from the Yoga Sutra studies I’ve done here, and from the Bhagavad Gita studies I’m currently doing. From the film Yoga Unveiled, the 8 limbs of yoga & my own readings of Iyengar’s Light on Life, Light on Yoga, my own practice & from my wonderful teachers Richard Freeman, David Swenson and the great instructors at the Dallas Yoga Center, Blue Anjou Yoga and Dharma Mittra (sp). Other than that, I’m sure yoga, as anything, can be open to interpretation. The yoga I practice is based on ahimsa. It may certainly differ for others. 🙂

          • Kim Wilson

            I suppose I should also add that the three years I’ve practiced with various instructors at the Estes Park conference in ’08, ’09 and 2010, not one of the veered from that message either. And actually it’s interesting I’m now thinking about that, the fact they were all from different lineages, but came from that same undercurrent. Again, this is what I’ve carried away. My yoga may not be anyone else’s yoga and my interpretation is certainly my own.

          • bonanzaJellybean

            thank you for your answers Kim.

            May I be so bold as to say “and that my friends is why it is important to have a relationship with a Guru; an authentic teacher who has long relationship in traditional lineage”.

            Please note that I did not say give yourself over completely to that Guru or to accept with blind faith whatever you are told or sell your soul. I just said it is important to be with a senior self-realized teacher who will push your buttons when needed, get up in your face, and deconstruct your ego when your ego is out of control.

            Dear kim — can you please find one quote in any of those great works which says yoga is about love and share it? I would appreciate that if you could.

          • Kim Wilson

            You could always check Wikipedia. lol. Best for generic quote requests.

            Ahimsa is imperative for practitioners of Patañjali’s “classical” Yoga (Raja Yoga). It is one of the five Yamas (restraints) which make up the code of conduct, the first of the eight limbs of which this path consists.[49] In the schools of Bhakti Yoga, the devotees who worship Vishnu or Krishna are particularly keen on ahimsa.[50] Another Bhakti Yoga school, Radha Soami Satsang Beas observes vegetarianism and moral living as aspects of “ahimsa.” Ahimsa is also an obligation in Hatha Yoga according to the classic manual Hatha Yoga Pradipika (1.1.17).

          • bonanzaJellybean

            Dear Kim:
            the question was about Love. You said yoga is all about love.
            I don’t think it is. I am not going to spout off my experience and understanding and history with the practice nor the study …. I am only going to point out that you danced around the question without addressing it.
            Again Kim: can you please find one quote in any of those great works which says yoga is about love and share it? I would appreciate that if you could.
            FYI : Ahimsa is non-violence. That is not the same as love. The yamas and the niyamas do not address love and you can look for it on wikipedia or in the sutras or in the pradipika and i don’t think you will find anything to support your notion that “yoga is based on l0ve”.
            Where in the world did you get an idea like that? Its New Age Kulaid bullshit – and I’m telling you that out of love.

          • DieGedankenSindFrei

            bonanzaJellybean, YOU need a guru, not everyone else does. Please make your recommendations and leave it at that. When you say in so many words that yours is the “right” way, that is tiresome and the reason there are wars in this world. Yoga isn’t love? Whatever. Go follow your lineage and show some respect to those who create their own path, please for the love of Mother Earth and in the name of Ahimsa.

            Your assertion that everyone needs their egos deconstructed and buttons pushed by a guru is your own viewpoint. You also sound like your ego may need some deconstruction, honestly, with the tone you take with Kim and holier-than-thou atittude.


          • bonanzaJellybean


            Please … with the projections already. OI!

            You don’t sound very happy … or free…..
            My condolences to you.

            If freedom of thought is your thing then why following ancient yogic practice which is about no thought?

            I was wondering where Kim got the idea that yoga is all about “Love”. I’m curious. I’ve never encountered that notion (after 52 years of svadyaya) and I was asking for some back up — some reference. She/you skirted the issue completely. Clever – (not). Ahimsa is not “love”. Sorry to burst your bubble. Truly.

            Now, moving right along ….
            The many teachers (and yes, some gurus too) I know & have studied with, have never talked about yoga as being all about Love. I’ll say it again: I’m curious. Perhaps I missed something in the journey.

            Please – enlighten me.

            cackle cackle, cackle cackle 😉

          • oH gOOd lORd!

            Hey Jelly —
            What was that about fashionista fauxGa? Profiteering & commericialization of yoga. Why don’t we just call it Sex&theCIty YOGA ? …

            Here ya go: a glitter bomb – some bright shiney yoga goo for you … and a little Martha Stewart too! ( lmfao….)

            (@ DieG > satya comes before ahimsa )


            Kimberly Wilson is a teacher, writer, do-gooder, entrepreneur, and eco-fashion designer currently obsessed with paris, potbelly pigs, and all things sparkly. She is the creative director and founder of tranquil space – named among the top 25 yoga studios in the world by Travel + Leisure, author of Hip Tranquil Chick and Tranquilista, and holds a Master’s in Women’s Studies.

            When not bookstore browsing, you’ll find her sipping heaps of tea, crafting new designs for TranquiliT, or leading retreats globally. Her work has been featured on Martha Stewart Living Radio, in Daily Candy, Fit Yoga, US News and various books. With a passion for do-gooding, Kimberly co-launched Tranquil Space Foundation to bring yoga, creativity, and leadership to women and girls and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Social Work.

            She lives in a cozy raspberry-colored flat in Washington, D.C. with two fancy felines named after French impressionists, a supportive beau, and a sassy black pug. Indulge in musings on tranquilology through her blog and podcast, tranquility du jour.

          • oh

            oops — posted the wrong link:
            CHECK THIS OUT :

            Kim – give us a break would ya?

        • Kim Wilson

          I saw a comment on my email so had to check in.

          I think if one has studied yoga for decades and interprets it their own way, hooray for them. I think that’s wonderful that so much study has been done in regards to delving into the process of Yoga.

          As far as dancing around an issue, an issue need not be created. As far as loving pot-bellied pigs and glitter, I suppose I could certainly pay those things a bit more attention than I currently do.

          I think when people attack others, they themselves have something to fear; otherwise, why bother with a debate in the first place. If a person is strong in their beliefs and discoveries through self-study, then someone else’s ideas, philosophies or concepts should not threaten them enough to lash out and demand “proof.”

          Tolerance of the values and beliefs of others is much better than the alternatives our world is currently experiencing. Thanks for the lively responses to my pointless musing 🙂 I guess it wasn’t that pointless after all to have gotten this much attention. Wish you all the best.

          • DieGedankenSindFrei

            You go girl. Yoga is love.

            And to everyone else: “If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.” Google it, if you’ve never heard that one.

          • martha stewart

            DieGedankenSindFrei posted within one minute after this post Kim ? C’mon … looks like you are commenting on your own posts. Just saying. Take a bow. And … flush the toilet already. Stinky.
            You never did answer that question about where in the ancient texts it says yoga is love.

          • DieGedankenSindFrei

            Hah! That’s a first for me, I’m suspected of being an alter ego of Kimberly W.

            Talk about attachment, you and others have to requiring a “definitive text” to “back up” someone’s “claim” about her feelings about yoga… my whole point all along has been, why is it so important that she provide “references” or “footnotes.” I don’t know Kimberly, actually, but I do feel fine about pointing out that she never asserted anything that begs for proof, except for pedantic types who feel the need to justify their learnedness. Good lord, that’s what I’m talking about, the Taliban, it burns.

          • DieGedankenSindFrei

            Hah! That’s a first for me, I’m suspected of being an alter ego of Kimberly W. Talk about attachment, you and others have to requiring a “definitive text” to “back up” someone’s “claim” about her feelings about yoga… my whole point all along has been, why is it so important that she provide “references” or “footnotes.” I don’t know Kimberly, actually, but I do feel fine about pointing out that she never asserted anything that requires a scholarly reference except for pedantic types who feel the need to justify their learnedness. Good lord, that’s what I’m talking about, the Taliban, it burns.

          • martha stewart

            clearly Die is the alter ego of Kim ….
            Kim is the saleswoman who sells glitter and T and calls it “yoga” cuz she doesn’t need ancient texts or teachings to study yoga she can do it all on her own and create a brand and call it whatever she likes cuz she is the reincarnation and embodiment of the ancient rishis and who is Bonanza or GoodLord to question her? and DIE is the “truth” of what likes behind Kims “mask”. clearly a very angry borderline personality. Cults are full of them. Its twisted … Jai Kali Ma!


    It seems John Friend owes thousands of people HUGH apologies. As a former certified teacher and I can empathize with Doug 100%. However, I am not holding my breath for an apology for the pain John caused me.

    • Doug Keller

      Yes, though I too am reasonably well practiced at pranayama, I will not be holding my breath on this one either.

  • curious

    according to most updated post from Bay Shakti, Todd Norian ( the current member of Anusara Interim Committee) had resigned. Any information on this one ?

  • Jules

    Yes, Todd Norian posted a letter on his fb page stating his resignation on the 15th. He also emailed his YTT students a letter today.

  • left a while back

    Just received an e-mail from Betsey Downing, who was also on the interim committee. She has resigned her license agreement with Anusara (trademark thingy goes here), Inc.

  • vivian araullo

    YD, this timeline might have started way back in fall, around the same time the JF Manduka mats were announced, and when the first group of high-profile teachers resigned. I am guessing that that was the beginning of what is now unfolding.

  • Sherry Kranabitter

    As it relates to Doug Keller, I cannot even begin to imagine how awful it must have felt to be on the receiving end of so many years of abusive behaviour from John and select others in the Anusara community (and “shame on you” Elephant Journal). Thank goodness for Doug’s strength in continuing to show us how we can practice yoga without having to be attached to one style. I am also so grateful that said European owner decided to ignore John Friend’s attack on Doug’s character. If I”m guessing correctly this is where I have had the pleasure of studying with Doug on two separate occasions. I know I speak for myself as well as many of my classmates when I say we are so lucky to have access to Doug’s wisdom. I also hope to enrol in his Swantantrya program of learning — it looks to be a non-dogmatic and open minded program that will benefit the entire yoga community (not just one style). See his website for more details.

  • Glad I said "no"!

    Doug, I witnessed a “senior” teacher discredit your work. This teacher has been very much “out there” in social media since leaving , offering support and camaraderie to colleagues, but, before departing, was always a staunch defender of John Friend and Anusara.
    I was with some friends, and one mentioned how she had learned a lot from your book, thought it was a shame that it was no longer available, and wondered aloud if it was possible at all to get a copy. Said senior teacher, who was not involved in this particular conversation directly, alerted to your name as if from some finely-tuned radar. Your book , according to senior teacher, was technically inaccurate , and it was to be avoided! This teacher came down very hard and very quickly on the student.The student defended herself, stating that she loved practicing Anusara but had no desire to teach it, and only wanted it for her own use. It didn’t matter, the student fell into disfavor!
    I have read some comments about how Anusara is not a cult because of x, y. and z, but the way you, Doug, were persistently stalked online and defamed by John and members of the community is an example of a behavior which is often observed in cults.
    Awareness in the community needs to extend to those who were close to JF, because many of them did his bidding and were unkind to those who would question things that didn’t seem right or fair. There is a lot of excusing of bad behavior going on. Those teachers, too, need to be held accountable for their actions, regardless of what they are saying now.
    Before choosing an ex-anusaran as a teacher, people should learn as much as they can about what the teachers knew, when they knew it, and what they did with this information. Did they warn or protect others? Did they continue to train students to teach the method in spite of what may have been some uncomfortable truths that they knew but did not share? How involved were they in discrediting or online stalking of those who had fallen out of favor?

    • “Glad I said no” I am glad that you stood up in the situation, which was probably very difficult. Did this happen recently? If so, why not just give us the name if you are going to post this anonymously anyway? I would like to know so that I do not support any teachers who continue to bash Doug without knowing or ever practicing with him. This has been going on way too long, and it needs to stop.

      • Glad I said "no"!

        Thanks for your reply, Becca. I am not naming names because I am also remaining nameless. I still fear for my protection against slander, because just as the teachers who were closest to John will probably not change the way they teach tomorrow, they learned some other skills, such as retribution. I will say it happened a few years ago, and that the teacher who spoke against Doug knew him.

        If JF duped, denuded, disparaged and deluded people, he had help.
        Some who were close to him may come out now, telling of how they were mistreated. It’s one thing to leave when one is at risk, and completely another to stand by and remain a part of the organization when abuse is happening to others.

        I respect the teachers who left when it was an unpopular thing to do, because of how they felt about what they observed, even though it may have brought “shame” on them or isolation from their community.

    • Menhevar

      In fact there is a copy of Dougs book Anusara Yoga, Hatha Yoga in the Anusara Style up for grabs on Ebay right now- Bidding starts at $100.- I may have to dig into my piggy bank….

  • curious

    Under the name of true spirit of journalism, I sincerely hope that EJ ( Mr. Waylon Lewis) can explain or clear the fact that they did or didn’t use censoring tactics on Doug Keller.

