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Letter From John Friend: Stepping down, taking ‘leave of absence’ from Anusara

in YD News

Letter from John Friend this morning to the Anusara community. He will be stepping down and making a public announcement in the next 10 days regarding reorganization of Anusara Yoga.

Dear Friends,

The last two weeks have been intensely heartbreaking for me.

I am deeply sorry for choices I made, which have caused such a firestorm of pain and suffering in our community.

I have profound grief for the damage done to our Anusara yoga community: teachers, students, and friends.

Presently, I am completing my current event in Miami, which I felt too irresponsible to cancel.

On Monday, I will be stepping down and taking a leave of absence for self-reflection, therapy, and personal retreat in order to take care of myself, and consider the next best step for myself and Anusara. Professional counselors and advisors will help me to determine the duration of my sabbatical.

Within the next 10 days, I will make a full public statement that will transparently address the entirety of this situation, and present a detailed outline of the reorganization of Anusara yoga. Also, I will be able to finally write and call individually so many friends who have been reaching out to me.

This devastating experience has profoundly impacted my heart and soul, and will serve to guide all my future actions with integrity.

Humbly,

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

——

Earlier

204 comments… add one

  • Anusour

    Given that I have run out of options, I am resigning.
    My spin doctors inform me it will take 10 days to color events in a way most beneficial to me. Thanks for your continued gullibility.

    Blessings of abundance radiance and auspiciousness to every vibrating universal entity.

  • Yoga Chick

    How grossly insincere. He shouldn’t be taking a leave of absence, he should be backing out with his tail between his legs and vowing to stay away – period. Anusara is the laughing stock of the yoga world. Those trying to exit gracefully know this. John Friend peed all over it again and again and is so full of himself, so delusional and narcissistic, he is refusing to do the right thing. Shameful on every count.

  • Stewart J. Lawrence

    It’s a great letter, I think. I wonder if the rest of the narcissistic Anusara community
    will be able to match the spiritual growth that Mr. Friend will experience by
    taking this step. It’s oh so convenient to lay it all at Mr. Friend’s door. There
    are a lot of little John Friends running around Anusara, male and female.
    Let’s thank whoever decided – out of principle, or not – to leak all this
    information – for shedding real light on the Anusara “community.” It wouldn’t have
    come from these high-level “defectors,” who now portray themselves -
    and are portrayed by their own groupie followers – as heroes. It’s
    an entire syndrome operating here.

  • Brooke

    Mr. Lawrence,

    I’ve been following the continued conversation in the comments to your Huffington Post article. In those comments, as here, you seem insistent on a kind of gross generalization in your descriptions of the Anusara community. I find myself a little baffled as to why.

    The Anusara community is broad. It includes hundred of teachers and thousands of dedicated students like me. Many members of the community, like me, have never met or have had only limited encounters with Mr. Friend. We didn’t go looking for a guru; we simply found a yoga practice that turned out to be beneficial to us. Why fault us for that?

    To one degree or another, much of the Anusara community is in a lot of pain at the moment. It’s neither helpful nor kind of you to continue to bandy phrases like “narcissistic Anusara community” and “groupie followers” around the internet. And speaking from my personal experience of the local community of which I’m a part, those characterizations just aren’t accurate.

    I’ve considered your Huffington Post comments section your house, where you can act as you like. This being a country founded on free speech, you can of course act as you like anywhere else on the internet, as well. But, please: would you consider the request of a single Anusara student enough of a motivation to dial back the ridicule, just a little bit?

    No one here drank any Kool-aid. We’re a group of individuals. Right now many of us are in pain. I, for one, appreciate your journalism and what you’ve brought to light about Mr. Friend. But I’d appreciate it more if you could retain a little more journalistic objectivity in your characterizations of my friends in your future discourse.

    My thanks.

  • Fred

    Can Anuusara yoga survive without Friend..?? Certainly. Can Friend survive with Anusara yoga..?? Who cares..??

    Follow the teaching, not the teacher.

  • Brooke

    Fred,

    “Follow the teaching, not the teacher.” … succinct, and perfect. Thank you.

  • Stewart J. Lawrence

    I will take your comments – and your request – to heart. Thank you for
    expressing yourself in this way.

  • Brooke

    Thank you very much, and thanks too for the reply. I appreciate that.

  • Yoga Chick

    I have never for a minute seen any yoga teacher associated with John Friend as a hero here. I feel for them because he lied to them – sure. But those “defectors” chose to latch onto something that filled a void within each one of them that went far beyond Yoga. John simply opened a big bag of candy and shook it loudly so they’d come running for that sugar high. He didn’t make them eat the candy. He didn’t make them guru-worshipping little mini Friends. They did that all by themselves. Now those who are fleeing are all saying they’re on sugar-free diets. To me this is very typical of addictive behavior.

    I have compassion for anyone who suffers from an addiction and John Friend, it appears, is addictive to some. This much is obvious.

  • Stewart J. Lawrence

    It’s interesting to see the people who can see their own role in this – no guru survives without a mass base of complicit followers – and those that can’t. The people in pain really need to ask themselves what that pain is about. It’s hard to confront your own willful self-deception about yourself and the world. I certainly know that from experience, and I would never deny anyone else their pain — or the journey it inspires.

  • michael kaplan

    steve, honestly, you come across as a real ass in your article and this post.

  • LMAO

    shades of Halid. Halid – is that you?

  • Stewart J. Lawrence

    Michael, it runs in my family, on both sides, male and female. I’m also Jewish, and most of us were wiped out in the Holocaust. I sometimes think I invented the slur “loud-mouthed Jew”? Peace, and blessings, man.

  • Anusour

    I am honored and blessed to offer my highest motivational offerings to you, my merry band. May the pure resplendent sunshine of love and grace reflect upon you bursting into a spiraling double rainbow of resplendent bliss which reveals your essential shiva-shakti quantum magickal tantric pulsating heart. 1000 lotus petal pranams to the divine essence in you all.

  • Typo, think you meant “tantrik.”

  • Anusour

    “Presently, I am completing my current event in Miami, which I felt too irresponsible to cancel.”

    I bow to your discerning insight as to what qualifies as “irresponsible”.

  • TCB

    We bow to the efficacy of your auspiciousness and honor the eternal return of your flowery malapropisms, Mr Friend.

  • michael kaplan

    none of you know what it is like to be in his position or the full story of what really happened. he’s admitting to and stated he is sorry for making hurtful choices. how would you act if your business/livelihood just went down the toilet? would you exit so perfectly? maybe not

  • Anusour

    Your point is well taken as far as the exit strategy, though I disagree as to the characterization of his actions as “hurtful choices”. This is doublespeak given the backdrop of a decade of not heeding warnings from those closest to him. I would more likely characterize it as willful and wanton reckless behavior with an utter disregard for how his behavior would impact those around him and the yoga community at large. How about those yoga teachers and studios whose “business/livelihood just went down the toilet”? Where are the violins for them?

  • another who knows

    Don’t feel sorry for a perpetrator! That is what all sociopaths count on! Let JF have his experience; you condoning what he did gives him a way out. Stop defending someone who would not do the same for you. Implicitly you give JF the permission to continue. He needs to be held accountable (as we all do) to the choices he made. You don’t need to take that on for him.
    ANd to answer your question, I would feel horrible if I had just singlehandedly ruined the livelihoods of so many, so quickly, because of my selfish and destructive actions. However, I wouldn’t have chosen to engage in those actions in the first place.

  • Pavanatanaya

    “how would you act if your business/livelihood just went down the toilet? “…Well now, if I was the one flushing my own career down the toilet, I wouldnt be blaming the temperature of the water.

  • lovely day

    This is a repost found in another Comments thread in YD–you decide for yourself if the shoe fits :
    it must be highlighted & emphasized he did not act alone….he’s had a crew of grifters, wittingly or unwittingly it makes no difference, with him for years.
    The following was taken from & the entire article can be viewed :
    http://depressiond.org/sociopath-sociopathic-personality-disorder/
    “SOCIOPATH SYMPTOMS AND TRAITS
    The widely used manual that is used for diagnosing various mental disorders, DSM IV, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition, lists out some of the symptoms that have to be present in an individual in order to be diagnosed as suffering from antisocial personality disorder. According to the DSM IV, this disorder falls in the Cluster B list of personality disorder. For a person to be diagnosed as a sociopath he or she must have at least three or more of the below mentioned symptoms.

    Displays heightened levels of deceitfulness in dealings with others, which involves lying, conning others without remorse, or even using aliases
    Inability to abide by the social norms and thus violating law
    Displays aggressiveness and often tends to get into assaults and physical fights
    Displays complete lack of empathy for others and their situation for which they are responsible
    Displays no feelings or shallow feelings
    Displays impulsive behavior which is indicated by the inability to plan for the future
    Displays no concern for safety of others around them or self
    Inability to sustain a consistent behavior that stems mainly from irresponsibility especially at work place or in other dealings
    Displays promiscuous behavior
    Research has revealed that since a sociopath never conforms to the rules of the society, he or she is not bothered about the consequences of his or her actions. Such people at times are also able to inspire like minded people. Some of the other traits that are common in antisocial people are that they are usually intelligent and have a superficial charm and they are able to attain success using unscrupulous methods. Thus they can also never learn from their own mistakes and they do not hesitate to indulge in certain activities that are considered immoral and taboo by the society.”

  • rob

    It’s a question I had thought of too but I think that would be hard to know not being close to him.

    The points about getting into trouble with the law and having problems with workplace usually refer to a string of troubles or violations throughout life. John has been shielded from consequences by a team of people willing to look the other way and keep him out of trouble for a long time now. And his history in finance is obscure too. We don’t know that much about him.

    Also, a guarantee is the constant lying and manipulation. While his letter to the coven and the skypes reveal the full measure of his manipulating behavior, this is also expected from a sex addict. Addiction creates distortion in personality. It would be helpful to know if he was a big liar before Anusara took off and he surrounded himself with hot down-doggies in spandex.

    I have known two sociopaths– one was diagnosed and the other has 7 of the traits you listed plus more. I wouldn’t say either of them were/are particularly intelligent in the way we would normally think of intelligence. But both would decide they wanted something and people needed to be rearranged in order for that to happen so they would start to rearrange and manipulate just like people were squares on a Rubik’s cube and part of a fun puzzle. I think they seem clever because they think of doing things most people know are wrong or hurtful. The sociopath I know currently is so impulsive that her manipulations come off as stupid and transparent, so she is always getting caught and is about to lose her position.

    The point you make that fascinates me is that he surrounded himself by people that were willing to excuse and cover for him at every step of the way. It’s quite a coincidence that senior teachers started jumping the ship around the same time the jfexposed tipster started shopping his/her story around the blogs. But, again, it’s hard to say if they were just co-dependents or like-minded sociopaths as you say.

  • lovely day

    Rob, I don’t really know if his inner circles of fellow/sister travelers are/were sociopaths, enablers or whatevers except that they are/were part of the con/charade/deceit & are complicit in profiting from years of abuse of innocent seekers. And the longer in time they have been there, well________________
    Compassion for All everywhere.

  • check it out

    Translation of the coven skype comment:
    OK, now we crossed the line…and we’re in this together, right? You understand that? Both you and Tiffany were part of it–in fact, it was your idea–you are both implicated. We will say it was in the interest of anusara and in line with wicca. We can claim it was a religious act. In the meantime, keep your mouths shut because we all did this together…oh shit!!

  • Yoga Chick

    If I gave a damn about my teachers and students, and those who invested beyond their means to study and travel with me, I would not trample on them when they asked me to step down and surely not be teaching in Miami when so many had asked me not to. Sorry, but some things we all know to do better as human beings and many of us take our roles as teachers very seriously. His letter in no may reflects his actions. It’s all spin.

    This isn’t about exiting perfectly. This is about actually exiting which he is is so clearly unable to do.

  • There's more after the "more"

    A few of us DO know the full story of what really happened. Some of us were very, very close to John. He has failed to handle this situation ethically or responsibly. He’s only admitted to part of his wrong doing, and he’s not sorry. He’s only sorry he got caught.