    • Doug Keller

      I think it’s complicated. It seems that at one point I made some comment (not under my own full name — now you might understand why) that, while not abusive (no cuss words, no personal attacks) was nevertheless interpreted by someone as “rude.” Apparently a complaint as to its ‘rudeness’ led to the deletion and resulting block.

      The term ‘rude’ is a pretty broad brush, and is an unfortunate measure to use. The result is that not only is the comment deleted without explanation, the IP address is blocked so that no one from that location can comment any more, even if any and all other comments are not in any way similarly ‘rude.’ It’s a policy that EJ needs to examine, because it’s doing more harm to the site’s reputation than good.

      After some contact with Waylon, I was able to post the same comments in response to Scott. Another problem with the post was that it was too long, so I had to break it up — but the censoring of not just ‘rude’ comments, but the commenters themselves, remains the real problem.

      “Rude” is a very subjective thing, especially in such a charged discussion. Kudos to YD for letting it fly, even if some of the comments get rude. Talking it out is actually rather therapeutic, and opens the possibility of fuller, more understanding communication. Deletions do not.

      • Giovanni Amico

        Waylon is beyond a pussy. His Mothers basement must get a little claustrophobic.


    Hi Doug, Maybe all of the cert. anusara teachers that had the prescience of mind to leave as soon as we saw the dsyfunction and refused to play the game should develop a new style of yoga called “Integrity of the Heart Yoga” or “See, I’m Not Psycho Yoga” or the sanskrit translations of prescience: “bhAva Yoga” or “Buddhi Yoga” or “Mati Yoga”. Just kidding! I DO however feel heartbroken for the pain unleashed on the innocent and that our vendication had to come on the heels of this tragedy.

    • “See, I’m Not Psycho Yoga” LOL. Well done. I am thinking that in the Feldenkrais training world folks can differentiate. “Feldenkrais Training without Rape.”

  • tootakky

    I have attended workshops with both JF and Doug Keller, and loved and benefitted from both. As I get older, I find myself more drawn to Doug’s therapeutics, and have always appreciated the fact that Doug is approachable and gracious, and the walking wounded and emotionally needy are as welcome as the peacocks. Thanks, Doug, for your patience over the years, and I’m glad to see you have an opportunity, finally, to tell your side. That must feel wonderful. The many years I’ve practiced in the Anusara style, I’ve had your books as references.

    The saddest part about the JF revelation is the betrayal of those who “gave themselves over” to him, and my observation is that he demanded total devotion. Rising above all the recent revelations are his genius and his infectious enthusiasm; he has enriched the lives of many. Remember the Kripalu scandal? Kripalu endures, but Amrit Desai is no longer en scene. I have met teachers who did their training with him; they are still in contact with him and honor his genius, not his human frailty. Hopefully with time this can happen with Anusara. What JF has created has been a godsend to many, but it was ceated not by a deity but a flawed human being.

    And to all the brilliant Anusara teachers who are wrestling this demon, I am holding you in light.


      Hasn’t it already been established that JF did not actually create the anatomical excellence that is Anusara as they were already out there in the bodywork world? It seems that his genius lay in exploiting the brilliance of others, branding and trademarking it as his own and cleverly exploiting the N.American market trend towards yoga. He has taken an ancient practice designed and intended to deconstruct our egos and turned it into nothing more then ego food and the biggest ego maker our culture has ever seen. If you want to call that brilliance. I am inclined to think of it as corruption. I write anonymously because, although I am no Doug Keller, I too have been targeted by the Anusara response team for being vocal and critical of the organization/brand. It started with Peter Goodman posting insults on my FB page after I commented (albeit negatively but its MY page) in reply to a Bernadette Birney blog post.
      While filming for her video a frail old lady came to class; Berndette wanted all knees at 90 degrees in Vira2 so she could get certified and had already been rejected once because all knees in Vira2 were not at 90; the frail old lady wouldn’t co-operate with her and this was a great concern and the topic of her blog. I posted the blog and said ” good on the frail old lady for listening to her body and – if Anusara claims to be all about therapeutic alignment and values, I failed to see it “here”….. (You can find the blog post on EJ back in October about Anusara Certification if Waylon hasn’t taken it down yet).
      And then the attacks on my character started coming in (initially by Peter Goodman. I asked him if he was a stakeholder and had financial interests in the brand. He claimed he was just a benevolent benefactor whose heart was opened by Anusara and he had no vested interests in defending it other then the shri it brought into his life. Then I looked him up to discover that Peter Goodman is a brand wizard and was CEO of Kellwood Company for 28 years. Kellwood is no small potatoe. So, Anusara ™ is simply the newest brand in his portfolio.
      I believe there is a core group of them whom the fates brought together for whatever reason and all hell broke loose in terms of power, greed and corruption .
      But not to digress … 😉
      They must have a “blacklist” of names that they watch because as soon as I began to comment on YogaDork and share my experiences, I immediately got jumped all over and called every insulting name in the book. Angry, hateful, unlovable … mentally ill, etc. It seems to be a strategic tactic they employ as a form of psychological violence and warfare. Interesting brand management technique. Wonder who thought that up? Do they offer VIP trainings and workshops in vitriole? Programmes which instruct on how to annihilate online detractors. Hmmm …. Wouldn’t be surprised if they did.
      Halid Hatic somehow fits into the equation of the Anusara gestapo as he was all over any comments that initially came out when jpexposed first broke on YogaDork. But he himself was exposed and handed his ass on a platter and ran off with his tail between his legs. Ugh! After reading Doug’s post, I can not help but wonder if there is not a far more sinister agenda at play then we can imagine. Clearly malicious intention seems to be at the root of much of the inner workings and management mandates. Disturbing. I’d say its not Doug nor anyone else who challenges Anusara that has the mental problems. BUYER BEWARE!

      • HY

        Deborah, Anusaraland is not the only one with issues as it seems. It’s shameful to even list yourself and Doug Keller as victims of persecution in one sentence. You are a troll – I am just back from your FB page and you admit to using three other names to post here; how many names you do not admit to? And what are the odds of the long unseen “Halid” returning here to post a slur about you in another thread within 10 minutes from your post above? How many such slurs you posted yourself?

        And again, I have no credentials with Anusara whatsoever – but I spent 10 years working as an online community admin and I can recognise a troll when I see her. Look at what the discussion here is like with and without your “contribution”.

        I wish YogaDork introduced mandatory login to post, with one account per IP limit, or indicated by partially masked IPs who’s who.

        • BUYER BEWARE

          I rest my case.

          (Although I do agree that it would be nice if there was mandatory login to post with one account per IP limit. THere are ALOT of trolls on these discussions … um … HY… )

          • BUYER BEWARE

            … obviously the ansuara online gestapo are not only trolling and constantly monitoring the comments, but peoples private facebook pages as well. And no shame in admitting it either. Eegrious conduct. Whats in it for you HY if you have no affiliation with Anusara? Maybe its actually you who are Halid? how would we know? A spin master is a spin master and apparently the organization is full of them. Ugh.

            did I say I rest my case? I rest my case.

          • HY

            As for me, YD can post or limit IPs at any time; nothing to hide here. This is an honest and much needed discussion which requires this basic responsibility of relying on one identity to contribute what we have to contribute.

          • tortious interference

            Wake Up!! February 18, 2012 at 12:14 pm
            Have you read Doug Keller’s comments on the “Timeline” blog? How about Amy I’s article for Elephant Journal? There are people using their names and sharing their experiences with JF. My name is Katherine and I was an Anusara teacher for 10 years. (this is beginning to sound like an AA meeting, which I guess it very well could be!) I resigned last year because of JF’s abusive and controlling behavior. He is a master manipulator, I know because I was one that was being manipulated and have been processing my experiences with him for more than 2 years! I can tell you it is very traumatic. The teachers and students that are seeing the truth now are all still in shock and many are in denial. There are some using the current situation for self serving purposes for sure. The community was (and still is in many ways) very dysfunctional and until everyone involved is willing to see this the healing cannot begin.

            When I tried to speak honestly and frank about JF’s behavior to people in the community they all came to his defense and I was the one that was considered to have the problem! There were a few that saw how unfair and controlling and abusive he was but they looked the other way because he was their teacher and they had to honor him!! So there was no way one person could come forward without JF or the others in the community retaliating!

            When I resigned JF immediately called the 2 senior teachers that I was hosting workshops for in my community and ordered them to not be hosted by me again! They both followed orders! JF knew that part of my income was from hosting these workshops, his actions were purely vindictive. He has been interfering with others’ business agreements for years. Amy’s and Doug’s stories reflect this. There is a legal term for it, tortious interference.

            There is more to my story but it could go on for many chapters and this isn’t the place for me to do it. So now more and more will keep coming out and I am glad that people are finally being heard and believed without being attacked! May the healing now begin!

        • Giovanni Amico

          HY كنت حمار الحمير

        • Giovanni Amico

          هل أنت الأغنام اغتصاب لا تزالHY?

      • Red Herring

        Hy’s reply to Buyer Beware’s post is what is called a Red Herring. Designed and intended to “throw” the discussion. Also Known as: Smoke Screen, Wild Goose Chase.
        Description of Red Herring:
        A Red Herring is a fallacy in which an irrelevant topic is presented in order to divert attention from the original issue. The basic idea is to “win” an argument by leading attention away from the argument and to another topic. This sort of “reasoning” has the following form:

        Topic A is under discussion.
        Topic B is introduced under the guise of being relevant to topic A (when topic B is actually not relevant to topic A).
        Topic A is abandoned.
        This sort of “reasoning” is fallacious because merely changing the topic of discussion hardly counts as an argument against a claim.

        Take another look at Buyer’s post and think about it — and what subsequently transpired as a result of Hy’s comment. This is tricky business and critical thinkers need to be on their toes because the manipulatins are subtle and very clever.

        • HitManHY

          Good point. And within 2 minutes of Buyer’s post going up the hit man HY swarmed in and pounded. They are keeping a very close watch indeed. Thanks Red Herring.

        • NoSale

          Re: Tortious Interference. Great letter, thanks for sharing. One thing – I quote your last paragraph > “There is more to my story but it could go on for many chapters and this isn’t the place for me to do it. So now more and more will keep coming out and I am glad that people are finally being heard and believed without being attacked! May the healing now begin!”
          So now more and more IS coming out via the “online trenches” and people are still being attacked!
          Much of the ongoing dialogue on this site and as well as others is being monitored as mentioned earlier in this thread and being manipulated covertly and anonymously. The micro is a reflection of the macro and vice versa. There are many bullies who are still actively protecting the brand and that can not be understated if full transparency and accountability is to occur, and without full accountability and transparency there can be no healing.

          • Wake Up!!

            No Sale, I agree, there are attacks still going on but they are not as effective anymore. Truth is truth some will see and some will not (yet). Keep in mind that some are still in denial and some have a lot at stake and some are still manipulating. Yes, this is all true.

        • Living in an Awkward Position ....

          Ode to Deborah – Buyer Beware!

          It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era — the kind of peak that never comes again. San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run… but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant…
          History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of ‘history’ it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time — and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened
          My central memory of that time seems to hang on one or five or maybe forty nights — or very early mornings — when I left the Fillmore half-crazy and, instead of going home, aimed the big 650 Lightning across the Bay Bridge at a hundred miles an hour… booming through the Treasure Island tunnel at the lights of Oakland and Berkeley and Richmond, not quite sure which turnoff to take when I got to the other end… but being absolutely certain that no matter which way I went I would come to a place where people were just as high and wild as I was: no doubt at all about that…
          There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda… You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning…
          And that, I think, was the handle — that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply PREVAIL. There was no point in fighting — on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave…
          So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark — that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.

          • etc.

            It was dangerous lunacy, but it was also the kind of thing a real connoisseur of edge-work could make an argument for… Separately, we might pull it off. But together, no — we would blow it. Too much aggressive chemistry in that mix; the temptation to run a deliberate freakout would be too heavy. XO

          • Brooke

            Not sure what Hunter S. Thompson has to do with any of this, but props for the reference.

      • ambroulard

        ?? Out there in the bodywork world? let’s get real- John F. got most ( if not all) of his alignment understanding and detailed asana instruction through the Iyengar system and it’s teachers– He then basically paraphrased Iyengar’s words into things like “loops and spirals” whereas Iyengar would use simpler more direct instruction like “rotate out or in” etc.– Granted John added in a healthy dose of new age glop with the endless mantra of “grace and heart and higher self” and all that other crap” – The sad part is he managed to so hypnotize his teachers that they really thought it necessary ( by contract perhaps?) to endlessly recite the same junk in their classes- ( oh yeah, highest intention was in there too!)- His clone army became like a group of squeeky clean zombie replicants….. seemingly devoid of reason or the ability to discriminate– and definitely sublimating their own personalities to the perceived model personality that they thought best represented Friend world…… In contrast if you go into an Iyengar class you’ll note that there are wide variances in the way a teacher will handle a class– and they are still allowed to embody their own wildly different Personalities! As you see it’s always rubbed me the wrong way that John essentially disavowed his lineage when he started “Anusara” – we now see that what he introduced was essentially Anus era- I feel badly ( sort of!) for the young people he hoodwinked and would suggest to them and even to the senior Anusara teachers that they go find a good IYENGAR teacher and get your S straight– time to find out what genuine humility is about Sorry to post a somewhat incendiary letter here but I think these things need to be said- ( I suspect Iyengar’s response to all this would be to shrug and then bark out “Prepare for Head BalANNNce!”