  • Yoga Chick

    I find it funny that such an unethical man created ethical guidelines for his teachers. That’s like a blind man opening a car dealership. You can sell them, you just can’t drive them yourself.

  • you me and dupre

    Well put YC! He set the bar conduct as high as he could for all the teachers but too high for himself.

  • David

    What better way to hold control over others then to set standard that other must follow or risk losing their certification?

  • Williams

    FYI…Here are some links of the ethical guidelines of other yoga schools who are very clear in terms of the importance and strict adherence of integrity within the teacher – student (and employer – employee) relationship.

    http://www.traditionalyogastudies.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Ethical-Guidelines-for-Yoga-Teachers.pdf

    http://www.manoayoga.com/documents/IyengarYogaCertification.pdf

    http://www.anandainfo.com/ethics_code.html

    http://ezinearticles.com/?Yoga-Teacher-Training-Aspects—Ethical-Guidelines&id=926547

    http://www.rickross.com/reference/3ho/3ho52.html

  • vama

    do tell- you’ve seen what a bit of disclosure does, but still choose to sit on your hands and say nothing? we all know the kaulas and their secrets… lame!

  • Pavanatanaya

    Its not nice to ridicule Wailon. It is difficult to do yoga with cheeto stained fingers.

  • Barb

    Is that Waaahlon, “Everyone is being mean to me so I’m deleted their comments”, Wailon?

  • vama

    phew, for a second there i thought people would be somberly cheering instead of demonizing and reenforcing that he is an enemy and being generally nasty and sarcastic, thankfully though it only took a second between reading the article and the comments. phew!

  • michael kaplan

    i’m sorry but so far the only name used has been JF. everyone else who comments is anonymous. so much of this is from gossip. i aint saying it’s right, i just see how people just wanna burn him at the stake. i don’t condone what he has or has not done, i don’t friggin know, but i do know that in this world of ours called “Yoga” sometimes people get very high and then fall, I’ve seen it happen and it is supremely heartbreaking.

  • michael kaplan

    PS excuse the pun “burn him at the stake”

  • Duh?

    burn him at the stake is not a pun michael.

  • Wake Up!!

    Michael, 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!

  • Friend-ly suggestion

    Now for your dining & dancing hilarity a few moments with JF’s second coming & true calling realized—JF at county fairs everywhere hawking Sham Wow :
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QwRISkyV_B8

  • Rebecca

    I’m reminded of an old joke: how many psychiatrists does it take to change a lightbulb? a: only one, but the lightbulb has to really want to change.

    I’m very glad John is taking at least a leave of absence, if not leaving permanently. The grammar of his letter suggests how much work he has ahead of him and how much resistance he’s putting up. “I have profound grief for the damage done to our Anusara yoga community: teachers, students, and friends,” he writes. The damage done? Why not write “the damage *I* have done”? I believe that “this devastating experience has profoundly impacted [his] heart and soul,” but he writes of it as an “experience,” rather than as the ramifications of *his own actions*. He hasn’t yet taken full responsibility for his part in creating this experience, nor for the devastation his actions have caused *others* to experience.

    Hopefully, he’ll get to a place of deeper understanding of his culpability. He’s not there yet, by a long shot, but change is possible … if he really wants to change.

  • Michael Kaplan

    Another pun? That joke was used in a cheech and chong movie

  • Duh?

    Michael, Oi! you don’t know what a pun is. Here is some help for you.

    http://www.punoftheday.com/cgi-bin/disppuns.pl?ord=N&cat=0&sub=0&page=1

  • Sam

    Rebecca – I’m willing to bet he has his lawyers look over his letters and they take out anything that could pose problems for him.

  • Betty
  • i, me, myself & i

    Out of 191 words, there are 15 uses of the terms i, me, myself in the document. This statistic speaks for itself.

  • you me and dupre

    Who is reforming the Anusara Inc? In 10 days I doubt we will see any meaningful changes.

  • shadier&shadier

    Brooke, no one here drank any Kool-Aid. Are you referring to no one in “your body”? Cuz I for one know many people in the Kula who not only drank the Kool-Aid but got rip roaring blasted out of their minds drunk on it. If I get one more letter from anyone of them addressing me as “Shri Diva” I think I will spontaneously combust. Absolutely agree with you that there may be some students who maintained their sobreity, but it is my experience and that of many observers, they are the exception and not the rule. Like begets like and although I don’t know Stewart Lawrence, nor read his articles, I’m with him all the way. JF is a sociopathic narcissist and many of his teachers and students are the same. They feed off each other. And what I would like to say is that the Anusara Kula might be suffering and in pain but what about our pain? Did did any of you have any consideration regarding what the commercialization and the profiteering, the trademarking and the branding of YOGA did to those of us who have loved the practice for many long long years before the 1% corporate suits moved in, misappropriated it, bastardized and diluted it, profaned the sacred, and turned it into fashionista faux yoga – something barely recognizable and abhorrant to the truth seeker and dedicated student? You wanna talk about pain and suffering? You are PREACHING TO THE CHOIR!

  • Brooke

    shadier&shadier,

    You sound angry, and in pain; I’m sorry that’s so. I hope it eases for you.

    I can’t speak to the history of yoga practice in this country, or to your experience of it. I don’t know who you are, or anything about your practice. I also don’t know John Friend. The people I know, love, and trust — the people about whom I *can* speak with integrity — are the teachers I found in my local Anusara community. They are not blind followers of anyone or anything, as Mr. Lawrence continues to suggest. They are also not handicapped with a medically diagnosable personality disorder, as you state here. Many of them did deeply trust Mr. Friend as their teacher. That does not make them “groupie followers.” It makes them students of a person whose teachings compelled them.

    They are, to a one, really fabulous people, unique, as different from each other as individuals in any other kind of group are different from each other, but united in their search for the deep meaning and beauty in this world. The search for that meaning, that beauty, is — as you truly name it — sacred. The dedication to a practice that enables a deeper discovery of that meaning and beauty is also sacred. The Anusara teachers I know — just like the yoga teachers in other disciplines whose teaching I admire — have, to a one, dedicated themselves to a sacred pursuit. That was true two weeks ago, and nothing that’s happened in the last two weeks has changed it.

    My teachers in this community are also my friends. I admire them, respect them, care about them, and wish they weren’t hurting right now. And I can’t imagine that the vitriol directed toward them here and elsewhere simply for being dedicated teachers in a yoga community that speaks deeply to them is beneficial, to them or to anyone else.

    I understand that people are angry, as you clearly are. I understand the desire to react to these events. But I do think that it’s unwise, unkind, and disrespectful to casually generalize about the character and the ethics of thousands of people. That’s a good rule across the board, in any situation, and it’s a good rule in this one.

    I wish for you exactly what I wish for them, right now — some peace. And some grace.

  • michael kaplan

    Brooke,
    You need not respond to any off the wall comments. Your post was centered, honest and from the heart. Anyway, it’s like talking to a wall. Rock on!

  • shadier&shadier

    Michael, surely you realize that you infantalize Broooke by posting such comments.

  • Brooke

    Michael, thank you. I very much appreciate that. I think you’re right; time to bow out.

  • Pavanatanaya

    Dear Brooke, When everything is sacred, nothing is sacred.
    Sincerely,
    The Universe

  • shadier&shadier

    Brooke – would you please tell us how old you are and what your experience with yoga was before you met Anusara. I’m asking for some perspective because – I don’t think you heard a word I said. And – I am not angry dear. I am FED UP. There is a difference. The pain I mention is the pain and the heartbreak of seeing young women I know who, like yourself, are heartbroken. Young women who got sucked in to a fraudulent system because they were too young, naieve, and inexperienced to see the writing on the wall. Young women I care about. But I am GLAD that have been liberated from this unhealthy addiction they had to Anusara. I am fed up with the non-sense that is continually being perpetuated. Tell us PLEASE what is it that is so upsetting to you? Do you even know? You’ve been mainlining John Friend and now your drug is cut off? Why do you need him? Why do you need association in Kula? What is so special about Anusara that you can’t find somewhere else? There are many many other systems of Yoga to choose from that are built upon integrity, tradition, and lineage which offer you teachings that are thousands of years old (not some hybrid contrived “shiva-shakti” modificiation of tantra). Is it the elitism? The idea that Anusara was the “Harvard” of yoga ? Which was crap from beginning to end and nothing more then marketing. I could go on but I think you get the gist of it Brooke. TELL US why this is SO TRAGIC? I would think you would be celebrating your freedom. Your friends are not going anywhere – they will still be your friends. You like yoga? Do some yoga? Put your mat down and hop on. Sit still and breathe. Read a book about co-dependency. And please – tell us how old you are. ;)

  • Brooke

    shadier&shadier,

    I’m thirty.

    Perhaps you’re right; perhaps I didn’t understand you clearly. It seems to me that this is a more emotional issue for you than it is for me; if that’s the case, I apologize for not grasping the true thread of your points, which clearly mean a lot to you.

    However, I don’t think you’re hearing me particularly well, either. I stated clearly, both in my reply to you above and in my original reply to Mr. Lawrence, that I do not know John Friend. I stated in my original reply to Mr. Lawrence that I, like many other people I know, didn’t come to this practice seeking Mr. Friend as a teacher, or in fact seeking any sort of guru or spiritual leader at all. In my personal case, I didn’t know a thing about him for months after I started practicing at my local Anusara studio. I just lucked into a yoga that truly works for me, and I stuck with it. So — given that, and how clearly I stated that I don’t know the man — I find your question about whether I’ve been “mainlining John Friend” a bit odd.

    As I also said above, in my reply to you, I cannot speak to the history of yoga in this country. I simply don’t know enough about the subject to engage in discussion about it with you, and therefore cannot speak to the issues with which you are “fed up.” You certainly sound frustrated, and so I hope that you find in the future that the situation about which you are frustrated changes. But I have not, personally, experienced anything in my yoga practice — either in Anusara or in any of the other disciplines from which various of my teachers through the years have come — that felt to me like a “fraudulent system.” That may have something to do with my personal history; I’ve had quite a bit of experience in my life outside of yoga with people, particularly men, in positions of power who — in very fallible, human ways — have misused that power. I do not easily fall sway to such people, or to whatever system, fraudulent or not, they want to sell me. But even so — that phrase doesn’t characterize any of my experience of my yoga practice. So I can’t speak to your feelings on that subject, either.

    What I do know well — the one subject in this whole muddle to which I feel I can speak clearly — is my personal, local, small Anusara community, which comprises my personal teachers and friends. As I said above, they are all people for whom I feel tremendous respect as both individuals and teachers, and about whom I care deeply. The only point I wished to make to Mr. Lawrence is the same point I wanted to make in my reply to you. Perhaps I wasn’t clear on that point, so I’ll make it again, here:

    I do not believe it is kind, respectful, or true to paint all members of the Anusara community with the same brush, and if it were in my power, I’d respectfully ask that you, Mr. Lawrence, and anyone else who publicly comments on this issue try to refrain from doing so in the future. Gross generalizations of the kind Mr. Lawrence has been engaging in with regard to the Anusara community are at best inaccurate and at worst deeply wounding. They just aren’t helpful for anyone’s understanding of the issue, or frame of mind, or emotional state, or, frankly, character.

    What they are, though, is easy. It’s very easy to analyze a subject if you feel you can simply say, “The kula is full of brainwashed narcissists.” Analysis is much harder if you try to be more honest, and therefore more nuanced, and say, “The kula is a community made up of individuals, and all of them have complex motivations.” The latter statement isn’t a clean soundbite. But it’s the truth.

    So, in answer to your question about “what is so upsetting” to me: mostly, I am sad that people I care about are sad. And I also find myself irritated, and a bit insulted, at the language Mr. Lawrence and others — including, now, you — have been using in reference to my community. Because my community is made up of my friends. And it bothers me when someone calls my friends names.

    Back in kindergarten, I told boys who called my friends “stupidheads” to stop saying mean things. And if today the name-calling has advanced just a bit — “sociopathic narcissist” is quite a mouthful — my reaction hasn’t advanced in the slightest. So I asked Mr. Lawrence, as I am now asking you, to be nice to my friends. Perhaps it’s a kindergartner-on-the-playground kind of thing to ask. But I firmly believe many of our earliest lessons are still our most valuable ones.

    Is that too much to ask? That we try to be a bit nicer?

    In answer to one of your last questions: I think there are many, many paths to grace. Anusara yoga, for me, has been one of them, but it is certainly not the only one. You’re right — there are many systems of yoga. I have practiced in several, and will continue to. There are many disciplines in martial arts, as well, which was my practice before yoga was; some are newer modifications of ancient designs, some lineages purport to be more pure, there are internal rivalries. But I have found something of value in every martial arts school I’ve visited, as I’ve found something of value in every yoga class I’ve ever taken. I trust myself. So I trust what I find valuable.

    There is such a variety of disciplines for a reason: people have different needs. There are as many ways to practice grace as there are people seeking it. But, if you’re lucky, every once in a while, you stumble upon a practice that speaks to you more than the others. That, for whatever reason, speaks your language.

    That was my experience in my first Anusara class, and it has been ever since. I had never heard of Anusara when I took my first class. I knew nothing about it. I was simply trying introductory yoga classes at every school in my new neighborhood. But when my teacher said, “Set your foundation and open to grace,” I knew I’d found a school that spoke to me in my native tongue. I heard echoes of my fourteen-year-old self, who — many years before I first practiced any form of yoga — sat and wrote journal entry upon journal entry about what she felt of the divine — of God — and about her thirst for what was holy. I heard echoes of my twenty-year-old self, who sat in a dorm room one night and thought, desperately, Grace. Please. Grant me grace.

    She was granted that grace. And my Anusara practice acknowledges and affirms what I know is true: that I continue to be granted that grace, every day.

    And so now, something different will happen. I will continue to practice yoga with the teachers who speak to my heart — those who have until now been Anusara teachers, and also those of other disciplines. As you say, my friends aren’t going anywhere. I don’t know, and don’t much care, whether my Anusara teachers will retain their certifications with the organization. That very difficult decision is up to them. But regardless of what comes next, I am deeply, deeply grateful to have found and practiced a discipline that spoke to me in language I know and love. Anusara has been a force for nothing but good in my life. Whatever else happens, that will remain true.

    I have very little else to offer on the subject, so I’ll bow out and leave it in your capable hands.

    Grace to you, and to all of us.

  • Just be nice

    Score: Brooke 100 to Shady’s 0
    Game over,
    Say good night Gracie—-good night Grace-y

  • shadier&shadier

    Scorekeeping? Interesting.
    http://youtu.be/qlKffkoCLS8

  • pratipaksabhavana

    Score:
    Brooke – No Sale. Milketoaste & Pablum
    Shady – Right on! The Emperor isn’t wearing any clothes.
    Wakey uppy Gracie — The alarm clock is howling ….

    Om shanti shanti sarva ris nasini swaha !

  • Pavanatanaya

    @ pratipaksabhavana
    Ghezundheit.

  • Elizabeth

    Brooke, thanks for expressing this, and for stepping away from the name-calling eggers-on. I’m all for engaging in meaningful dialogue, and skipping out on the kindergarten-style babble.

  • Brooke

    Elizabeth, thank you. I very much agree.

  • Yoga Chick

    Shady is coming from a very clear and very experienced place. Brooke is not. I’d call that fuzzy math.

  • Brooke

    Yoga Chick,

    Out of curiosity, what is it you think you know about the length and breadth of my experience with yoga?

    Undoubtedly, shadier&shadier and LMAO have been practicing for longer than I have. In LMAO’s case, longer than I’ve been alive. But on what do you base your assessment of my lack of experience?

  • Heya Brooke!

    Hhis is very nicely stated. long — as I am also apt to be — but definitely worth reading twice. :) Or three times if you need to say it again for someone. :)

    I can speak for myself for the only thing that really started to bug me about Anusara yoga — which may have nothing to do with your community, but with mine — was that at one time, we were all friends. Some of us taught hot yoga, some iyengar, some astanga, and yes, some anusara. And we would hang out and drink smoothies and talk about yoga.

    Then something switched. Anusara was the harvard of training, the most intelligent yoga system. The teachers had a kula.

    And I lost friends to that idea and to that kula. The community we had — the community of yoga teachers and students that was diverse — wasn’t good enough. We weren’t good enough.

    I admit, it hurt my feelings. And, I missed my friends.

    But here is the cool thing. Now, lots of Anusara folks are opening their eyes, blinking a bit, and noticing that there already was a ‘kula’ (since it is being used to refer to “community” and “tribe” and “family”) — it was all of us. Not just teachers and students of one form — All of Us.

    I honor your experience with your studio and your community. It is true. Anyone not in yoga has no clue what Anusara is. They just don’t. And the same with Bikram or Power Yoga (what I call what I teach). They just see “yoga” and want to try it. And they have a good experience or they don’t. And if they don’t, maybe they try another style and maybe they don’t. And if they do, then they have found something that resonates.

    So at that level, the newbie student is “ours” — all of ours because it is at that point that we don’t have labels yet, you know? And it’s so wide open and curious and wonderful.

    I’m excited to have my friends again. I”m excited to have them sharing their information, their voices, and teaching in their own ways — not just in Anusara ways.

    I’m really excited about all of this. I think it is a powerful, positive thing.

    And yes, people are struggling.

    But please know what those of us “out here” — we’ve always been here. We just wonder where the Anusara folks have been. And we are psyched — truly — to have you back getting smoothies and talking about yoga. :)

    Brightest blessings.

  • Brooke

    Jenifer,

    Thank you for your reply. Yours is a perspective I don’t have in my personal life, and it’s very valuable for me to hear.

    My studio offers several different kinds of yoga, including Anusara, and my experience has been that the teachers there communicate well across disciplines. However, now that you bring it up, I’m not sure that I could claim they socialize well across disciplines. Also, as a student, I’m certainly not privy to some of what happens within the teacher community; it’s entirely possible that if some of the kinds of rifts you’re talking about exist, I simply wouldn’t know about it. So thank you for your thoughts.

    And I have to say: perhaps part of my reaction to the characterization of Anusara and the kula has been because I, personally, *do* consider the other teachers in this community part of what my teachers mean when they say “kula.” We are blessed, in my region, with many truly gifted, deeply dedicated yoga teachers across several different disciplines, and in my observation they have all, together, created a really vibrant yoga community here. So when I hear you say, But you all had a community! And we’re still here! … it speaks to me.

    Many blessings to you, as well, and I hope that many a smoothie and many a yoga conversation is in your future, as well as in mine.

  • Wake Up!!

    Brooke, Please read my comment to Michael Kaplin above. Also Doug Keller’s comments on the “Timeline” blog. The healing cannot begin until we can see clearly. I don’t agree with name calling but I can say from my experience that there are quite a few narcissistic people in the Anusara community. There are also many, many enablers. Was it addictive? You bet it was!!! I was addicted for years!

  • Brooke

    Wake Up,

    I’m so sorry for the experience you had.

    I did read your reply to Michael, and I’ve also read Doug Keller’s and Amy Ippoliti’s comments, and Bernadette Birney’s, and Sarah Faircloth’s, and Elena Brewer’s … the list goes on. If I’m any indication, a lot of Anusara students have been glued to the Web for a week, trying to figure out what to do, and how they feel.

    I know what it’s like to be deeply, terribly betrayed. And I have nothing all the wishes of peace and healing I can send to you, and to the people whose lives have been damaged in that way. Please know that I believe you, and that I didn’t intend to say anything that indicates that I don’t. If I did so, I apologize.

    The only thing I wanted to accomplish in my original comment was to speak for the community I’ve had experience with, which, to my great blessing, has been been full of amazing teachers and friends. I feel very lucky in that regard, right now.

    I wish you healing, though I know the road there may be … winding, perhaps? That was my experience with deep bodily betrayal. A winding road. But it does take you back to the light, one day.

  • Brooke Exposed

    Brooke, really you seem to have a lot bigger investment in all of this than a student would. Perhaps you are not just a student! Perhaps you have a lot more at stake if anusara goes down! Perhaps you are a certified teacher! Perhaps in your fifties! Perhaps your name begins with a B but is not Brooke! ¿Comprende?

  • another who knows

    Beautiful, Jenifer. My sentiments too. Time to practice inclusion again! Unity! Unique expression! I love it and am celebrating that there is one less yoga church out there today.
    Brooke, you also are honoring your teachers and your community. You found good people, a great studio, and a real community. It isn’t necessarily the anusara you fell in love with, but with the community you found there. In other words, if they decide to remove the word “anusara” from their studio, you will still attend, n’est ce pas?

  • Brooke

    Another,

    Thank you. And yes, you’re right — I loved Anusara, but it was because of the community through which I received it. That community is still here, and I’ll very definitely still be right there in class.

  • doctora

    In total agreement, Anusara came to town with the spirals and loops and stampeded over teachers that had been assiduously working for years. JF was the God, Dr. D B was the intellect pulling in so much money for workshops, lectures, trainings–Yoga was a way to go broke….and Dharma talks nonexistent, chanting.. no, meditating no.. just loops and spirals

  • Elizabeth

    Doctora, that’s too bad. My Anusara experience has always been filled with LOTS of teachers, with chanting (Hareesh and multiple yoga teachers, also Paul Muller-Ortega), with meditation (Bill Mahoney, Paul Muller-Ortega, Sally Kempton), with talks on taking yoga off the mat (the above plus others). The loops and spirals are only 1/5 of the Universal Principles, and those are mainly taught in asana, which is not the whole practice. I suppose it might depend on where you are located and who is running your local studio(s).

  • Brooke

    Elizabeth, that’s been my experience, as well; one of the things that drew me so strongly to my community was a four-week meditation course that was offered shortly after I joined.

  • Brooke

    Brooke Exposed,

    It must be useful to be able to attack people’s characters anonymously. I wouldn’t know, as I’ve consistently chosen to use my given name in these comments. You’re more than welcome to continue addressing me by that name, just as my friends, my family, and my parents — whose idea it was in the first place — do. You may also make up any other “B” name you like, and address me that way. It’s unlikely I’ll respond. But knock yourself out.

    I have said, truthfully and repeatedly, that I am a yoga student. I’m also thirty years old, a professional writer, a cat owner, and a soprano. However, I certainly can’t stop you from believing anything you like about me, including facts that directly contradict the claims I’ve just made. Perhaps I’m secretly a financial analyst? A dog lover? Maybe I really sing alto II … or, even better, maybe I don’t sing at all! Maybe I play trumpet! In a jazz band! Maybe I just identify as a soprano online in order to further my nefarious schemes to discredit sopranos everywhere!

    I’d ask if you were beginning to see the ridiculousness in this line of reasoning, but that’s probably a bit much to hope for, yes?

    I will, however, ask you about your experience with yoga, as I’ve never encountered yoga in which dedicated students were anything less than passionate about their discipline. As it’s clearly a stretch for you to believe that passionate, dedicated students could be interested in engaging in public dialogue about significant events in their yoga communities, then please, tell me: what style of yoga do you practice? I’d like to know so that I can make every possible effort to avoid it from now on.

    I do, of course, wish you blessings in your future yoga study, whatever discipline you hail from. May it lead you to your best and highest self. I do not believe that self is in evidence here, but I certainly wish you well on your journey toward it.

  • LMAO

    Brooke – I could hardly make it through your reply it is so full of double talk.
    Alot of people can mainline John Friend without meeting him. HE is Anusara. So if you are addicted to Anusara you are mainlining John Friend. Period. You are correct in that you don’t know enough about Yoga or its to have an intelligent conversation about it. So how would you know that Anusara is a system that worked? (It didn’t BTW). And it has been exposed as a fraudulent system. Mr. Friend himself has admitted as much. So whether it felt that way to you or not is irrelevant. It is created out of and based upon fraudulence and fraudulent intentions. Deal with it. Maybe you have been so deprogrammed out of your anger that you have become sadly complacent. Reclaim your anger Brooke – you have a right to it. You say that you don’t fall for narcissitic manipulators? ” Quote: I’ve had quite a bit of experience in my life outside of yoga with people, particularly men, in positions of power who — in very fallible, human ways — have misused that power. I do not easily fall sway to such people.” end quote. In very fallible human ways have misused that power. You must be kidding. Did I see someone post the word enablement here? That is gross enablement. So do you fall prey to them or not? You’ve had “quite a bit of experience with them” would suggest that you have fallen prey in the past , and quite often by your own account. ……. No one is calling your friends names Brooke and I think you are creating drama which is part of NPD. If you take a good look – it is your friend Michael who does the actual name calling (calling someone an ass). And if the many threads on YogaDork are analysed, it will show that it is the Kula who do the name calling and bullying (sic Halid Hatic for example, among many others). I won’t go on, although I easily could as your arguments is full of holes as any critical thinker activist, advocate, or law student can see. You need to put your critical thinking cap on. If you had it on at the beginning, you would have never taken one sip of that Kool Aid. Not trying to be hurtful – trying to wake you up. Its called tough love. Peace.