        • Buyer Beware

          Yes — out there in the bodywork world.
          From Doug Kellers post above + earlier =
          “The loops, by the way, were already long established representations in the bodywork community in the work of Bruegger and Janda (cf. Leon Chaitow, Muscle Energy Techniques p. 261 — showing the Bruegger relief position) and thus were not an entirely original idea on the part of ‘Anusara.’ Bruegger and Janda were more anatomically specific and precise. The ideas were already ‘out’ there. (And no, Leon Chaitow did not get the term ‘Muscle Energy’ from Anusara.)”

          Leon Chaitow = neuromuscular energy &myofascial trigger
          points …. Janda & Bruegger = muscular imbalance/crossed syndromes/neurophysiology ….

          I have also heard that he was influenced by IdaROlf and Feldenkrais … So — yep — out there in the Bodywork world as stated by Doug. He was there at the get go – He would/should know. 😉

          • ambroulard

            Jargon dude, just jargon- John Friend did not study with Feldenkrais, Ida Rolf, Bruegger or Janda- did he?- NO he studied with B.K.S. Iyengar and a lot of senior Iyengar teachers- the foundation for his work is all there in the system- did he search for words to paraphrase Iyengars possibly in bodywork world and elsewhere? – well sure he had to go somewhere didn’t he- as far as Doug being there “at the get go”so he should know- I was there – and way way way way-way before Doug – so I’m not sure what the get go is referring to?

  • Morris

    Thanks Doug for your insight into some of the inner workings of Anusara Inc. It takes courage to be one of the first to shed light on the true motives of this organization. With the mass exodus of teachers now in play, more clarity of this entire operation will occur. Anyone who chooses to stay affiliated with Anusara Inc. deserves to know what really is going on.

  • Staff

    Pretty sure a number of staff members in Texas have been let go, to confirm that. I guess they will be the ones to first pay for JF’s mistakes. In addition, the situation explained by both Doug and Amy regarding the way projects were handled sounds about right too. Please don’t blame the staff of Anusara for those short comings though. Everything… and I mean everything that happens in, at or around Anusara, Inc. is under direct control of JF. He want’s your stuff delayed… it is. All mind games all the time.

  • Eva

    Wonder if it will transpire that those people farther removed, geographically, from the snake-pit corporate headquarters will turn out to be those who’ve behaved better? Or does that matter?
    I had one Anusara teacher — she had since dis-affiliated — whom I adored, respect and will always remember with affection and gratitude. We’re now in different cities, and I practice a different form of yoga.
    The rest of the AY “community” put me off with its glaze-eyed silliness, its lack of critical thinking, its narcissism and its underlying competitiveness about who’s more blissed out and therefore more spiritual. I would not go near them with a twenty foot pole.
    This “community” fucked up BAD. It wasn’t just the corrupt CEO; it was also all these nasty little henchmen and women who did his dirty work and seem, from the hearsay anyone, to have gotten off on it.
    And oh, the preening going on in all those resignation letters is enough to raise an eyebrow — and some suspicions.
    Ladies, if you want to have sex with your boss, go work in a whore-house. Because outside that kind of establishment, it’s just unethical. Same with screwing your teacher.
    You don’t shit where you eat.
    If you do, you’re fouling the environment for everyone. There is no way people will not believe that you are getting special favors for sex.
    As to blackballing, stalking and persecuting infidels — what was this, the McCarthy era for yoga?
    And still instead of focusing on behaviors and accountability, so many want to psychologize the experience (wounds and healing) or pseudo-spiritualize (endless abstractions about the “guru principle) — as a way of deflecting hard criticism and avoiding responsibility.
    So much snowflake preciousness.
    Unfortunately, it will fall to the teachers to slowly regain the respect and trust of the larger yoga community. Yet I have plenty of faith in those I HAVE met and worked with thus far. So I say, AY, so your soul-searching, yes, but otherwise, STFU. And start small. Build a strong foundation. It IS possible.

    • ambroulard

      Just go find a good certified Iyengar teacher and hang up all your crap you x anusaraites- This is where the real part of J. Friend came from- the core teaching that was so positive- not the new age glop and ego oriented B.S. that became Anusara- .

  • Halid Hatic

    That sounds like Deborah Whipple. The retarded idiot with a smelly vagina.

    • eva

      Wow. It isn’t — I have nothing to do with Anusara. But maybe you were directing your misogyny to the other poster? Either way, thanks for shooting yourself in the foot by exposing yourself as a puerile ass. Whay lies beneath the imperative of cheerfulness among Anusara yogis? Beavis and/or Butthead. Heh-heh-heh.
      So much for “opening to grace.”

    • Giovanni Amico

      كنت حمار الحمير

    • Giovanni Amico

      OOOO look everyone, Halid is projecting his Mother’s traits onto others. Who is this Deborah Whipple and is she single? Considering Halid’s preference for Turkish little boys, I’ll bet the sheep population can sleep better tonight in New Mexico.

  • HY

    Don’t rise to it, it’s a troll posting slurs under different names. She has just posted in another thread.

    • NoSale

      No sale HY. This is an anonymous forum and it is within peoples rights to openly share their names or not. It IS egregious for YOU as well as Halid to transcend that boundary and usurp that right from them, if indeed the poster is who you say. I don’t think you understand what a troll IS, and from your own comments you reveal yourself as an online stalker. It s very convenient for you here, under the cover of anonymity, to lay such slurs down simply because buyer beware (whomever it is – the identity is irrelevant – its the story and the message that is important as the personal is political) shared an experience that you (and/or your brand/organization?) didn’t want openly communicated? No Sale Hy. This conversation WAS of a much higher order until you arrived. Go away.

    • Giovanni Amico

      أمك خنزير

  • eva

    These people have so few tools with which to deal with conflict.
    Why would that not end up so, in a sub-culture that deemed all negative emotion “non-spiritual?’ That pressured people to endlessly be loving, forgiving, and compassionate? Anger, hate, revulsion, etc — these are often the normal emotional responses to oppression and corruption, and they often motivate resistance. If you want to dominate people, why NOT deem these very emotions “unclean? or impure? Then – repression, repression, repression. Then, everything blows, and people have no idea how to deal with this shit productively, b/c they’ve had so little PRACTICE at it.
    If wish the AY “community” luck

  • Oom the Magnificent

    Pierre Arnold Bernard (dubbed “The Great Oom”, “Omnipotent Oom” or “Oom the Magnificent”[1]) was a pioneering American yogi, scholar, occultist, philosopher, mystic and businessman; he held a notorious reputation as a con man, seducer and philanderer. John Friend models himself after Pierre Bernard. Perhaps he is the reincarnation of Perry Baker, Peter Coon …. Perhaps ….
    More and more is always being revealed. Hang tight.
    Due to his practice of keeping his origins obscure, little is known positively about his early life. He is reported to have been born Perry Baker or Peter Coon[3] in Leon, Iowa, 31 October 1875,[4] the son of a barber.[5] He also called himself Homer Stansbury Leeds at some point.[5]
    He claimed to have traveled to Kashmir and Bengal before founding the Tantrik Order of America in 1905,[4] variously reported as starting in San Francisco, Seattle, Tacoma, Washington, or in Portland, Oregon; the New York Sanskrit College in 1910; and the Clarkstown Country Club (originally called the Braeburn Country Club), a seventy-two acre estate with a thirty room mansion[2] in Nyack, New York, a gift from a disciple,[5] in 1918. He eventually expanded to a chain of tantric clinics in places such as Cleveland, Philadelphia, Chicago, and New York City. Bernard is widely credited with being the first American to introduce the philosophy and practices of yoga and tantra to the American people.[4] He also played a critical role in establishing a greatly exaggerated association of tantra with the use of sex for mystical purposes in the American mindset.[2]
    In 1910, two teenage girls, Zella Hopp and Gertrude Leo,[5] feeling that he had taken too much psychic control over their lives, had him charged with kidnapping (alleging that Leo had been prevented three times from leaving the institute)[5] and briefly imprisoned.[2] Hopp reported that, for a pre-induction, Bernard had her strip and placed his hand upon her left breast, explaining that he was testing her heartbeat. “I cannot tell you how Bernard got his control over me or how he gets it over other people. He is the most wonderful man in the world. No women seem able to resist him…. He had promised to marry me many times. But when he began the same thing with my little sister [Mary, age sixteen] I decided I would expose the whole matter. If it had only been myself I wouldn’t have done it for the whole world.” Three months later, the charges were dropped.[5]
    He remained popular with upper middle class women and the high society of New York throughout the 1920s and 30s. He married Blanche de Vries, who taught yoga in New York into her eighties.[4] At some point, he shifted his attentions to more conventional businesses, including baseball stadiums, dog tracks, an airport, and became becoming president of the State Bank of Pearl River in 1931.[2]
    Lecturers at the Clarkstown Country Club included Ruth Fuller Everett and Leopold Stokowski. Among Bernard’s students there was Ida Pauline Rolf.[6] Scholars from across the US visited Bernard’s library, said to have been the best Sanskrit collection in the country and to contain some 7000 volumes of philosophy, ethics, psychology, education, metaphysics, and related material on physiology and medicine, to do research.[7]
    He was uncle of Theos Bernard,[8] an American scholar of religion, explorer and famous practitioner of Yoga and Tibetan Buddhism.
    He was also a relative of Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan,[9] a Sufi teacher.

  • Living in an Awkward Position ....

    More. Coming. Hang in.


    Strange synchronicities …. ?

    • eva

      Girl you know that’s fine, but do you have to use the moment to plug your product?
      JAYSUS, you people.

  • Glad I said "no"!

    Questions to ask former (or current) Anusara teachers, before choosing to study with them:
    1. Did John Friend ever encourage you to reach out to potential “problem” students or colleagues by , first, determining their weaknesses, and second, using this knowledge to show kinship? (Or, by passing it on to John Friend, who would miraculously KNOW this about you, or throw it out there in a workshop you attended.)
    2. Were you ever asked to get some information about someone for someone else’s use?
    3.Were you ever asked to respond negatively to a blog or social media post?

    If the answer is “yes’ to any of these, a few follow-up questions are advised.
    1. Did you do what you were asked to do? If no, were there repercussions? If yes, did you feel that it was wrong at the time and do it anyway? If so, apologies are in order. If yes, but you did not feel it was wrong, why should one believe you would not behave this way again?

  • Oom The Magnificent

    10 Things You Need to Know About Pierre Bernard, ‘The Great Oom’, America’s First Yogapreneur
    by YD on MAY 4, 2010

    OK quick! What Midwesterner got obsessed with the occult, was tangled up in sex scandals and simultaneously became an overnight sensation bringing yoga pop to the masses?

    No, it’s not Madonna! It’s Perry Baker! Who? No worries if you haven’t heard of him, Mr. Baker, or his preferred nom de yog, Pierre Arnold Bernard, was a yoga icon way before our time. In fact, in the early 20th century monsieur Bernard came to be America’s first yogapreneur and is widely responsible for setting the precedent for much of the hoopla (and billions of dollars) surrounding what we know today as the yoga lifestyle (business). In the 30′s! Thankfully, and we imagine due to a direct result of yoga becoming so incredibly profitable today, Bernard’s fascinating story of mysticism and tycooning is once again coming to light with a book by Robert Love entitled “The Great Oom: The Improbable Birth of Yoga in America.” Perhaps you’ve heard about it – you can even read an excerpt at NYTimes.com.

    As the story goes, Bernard posited himself as a yoga “god” of sorts, known to followers and wide-eyed observants alike as “The Great Oom” or “Oom the Omnipotent.” Sure he was a yogi, but PB was a such a successful and shrewd businessman he could put ‘ol megaton balls to shame! We gotta admit, this is truly a captivating tale of yoga, scandals, shyster-y business and Western commercialization. Not much has changed!

    Anyway, as we sit on the edge of our zafus, sipping coconut water and awaiting the release of surefire summer sizzler Eat, Pray, Love, we thought it useful to put together a few fun facts about the “father of yoga” the guru dude who helped make it all possible. This message brought to you by

    Here you go…

    10 Things You Need to Know About Pierre Bernard, America’s First Yogapreneur

    1. Birth of a Yogapreneur: Perry Baker was born in Leon, Iowa, in 1876. He soon moved to Nebraska where he began his teenage yoga studies under Syrian Indian teacher named Sylvais Hamati – both the physical poses, and mystical spiritual teachings. Rumor has it he traveled to India during this time.

    2. 15 Mins: Pierre Bernard (because ‘Perry Baker’ was just too pedestrian) migrated to San Francisco as many ‘enlightened’ folk do, and engaged in a notorious publicity stunt that set him on his way. Basically he made himself “unconscious” by slowing his breath and then allowed a doctor to sew his upper-lip to his nose. Naturally, people took notice, and Bernard hopped on the jetstream of his newfound fame to launch his first school in San Francisco in 1898.