  • Brooke

    LMAO,

    I am quite awake, thank you. I kindly invite you to take your brand of awakening elsewhere.

    My original reply was to a post of Mr. Lawrence’s on this thread. In that reply, he specifically referred to ” the rest of the narcissistic Anusara community,” “a lot of little John Friends running around Anusara,” and “groupie followers.” That is name-calling. I then replied to shadier&shadier, who specifically named the Anusara community “sociopathic narcissists,” which is also name-calling.

    In response to you:

    “…as your arguments is full of holes as any critical thinker activist, advocate, or law student can see.”

    I’m assuming that you mean that my arguments *are* full of holes.

    Perhaps you’re right. From my perspective, I did not present any arguments. I made a request. That request was for a kinder and more civil discourse regarding members of the Anusara community. In specific, I requested that people try to refrain from gross generalization, as not all members of the Anusara community are alike. I certainly cannot make people accede to that request, but I can make it, as fully as I am able. That is all.

    As to having been “deprogrammed out of my anger:”

    You have no idea whether I am angry about what Mr. Friend has done or how angry I am, as I’ve intentionally kept my personal feelings about the controversy surrounding him out of this conversation. I think that in public discourse, it’s best to speak only to what is useful. My personal feelings on Mr. Friend are not useful fodder for this conversation. I also think it’s best to speak only to what you know. And you don’t know me.

    As to how I know whether Anusara is a yoga style that worked for me:

    I know that because I was in chronic post-car-accident pain for years, and now I’m not.

    That’s not because I’m in some way addicted to Mr. Friend. It’s because the language in Anusara surrounding alignment principles makes sense to me, so I’ve been able to more fully utilize them in my yoga practice. I was in pain. It’s considerably lessened. Therefore, the system worked for me. I’m sure others will, as well. The existence of other systems of yoga that will also work for me does not negate the efficacy of this one.

    If one day I wake up and realize that, because of some public acknowledgment someone has made about his personal wrongdoing, my neck hurts more, I’ll let you know. Until that day: Anusara worked for me.

  • LMAO

    Thank you for the lesson in grammer dear. Please take 10 points of my final grade, or, whatever floats your boat.
    I’m glad to see you getting a little fired up but I find it interesting and of note that you project your assumptions about shady’s anger and emotions but don’t like it much when someone makes comment about your own. anger. disowned or otherwise. wuz up wid dat young lady? double standards along with the double talk? Stewart Lawrence and Shadier as well as many hundreds of others on this site who comment are critiquing and making broad generalizations regarding the movement of Anusaraas a whole . Not “your friends” in particular. I am sure you have some very fine friends who are walking on water. Get over it. And in terms of your invitation to take my “brand” (hmm…) of awakening elsewhere – Nah. I’ll pass. I think I’ll keep my brand of awakening right here …. where I have just as much rights as you do to voice my opinions on this very hot topic. I have a vested interest. I fell in love with yoga 35 years ago and have been a devout practitioner ever since. If you think yoga means flowery language and everyone loves each other and doesn’t say shit if they have a mouthful of it …(not saying that YOU do, but many Anusara kula DO) …. then you have been sold a pile of DooDoo regarding what yoga is. Yoga is about deconstruction of the Ego. End of story. Challenge every thought you have ever had. And I shall do the same. Resist your resistance. Do not identify with nor accept anything as the truth. Do not believe your thoughts. Thoughts are nothing more then the servant of your ego. BUT having said that: when you meet Satan – stand up and call him by name LOUD and CLEAR. Do you hear me? And have no attachments to the outcome of your efforts. ;) Awaiting the one upmanship. This game is fun. Your turn.

  • Brooke

    LMAO,

    Oddly, it seems the blog won’t let me reply directly to your comment. Perhaps it’s decided the “game” is over, which is probably a higher wisdom than mine.

    It’s not commentary about my emotions I dislike. It’s assumptions. Shadier&shadier was explicit about her emotional state in her reply, so I commented on it. I haven’t been explicit about mine, at least in regard to Mr. Friend. So I objected to your assumptions regarding a subject my post hadn’t addressed.

    Yes, it’s clear that Mr. Lawrence and others are “critiquing and making broad generalizations about the movement of Anusara as a whole.” That’s precisely my point. Such generalizations, especially if made about the *characters* of many thousands of people, tend to be inaccurate. If I am a member of the Anusara community — which I am — and someone says, “members of the Anusara community are all narcisstic sociopaths,” that person, by default, has called me a narcissistic sociopath. That’s inaccurate. In this case, it’s also unkind.

    I’m not sure where you’re getting your assumption that I believe yoga means “flowery language and everyone loves each other and doesn’t say s**t…” I’ve said a few things about what yoga means to me in my posts: namely, a continued search to be drawn closer to the divine. There’s a section I love in the Bhagavad Gita in which Krishna describes the four kinds of religious seekers: “the distressed, the inquisitive, the desirer of wealth, and the one who is searching for knowledge of the Absolute.” (7:16). For me, yoga is a vehicle by which to be that last kind of seeker.

    I wish you continued blessings in your practice. A devoted practice of 35 years is quite a thing, indeed. I also wish you blessings with any continuation of this “game” you wish to pursue with someone else.

  • Brooke

    LMAO,

    A correction: I failed to read one of your statements in full. You said this:

    “If you think yoga means flowery language and everyone loves each other and doesn’t say shit if they have a mouthful of it …(not saying that YOU do, but many Anusara kula DO) …. then you have been sold a pile of DooDoo regarding what yoga is. ”

    Thank you for noting that that’s not necessarily what my understanding of yoga is. You’re right; it’s not. Again, it’s also not descriptive of my personal experience with my local Anusara community. I don’t know all 200,000-odd Anusara practitioners. Perhaps the ones you know feel this way about the meaning of yoga. The ones I know don’t.

  • karmafairy

    Brooke, grace has spoken through you.

    It has been very sad to me how people who care about yoga can be so mean to each other. Thank you

  • Brooke

    karmafairy,

    Thank you, so much. That’s just a wonderful thing to say to someone — many many thanks to you. You clearly have a gift for making people feel your care in just a few words; that’s something I very much admire.

  • Compassion to ALL

    Ms Shady–nasty, just plain ole nasty, shame on you. Sorry for your pain.
    I’m 67 & reside in a universe far from core of Anusara Inc

    May Light shine on all & Love permeate all……

  • shadier&shadier

    MsShady here: one word for y’all which covers your feedback/comments: enablement.

    you do brooke no favours. (Although somehow i sense she will wake up out of this as I found her response to be eloquent and heartfelt and well thought out. well done brooke. ;)

    and to quote Anusour: I am honored and blessed to offer my highest motivational offerings to you, my merry band. May the pure resplendent sunshine of love and grace reflect upon you bursting into a spiraling double rainbow of resplendent bliss which reveals your essential shiva-shakti quantum magickal tantric pulsating heart. 1000 lotus petal pranams to the divine essence in you all. (too funny).

  • Brooke

    shadier&shadier,

    Thank you for the compliment; I appreciate that, very much.

    Gently, I’d like to make one more, brief, stab at my point: I don’t need to “wake up out of this.” I am not, and have never been, under any sort of spell. Perhaps that kind of awakening is what is happening, brutally, to many members of the Anusara community; it’s simply not what’s happening to me. I wasn’t ever in this for Mr. Friend. I found a style of yoga that speaks to me, and I practiced it, with love — that is all. I think there are many people out there like me. That’s why I object to the kind of mass generalization in Mr. Lawrence’s and your rhetoric about the Anusara community — because those characterizations don’t apply to me, or to many people in my personal community.

    However, I sense your true concern, here, and I thank you for it.

  • shadier&shadier

    Understood. But allow me to invite you to explore the possibility that things look very different from outside the fishbowl. Esp. for those of us who explored Anusara from an educated and experienced perspective and rejected it out of hand as being gross commercialism, profiteering, and exploitation of the innocent.
    Liminality & Communitas is an interesting read by Victor Turner. (Social Anthropology).
    You can think of these comments (mine, Stewart Lawrence, LMAO, etc.) as being akin to a mother bear protecting her cubs. Its instinctual. And authentic. We come as much from our hearts as you do from yours and we are not trying to hurt you – we actually believe that by presenting alternative viewpoints – you (the collective you) may shift you consciousness and awareness and look with different eyes. Shift does happen. :) The strongest communities are created out of unity in diversity. We can only get there by communication and thru exchanging a multiplicity of viewpoints. If that process gets heated, as it does, then so be it. Om Tat Sat. Each of us is simply a unique facet of the divine having an experience. The divine likes to have as many different experiences as possible – and contrasts are edge stretching. Stretch your edges. That is yoga. In so many ways that extends well beyond the mat. (If you have injuries from a car wreck you may enjoy exploring some Iyengar yoga. Anusara is Iyengar yoga cleverly branded and repackaged). Just saying.)

  • Brooke

    shadier,

    I hear you. And thank you for reply; I feel I hear you more clearly now than I did before.

    “You can think of these comments … as being akin to a mother bear protecting her cubs. Its instinctual. And authentic. We come as much from our hearts as you do from yours and we are not trying to hurt you – we actually believe that by presenting alternative viewpoints – you (the collective you) may shift you consciousness and awareness and look with different eyes. Shift does happen.”

    I can sympathize with that motivation. And I do believe you when you say your protective instinct is deep and authentic.

    What I’d like to invite you to consider in return, though, is that it is difficult to hear the authenticity of a person’s intentions when his or her rhetoric comes off as cruel. Heated is one thing — emotions are clearly running very, very high, here, and I think that fact speaks well of this community. Yogis and yogins care deeply about their practice, and that’s good. So I have no problem with heated discourse born of a wellspring of deep care. What I have a problem with is vitriol. And no matter how genuine your care is — and, truly, I believe you when you say that it is — I cannot hear that care in your comments, or anyone’s, if those comments include sweeping, unkind generalizations. To use a metaphor similar to yours: it’s akin to a child trying to hear the love in her mother’s voice when her mother is yelling at her that she’s an idiot.

    Do you see what I mean?

    I think that unkindness really stands in the way of the kind of communication you talk about, here — the kind of communication that does invite a multiplicity of viewpoints, and by airing them creates a deeper unity. I am glad to hear you invite that kind of communication, and I agree with you that it’s important.

    I agree with this statement more than I agree with any other comment of yours I’ve read so far:

    “Each of us is simply a unique facet of the divine having an experience. The divine likes to have as many different experiences as possible – and contrasts are edge stretching.”

    Yes. Absolutely. I could not agree with you more. So here’s to stretching edges. And here’s to us honoring, as much as we are able, that little piece of the divine we encounter when we encounter each other.