    3. The Tantrik Order: PB created an exclusive members-only yoga club called the Tantrik Order. Unfortunately, San Fran wasn’t hip enough for opium use and allegations that Bernard required “sacramental sexual intercourse” in order to join the group, so they sent him on his merry freaky way.

    4. Finding his niche: After a brief stint in Seattle, where we imagine they were just as uptight about sex and drugs (prudes), Bernard found himself in the big city of Manhattan to set up shop and things only got better from there.

    5. ‘Love Cult’: What? NY isn’t hip either? sheesh. In 1909 Pierre established a school on 74th Street and it wasn’t long before he was soliciting mistresses and being arrested for kidnapping and basically holding Ms. Gertrude Leo hostage. The “love cult” was splashed all over the papers. But any news is good news right?

    6. Nyack nestle: With lack of evidence, charges were dropped and Bernard (and his following which had amassed by now) found what would be there new home nestled up in Nyack, upstate NY – where all the loopies go to roost. Aw, we kid Woodstock. The newly settled group came to be known as the Clarkstown Country Club.

    7. Elephant show: Now with his own digs, a new gal (he married showgirl Blanche DeVries), and a herd of elephants, Bernard could finally focus on his life’s work: bringing yoga to the public, especially the wealthy (like the Vanderbilts and trustfunders) and living out his days lecturing on Eastern meets Western philosophies, and being the peoples’ guru. There may have been some more sex and drugs, and a few raids, but those are just little details.

    8. A place to call Om: The CCC flourished and became a sanctuary, an ashram, a recital hall for musicians and artists, and an impressive library of Bernard’s own travelogues and scholarly material.

    9. He had a few other interests: “At the time of his death in 1955 Pierre Bernard was a bank president, an officer in Nyack on the local Chamber of Commerce, the head of a large real estate holding company and a member of more than twenty societies, including the British and American Philological Societies, the Royal Society of Arts and the Royal Asiatic Society. He was also a mason.” (source)

    10. One man brand: Pierre Arnold Bernard managed to single-handedly pioneered this yoga beeswax, paving the way for what we know today as a full-fledged industry. And he didn’t even have a talent agent to market him OR a brand of tight pants to promote and proliferate the yogic lifestyle in pop culture!

    10a. Pierre passed away in 1955 at age 79.

    There, now you don’t even have to read the book. Just kidding! We still highly recommend further reading, whether it be Robert Love’s book or the various websites we scraped up from the interwebs:

    Blanche DeVries obit

    NyackHistory.org – There’s a house tour May 15th!

    Also, Life at the Clarkstown Country Club will be sold at the event. This is the republication of a book chronicling Pierre Bernard, Blanche DeVries, and their fascinating scene.

    http://www.omnipotentoom.com – the unofficial official site of Dr. Pierre Bernard

    Very interesting interview with author Robert Love at Salon.comon on his new book.

    Would LOVE to hear everyone’s comments on this guy… what do you make of his story and the connection to yoga today?

    • Pierre Bernard

      It was nice while it lasted…right John?

    • Brooke


      The more things change …

      • Oom Pah Pah

        If anyone got to see the “letters” to the coven that were published on jfexposed (I have copies and would share if interested) — then you see that JF was somewhat obsessed with Pierre Bernard. Its quite uncanny the synchronicity. Or – perhaps its is part of some master “plan” …. Yes. The more things change the more they stay the same. Samsara spins and spins … and we keep rollin along with it …. eyes wide shut.

  • Glad I said "no"!

    It is my view that these long book passages , while possibly pertinent in showing parallels, are clogging a forum where some real discussion of those affected by the manipulative culture of Anusara was finally starting to occur. Several to many of the high-profile teachers who have resigned may have masked their complicity in perpetuating the illusion that “everything was good” with self-serving victim statements. However, less-prominent teachers and students also have their stories to tell. Perhaps there should be a separate blog or website set up where anyone who wishes to tell their story could post it. There are, indeed, many layers to the truth.


      Glad I said “no” – this is a timely post. I just had a private conversation that went like this:

      You know what I find strange? John preaches all this “opening to Grace” and all the teachers teach to this “template” and their “script” (heart themed classes — shri filled) …. ETC. How can one “open to grace” when there is a teaching template and an imposed theme. The two just don’t go hand in hand. Opening to Grace means – just that. Getting still and seeing what arises in “the moment”. And sometimes the moment is not “shri”. Sometimes its anyting but. Like on 9/11. There was alot of fear and anger. Opening to Grace means being with that. You have clients with problems ( probably…) … if they don’t address their problems, their dark shadows, and open to “that” — healing would never occur right? Yoga is about being with the Is-ness of What-IS … it is not about denial and putting on some false ‘front’ that its all good. Its not all good. Life is full of pain and suffering. IF we avoid that – we are / become pathologically unwell. So Anusara is leading people on a wild goose chase.
      Healing only occus when we speak OUR TRUTH. We have to share our stories in order to reclaim our power. Tell about how you felt when your workshop got cancelled, and the ensuing dynamic and being bullied. Come out , like Amy did. Yes – It takes courge, but your story is just as valuable because so many others have had similar experiences and it validates them and all of us in the process….. okay — that was my afterthought.

      • another who knows

        YES. @glad I said no and @buyer beware — yes. Please set up a blog site for people who need to tell their stories. OR a facebook page. And perhaps from that can come a class action lawsuit. He really should be held accountable. ALl of you who invested so much money and time should be compensated for that.

  • Namaskar,

    Thanks YogaDork for your excellent work on this incident.
    Here is a post about the JF scandal and how it will benefit our yoga movement:

  • eva

    Wow man, what an education.
    Before this scandal broke and I started following it on the net, I didn’t even know how much yoga had migrated online. Didn’t know about Yogadork or EJ or any of it.
    Now it seems the American enlightenment industry has fallen into the sewage problems of the blog-o-sphere: self-serving, inane, self-promoting diahrrea of the mouth/keyboard.
    WAY too much abstract doe-eyed horse-shit. It ain’t just that everybody’s a wanna-be guru; everybody be HUSTLIN’.
    Here’s my new studio. Here’s my blog link. Here’s my new whatevs. EJ posters praise capitalism for this.
    WTF does this have to do w/ yoga?
    So even when you listen to your own truth and speak it, remember the human capacity for self-delusion and pure human stupidity.
    And stop trying to SELL STUFF. Jesus fucking Christ, what a bonfire of vanities. What a carnival of pimps, pushers, sellers, hustlers and whores American yoga has become.

    • Pavanatanaya

      @Eva… Yes I agree. You can read more about it in MY new book, “I Am Yoga, And So Can You”…;)

      • eva


        • Deborah

          @ P
          @ Eva

          Yup. The American enlightenment “industry” ™ has turned into the yogic entertainment “industry” ™ and brought all the hustlers and shysters and false “idols” along with it. This consumeristic culture is vulnerable to mass marketing and impressed by media hype and advertising campaigns because they are asleep … Sound asleep at the wheel as the saying goes. And that makes them spiritually intoxicated and, fair game for selling alot of snake oil …. as you said it so well: “Jesus fucking Christ, what a bonfire of vanities. What a carnival of pimps, pushers, sellers, hustlers and whores yoga has become” (i love a woman who uses expletives! and is passionate about what she is passionate about!! ) and what the fuck does any of it have to do with yoga?
          I totally concur.
          Rock on sis.

  • Glad I said "no"!

    Ideas on how the “My Anustory” forum should be set up? Purpose? For catharsis only, no naming names, just a place to get it out? Or, only name names if the writer is also named? It is my belief that, when JF comes back from his rehab/Caribbean vacation, things will go back to the way they were. It will be easy, most of the people (teachers, staff) closest to him will be gone, and he can start the power trips and manipulation on other star-struck suckers all over again. But, if more stories get out there, we can at least know we tried our best to warn people of what kind of behavior to be aware.

    • still confused

      We still don’t understand the situation. Can someone please explain it to us outsiders ?
      For all those resigned Anusara certificated teachers, they returned their licences, ceased the relationship with Anusara, but maintain Anusara certified. The classes/workshops name will no longer called Anusara, maybe will have something new add to it , but all those Grace, Spiral stuffs and the Universal principles…….. aren’t they still Anusara’s teaching methods ? Isn’t it true that most of the Anusara teachers were trained to teach a centein way (JF’s way ) ?
      When he comes back from vacation and decide to clean house, will he and his lawyers allow this situation to continue ?
      The name of Anusara is a trademark, but are all the methods/principles of Anusara yoga a Registered Patten or just another ancient public wisdom ?

      • Deborah

        JF did not re=invent the wheel.
        Language is language:
        Inner thighs together back and apart is only one way among many to describe internal rotation of the thighs and … nearly everyone can internally rotate their thighs to a greater or lesser degree. Hugging outer shins to mid-line to create dynamic integrity, structural alignment … and wake up mula bandha …. is something I learned LONG before I ever took an Anusara workshop …..
        Same goes for inhaling form the waist, broadening collar bones and letting the tip of my shoulder blades come together to lift my heart …. Call it shoulder loop and kidney loop if you want – but there are many other ways to describe the same “expression of body awareness and form”.
        Having a body is a fairly ancient “practice” and becoming present inside of it is not something “new”…. BwaHaHa.
        My experience was founded in Iyengar Yoga where Ifirst met this way of being-ness (1979) and these methods of aligning, but I also met them in Ashtanga trainings long before 1997.
        So … yeah.
        JF did NOT re=invent the wheel. He is just the only one as far as I know, who branded and trademarked his method of “service delivery”.
        I am not Anusara certified and I use “his” language all the time. So shoot me. Are the Anusara police gonna break into my classes and arrest me for trademark infringements? Give me a break.
        I came by my experience honestly in other schools of Yoga and I paid richly to take a few Anusara workshops therefore, as far as I am concerned, I “bought” that right to use what I learned in those workshops. Do our professors at University trademark the knowledge they share with us? I’ve never heard anything so ridiculous or contrived. But that’s just me …. I like the Anusara language to describe the UPA’s so I use them. But the handouts I got way back when have Doug Kellers name on them … so I don’t know “who” is the owner of that languaging actually. Can anyone own “language”? Irregardless, sometimes I throw all that right out the window and focus on freedom and fluidity rather then form … how our skin slides over the squishyness of the underlying tissues as we move and gyrate and undulate snakelike across the floor, like primal quantum amoeba in some ancient primordial sea …. pretending that we have no bones are serpatine as we slither and hiss ….. and move into our reptilian brain.
        Shakti likes to play that way sometimes — without the shackles of function and form — swimming uninhibitedly through freedom.

        • Jane C.

          I’ve been privileged to learn from some very good teachers, who impart levels of subtlety way beyond loops and spirals.

          JF (or, arguably, Doug Keller) came up with some clever shorthand that elevated the overall level of practice in many gyms and yoga studio. Is it the pinnacle of asana practice? No. Not by a long short.

          the Siddha elements – the “tantra”, were developed by Douglas Brooks – and its interesting to compare the the early CD’s DB made for anusara – which were childish – to his scholarly work and his later, more complex, post anusara lectures.

          For a real look at tantra lineage – try Robert Svoboda’s Aghora trilogy – and – spoiler alert – its not happy happy shiny shri.

          JF popularized, homogenized, dumbed down and monetized other people’s work. He built a marketing system and now the lower level members of what amounts to a ponzi scheme have to figure out how to re-affiliate.

          • Doug Keller

            Just to dispel any questions regarding the language, I did not come up with any of the official terms — loops, spirals (arguably ‘spirals’ originally came from Richard Freeman); I merely tried to explore and understand them better, providing an anatomical grounding and logic for them.

            Times have certainly changed! When I ‘left’ it was made clear that I could no longer call myself ‘certified.’ Moreover, when I described my therapy book as ‘Anusara-friendly’ in the Preface, I received a fiery letter telling me I could not do even that.

            Apparently the teachers have more leverage now, and I think the distinction they make between certification and licensing is a fair one, though in the past I think certification and licensing were treated as almost synonymous. The title of ‘Anusara Inspired’ was also officially conferred with a permission or ‘license’ of sorts to use the name.

            On the other hand, if I started a McDonald’s franchise and then dropped it, opening my own sandwich shop instead, I do think it would be a problem if I continued to call my burger a ‘Big Mac,’ and kept the same ingredients. So we’ll see.

        • Deborah

          p.s. i dont’ think anyone knows what will happen when JF returns from vacation. wonder what you mean by will he and his lawyers allow “the situation” to continue? the teachers have trained and certified in anusara. that is theirs “forever” i would hope, and should never be taken away from them … (irregardless of what my personal opinions regarding the branding of yoga are) …
          otherwise there is something seriously wrong with the “justice” system.

          • still confused

            Deborah, thanks for the clarification of the ownership of the yoga language.
            The situation I was referring to is: from all those comments and personal stories, seem like many bad situations happened to those teachers, students in the Anusara community wheh they didn’t follow JF’s orders or did something against his will, also, many teachers didn’t agree with JF’s behaviors for a long time, but were afraid to leave him or the community. So I was just wondering if JF has any legal control over those teachers who are leaving him but still use the similiar languages from his brand yoga.
            All these happenings are unbelievable and strange to us simple people who just want to practice the simple yoga.
            To see so many people got hurt, heartbroken and in such great pain for the reason of yoga, it’s very very sad.
            Isn’t yoga supposed to make you feel good and healthy?

        • HJCOTTON

          My opinion is that the UPAs were appropriated from Iyengar yoga with minor modifications. What irks me about Anurasara teachers is their tunnel vision as they refuse to acknowledge that the same alignment principles occur in other styles of yoga. They were fed the Kool Aid that the UPAs are superior to everything elase. I had to take Anusara workshops from whoever came to town as we don’t have any certified Iyengar teachers. I statred my yoga with Iyengar Yoga, and that training made me understand the UPAs intuitively.
          Nowadays, I practice mainly through yogaglo. You can look at Christina Sell and Noah Maze backbend sequences, and they are straight from the Iyengar playbook.
          The UPAs are present in almost most styles of yoga that follow the Astanga tradition.

    • Has it ever occurred to you that these tragic series of events whas not something that JF planned and executed out of malicious intent? Perhaps it is lonley at the toåp of such a big operation and one gets woulnerable to to opportunities that powerposition gives you?

      I pray that he will evolve as a yogi and human and return as a more humble and genuine man.

      As A European I could say that I pray that for all you American yogis!


      • Glad I said "no"!

        It occurs to me that John Friend was perhaps a master under the yoga big top who held many people in his control, and that his ego ate up every bit of it.
        This is not American prudishness speaking. It is the deep-seated culture of manipulation and control that is far more disturbing , in my opinion, and that the sex was just an extension of that. It was deliberate, considering the way he set up his business, that he should be at the top and have so much power.
        I have so much sympathy for my friends who are still involved, and have devoted so much energy, time, and money on this now tainted “brand” of yoga. Thanks for your prayers, my European friend, for everyone who was led down a merry path and off a cliff.

    • ambroulard

      Nope– I don’t think so– I posted earlier in this forum- I think this meltdown of Anusara will force JOhn to quietly go away — period- it would be a bad joke if he tried again to rise up- there is just to much out there— hell he may end up in prison or something— I hope this shakeup will push people to just OPEN THEIR EYES – ( and not let someone else so easily slip their fingers into their noses and lead them around)

  • etc.

    Maybe YogaDork can set up a forum but it seems like alot of the stories are coming out randomly on these threads although it means wading through a lot of crap. Up and down like a toilet seat:
    for every anti-anusara post there is an equal and opposite pro-anusara post.

  • Jane C.

    well, maybe not the cleanest karma, but there are a number of grudge/vent sites that are made for anonymous reviews – here’s one:

    elephant journal has given a bad name to moderated posts, but there are better ways to moderate – something like that could be tried.

    Facebook would require linking to peoples’ actual FB accounts, so that might have a chilling effect.

  • eva

    It’s hard to have much sympathy for the people “taken in,” because so far only Bernadette Birney has owned up and made amends publicly for her participation in all that stupidity and corruption.
    My question as an outsider (for the most part), is how the hell could people have been so stupid? How could anyone have given their power so readily over to another? Sacrified ethics and integrity for that silly fuck?
    Also hard to have sympathy because there’s just SO much avarice and greed in the “yoga community” now. And a lot of just REALLY bad writing, bad thinking.
    Where was anyone’s capacity for questioning, challenge, and critical thought?
    And how dare yogis of any persuasion claim that their discipline or school is superior to other traditions. They sound like a bunch of stereotypical evangelicals.
    Why am I supposed to believe that a bunch of silly post-feminist yoga-chicks and boyz (of any age) know more about “spirituality” than I?
    Why are people posting these long-ass 14-paragraph online jerk-off sessions on the bay blog site? Do they have any idea how crass and stupid that is?
    For me, yoga is a practice. My teachers TEACH — that is, they forward their students’ growth. They know us, they know our challenges, and they are engaged in real conversation with us about them. They have earned our respect and trust that way over time. They don’t just get up in front of a class and yowl out poses and arrogantly exhort us about how we “should” think about our experiences.
    If there is soul-searching going on among teachers, I hope it includes questions about the arrogance of many yoga schools and teachers, particularly those — like Anusara, Baptiste, and Bikram — with set sequences. Simply calling out poses, and not communicating individually with students, sets up a real gulf in which it’s probably easy to imagine yourself more spiritually advanced than your students. Because the yoga studio I practice with is smaller, & classes entail direct teaching of asanas AFTER maybe a forty-minute flow, there’s simply more time to build relationships with students. That also gives teachers the chance to understand that they are in the room with dedicated, intelligent ADULTS who carry a lot of responsibility in the world, and have their OWN life experiences to drawn from, their OWN wisdom. If a teacher facilitates growth about spirituality, it must entail helping students listen to ourselves, our “inner guru,” or whatever, not blindly following sequences and cheesy-ass received slogans.
    Corporate yoga SUCKS.

  • Deborah

    standing up and applauding loudly !!!!
    I …. am …. weak at the knees …. . grateful! ….
    to hear someone else getting loud with their objections.
    Ahhhh …..sigh of relief.

    • eva

      Deborah, thanks, but understand that by accepting your applause I am not taking your “side” — or ANYONE’S — in any infighting you or anyone else have ever had. Frankly, the most reasoned and measured posts here have been Doug Keller’s. It is helpful, though, to hear from you, him, and others about the development of phrasing and thinking in yoga. ALL traditions draw upon and synthesize former traditions, and it may be one kind, one BRAND of synthesis John Friend wants to own.
      But from these accounts, it sounds at least equally to have been Douglas Brooks’ and Doug Keller’s, among others.
      The issue of intellectual property is tough even in academia, where I am, but cloudier still outside of it when it has been confused by corporate corruption, viciousness, persecution, and greed.
      It remains for the teachers to better articulate for themselves, one another, and their students what comprises Anusara, Anusara-influenced, Anusara-friendly, and otherwise. This entails also tracing the lineages from which John Friend drew, b/c he DOESN’T own THOSE.
      In my view, he cannot and should not ever again be trusted for corporate ownership of any ideas or teachings b/c he has so abused them. His crediblity is permanently SHOT. There should be an entirely new system of Anusra affiliate, licensing and certification, IF ANY AT ALL. Yet who would create it? The core group of committee members, or former committee members? Yet so many of them, too, engaged in corrupt activities and are comprised. By all accounts, their judgment, too, would be pretty clouded.
      So I say, let it go. Let “Anusara” go as a brand, and let the teachers undertake the important work of their OWN teachings. ALL good teaching recognizes influence and lineage, but OTOH, ALL good teaching is a creative, forward-moving act.
      So suspend ALL Anusara future licensing and certification. I would NEVER, at this point, and have never anyway, sought a teacher b/c they have some golden certification from some self-styled god. I just go, and make my judgments about them as a student on my own.
      Find your own ways, teachers. You don’t need that prick to legitimate you. Your own path in life and work should be you own legitimation.
      I ain’t Jesus, but I’m gonna say it anyway: Go forth and sin no more, motherfuckers.
      Clean up your acts, your minds, and move forward as indepedent souls. Because you all are, anyway: individuals, accountable for everything do do and say.

      • Deborah

        Ah — Eva — powerful truth talker ….
        I looking not for anyone to be “on my side” …. there is no co-dependency here.
        I like walking alone ….. always have, always will.
        Infighting from way OUT side the box maybe — as a warrior against what I perceive as being SO WRONG.
        Things are most interesting from outside the fishbowl and I’m making observations from that vantage point, same as you are … (and trying to defend them when I get pounded by the anusara mafia).
        Nevertheless – I am weak at the knees grateful for your words; they make me laugh since, you do have a way with them … 😉

        cheers … and
        namaste. muthafuckers …

  • Glad I said "no"!

    I guess I’m a sucker for the weak, but I do still feel compassion for my friends who have been left hanging. (Even though they ignored me once I left, as quietly and graciously as I could. But, believe me, I know I was being observed for any speaking up and out, and I believe a couple of times I was baited to say something negative about my experiences with The Man and his Mafia. Stories for another time, perhaps.) You do have an excellent and obvious point, though, Eva, and I don’t know how people could have overlooked what was so clear to me. I guess I figured my strength was my intuition, and we all have different strengths.
    Other than Bernadette, has any one of the other public-statement-releasing teachers offered a mea culpa concerning their complicity in this mess? One man was in charge, but many carried out his orders at the expense of others , and benefitted, at least for a while, from doing so .
    Has anyone other than Bernadette offered an apology to Doug, or admitted being part of a “response team”?

    • Me Too!

      Hi “Glad I said “no”, I haven’t seen much in the apology category yet but I hope with some time to digest and process everything that more will follow. Has anyone posted this article from Elena Brauer yet?
      I am glad to see that some are sharing more but it seems like there is still a lot of denial going on. Elena calls out yogadork as owing John an apology!!! The comments by some on the article are quite good though, like from Scott Newsom.

      I too resigned from anusara. I was hoping to leave quietly but alas that was not to be. Boy did it get ugly and I can totally relate to your experience of being observed and baited by the mafia. I did speak up but was labeled “negative” and also as having “mental problems”!

      I never saw the worst of what John was doing but I experienced enough of his crazy behavior to know that everything we are now hearing about is the truth!

      We do need to have our own forum for open discussion about our experiences, unfortunately this is not the place to do it. There are a lot of John’s foot soldiers on here under alias’ trying to show the light and love of anusara. There is a FB page for former teachers. Have you heard about it? A lot of the ones that are just resigning are just in the beginning stage of separation, there is a long road of acceptance and healing ahead. And you do have to use your real identity.

  • eva

    We’ll see, won’t we?
    And you can have compassion for your “friends” left hanging, but I’d temper it with the understanding that they abandoned you. And you were being watched, and baited. Yech. Are those “friends?” Were they?
    If as a result of participating willfully in a corrupt system, theyare now “left hanging,” that is their consequence. Presumably they are adults, so they must face those consequences.
    Again, the issue of “compassion” gets floated about (not by you, necessarily, but by the yoga culture), in such a way tha obscures considerations of individuals making decisions and having to face up to them AS ADULTS.
    Shit. My first grad school dept. was so fucking corrupt it lost its state board funding. I went into another discipline and have never looked back. Even if you have to do that, change horses in the middle of the stream, when it’s not your fault, it’s SO fucking NOT THE END OF THE WORLD.
    The most “compassionate” thing you can do for your “friends” is step back and let them deal w/ their consequences. That is THEIR path. And I’d think twice about trusting them again.
    Take it or leave it, but from my own vantage point in my own profession, and the wisdom it’s brought me, I know my business. I am in the business of language and ideas, and I know their limitations.
    I watch what people do. I watch what they DO. Until I know them well enough to know their words line up with their actions, I watch watch people DO.
    And yeah, I think there should be a LOOOOOTTTTTTA public mea culpas goin’ down.

  • Lopimf

    dude, has anyone read Joe Miller’s resignation on FB? It is a heart-breaking work of staggering genius.


  • left a while back

    The idea for an “Anusara Tell-All Forum” is out there. Someone, anyone, who is so inclined to help get the stories out there please put one up, and link to it here. This thread is most likely getting tons of traffic. Let the true catharthis for ALL involved begin.

  • John's "Pilgrimage"

    He’s busy praying for world peace…. *gack* This might be a good time for all of those who shelled out their hard earned money to study with his holiness to start praying for a refund. Not one word in there about offering one. Classic.

    Dear Anusara Yoga Kula,

    John’s sabbatical has begun, and so the following 2012 events until June will be postponed.


    Arlington Heights, Illinois
    Maui, Hawaii
    Austin, Texas
    Denver, Colorado
    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    Montclair, New Jersey

    New dates are not known at this time, so we ask that you please be patient. We will continue to send updates on John’s schedule as they become available.

    John will be traveling in Israel March 12th – 17th in a tour group for his own personal pilgrimage. His previously scheduled weekend workshop in Israel has been cancelled. The pilgrimage tour has now been extended to 5 1/2 days. A central intention of this tour is to send prayers of world peace from the center of all major western religions in Jerusalem.

    We appreciate your dedication and understanding during our transitions for a bright future,
    The Anusara Staff

    • gack indeed

      How nice for John Friend that he gets to fuck people over and then take a spirituality-travel-tour vacation.
      The rest of us would have to stay and clean up our shit and face the fire like men or women.

    • Gross. How good are yogis at class action lawsuits?

    • Where's The Boycott?

      Why does a Wiccan feel the need to go to Israel? Is it because the magik is so much stronger there?

      • Where's The Boycott?

        Question: Why does a Wiccan feel the need to go to Israel?
        Answer: To meet with the new CEO of Anusara, Inc. who is there.

        Don’t couch it in the fake, grandiose intention of sending prayers for world peace. We’re done with the lies and false pretenses.