  • shadier&shadier

    well said and duely noted. beautiful.
    i am glad we have taken this journey of discovery together.
    I am trying to understand how you heard vitriole – and it probably sounds lame at this point to say none was actually intended. I totally own up that I have been told many times in my life that I can be harsh and insensitive. But I can tell you that is an adaptive trait, borne out of a sense of hyper-sensitivity and vigilace towards “justice”. Or my sense of “justice”. There is much angst between “what is” vs. “what should be”. (see Aspergers Syndrome ). In the “real world” I am a human rights activist and as such, have come up against some incredibly harsh energies. Energies that i would not hestitate to call evil –IE. coming from a sense of gross entitlement, lack of accountability or responsibility, and hidden agendas that exploit the vulnerable. So — I suppose that I have been triggered by these events and exposes regarding Anusara – which have simply validated the concerns I have had all along. Many people may just shrug it off ; I actually feel relieved by expressing my point of view and it is a form of cathartic release. I suppose that is self-indulgent in a way — but — there is a purpose under heaven for these forums and to lay it all down on the table in an open/transparent fashion has supreme value. Look at how far you and I have come together friend. :)
    Most of my work has been in the area of special needs children and women’s rights. So perhaps my tone is an adaptive thing and I don’t realize how I am “coming off”. I focus on the message I want to get across and don’t edit. So … if the message is not being heard because of a harshness of tone, then i must relook at my presentation and i thank you for your fortitiude and tenacity to stay at it and work through the polarities bewteen us. :) Sometimes the tone is much needed and necessary. In other arenas. It is, very difficult, to know how our words are being received “online” . So — my apologies. No offence meant. And, in the world of the good spirit, I’m enjoying a nice smoothie with you right now and sending you a big smile.

  • Brooke

    shadier,

    What a lovely journey this has been; thank you, as well, for sticking with it. And, more importantly, thank you very much for your vital, necessary advocacy. That work is so good, and so important, and I appreciate more than I can say those of you who have committed your life to it. I do understand what you’re saying about tone. In order to raise your voice against injustice, you have to learn to raise it ferociously, and loudly, and not give up. Thank you for being willing to have that kind of voice.

    I’m packing right now to leave for a family vacation; what a wonderful note to leave on.

    I raise my smoothie to you! ;)

    And in all your continued work on behalf of those whose voices aren’t being heard — all the wishes of strength and grace I can send your way.

  • shadier&shadier

    For Brooke: I’ve been thinking of this all afternoon:
    ” To use a metaphor similar to yours: it’s akin to a child trying to hear the love in her mother’s voice when her mother is yelling at her that she’s an idiot. ”
    Something I needed to hear and something I am most grateful for. You have given me a valuable gift.
    Thank you Brooke. Your children, or future children, are well blessed.

  • Brooke

    Oh, my goodness…

    Shadier, I wish you could see the grin on my face right now. That was just such a beautiful thing to say to me — and timely, as well. Thank you so very much. I don’t think I worry about anything right now more than I worry about motherhood, and doing it … right, I suppose. Thank you, more than I can say.

  • shadier&shadier

    :)

    i hope we cross paths someday brooke.
    i like you.

  • Brooke

    Very much likewise, Shady!

    I make a mean smoothie. Just sayin’.

  • HJCOTTON

    The JF and Anusara scandals are turning out to be like a Mexican telenovels with a new episode everyday. The thing that amazed me the most about this saga is why JF’s misdeeds were kept in the dark and suddenly became public knowledge.

  • Denise

    Translation: getting out of the hot kitchen in hopes that people’s memories are short and their forgiveness is long.

  • mirror

    Oh how strong and bright the mirror shines in those that are public figures like John. This is no different than ridiculing Britney Spears, Obama, etc. I sense so much bitter jealousy in all your negative comments about Anusara, it’s sad and pathetic. I’m not defending John Friend, but really stop denying your own narcissism, it’s frighteningly small minded. The Anusara yoga method changed my life for the better and I am living my own dream now, nothing will ever take this away from me. I am human and so is John. He goes big in life, so he also failed big. I would rather go big and fail big than stay small and fail small. People will recover and move on, the dance of creation and destruction never ceases. It is eternal and it is us. He is paying his karmic debt and whether he knows it or not he is getting his and you are all getting yours. Face it with grace and look in the damn mirror and make peace with what you see!! Yeesh!!

  • Yoga Chick

    “He goes big in life, so he also failed big. I would rather go big and fail big than stay small and fail small.”

    Did you actually just write that? Really? Oh sweet child, you have a whole lot of learning to do…

  • mirror

    Then please teach me how to not ever make mistakes, take the seat of the teacher oh wise one.

  • chan

    yogaspeak is sooooooo auspiciously exhausting.

  • chan

    his actions were kept in the dark because he was their meal ticket, duh. don’t bite the hand that feeds you until you have hard evidence that you can expose anonymously on the internet.

  • lola

    As I read all of the comments about all of these articles I wonder how much yoga most of you even do. I am not even a serious practitioner of any particular style, but from a simple humanity point of view; Does it really feel that good to feel so happy and sanctimonious about the misery/sadness/loss of others? To name call and ridicule? It kind of baffles me and makes me think that if this is a forum of yoga people then the human race is screwed.

  • Reality Check

    You need to be disabused of the notion that yoga people are somehow fundamentally different from other people. They are not. They have the same problems and issues that everyone else does, including abuses of power and sexual impropriety. Yoga may make you a better person than you used to be, but it does not make you better than the rest of the human race because yoga cannot make you something other than a human being. Your practice will not change the world; it will only change how you interact with it. There are some things about you that cannot and will not change. Changing what you can, accepting that which you can’t, and trying to determine the difference between the two is the essence of any yoga practice.

  • another who knows

    I hope you are okay with me quoting you on my facebook page because this comment, to me, is sheer genius. Thank you for putting it so eloquently.

  • Shaktidelmar

    Thank you so much, Brooke, for your comment. Civility has been missing in Mr. Lawrence’s discourse from the beginning (as it is in so much of American journalism today). Snarky sound bites serve to cheapen and polarize complex issues, and this is no exception. Lawrence waves his own yoga credentials around like a flag but his general sarcasm, flippancy, and bullying approach betoken the attitude of a man who needs to spend FAR more time on the mat!

  • Brooke

    Thank you very much for your support, Shaktidelmar. Civility is precisely the word. I know emotions are running high, across the board, but … man. It’s a bit vicious out there.

  • Giovanni Amico

    Thank you so much, Shaktidelmar, for your comment. Civility has been missing in Ms. brookes discourse from the beginning (as it is in so much of Anusara journalism today). Smoky, pablumy sound bites serve to cheapen and polarize complex issues, and this is no exception. Brooke waves her own yoga credential around like an unfurled flag, but her general superiority, condescension and plaintive approach betoken the attitude of a little girl who needed to spend FAR less time whining to daddy for her every whim. Stick that in your hookah and smoke it, caterpillar.

  • Brooke

    Giovanni,

    Which credentials, exactly, am I waving?

    I have stated repeatedly that I am a yoga student. That is all. The experience I speak from is that of my own practice, only. I’ve been quite clear on that point.

  • Giovanni Amico

    “I am quite awake, thank you. ”
    I tell you what , After you have been practicing for 20 years, then I will be interested in your narcissistic views on Yoga

  • Brooke

    Giovanni,

    What an odd thing to say.

  • karmafairy

    please stop being mean

  • Ben

    I applaud Yogadork for breaking this story. I hate that she was vilified by the Anusara community for the having the guts to post the abuses that were going on for too long. It just feels like Brooke and the others like her are part of the complacency that enabled this to happen in the first place by placing themselves above the fray. There is too much group speak/mind in the yoga world. It takes courage to speak out and not go with the kula. This is where Anusara failed. And it is okay to be angry about what John and his kula did to yoga because of this. Giving yoga a black eye and causing the discord among yogi that is so obvious in this thread. Bottom line for me is that, as a now ex-Anusara student, I will not practice in any Anusara branded studios nor practice with teachers who is still credentialed thorough Anusara. I applaud Willow Street Yoga to disavowed their association with this brand of yoga. There is too much good yoga out there without having to support the stink that has risen out of the rapidly decaying Anusara corspe.

  • HY

    It’s not only about Anusara, although having a centralised guru surely helps to accelerate the process of rotting. It’s the whole of commercialised yoga that is wrong and twisted.
    Have a read of this article… so many things wrong even on the surface. And if you delve a little deeper into biographies, compromises and marketing it becomes even murkier.
    http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/02/whos-coming-with-me-to-yoga-journal-conference/

    I guess the best choice is to stick to my vanilla hatha classes and a few books by the likes of Desikachar or Lasater. Or are/were they implicated in something too? Sigh…

  • Elizabeth

    Be careful when you say the “Anusara community” did anything (“villified YogaDork”). I consider myself part of the Anusara community–studied with a dozen or more teachers, took teacher training and immersions and workshops–and I do not villify YogaDork. In fact, I am rather a big fan, and continue to sport my #yogadork shirts. I am also a fan of Doug Keller’s work, Rod Stryker’s new book, chocolate, zip-lining, and vegan sushi.

    I haven’t decided how I’m going forward, except that I will continue to apply the five steps of the Universal Principles of Alignment to each asana I practice, as I find those very useful. I will continue to study with teachers who rock my socks off, regardless of their official style of yoga (as I have always done this, why change now?).

  • TCB

    With respect to the sincerity of this statement, the following word cloud of the letter, with relative word sizes based on frequency of occurrence, suggests that he has no self awareness or remorse or interest in anything other than repeating the word “Anusara” over and over again. Good luck finding an “I” as apparently it was the actions and not the man that caused all of this trouble.
    http://www.wordle.net/show/wrdl/4866533/Anusara_-_John_Friend_letter

  • Chris

    Dear YD Editor :

    Can we let go of this Anusara thingy already ?

    We can dissect this Anusara non-event till the cows come home to the Gau-shala, but remember, Patanjali ain’t never heard of John Friend or of Anusara.

    Let’s all us Yogis just stick to the real thing, Patanjali Yoga, because this alone is Yoga. This Yoga, alone, has been selflessly compiled by the ancient Hindu sage, Rishi Patanjali, for the greater good of all mankind, without any ulterior motive, whatsoever !

    All the other trendy, hyphenated-Yogas are just so many pretenders to the throne. Surely, we Yogis can separate the grain from the chaff !

  • Patanjali's Ghost

    If you deify me, you have not understood me. I described a path, I did not create the path. Stop interpreting me through your Westernized, liberal filter, and realize I was trying to describe things that transcend your culturally-bound understanding. Stop obsessing about me and trying to use me as an authority to impose on others. Only then will you begin to understand what I wrote.

  • Chris

    Follow Rishi Patanjali !

    That’s Yoga, and that, alone, is Yoga.

    All the other hyphenated-Yogas are just so much chaff, blowing in the wind !

  • TemplePriestess

    I’m gonna wanna see some evidence. I ain’t got no time for ass-talkers with all their dainty ideas about heavenly booty. I don’t wanna hear a lot of fancy sermons and poems and clever guesswork. I want some facts. Anyone sayin’ they know somethin’ is sayin’ they got the most precious commodity to be found on such a ship. they got some knowledge, and if they say they got it, I’m gonna wanna see it. and if they can’t produce it, I’m gonna take that
    hard and I’m gonna wanna chuck ‘em outta my damn boat, maybe do some keel-haulin’. Y’all know what keel-haulin’ is? It means death to the asstalkers. They ever tell you that in your little singsang circle-jerks?”
    Nervous laughter ripples through the bleachers.
    “But they ain’t got no knowledge,” she continues, “that’s what I
    learned in my life, that’s what I know that y’all don’t. There ain’t no knowledge to be had. All they got is tranquilizers, which is all most folks want anyway. This little ship we’re talkin’ about is full of every kind of crafty drug pusher sellin’ every kind of painkiller you can imagine, and business is always good because were all a bunch of strung out junkies lookin’ for our next fix. Y’all hear me in the back row? We gotta stay doped up. We’re all just lookin’ for a pill we can swallow, something that’ll take the edge off. dull the senses. and make everything look all soft and rosy all the time.
    Once you’re hooked. it’s damn tough to kick. Self-deceit is the hardest habit to break cuz it tells us we ain’t self-deceived.”
    She pauses and drinks.
    “So how do we break this habit,” asks the girl who started this with her satsang question.
    “Easy Brett answers. You just gotta do two things. First, you gotta
    know you’re hooked. I don’t mean know it like you know it now, like an idea you heard someone say. I mean you gotta know it complete. like in every fiber of your being. like every thought is darkened by it. like every sight and taste and smell is poisoned by it. You gotta know it like a fiery pain. Y’all know what pain is?”
    No one is laughing now.
    “Then, once you get to that point.’ she says as she uses the heel of her boot to draw a deep line in the sand between herself and the bleachers. “the next thing you do is draw a line. just like Mr. McKenna keeps tellin’ you.
    That’s how it’s gotta happen You draw a line. You make a stand. You say, that’s it, I’ve had enough. This is as far as I go till this shit starts makin’ some sense. And you mean it with your whole life and being. You put it all on that line. Until you do that, you ain’t done nothin. You’re just goin’ along to get along.”