  • TemplePriestess


    Matthew Remski (well respected Toronto teacher, author) weighs in


    • SQR

      Thank you for posting this link! I had linked my facebook page to the same piece on Elephant Journal, only to have it disappear from there. It’s well written and insightful.

  • jeremy

    The john Friend thing , I find bizarre and delusional . Perhaps he will deliver a sermon from the mount ?

    The matthew remski thing , I find hope , at last an authentic voice without the business , false yogi/yogini speak .

  • Julie

    Just when I think I have reached maximum saturation on this subject, and that nothing else could shock me, JF and his ilk seem to reach another new low…
    Now he is traveling to Isreal – with money he probably doesn’t have – to pray for world peace?? Could he be any more full of himself? I predict he will experience some sort of ‘conversion’ while he is there, then return home to share his new ‘wisdoms’. Maybe in a white robe garment. More wine, anyone??

  • TigersEye & TP

    Is that letter the “announcement” that was coming within 48 hours?

  • Yoganasty

    YAWN! I found the whole JF “teachings” quite boring & superficial. I WATCHED and was bored.

  • boodiba

    Just goes to show you – never trust the evangelical types.


      The Jim Bakker of yoga. JF will go to Israel, pay penance, seek the community forgiveness and return to their good graces. All his misdeeds will be wrapped up with forgiveness and flowering words. The yoga community will soon forget that his corporation was rotton to the core. He is borrowing from the playbook of televangelists. I can’t help but be cynical. It worked for Newt Gingrich. I hope the yoga community will be more discerning, able to use their analytical faculties and not be easily duped by this snake oil salesmen and his henchmen.

      • HJCOTTON

        I meant to say ” all his misdeeds will be forgotten and will be amothered with forgiveness and flowery words.

  • Hard to trust him

    It is interesting that John’s primary purpose for going to Israel is to “pray” for world peace… seems like the more likely reason is to meet with the new CEO of Anusara… who happens to be in Israel.

    He will never be honest. He fires a bunch of people then a couple weeks later fly’s halfway around the world to pray in Israel, must be nice. When the people who lost their jobs struggle to feed their families I hope he enjoys himself. Nooooo, he’s just so God Damn important that he has fly to the holy land to heal and pray for the rest of the world. Dude, try staying in one place and reflect about the shit storm you caused and stop being such a turd.

    • etc.

      No –
      Michal Lichtman is his new buisness partner/investor and she is in Israel. A previous swooning student, he has cast his spell upon her (exploiting her love of him) and she is going to drop a load (cha ching cha ching) into his sinking ship. Or – so the story goes. Its all just more bullshit piled upon bullshit piled upon even more bullshit. Neverending bullshit. WHich is just exactly how the sociopath rolls. On to the next victim … and the next … and the next….
      The man obviously thinks that the public is a bunch of morons who are buying his crap. Little does he realize that the public are not a bunch of fools who drink the kulaid he is peddling. Oi!
      Pray for world peace my ass.

      Dear Michal Lichtman: RUN my dear. As fast as you can in the OPPOSITE direction. I take it you have a husband, family, money in the bank. (I’ve seen your pics on FB) …
      Save yourself before its too late. Research the sociopath. There is plenty online and quite a bit posted on these threads as well. Wake up Michal. He is USING you – don’t be a fool. WAKE UP.

      • jeremy

        Her husband is exceedingly wealthy according to wickipedia , looks like john has come up trumps. The story plays out .New blood to feed off . kerching !

    • malti

      Right-on! p.s. your last sentence made me laugh out loud–which I needed…the guy really is a Turd through-and-through.

  • Jane C.

    In the words of deep throat, “follow the money.”

    • simply yoga

      Exactly. I think it’s always been about the money and the ego fix. For JF and for his early “top-of-the-pyramid” followers. The poor saps at the lower levels never had a chance with the trickle down.

      Wonder why people are assuming JF or anusara is broke? I have no idea either way, but just because he fired office staff doesn’t mean finances are in shambles. Maybe he just wanted to clean house to make sure no “mole” remained. As to the pension business, it still doesn’t mean the organization is broke. Maybe it is, maybe it’s not. Maybe he was just feeling his way around playing with the money.

      Why would the organization go from flourishing (by all accounts it was) to destitute in a matter of weeks?

      Hey, my landlord lives in a mansion and yet he still balks at fixing my $200 heater. It’s just the way some people are.

      • Where's The Boycott?

        Anusara, Inc. was not flourishing. I have limited although direct knowledge that he had over-extended himself with The Center and was looking for an additional million dollars in investments last September. The Center’s lease, which is on public record, is for $1.86 million per year. This for an organization that has reported gross earnings of only about $2 million per year.

        • simply yoga

          Yes, it sounds like he overextended mightily with that Center. I guess overall, what I’m saying is, two million a year. A year! for a yoga teacher, even one with a trademark, is a pretty hefty amount. So over a five year period the organization made 10 million. That may have nothing to do with JF’s personal fortune.

          Again, I have no idea what he has or doesn’t have.

          He’s up there on the top, doing his thing, training his foot soldiers, who then go out and lure in new comers. Seems the leader and the powerhouse teachers were making really nice salaries, and still are.

          The shlumps at the bottom forking over $20,000 for the certification over years’ time, many still smack-dab in the middle of their training, are the ones who are left holding the bag. Very few, if any, are going to make the kind of money the original flock made, and will continue to make, as they all have their own branding at this point and don’t need JF. He’s a detriment. I don’t think a Noah or a Christina or an Elena is going to miss a beat on the money train, even if Anusara falls into the abyss, never to be resuscitated.

          It’s the person in Tulsa, OK, traveling all over the world to train and bring the system back to their city, who is probably in trouble.

          Anyway, I’m all over the place here and probably not making sense. But I still don’t think he fired his office staff (if that’s true) because he’s too broke to pay them. I just don’t see it.

          • office staff

            He did let the office staff go because of the finances. They also have been scaling back on office space, cutting benefits, delayed paying bills, etc. This has been happening for much more than two weeks. They lie about the money or at least fudge the numbers they report to fit their needs. The nyt writes an article they play it down. An investor gets an over inflated, unsubstantiated claim of endless and growing profitability. The truth is they took a profitable company and flushed it down the toilet to feed Johns unrealistic dreams. As in other areas of his life nobody told him NO… Or if they did, they found themselves in the unemployment line.

          • simply yoga

            office staff –

            Thanks. I was wrong, then. Appreciate you clearing it up.

          • ambroulard

            John at one time stated that his salary was set at one hundred thousand a year and that he was not the highest paid employee of the Anusara org.

          • staff

            John probably paid himself that much but he also travelled the world stayed in 5 star hotels, had people wait on him hand foot all on the companies dime, so that number is misleading. Most people made less than half that at best.

  • simply yoga

    The whole thing does seem like a yoga ponzi scheme to me.

    • Jerry

      I attended a weekend workshop with JF several years ago where he said his mother set him up financially so he was now able to teach yoga & promote Anusara full-time without worrying about money.

      • ambroulard

        Revealing to is that when I first met him he was living with his mother- He would have been about 27-28 at that time—-

  • Salt n' Stall

    Missing from the timeline : FYI

    Dear Anusara Yoga Kula,

    As a follow-up to my stepping down on Monday from the leadership position, I am writing you to share the new organizational structure for Anusara yoga.

    Three weeks ago private information about me was posted on an illicit website in order to harm me, Anusara yoga, and all those named on the site. Although there has been no investigation or verification of the claims, a wide range of intense reactions and judgments has divided our community.

    During this month, many of our licensed teachers resigned (8% in total), including some of our leading teachers. I am very sorry and sad for the hurt that everyone has experienced during this scandal, and over time, I fully believe that truth, clarity, and great soul lessons will be revealed for all of us.

    One of the perplexing falsehoods that has been propagated through the Internet, not just within the past few weeks, but within the past few years, has been the perception of Anusara, Inc. as a big corporation – when in fact, Anusara, Inc. has largely been supported by my personal teaching and speaking engagements. So, in order for me to step down as CEO of Anusara, Inc., there are significant organizational changes that now need to take place to keep Anusara yoga alive.

    The first change is that I have joined in a business partnership with Michal Lichtman, who will now serve as CEO of Anusara, Inc. Michal is a successful business woman and a certified Anusara yoga teacher, and I am very confident that she will skillfully direct Anusara for the greater benefit of all. I am remaining as founder, student, and teacher of Anusara yoga. I am embracing this profound change in my life with bright openness to the next chapter for both Anusara yoga and me personally.

    With significant counsel from teachers in the Kula, we will be transforming Anusara yoga into a teacher run non-profit organization (501C3), Anusara Yoga School, dedicated to serving the Anusara kula. Anusara Yoga School will direct certifications and curriculum and will serve as a central hub of information on Anusara yoga and its licensed teachers.

    Anusara Yoga School Board of Directors, of which I will not be a member, will be elected by the entire community of all licensed teachers. There will be forums and open communication channels between the kula, all teachers, and the Board of Directors. An Advisory Board of teachers, including Desiree Rumbaugh, Sianna Sherman, Scott Lewicki, Sumei Shum, and Barbara Noh will also be formed to help guide the Board. This Advisory Board will expand greatly in the coming weeks.

    Details of the next steps for the establishment of Anusara Yoga School and the election of its Board of Directors will be communicated to everyone next week by a Steering Committee composed of Ross Rayburn, Todd Norian, Ellen Saltonstall, Deb Neubauer, and Jimmy Bernaert.

    My hope is that this reorganization of Anusara yoga will give the teachers the opportunity to elevate Anusara yoga as an outstanding hatha yoga style independent of me. We will all endeavor to focus on the exceptional methodology of Anusara yoga, and I will look forward to joining you as a fellow student and teacher on the path.

    With this new restructuring I am effectively putting Anusara yoga in the hands of the community and then trusting that it will grow beautifully in service to the world for many years to come.

    At this time, I will be postponing teaching events until at least June in order to take time for a sabbatical of healing and insight.

    I would like to personally thank every one of you who have stepped forward to support Anusara and myself during this tumultuous time.

    As the old saying goes, “If you found anything of value and goodness within my offerings, then it was from the greatness of my teachers. If you found flaws, foibles, or imperfections in me or my teachings, then those are all mine.”

    May this new era of Anusara yoga continue to expand Light throughout the world.

    With love to all,

    • simply yoga

      That’s a really great letter, in my opinion.

      Thank you for posting it.

  • Julian
    • right on

      Amazing analysis. Pretty much agree with everything she says. Especially, the disturbing and continued lack of accountability and the cry’s of himself being the victim. Also, it seems like the patern of appointing only those who are ” in alignment” and attacking those who are not is still a part of Anusara culture.

    • DebW

      good for you Bernie! nailed it.

      • another who knows

        I love what Bernadette wrote and really feel the authentic sorrow in her writing, without all the mumbo jumbo talk. This is REAL, from the heart, and she sums it up perfectly.

  • YogaKing

    anusara – aren’tyasorry?!? maybe those ashtanga guys had it right all along… 🙂

    • observer

      anusara saved my life, i was crippled and now i walk! great teaching…. however Americans tend to turn everything into a money venture and jews seemed to know how the best….everything has its nature.

      • d

        Mods, can you pull down this disgusting antisemitic trash?

  • jeremy

    Well his retreat, and time to reflecton of his part in this has obviously worked for him !
    Bring on world peace next, im waiting for his light to shine on me .

    will there be a charge for his praying for me, or is it not for profit ?

    I imagine that never mind not for profit , it may be difficult to turn a profit but i dont know business details , wont he be responsible for rent at encinitas centre ? his rock palace.
    Will the teachers who resigned still be able to use the name anusara ? Why does this letter bring a feeling of contraction within me ?

    • ambroulard

      John acts like he’s in a basketball game or something- immediately picking up the ball and doing whatever it takes – he seems to fail to realize that the games over for now and he needs to sit down and just reflect on the game he’s just played before making another move- his actions seem so ego centered- he has much more attachment than he realizes I’d say! He’s clearly not letting go.

  • Truth

    Do people realize: JF is scheduled to officially teach Anusara in just a few weeks….far away. In his latest letter he wrote: “I will be postponing teaching events until at least June”. But check this out – http://www.shalomyoga.tv/John-Friend-in-Israel.htm

    • Jerry

      Shalom Yoga’s site has a blurb on it that says the workshop is postponned until further notice.

  • DieGedankenSindFrei

    Oh Great Guru Bonanza Jelly Bean,

    I don’t sound happy?? Oh no, maybe something is wrong with me and I’m wrong,… I mean, I FEEL happy, I have a great practice, love my life, great relationships, hmm… but now that you, oh wise one, have opined that I don’t sound happy, perhaps I should go out and seek someone wise, like you! To deconstruct my ego! Maybe I need to be miserable so that you can teach me what’s missing!


    And by the way, you’re so wise about yoga (compared to us, apparently, in your condescending tone which I am reacting to), you should write a few books, don’t waste your time with idiots like us who have come to our own enlightenment that in our words is equal to: yoga is love. Jesus is love. God is love. Lack of thought brings rise to love. Hathayoga and sweating and breathing is… love. The secret of life is… love.

    • peace out

      i don’t know what this post replys/refers to , but the feeling tone associated with it is very defensive and angry. you actually don’t sound very happy at all, and I’m not feeling the love. are you actually walking your talk? or what? obviously bonanza pushed your buttons; thats the time when your truth arises and your practice begins. you either are or you aint. strike out and fight back, or just STOP. choice is yours.
      shenpa my friend, shenpa. you got hooked.
      peace out.

      • DieGedankenSindFrei

        If you don’t know what I’m reacting to (which I own, it’s my reaction), then read around the earlier posts. The entire JF debacle is about relying on gurus, and this guy comes in and starts pontificating about needing a guru to break down your shit, and how someone else’s idea of yoga is “love,” but he’s all opening a book and peering down his glasses and saying, Hm, yoga isn’t love, dear, wherever did you get that quaint notion!? Whatever. Who said I need to “sound happy” in a forum?? Am I walking WHAT walk? Who said I was trying to “live love” on this forum? We’re talking about gurus who live by their overinflated egos, and the people who depend upon them for their own happiness. Bonanza, in this context, starts out his orthodoxies, his “you aren’t really studying yoga properly without a guru” or some such nonsense, and yeah I’m telling you how I feel. I abhor cults, I abhor cults of personality, and I abhor any ORTHODOXY that stands in the way of ACTUAL ENLIGHTENMENT! Long live the human race, and may we learn to live without these crutches. And furthermore, I abhor and will fight anyone who tells me his lineage is better than someone else’s, or his interpretation is “correct”. Am I at peace in my own life? Sure! Am I gonna sit back and not respond in an anonymous public forum to idiotic pontification? Don’t count on it. A rant is one style of communication, this is mine.

        Thank you for good wishes. Yes, I’m attached to this, that’s my path right now, speaking my mind. Now please, redirect your good thoughts toward people who are vulnerable to cults and gurus.

  • Imagine.....

    Like many others, I am going to lose money because of non-refundable air fare and housing arrangements for John’s cancellation of the Maui workshop.

    Here is what I wrote to the new Anusara organization on 2/24/2012 after learning of the cancellation (after receiving repeated reassurances the week before that the maui workshop was still on):

    Dear Friends,

    I am very disappointed to get this e-mail. I have already purchased a non-refundable air plane ticket to Maui and the condo I rented is now non-refundable. Plus I committed a week of my personal vacation. Please consider this a formal request, to which I would like a formal reply, of what accommodation/compensation your organization will be offering for cancelling this workshop. I take it as a given that you will refund my credit card for the Maui workshop fee, and I would appreciate getting written confirmation of that.


    • simply yoga

      If you don’t get an answer/satisfaction quickly, I think you can get a refund from your credit card company. There’s an older post on Recovering Yogi by Lisa Riviera who got her money refunded on a TT where she did not get a certification after completing the class (that’s the short version.)

      Here’s a link to the article. http://recoveringyogi.com/the-yoga-stars.

      That woman really was determined to have some justice, or at least get the refund. Which she, at least, got the refund, and a chance to vent.

      Good luck.

      • simply yoga

        Also, I don’t know Lisa Riviera, but she seems like a very nice person and you might even contact her through her website and ask if she can give you advice on how to maneuver through this minefield. I bet she would be happy to give you some advice on working with the credit card people for a swift resolution.

    • Where's The Boycott?

      Today’s e-mail from the new CEO Michal states that part of the reason she bought 50% of Anusara, Inc. stock was to provide operating capital and she specifically stated refunds for John’s cancelled events. Keep after them to give you your money back.

  • another who knows

    I want to know how to make sure this new “non-profit organization” operates legally and above board. I simply cannot imagine how in the world this multi million dollar corporation will be approved for NPO status by the IRS and Federal government. Has “anusara inc” already been granted 501 C3 status or are they just assuming they will be getting it? ANd if it is just an assumption, it seems a little premature and dishonest to state that anusara inc is now a 501c3.

    • Where's The Boycott?

      Anusara, Inc. is still very much for profit. It is the proposed spin-off Anusara Yoga School that is planned to be non-profit. It is not clear yet how these two entities will work with each other (it seems the trademark will still be with Inc.). It is also unclear how the non-profit will be funded (they will have expenses even if staffed by volunteers) since the revenue-generating activities will remain with Anusara, Inc.

      • another who knows

        It is extremely challenging and virtually impossible to create an NPO which offers the same services and functions as your For Profit. The government doesn’t really just grant an NPO because you decide you want to have that status after operating as a for profit business. I would not believe John and Michal when they say they are going to create an anusara non profit. Until it is done, and there is legal documentation that they truly are a 501c3, buyer beware.

  • simply yoga

    Probably should stop addressing them as “friends.” Friends wouldn’t stress you out like this and keep you hanging. Let them know you mean business. You can still be pleasant, but a Mr. or Ms. might be more appropriate at this point.

  • jj

    ANUS-AR- A
    or ANUS- R- US…
    ahhhh just jokin around…
    humor helps…

  • sqwuakkkk

    Just goes to show you, never trust a man named Clifford. Clifford is a dogs name….

  • D Daniels

    Here’s another teacher resignation:


    Deb Neubauer & The Traveling Anahata Yoga Center
    Dear Friends,

    This is truly a letter of love, appreciation, gratitude and unreasonable optimism. I feel abundant gratitude in my heart for everything I have received from John Friend and from having had the opportunity to be part of such a skillful, beautiful, wise, creative and fun merry band. I feel so much gratitude for the goodness I have received and the goodness I have shared. I feel so …much gratitude to have been able to serve in whatever capacity I could on the interim committee to try to find a graceful solution to our current dilemma.

    But today I feel a freedom and recognize that in spite of all our efforts, the situation remains challenged for many reasons. It is possible that my good friends will find a solution. And I hope for all who wish to remain that they will. And if any future solution meets my requirements, I may re-join. This is in NO way intended as any statement of division amongst the Interim committee. I have been completely blown away by the level of impeccability and exertion that we all contributed.

    This posting is simply to state that it feels like a great time for me to re-focus my energies on truly life- enhancing projects, collaborations of beauty and to sharing the teachings with impeccable integrity and what I know of as Shri. My prayer is that the goodness that we have shared between us will remain; That friends who found each other on this path, will remain united in their hearts; That new collaborations of exquisite beauty and freedom can be danced through each of us; That this moment will usher in a glorious new wave of expansion.

    But it is time for me to resign my professional affiliation with Anusara Yoga and John Friend. I will continue to offer programs modeled on those we created together in Anusara. I will continue to be dedicated to grow as a student and to offer as a teacher any and all programs to the best of my ability.

    So, it is with sadness and as I said above, unreasonable optimism about the future, that today I leap boldly into the unknown.

    Blessings of love and gratitude to each of you.
    Deb Neubauer

    • simply yoga

      Yeesh! They talk like crazy people. Merry band, Shri, leaping boldly into the unknown (where no one has ever gone before). All that’s missing are a thousand points of light. I think I just went into a diabetic coma.

      • Jerry

        Simply Yoga? hummm…
        cynical (adj.) 1. Believing or showing the belief that people are motivated chiefly by base or selfish concerns. 2. Selfishly or callously calculating. 3. Negative or pessimistic, as from world-weariness. Hummm…I must have missed that one…yama or niyama???? I find myself to be very slow on this path many call yoga – although I’m not really sure if the word “yoga” truly describes what all this chitta-chatter is all about..but seems to me we tend to see what we think we are as opposed to that which truly is.

        As one cure, I humbly recommend YS 1:33 “By cultivating attitudes of friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and disregard toward the wicked, the mind-stuff retains its undisturbed calmness.”
        from “The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali” trans. & commentary by Sri Swami Satchidananda.

        Perhaps the shakti of cynicism shields/hides deep wounding, my friend? If so, you can heal all that. Why not alchemically transmute that precious energy into an uplifting light for the good of all? On the other hand, I could be misreading you altogether because I already know you are one singular manifestation of the Infinite Divine. Therefore, I’m only seeing my own confusion, rather than the calm Truth.

        Blessings & peace to you on your path, dear Simply Yoga.

        • huh?

          New age blather.

          • Jerry

            Yoga Sutras circa 500-200 BCE.
            New Age circa Now CE

        • simply yoga

          If you relate to that kind of blithery speech, more power to you. I don’t feel it’s an authentic voice. But that’s just me.

          Please don’t “humbly recommend” anything. And you don’t need to pity what you perceive as cynicism. I’m not cynical. I just think her resignation letter sounds nutty. Thanks for your concern though!

          • Virginia

            i agree with Simply Yoga.
            Please stop deflecting your beliefs onto other commentors!
            Make your comments and let us make ours!

          • another who knows

            Her resignation is nutty. Why can’t people just speak the truth? There’s nothing mean about saying her letter sounds like she is not in her right mind. Who talks like that? She was another one who hid the truth from her kula. What is shri about that? I am so tired of hearing all the preaching about being kind to the perpetrator. Stand up for the people who had signed up for Maui only to have that canceled, and those people have to most likely EAT that or spend hours and lots of frustration trying to get their money back from John and his merry band of merry liars and protectors. Why do people have so much sympathy for the perps? I really really want to know. Can anyone explain it to me?

          • Brooke

            another who knows:

            “She was another one who hid the truth from her kula. ”

            Do you know that? As a fact?

            I mean, you may well. You may well know her, and that fact, and if so, cool. I don’t know her.

            I do know a few Anusara teachers I trust and value highly, and I believe them when they say they did not know what’s come to light.

            That’s the answer to your question, below. In my case, I have so much sympathy for the senior teachers I personally know because they’re heartbroken. Because they didn’t know any of this before a month ago. I’m willing to give the ones I don’t personally know that same benefit of the doubt.

            But you’re right. The students who were taken advantage of, or who have lost a lot of money and a lot of time … those are the people to stand up for. I don’t disagree there, for sure.

          • Jerry

            No worries. You write as you wish, and I’ll “humbly” do the same. Like you, I don’t relate to the “blithery speech” nor do I pity anyone at all..on the contrary. All I’m saying is, most of us – me included – normally perceive our own projections rather than what is actually there. But I do indeed support your wish and right to have your own experience and to express it and elsewhere. Moving on…..

          • echo

            Virginia…my belief is you are deflecting your beliefs as well…honestly.
            Jerry…loosen up dude

      • jj

        the part of what you said that I like here is (where no one has ever gone before)… These teacher departures all have a slightly melodramatic flair – perhaps as a way to deflect the “ick factor” that so many people now associate with Anusara and JF… we all face hardship in this world- but we don’t all have an adoring audience that watches us as we “jump off into the unknown” (aka reality)…

  • Moses

    I am not a christian, nor a born again christian; I am a neo-pagan anarchist but I think the commandments below are a good template to follow for anyone – irregardless of the path they are on.

    I am the LORD thy God :
    Thou shalt have no other gods
    No graven images or likenesses
    Not take the LORD’s name in vain
    Remember the sabbath day
    Honour thy father and thy mother
    Thou shalt not kill
    Thou shalt not commit adultery
    Thou shalt not steal
    Thou shalt not bear false witness
    Thou shalt not covet
    I think JF and his merry pranksters broke almost all of the sacred covenants ….

    • Juicy

      and as an anarchist i would guess that you are not interested in wether or not people break rules imposed by some “higher ups”, but rather that all humans are living out their lives with agency & dignity, correct?

  • HY

    The enablers are washing their hands.

    • boolshit

      expect the same modus operandi from this crew: arrogance, nastiness, malicious and slanderous anticompetitive actions etc. (Doug Keller’s is one of many experiences with them). They were the “soldiers” that did Friend’s bidding before. It’s a little like the mafia having a turf war and then setting up a new gang, yet trading in the same behavior. What would be the problem with simply teaching hatha yoga like other yoga teachers do? No need to have a group to do that. Can be an individual and really learn from others. They’re afraid of just teaching yoga like other individuals. Then they couldn’t brand themselves, act superior (they’re not) and charge. They’ll employ the same tactics as before–nothing to do with real yoga.

  • jeremy

    well some of the pranksters have just started a new group “yoga coalition ” see bayshakti blog .
    It looks from the outside that these people are all over the place , groups and coalitions ,new companies , resigning but not really resigning ,do any of them really know whats going on ? Hello Mr Friend what you got to say for yourself , By the way I prescribe a year of forward bends and some selfless service , this may help you , no backbends or fancy arm balances , you know what happened last time .

    • simply yoga

      Well they just started organizing. Yoga Coalition sounds nice and non-denominational. Sounds like the beginning of a good, fresh start. At least it’s not the Kula Klan or something like that. And it’s fairly straight talk. At least they’re talking like practical, REAL people.

      They still want to teach, and they should. I think it’s a good first step.

      • boolshit

        Note that they want to be “inclusive” but only of anus aura(whatever) yoga practitioners. Basically, kula got a bad name so this crew came up with “coalition”. Expect more of the same. Pretty pathetic.