  • shadier&shadier

    http://youtu.be/AmQPwgV-WbQ

    its the damndest thing ain’t it?

  • I am a yoga teacher/studio owner in theWoodlands TX. The same community where John Friend lives. I started studying yoga with John back in about ’86-87 at the local YMCA. Then it was eclectic yoga then Iyengar,before Anusara. I have known John way longer than most in the yoga community. I love John dearly but I know he is not perfect.
    Be of good cheer my fellow yogis and yoginis
    This too will pass. This is nonsense. It has nothing to do with Moksha ( liberation) the true purpose of Yoga You can still cultivate an unending,undying Love for the Supreme Glory, the Supreme Beauty. So you have been worshipping a false god. Now you are free from it. It happens. I still worship false gods myself from time to time.This is how we learn. Fortuneately for us God forgives. Even now.
    Sinerely Sam Dillon

  • mirror

    Bravo, thank you for the level headed words!!

  • Doug

    Samadhi Sam, you are and always will be a jewel!

  • Wellspring
  • Me

    Well, I am slowing down on the freeway to gawk at the accident over there. Yes, it is a sad state of my affairs since I am probably doing it out of Jealousness and curiousiness. As I glance at the other gawkers and those in the crash and the crash friends , I realize we are all in it together. So Mr Lawrence I appreciate your being the big hard hitting reporter but I think Brooke is right in the sense that those in the accident were just going about there lives. Maybe some were enablers of they guy, conscious or not.

    I am now realizing Me and my style of Yoga was jealous of their style, well maybe not a lot but enough to be jealous. I am not privy to any real facts other than the crash happened. I hope the road way clears and we all get back to our lives, at the same time learning our lessons. So, the lesson for me is why I am gawking. As I gawk I may cause a secondary road side crash. So I am going to end my gawking and wish all the best, even JF.

  • Anita

    Here in India, we haven’t heard of anything called Anusara Yoga.

    We don’t know who John Friend is, either.

    We don’t really understand what the commotion is all about.

    We are busy doing Yoga, the Yoga described in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. You guys should give it a try, sometime. It’s 5000 years old, and it works — really well.

  • Yoga Chick

    Anita, I think I have a girl crush on you for writing that. Thank you!

  • Maureen Clyne

    One wonders at the source of LMAO’s anger and bitterness. Why the need to call Anusara teachers and students names? Why the mean-spirited judgment and verbal abuse?
    I have studied with John since 1999. In the early days, many of us came from other forms of yoga, some with injuries from bad teaching and bad alignment. We found John’s alignment principles and positive attitude to be inspiring and healing. I loved the sense of community and the fact that John makes yoga fun. The alignment principles work – I teach therapeutic yoga and have seen them change people’s bodies and their lives.
    As Anusara grew, so did the circle of groupies. I had mixed feelings about the developing “scene” and cliques. I did my best to tune out the ever increasing competition for John’s attention and approval, and instead focused on John’s teachings and my own practice.
    I left Anusara in 2007 for many of the same reasons that the senior teachers who are resigning cite today; the increased competition and circus-like atmosphere, the growing rigidity of the philosophical teachings, and John’s rock star status. I will say that no matter how popular he became, John always had time to answer my questions and emails.
    At the time I had no idea about the inappropriate behavior; I don’t even know if it was going on back then. The business issues didn’t affect me much, since I have yet to produce any CDs, DVDs, books, et. al. that would have been subject to John’s approval.
    John is an inspiring and uplifting teacher who makes yoga fun. In every workshop I managed to get into poses that I never thought possible for me. Yes sometimes the language became a bit woo-woo, but so what? What yoga teacher doesn’t have woo-woo moments?
    I tell my students that until we become enlightened, we are all just flawed human beings. Are John’s transgressions an egregious betrayal of trust in his position as a leader and a teacher? Absolutely. Is the financial fraud of his employees reprehensible? No question. Are the affairs and sexual acts icky? Eeewww. Of course. Does all of this totally contradict John’s teachings? Yes.
    Even though I resigned five years ago, I feel a profound sense of sadness and loss right now.
    I feel lucky to have known and studied with John before the huge expansion of Anusara, when he was still accessible in a healthy way. No matter what, I will always honor John as my primary teacher.
    As for LMAO – judge not lest ye be judged.

  • Pavanatanaya

    “Would you like to come to my Kula and see my Broad generalizations, or shall we stay here and let me objectify you”~John Friend

  • Brooke

    Maureen, thank you. This is so clear, and such a good perspective to hear, and I hear a lot of what I feel in it.

  • Marueen Clyne

    Maureen has promoted over 40 kirtans, workshops and special events for nationally and internationally renowned Kirtan wallahs and yoga masters. Artists and teachers include Krishna Das, Jai Uttal, Wah!, David Newman/Durga Das, Sharon Salzberg, Sharon Gannon, Keshavacharya Das, Benjy and Heather Wertheimer and more.

    Bravo… Bravo … Bravo!

    “I am absolutely inspired by your teaching. The discussions we’ve had have changed everything about the way I practice asanas and think about yoga!” – student of Maureen Clyne. (name?)

    Blatently __________________.

  • Maureen Clyne

    And your point is?

  • Jade

    Good riddance to bad rubbish.

    Upper-Middle class white North Americans seem to be the most messed up, neurotic people I’ve ever encountered in my life. You don’t see stuff like this happening in any other ethnic community, you don’t see this in Australia, or South America, Europe or Asia and you certainly don’t see the development of trends like guru-worshipping, personal couch, life enhancers.

    It’s all slick marketing to make you feel like you’re inadequate unless you buy this coconut water, wear these lululemon shorts, do yoga at that school with this teacher, do cleanses following this book, buy organic at that store, see this talk with Eckhart, go to that signing with Deepak, go on this retreat at that bio- diverse country, buy this chanting CD, sleep with that crystal near your head, use this recycled toilet paper and use that Divacup. etc.etc.etc If someone could come up with a way to savvy enough way market horse shit and make use of it as a moisturizer and sell it at lululemon, no doubt someone would fall for it.

    You’ve been had.

    You know what? If you were dumb enough to fall for the new-age speak and phoney high-fiving, back slapping BS known as Anusara and dumb enough to fall for any cult of personality which promises you spiritual enlightenment AND a crapload of cash, then don’t be surprised when this yoga juggernaut starts to teeter and eventually falls on you.

  • Giovanni Amico

    HEY all yooz Ladies what is disinchanted witt John Friend, come join my TantrAshram and I’ll show yooz my divine nature.
    Allz it’ll costya is more dan yooz can afford and of course, your digninty.
    Sincerely,
    Giovanni Amico

  • Maureen Clyne

    Dear Jade: Humans have been “messed up and neurotic” to one degree or another since time began. To say that “this stuff” doesn’t go on in other ethnic groups suggsts a bit of naivete. “This stuff” goes on in one format or another in every nationality, ethnic group, community, religion, spiritual tradition, family, individual and has done so since time began. Many Americans like to idealize other cultures as being pure; right now those who practice yoga often idealize all Indians and Indian culture as being full of peace, ahimsa, compassion and enlightenment with no problems or conflict. This I believe comes from focusing on what the spiritual texts teach as opposed to what actually happens on the ground in real life. Let’s look at the violent hatred between right wing Hindus and Muslims for example. They’ve been killing each other for centuries (please see ongoing conflict over Rama’s purported birthplace in Ayodhya, the bombing of trains in Gujarat by radical Hindus, the attack in Mumbai, etc.).
    In fact “this stuff” is often reflected in various ancient mythologies. Look at the Indian deities for example: they are constantly screwing up, acting out the same neuroses, foibles and follies as us. Same thing with the Greek gods and goddesses. These myths are actually ways for us to talk about “this stuff.”
    Everybody falls for some sort of philosophy, even anti-capitalism, anti-materialism, anti-Lululemon, anti-Anusara, et. al. It’s what gets us through life. Falling for anything – no matter what it is – to the extreme sets up an “us versus them” situation in which the other group become an “other” that is easy to demonize and project all of our dissatisfactions onto.

  • David D

    What a wonderful response. Spot on. Bravo!

  • Jade

    Maureen,
    True on all counts.
    However, only Americans/Canadians/maybe Brits and Germans and particularly white, upper middle class Americans, have elevated the projection of internal dissatisfaction to an art form which primarily involves economics and consumerism. John Friend saw an opportunity and took it and exploited it.

    Yoga exists all over the world, yet the culture of yoga is quite distinct from place to place and country to country. And for your information, I am Indian so I know the Ayodhya mosque situation all too well. Furthermore I speak Hindi and Urdu just as well as I speak English and Spanish and have members of my family who are Indologists. Please don’t preach about aspects of Indian culture or history or religion to me.

    I am generalizing because I have many American friends who I love dearly who are not like this, but some Americans idealize other cultures because you don’t have one aside that of consuming. Your traditional churches are empty, your family units are barely existing and your insistence of individualism born out of your socio-economic system has transformed your sense of personal value by what you have and how much you have of it as opposed to the quality and integrity of the relationships around you. Is it a wonder there’s some kind of void which the yoga kula artificially fills in?

    The late Professor Edward Said in his seminal work “Orientalism” asserted that the Euro-centric colonial experience had among other things created two dynamics, either not understanding the “Native” culture and the demonizing it or being fascinated by aspects of it because it filled in or addressed needs which were clearly absent in the “Conquering” culture. This Americanized version of yoga bears very little resemblance to what’s happening in other countries, this franchising, this commodification etc. At the same time, it’s incorporating aspects which already exist in the American psyche like the hyper-competitiveness, the puritanical streak, the marketing.

    I’m sorry to say but if you think that by joining Anusara (or Kripalu or Bikram ), it will somehow solve your obsession with abundance and cure whatever internal dysfunction you might have, you are sorely mistaken.

  • Maureen Clyne

    Goah Jade, I’m curious to know what makes you accuse me
    Of having an obsession with “abundance” or that I joined Anusara to resolve some internal dissatisfaction. You don’t eve know me much less what my internal dissatisfactions are. That’s a pretty big – and I might add – assumption to make about me or anyone else. As for my motivation for studying with John: as I mention above , at the time I found him to be an inspiring teacher and that the universal principles work for me and for my students. Nothing more and nothing less.
    So please don’t put words or “obsessions” in my mouth.

  • LMAO

    Goah Maureen,
    I’m curious to know what makes you accuse me of being angry and bitter?
    You wonder about the source of my anger and bitterness … You ask about my need to call Anusara teachers and students names … (really – did I really do “that” or is that just your mirror’d perception) … and comment on mymean-spirited judgments and verbal abuse … (because my comments don’t aggree with your standpoint) ….
    Goah Maureen! You don’t even know me much less my state of mind. Those are pretty big assumptions you make (about me or anyone else).
    More hyppocrisy and more double standards. Yawn.
    Snappy Happy wants you to wake up Maureen – youz ain’t walking your talk.

  • LMAO

    yeah — so please Maureen — don’t assign attributes to me or paint me with a paintbrush that serves only your own agenda. You don’t know me Maureen. What I see here is that you don’t like it when people disagree with you do you Maureen? Me … or Jade … or …. ????
    So – judge not lest ye be judged. Maureen.

  • Giovanni Amico

    Talk walking aint what Anus Sore Yoga tm. ia about LMAO. What these women need (The Hot Ones Anyway) is a dose of Giovanni Amico’s patented Bliss Oil. Guaranteed to stimulate the flow of prana (read $$$). Withing Giovanni’s patented system, young ( hot) women, Married or not, will submit to my Charm (read$$$). If I personally find them Uh!!! In Alignment, I may grant them a ‘private entrance to my ‘Deeper Teachings… Heh Heh Heh!!!
    Absolutely anyone may be eligible to join ( provided they are hot and female, and can keep a secret) JOIN NOW

  • Jade

    Wow Maureen, you really have a way of putting words in other people’s mouths or have a way of not reading them correctly at all.
    Not once did I accuse you personally of having an obsession with abundance. Not once did I assume to know what your internal dissatisfactions are (and quite frankly, nor do I care).
    I was describing a general tendency in certain quarters in North American society, specifically some people in the yoga community and those who fall for them. But hey if you want to project yourself into that group and feel you fill the aforementioned description, go right ahead, no one is stopping you.
    Testy, are we?

  • SnappyHappy LMAO

    IN ALL THE WORLD, there is nothing quite so impenetrable as a human mind snapped shut with bliss. No call to reason, no emotional appeal can get through its armor of self-proclaimed joy.
    We talked with dozens of individuals in this state of mind: cult members, group therapy graduates, born-again Christians, some Transcendental Meditators. After a while, it seemed very much like dancing to a broken record. We would ask a question, and the individual would spin round and round in a circle of dogma. If we tried to interrupt, he or she would simply pick right up again or go back to the beginning and start over.
    Soon we began to realize that what we were watching went much deeper. These people were not simply incapable of carrying on a genuine conversation, they were completely mired in their unthinking, unfeeling, uncomprehending states. Whether cloistered in cults or passing blindly through the world, they were impervious to the pain of parents, spouses, friends and lovers. How do you reach such people? Can they be made to think and feel again? Is there any way to reunite them with their former personalities and the world around them?
    Read more: http://www.rickross.com/reference/deprogramming/deprogramming7.html

  • maurice

    I can’t believe JF is going into hiding. It seems like the last thing a responsible leader would do.

  • Yoga Chick

    But exactly what an irresponsible one would.

  • Sadhana

    Can anyone in the now comment why so many teachers are resigning now? These are the same teachers who did not resign following JF’s admission of guilt. What has changed now?

    Is it because
    a) the organization will cease to exist and the license is useless
    b) JFs teaching in Miami
    c) Amy Ippoliti’s letter and a contemplation of their future under Anusara, Inc
    d) something else

  • satya

    something else…as you will see shortly.

  • Sadhana

    Somehow it seems to me that the ranks have closed once again. Waiting for truth and light.

  • miami.vice

    what happened in miami?

  • Sadhana

    The committee of teachers was highly opposed to his teaching in Miami but he went ahead and did so anyway. That somehow seems to have triggered a spate of resignations.

  • ThePathWhisperer

    ThePathWhisperer February 14, 2012 at 10:36 am
    Sociopaths are superlative actors and their ability to perform as needed to manipulate their “victims” is always deserving of an Oscar. There is never anything genuine nor sincere except their desire to exploit the situation based on their own agenda.
    Anyone who has ever been involved with one or worked for one knows this. It can take YEARS for people who have fallen under the spell of the sociopath to wake up and smell the coffee burning and that is often because those who fall under their spell tend to be needy and narcissistic therefore, easy and fair game.
    The Anusara community and much of the “kula” has been drunk on the cool-aid of the sociopath known as JohnFriend (known “as” cuz no one really know the truth of who he “is” – only the false persona he presents to to world) for a long time. It has created a deep samskara in them, both individually and collectively. They feed off of each other in their mass delusion and addiciton to him and how he feeds thier own narcissistic ego. What kind of people are attracted to socipaths? what is it in them that craved the cool-aid to begin with? Because not everyone IS and not everyone “bought” the scam, and that is obvious from all the many postings over the last week. SO why do some people buy it and some people see through it? That is what the Kula should be examining with in themselves otherwise they are fair game to continually be manipulated and/or fall for the next scam and, scam artist.
    We have seen much evidence that there are high degrees of narcissism permeating the Anusara “industry” over the last week and here is some reading material that is illuminative regarding the interplay of social dynamic and this “cultish” organization and how their psychology works “both ways”; from HE to We and from We to HE…… http://pathwhisperer.wordpress.com/2011/06/05/search-are-narcissists-attracted-to-sociopaths/

    REPLY

  • Hello. I’m not sure if the author of the above comment meant to pass himself/herself off as myself, but I wish to state for the record that I did not write that comment. I am not familiar with this organization or its personalities, so obviously cannot draw any conclusions.

    However, if anyone feels anything in my blog may apply or has any questions for any reason please feel free to leave comments.

  • ThePathWhisperer

    Hey Pathwhisperer: not intended to be passed off AS you. It was intended to be a directive TO you …. :) Sorry for any misunderstanding/miscommunication.
    See the sentence : ” here is some reading material that is illuminative ” …. Thanks for sharing.

  • SQR

    First World problems.

  • SQR

    Also reminds me of the climate change “debate”… where everyone’s views are entrenched and nobody is capable of changing their mind. Right, then… carry on…

  • From a “regular joe” practitioner who might also have some thoughts about what this all means for them. My comments are in my blog posting today called “A Jobs And A Friend”. http://www.sonofapostman.com (Son of a Postman)

  • TONY

    To me what is SO troubling about the down fall of JF, is for years , his inter circle had to know what he is was up to. My questions is why DID THE ANUSARA COUNCIL NEVER EXPOSE what is he was doing over the years and just start to resign when they know that YogaDora was going expose the really JF? The Anusara council should take full RESPONSIBILITY , for the actions of JF, not just sweep it under the rug or look the other way. Was JF their a meal ticket ?

  • Cathy

    Tony, it’s not just JF and the Anusara community who do this. It’s yoga studios who continue to employ charismatic instructors because they have a following and bring in cash. It’s the followers and groupies who enable this sort of behavior and look the other way.
    No one seems to have any backbone and stand up and say, “Yo, this is wrong, please stop this because you’re hurting people” and no one wants to seem as coming across as moralistic or old-fashioned and these narcissistic types seem to always fall in between the cracks and get away with it.

  • HJCOTTON

    I agree with you. I have been practicing for 15 years and until today cannot subscribe to any particular school of yoga. Every school of yoga has their own tyrants. I have to admit that yogis in the anusara system brooke no dissent and have a sort of tunnel vision.. They think their system is the best. The much touted UPAs are present in one form or another in all yoga schools.

  • mryoga

    mryoga.com

    omTatSat

  • Morris

    From reading the letters of the teachers who have resigned (Amy Ippolliti) the Anusara committee doesn’t seem capable of affecting any sort of meaningful reform. It just gives cover to ultimately let John do whatever he wants to do.
    The problem with Anusara Inc is that it has grown way beyond an elite training program into a cult following. It really doesn’t need a figurehead like John Friend to be effective.

  • subduedjoy

    I’m glad I never got caught up in becoming Anusara certified. The expense as well as John’s cult-like leadership turned me off. I really don’t understand why people join such organizations. Why are they willing to go so such lengths to get recognition from others? Why can’t they be satisfied with recognition from themselves? After all, isn’t that what yoga is all about? Looking inward, living life correctly, and listening to the self?

  • TONY

    Thank you, for your comments but I still can not imagine that , teacherS, workerS , studentS , adviserS, council memberS etc….who had interaction with JF did not speak out many years ago concerning his ALLEGED illegal active and ALLEGED being immoral . Sounds like his many followers would drink not ONE glass of Kool-AID but Two glasses of KOOL-AID.

  • morris

    Its not a stretch to believe anyone who crosses John or his operations is dealt with severely. We have seen this from some of his ex teaches commentary. A culture of fear and intimidation prevented people from initially speaking up. Now that the flood gates are open people people feel safe to express their thoughts.
    Kudos to those who first shed light on the guru and his shady business.

  • Sam

    A lot of those who were aware of JFs actions run studios, offer immersions and tranings and depend on their association with Anusara for their livelihoods. For several, this is the first and only school of yoga they are acquainted with.

    For a lot of the teachers who are lower in the hierarchy and do not make any ‘products’, I am guessing these allegations had not percolate down to them till recent events.

  • Jewels

    Tony, there is a HUGE accountability problem in yoga right now and this JF and Anusara story just highlights the underlying problem.
    We had a grabby instructor for a while at the studio I used to go to. A few complaints got in because he’s make clients sit in the corner if they came in a minute late or humiliate them in front of the class because they were too tired to do a certain pose. Even then the studio kept him because he had a hard-core following. Then there were stories of his promiscuous lifestyle with some clients. Everyone seemed to have a story about him but still the management of the studio refused to let him go. It got so bad that some clients even approached the Yoga Alliance to file a formal complaint and all the Yoga Alliance said was that they just “keep a file of names since we like to keep track of these things but we can’t do anything for legal reasons”. What they suggested instead was to post on him anonymously on consumer advocacy websites like complaints.com
    I mean how effective is that? I mean really.

    No one wants to take responsibility because of the yoga ca$h cow and rocking the boat might spill the cow over the side of the boat. There are too many financial interests invested in this industry and client safety and security be damned. Ethics be damned! Integrity be damned! Let’s make money in$tead!

  • Pavanatanaya

    And what of the Women Yoga teachers who make sexually suggestive remarks about men in class? Like. ‘Keep your shirt off’. I swear to God the women in yoga these days think it is “The View” and since it is a girls club, the rules of common decency dont apply. As a male yoga teacher, I have been scrutinized by secret students who heard whispers about me, ( none of them true) Just gossipy little tid bits to pass out to their girlfriends. As far as late arrivals, No …Please ladies, come in as late as you want to. Completely disrespect everyone else who was ON TIME, its all about you parading through to ‘your spot’ . Jaysus H Christ. If you dont want adjustments…fine say so…otherwise dont disrupt those practitioners who are not sexually repressed or just plain paranoid.

  • Pencil

    Pavanatanaya, is making grown men and women sit in the corner cool? Is yelling at girls that NOT doing a pose is unacceptable, even if that means not listening to their bodies integrity? How about lying about your credentials? Or sneaking up on a girl in a class which someone else is instructing and violently “adjusting” them? What about flirting hard with some emotionally vulnerable divorcee and basically telling her you’ll only date her if she signs up for private lessons with you first? Is slamming someone’s hand brutally on a table during a yoga retreat acceptable? What about getting on other peoples cases for rating meat while secretly noshing on steaks when no one is looking? What about trying to get front desk staff fired because they were drinking coffee in front of incoming clients? Is talking about the glamour of suicide in class ok with you? What about outing abused women on dating sites by raiding their facebook profiles? Is manipulating studio owners cool, saying one thing and then doing something else when faced with the threat of being fired
    What about being fired from studio after studio because of bad treatment if clients and disrespecting too many people? Please, I beg for your enlightenment here. What does one do with an instructor like that? Who seems to constantly get away with things all the time because he’s sufficiently charismatic enough and has a good number if enablers around him? What do you suggest?

  • Deborah

    that sounds like a nightmare.
    i’d make sure i didn’t go anywhere near Dude and Duder.
    you know what they say about that hole in the road. karma is all about the choices me make.

    “association with bad satsang is a detriment on the spiritual path”. -baba hari das-

  • Jill

    I know exactly what you mean. Thankfully people in the yoga community are catching on and know what’s happening

  • Pavanatanaya

    I will simply posit that Dude will touch the wrong fanny one day. My old teacher would do adjustments on women in Savasana sealed with a kiss. Hmmm. I questioned him on this and he declared perfect innocence. Not conditional circumstance mind you, but “perfect” Innocence. Well cowboy I left that arena behind and I left it with him owing me $4K. Just get out before he does more damage. As a teacher, it is disruptive when late arrivals come in. If the class is crowded, they usually seek out their own comfort zone and further disrupt class. If you are hurried to arrive, make adjustments to your schedule. I can say that any ANY teacher who makes inappropriate remarks in class gets verbally called out by me now. During class! Dont be afraid to spank this goon in class. That might be enough to re align him. If it was my wife he touched, I’d kick his ass (verbally) for it in front of the class. The worst thing that could happen is I would be asked to leave. Thats ok by me. It didnt work for Ol JF and rightly so.

  • Chris

    John Friend : Patanjali ::: The Vatican : JC

    We have seen how The West takes a profound, ancient Hindu science like Yoga, and degrades it into a pedestrian, commercial trinket.