      • WTF?NoFuckwha?

        why wouldn’t they be able to teach? hello?
        why do they need to belong to a “co-alition” to continue to teach? it smacks of serious co=dependency to me. more private club elitist mentality.
        they simply need to “belong” to something they think is “special” and sets them outside and above the “mainstream”. its just another brand. call it a co-alition if you will. if it has a logo – its a brand.

        • more boolshit

          None of these clowns would have even left Friend if not for YD. Fact is, the sex and weed was just part of this crew. What really pissed people off is their nasty anticompetitive practices against others practicing the real art. I’m gonna have to puke if I hear one more of these slobs talk about all their “pain” and how they are “suffering”. Listen you assholes: there are people in the world who are really suffering. Your pathetic “suffering” is because you got exposed and the gravy train fell off the rails. What you are is a bunch of insufferable childish co-dependent gymnasts (at best).

          • simply yoga

            Ha! OK agreed. They, for some reason, need to stick together like glue. I guess they can’t be independent yoga teachers without calling themselves something speshul. Who can understand this mentality?

            But I do see it as a baby step. And the coalition will probably morph and change over time. Maybe for the good or maybe for the not-so-good.

            The thing that makes me not too queasy is they’re talking fairly straight talk without all the treacly goo. So I’m grateful. 🙂

            Hey, I’m trying to give some props here!

          • WTF?NoFuckwha?

            i think the coalition is a disaster waiting to happen. its one thing when there is one king; but too many kings and queens all vying to sit on the throne. nah. i can’t see it. not from this group of egomaniacs. they will destroy each other.

          • Brooke

            @more boolshit:

            Do you really *know* any of the people you’re talking about?

            I mean, have you met any of them? Personally? Anyone who signed that letter?

      • Jerry

        agreed and it’ll be interesting to follow the evolution…I just hope they’ll begin to see that as they build their bridges to the greater yoga community, they’ll see there are plenty of other excellent teachers and students of other traditions (or of no tradition whatsoever). Overall, I think the turn of events is healthy for yoga….bringing up great discussion, getting the yuck stuff out in the open that has too long been suppressed.

  • simply yoga

    For the record, I would never take a class from any of them! I’m not interested in coalitions, or consortiums, or whatever. For all we know, they’ll start calling each other “comrade” and have some secret handshake only “they” will understand.

    I’m. Just. Saying. At least their latest missive didn’t make me throw up in my mouth a little bit.

    They’re obviously co-dependent, sure. But this is the psychological makeup of people who were attracted to Anusara in the first place, so it’s a given!

    • DebW

      I love your posts.
      I’m. Just. Saying. 😉

      • another who knows

        ME. TOO.

        • observer

          i took the good from the teaching but never involved myself in the “club” aspect..i found it to be very odd/immature and just plain rude.

  • Me

    Why hasn’t the web page below been taken down or at least revised already???


    • charlie

      It does seem odd , There are teachers who resigned ages ago that are still listed on the Anusara website ,and is John Friend one of the most respected Hatha yoga teachers in the world ? I guess it is damage limitation , It amazes me that everyone is just going ahead offering teacher trainings in anusara whether they have resigned , are in yoga coalition or still remain in whatever Anusara is now , would have thought this is not very clear for these new teachers , or particuarly ethical .

      • It seems par for the course……

        • Agnathsa

          Something like a Titanic that is taking an extra extra extra long long long time to sink with way way way way more passengers on board-

        • DebW

          yep. par for the course. there was never anything particularly ethical about “the company” so why start now?

  • Susan Cooper

    I have studied with an Anusara inspired teacher for about a year. I have gained much both emotionally and physically. My spirituality is personal to me and not much influenced, perhaps because I have already been around the block so to speak in the past and discovered that generally we all have an idealistic part of us that yearns for a taste of heaven and we all have a human part of us that wants to belong. People who want to be adored and given an inordinate amount of control over others are enabled by those who want to be adoring and give up an inordinate amount of control to someone else. The reverse is also true. When I hear that tone in a person’s voice that reflects an inordinate amount of adoration towards another human being (according to my own intuition) I don’t take it that seriously. When I hear that tone in a person’s voice that reflects an inordinate expectation of receiving adoration, I don’t take it that seriously either. Things generally balance out in the end, with each person being given the opportunity to learn from where they have really been at and what they have really participated in.

  • Fortune Teller

    It just goes to show: unchecked power, over time, leads to corruption. It’s difficult to find any example, in history, where this is not the case. I only wish JF can truly face up to the reality of his actions. The way the scandal has been handled (or mis-handled) is more revealing than the scandal itself.
    Put a fork in it- he’s done.

  • George Fischer

    Balance. If you take all the bad stuff John has done and put it on one side of a balance scale and take all the good stuff and put it on the other, what would that look like?

    It seems that a lot of bad stuff has occurred, and of course that needs needs to be recond with responsibly for healing to occur. And on the other hand so many truly good things have happened, that have enriched the lives of many and delivered many splendid yoga teachers all over the world.

    John is human, and it seems that he fell into many of the traps that come with money, power and sex. In his shoes, I’m not so sure I would not be vulnerable myself, especially with the intense globe trotting schedule he had.

    I myself am very thankful for all the good and the bad, as it continues to teach us and offers opportunity for us to grow in our compassion for ourselves and each other in this journey called life.

    Whar’s good is bad is bad is good…

    To the Splendor of Our Recognition…


    • Right, right, whatever

      To the ultimate bullshit machine of denial and minimization — this one’s for you, George. There are a LOT of teachers who have been screwed out of thousands of dollars by that cheap snake-oil-peddling con artist. Unless you’re willing to personally reimburse them, keep your silliness private please. Talk about adding insult to injury. Show some respect.

    • Tony Giannetti

      George, I’m sorry for the reaction you’re getting. Being part of something makes every person vulnerable to bigger shifts within it. But the response that suggests that anyone who looks to take something positive from their time and association from Anusara is an apologist for the whole thing is throwing everything out. Yoga has always sought to take what works, and leave behind what doesn’t. To ‘right right whatever’ your reasoning would suggest that, since America entered into an illegal war in the middle east, that the whole thing should be shut down and we all disband and join other countries, negating any positive impact the US may have had on the world. Or that someone who has gotten divorced should never marry again. As much as John overtaught ‘see only the good’ the response to ‘see only the bad’ is equally unskillful. A lot of people have been hurt, a lot of harm has come to many. But stop stomping on the people who are trying to pickup and move on with their lives. Those who invested heavily in their Anusara training cannot undo it. For the rest of their lives elements of the best of what they’ve received will continue to enter their voice….it can’t be cut out. Allowing a bit of space and patience for people to take what good they can and put themselves back together is how they’re healing from this trauma and starting to move on with their lives. To NOT do that is to enter into a cycle of self-fueling anger and bitterness. The anger and bitterness thrown around on the net over the last few months is natural and necessary and I do not deride it. BUT, space must be made so the initial wave can move on and the next steps begun. Careers and hearts can be mended, though it does for sure suck to do the work. Most people touched by this have not been destroyed, but have hit an awful speed bump on their path but it can be recovered from (I mean individually here, not talking about the school, the leadership committee, John, etc.). But if people allow anger and bitterness to become habit, and then shell, then they really will have allowed John to ruin their whole lives.

      • yeah yeah

        That’s some kinda weird jumped-up quaswi-12 step “take what you like and leave the rest” conflation with yoga conflation with politics and the divorce revolution and… WHAT?!
        Dear god, that was nonsensical.
        And oh — “anger and bitterness to become habit” — what?
        What’s that, quasi-Buddhism or CBT?
        Reads like a bad mash-up of half-baked pop psych pop spiritual babble.
        No real idea where you get any of those assumptions, have you? It’s the ignorance and lack of critical thinking that’s so repugnant in the whole morass.

        • Tony Giannetti

          If it’s so offensive to you maybe you should invest your energies elsewhere where you can create or participate in something you enjoy.

          • yeah yeah

            I actually enjoy laughing at fools. Thanks!

          • Hmmm

            What I don’t understand is people who literally, deliberately seek out internet websites, and then complain about what they find on them — “anger and bitterness,” “judgement,” etc. If you find the internet atmosphere so painful, here’s a thought — DON’T SEEK THE INTERNET. Just, in fact, go on with your life. Because you can’t control what goes on. You can’t. It’s like deliberately going to a crowded smoky bar and then complaining about the noise and smoke. You just come across as an ass.
            There is, in fact, plenty of “space” created for people to go on with their lives. But they (and you, Tony and George) must actually just DO it. Stop peeking at the net and complaining b/c the net is not doing what you want it to do. This is not your private sandbox. All this censorious bullshit just stirs up the hornet’s nest again.
            I think the Anusara teachers who are getting out and moving on are really cool. But they, like you, have to learn to just unplug.
            So now, I am too.

  • George Fischer

    “Right, right, whatever” I meant no disrespect or minimization. John did blow it big time. In all my relations, the Anusara community is one of the coolest gatherings of people on this planet. I certainly hope that the community and those that have branched out, continue to take all that is good from this and continue to practice and evolve with grace and respect.

    • helloItsMe

      George — I mean — John — is that you? C’mon John …. fess up. Where you hiding these days? Lots of people waiting to hear from you. Time to step up.

  • George Fischer

    “helloItsMe” Sorry to disappoint you, I am George Fischer, just an infrequent and average yoga practitioner -at best, who has had the great luck to learn from some of the many seasoned Anusara teachers. It is some of the most memorable and rewarding time I have engaged in during my lifetime and I celebrate that. Hope you find your way through this turmoil whomever you may be …

    • waving goodbye!

      Well — for those who still want to Celebrate Their Man, maybe you can be the lucky bikini-clad student he takes on his next vacation (er—sabbatical) — to Barbados! Lotsa weed and sex!

  • I have been observing the development of Anusara from a comfortable distance since 2004.

    I must say that I am glad, on your behalf, over the turbulence you have experienced over the last months.


    Because Anusara is a brand. Yoga is not. And there is nothing of value in Anusara that is not to be found in yoga. ‘

    In my opinion, as useful as some of the Anusara ideas might be for some aspirants during a part of their journey of self-discovery, they inevitably become an obstacle eventually.

    I therefore invite you to considered the fact that the best thing would be to simply let go. To drop the brand and continue with your yoga. Using the business language my American yogi brothers and sisters are so used to: your stock has plummeted. Sell what is left, leave, and invest in something else.

    By clinging to old ways of doing things that no longer work we simply create pain and limit further growth. By letting go, and appreciating what was and integrating it into our present state we can move forward. The path of growth is painful sometimes. If we don’t accept it, it can get ugly, and since nothing is permanent, it will be forced upon us.

    You, as an Anusara yogi or teacher, could choose to let go and accept yourself for what you are. If you do and you teach, practice and live from there, then you can continue to grow on all levels.

    Please do not be afraid. Have faith. All will be fine and clarity will bless you!

    There are thousands of yogis who have experienced individually what you seem to be doing collectively, namely he painful process of surrender

    God Bless you!

  • Liz

    I took a yoga workshop from Desiree Rumbaugh 2 years ago and found that while she is skilled at expressing the physical alignment principles put forward by Anusara, she does not live “from the heart” as she and her associates like to put it. She spent the entire workshop bad-mouthing her own daughter and telling us tales of her daughter’s personal problems, she put down fat people, and physically manhandled students without asking permission (she bruised my pelvis by slamming her hands down on me). I teach yoga too, but this whole group seems to be living on a different planet.

    • another who knows

      That was my experience when I hosted her at my studio. She shamed so many people.

    • Elizabeth

      That’s too bad. I have studied with her several times and have not had a similar experience. My classes and workshops with Desiree have always been great. Perhaps you (and the other reply poster) experienced Desiree having a bad day–something all human beings experience. I don’t expect my yoga teachers to be perfect, and I can understand how you would avoid a teacher with whom you had a bad experience.

      • George Fischer

        I too have seen Desiree have a “bad day.” I agree she is human, just like John and the rest of us, and she is one incredible yoga teacher in my books. BTW this is a great place to stay in touch with the changes – kulaevolution.com. Also it is interesting to note that even Anusara is not immune from the Five Acts of Shiva – Creation, Sustain, Dissolution, Concealment, Revelation. It is clear that the expansion phase has past, and we contraction phase is now happening. Things are going from dissolution to concealment. I am patiently awaiting the for the Revelation Act to take stage. Life is full of Waves.

  • John Smith
  • agnathsa

    This is from JOhns new Website–Teacher Student Relationship

    I fully commit to serving each student in the highest way and to the best of my ability in every class. I welcome individual relationship with each student that is born out of mutual respect and positive well wishes for each other.

    I respect students’ private lives, and so I do not engage in a student’s personal business or issues. The same respect from the student is also expected by me.

    Students are asked to accept responsibility and be accountable for their own feelings and experiences.

    I will communicate openly and honestly any issues or concerns with a student, and I wish the same direct and honest communication be sought for by any student having issues with me.

    John Friend

    It’s like a twelve step program for Yoga teachers or something- he should throw in the towel and find a new career- this is pathetic—

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