    So, too did the Vatican seize upon the sublime wisdom of
    JC, the world’s first Semitic-Hindu, and pervert his wisdom into the Cult, that we know today as Catholicism.

    In his youth (the missing years of JC’s life, that the Bible won’t talk about), JC journeyed to India, and apprenticed himself in the Gurukuls and Ashrams of the learned Hindu sages (Rishis) of India. There, the excellent pupil JC imbibed the ancient Hindu philosophies from his Gurus, and himself became an enlightened, self-realized soul – a Mahatma, a true Yogi.
    The enlightened JC then traveled back to the Middle East to preach to his people.

    JC’s teachings are very much in consonance with Hinduism :
    (1) ” As you sow, so shall you reap ” —> This is JC’s exquisite way of stating the Hindu law of Karma.

    (2) ” Let him throw the first stone, who has not sinned”.
    This is JC’s recognition of the fact that every souls (Aatma) present on this earth is present on the earth, only because that souls is as yet, not without sin.

    The Hindu philosophy of Reincarnation (Punar-Janam) believes that the Aatma is indestructible, and undergoes several cycles of Birth, Life, Death and Rebirth. Properly guided, the Aatma attains a higher-state-of-being in each successive life, until that Aatma ultimately becomes self-realized and sinless, and attains Moksha ( Liberation from the cycle of Birth, Life, Death and Rebirth).
    Thus, any Aatma that is actually present on this earth, is not without sin, and is at some intermediate point along this Great Journey towards becoming a self-realized soul.

    (3) There is much evidence to suggest that JC was a vegetarian.

    (4) After surviving the Crucifixion, JC sought save-haven in India, and traveled to the Kashmir region of his alma-mater, India. ( Kashmir is the land of the ancient Hindu sage, Rishi Kashyapa. The name Kashmir comes from the Sanskrit “Kashyapa-Meru” ( Kashyapa’s Lake) ). JC lived in Kashmir to a ripe old age. JC is buried in Kashmir.

    (5) Being a self-realized Soul, JC recognized that there are several different Paths to Enlightenment. Thus, JC never said peevish things like, ” I am the ONLY WAY” ( I am the ONLY ticket to Heaven). These mean-spirited statements were disingenuously inserted into the Bible, after JC’s passing, and falsely attributed to JC, by the Vatican, the Marketing Department of the Unholy Roman Empire, as part of its Empire-Building-Strategy, via the Giant Pyramid Scheme of Catholicism.

  • etc.

    … and degrades it into a pedestrian commercial trinket….
    Very well said.

  • SQR

    While I’m not absolutely sure Catholicism or Anusara are classic “pyramid schemes” (such as super blue-green algae) I still like this contribution a lot.

  • Brad

    I’m in love with you Brooke! Please marry me!!

  • Brooke

    Taken, Brad. But thank you kindly. :)

  • deborah

    http://youtu.be/f1qD0_ewm-s

    Reaction to the Anusara situation by Leslie Kaminoff.

  • mirror

    In my experience, Anusara helped to tighten up a quite limp, vague, lightly spiritual, hatha “yoga” that was being being practiced as basically a stretching class (with little alignment- unless it was Iyengar and the alignment was complicated, and every pose had its own set) with a few om’s involved and a namaste at the end. Or intense styles of yoga where people would get seriously hurt from being out of alignment for years on the mat. Yes it makes a lot of money. I think we need to get past the “money is bad” thing that permeates our culture because of the unconscious guilt we have from living in an affluent country. Systems are not less valid because they are appealing and make money. That belief is coming from your own money samskaras. I used to think this way myself until I realized I was bouncing my checks because I would feel ashamed for having more than enough. The more you have the more you can give. When you drop your resistance to things like money, naturally it flows more easily.

    Okay, you are now cued to lash out….1, 2, 3 go!!!

  • SQR

    No “lashing out” here…
    We can debate the merits of capitalism ’till the cows come home, but that’s the society we’re in (for the time being), and that’s how people put food on the table, keep the lights on, etc. (at least those of us who have to work for a living). Yoga, “enlightenment”, connection to source- these are things available to anyone for free, at any time, without a teacher, a studio, or even a mat- but for those wanting direction in a place with others doing the same thing, well, someone has to show up and put in the time- both then and there, and in the education required to give folks a good, safe, and informed experience. That’s time and energy that didn’t go to putting food on the table by some other means.

  • Chris

    True that.

    It would be perfectly OK for Yoga-Institutes to charge their students a reasonable amount, as tuition-fees.

    For instance, the BKS Iyengar Institute in Pune, India ( home to THE Iyengar) charges such ridiculously low tuition-fees, that it makes one wonder how they manage to even put dinner on their own tables :-) !!

    What is objectionable and distasteful is the rampant, profane Wal-Martization and McDonaldization of the sacred calling of Yoga-teaching, leading to the creation of Yoga, Inc., when, in fact, Patanjali clearly meant for Yoga to be taught by not-for-profit institutions.

    Patanjali meant for Yoga to be taught by selfless teachers to dedicated students, who, at the conclusion of their studies, would offer their Guru a token-gift ( This tradition is known as “Guru-Dakshina”, in the ancient Hindu system of a Guru educating his Shishyas at his Ashram).

    Patanjali would NOT have approved of today’s Yoga, Inc., much like JC would NOT have approved of today’s Vatican.

  • HJCOTTON

    My guess is the the proceeds from light on yoga can cover the expenses of the institute. He appears to have enough to live on. Mr. Iyengar could have trademarked all the props he designed and opted not to.

  • mirror

    My girlfriend is a full time yoga teacher and works extremely hard to be the best she can be to her student’s in every class, every day. This includes a lot of planning and preparation when not teaching. We rent a house, she needs a car to get to class and workshops, she studies with other teachers and needs to pay them too. A “token gift” may have been enough in Patanjali’s ancient day but we have to play the rules of the society we were born into. I agree Mcdonaldization is a bad thing but a society in which teachers who are helping people get through their lives in a positive way and are able to pay the bills and maybe even make enough to save some too, is a REALLY good thing. And yes she is an Anusara teacher but this goes for all yoga teachers.

  • deborah

    i don’t know about this comment from mirror:
    ” …a society in which teachers who are helping people get through their lives in a positive way and are able to pay the bills and maybe even make enough to save some
    too… ”

    “helping people get through their lives in a positive way”
    is what sits wrong with me.
    like a stone in my shoe.

    Beware of ahamkara – the ego maker ….
    (I am a yoga teacher and I help people get through their lives in a positive way) …

    As professionals, yoga instructors need to be vigilant in keeping their egos in check with the teachings of yoga, and to also practice humility to eliminate the perils of pride and arrogance. Students must also become aware of the powers of psychological transference, and the dangers of placing their teachers up on pedestals.

    What does it even mean “help people get through their lives in a positive way”? Who determines what that looks like? Whats positive “mean”? Spiritual intoxication? Happy. Benign?

    Sounds like doing an awful lot of work towards waking up and just falling deeper and deeper asleep.

    Avidya. Incorrect understanding.

    Let me share something with that your yoga teacher may have forgotten to mention. If you’re not working on de-constructing your ego-self, then you’re not doing yoga.

    And that is the job of the yoga teacher. To work on deconstructing their own ego self. And to teach what they know based on THAT …. personal authentic raw experience. There ain’t no Shakti in anything else. There ain’t no script and there ain’t no template. Sorry folks.

    Deconstructing the ego is a big job that requires a long-term commitment and requires a radical shift in consciousness.
    Its about waking up and not about some notion of happiness or living a positive life.

    QUote: ” I like happiness as much as the next guy, but it’s not happiness that sends one in search of truth. It’s rabid, feverish, clawing madness to stop being a lie, regardless of price, come heaven or hell. This isn’t about higher consciousness or self-discovery or heaven on earth. This is about blood-caked swords and Buddha’s rotting head and self-immolation, and anyone who says otherwise is selling something they don’t have” -JedMcKenna-

    Selling something they don’t have.
    That pretty much nails it, eh?

    And that might be what Leslie Kaminoff was eluding to via his wee talk in the video above and why Desikichar will have no part in any labels or branding of his teachings. Brandings. Isn’t that what they do to cows and horses to show ownership?

    Freedoms just another word for nothing left to lose.
    Be Free. Dive into the abyss. Let go of anything you have ever believed to be true.

    Cuz — “truth is not your ally to awakening. Truth doesn’t give a shit if you are awake or not. The sufferings of maya are your greatest ally to awakening”.
    ~adya shanti~

  • Brooke

    “It’s rabid, feverish, clawing madness to stop being a lie, regardless of price, come heaven or hell.”

    I love this sentence. Love it.

    Thanks for that, deborah.

  • Deborah

    You are welcome sweet Brooke.
    you can read more from jed @
    http://www.wisefoolpress.com
    (shady)

  • David D

    But yoga does not belong to you, and it doesn’t need you to protect it. I think Patanjali would be shaking his head at the deification of yoga that you are engaging in. You’ve turned yoga into another conceptualized, antiseptic concept by imposing your Western, liberal standards upon it, and you want to defend what you’re mental creation. You think you are striving to maintain the purity of yoga. But you are merely stroking your own ego.

    Amusingly, you state that yoga teachers can charge reasonable tuition, but seem to object to the amounts that some charge. I guess you wish to be installed as the arbiter of reasonable tuition. If you don’t want to pay what is being charged, go elsewhere or do something else. If other people want to pay the “unreasonable” tuition, then who are you to say anything about it? It really is none of your business.

    Your yoga is your practice. That is all you have, and that is all you are entitled to. How about you stick to that and stop whining about what other people are doing? That’s closer to what Patanjali wrote about than this silly handwringing about the “defiling” of yoga by the “evil” West.

    I think Patanjali would tell you to get on your mat or cushion and stop whining.

  • Pavanatanaya

    I , Myself spoke with Patanjali. We were smokin a spliff after practice one night and I asked him about Yoga Inc. He said
    “Sit down and Shut up”.

  • Pavanatanaya

    I also conferred with Jesus. He said “Aumen”.

  • etc.

    Yoga is not about asana. It is about presence and pratyahara; dharana and dhyana.
    Of all the sturas only one applies to asana: stirhamsukhamasanam.
    1/196.
    If all importance is placed upon asan, why not just go join the circus? Get a coach and take an acrobatics or gymnastics class? Is this really “yoga”? Or just some new fitness fad designed to mimic yoga in the all out effort to become chic and trendy? Where is the yoga here? Call me a puritan if you wish, but I don’t see it. Lots of posteurizing with very little yoga.

  • mirror

    Well I respect your path of yoga as the transcendence model. I also spent many years on this path. Really though that is only one path in an infinite universe of possibilities. the path I now have found myself on is one in which the ego is not seen as something to be transcended or even seen as a problem. It is a necessary facet of human existence of which the universe is looking to have for an experience. Non-dual tantra recognizes a oneness as the ground of being from which everything manifests. This oneness or the experience of oneness is not “above” or more true than the experience of difference or diversity. In fact the universe out of complete freedom chose to experience itself as one of difference as well as one of oneness. The “experience” of transcendence cannot actually be experienced in human form because nothingness means just that – “no thing.” You can come close to this but samadhi is actually a state that has no experience. There is only experience when there is two – or shiva AND shakti. Yoga for me is to more fully experience my ego in relationship to everything else. Liberation is not getting away from relationship or experience but to actually more fully and richly engage in the human experience and the diversity of the universe. The physical or manifest plane is JUST as important and part of spirit as the unmanifest, ego-less ground of being or shiva.

    If you have found liberation in the transcendence model, I applaud you and encourage you to continue on it. But you should be careful in saying that this is the only path. It is the classical path and the one that was first introduced to the west, but it is not the ONLY path.

  • deborah

    Hey mirror.

    I am looking but I don’t see anything or anywhere or anyone who said the classical path is the ONLY path. Just saying.

    You will get no argument from me that we are all nothing more then facets of the divine having an experience.

    When my teacher first introduced that concept – my first question was WHY ? Why? If the divine is The Divine then why is it necessary for IT to have an experience?
    Answer: Becausee it can. LOL! Because it can.

    Trying to get answers to these mystery questions is looking into a realm or dimension for which there are no words to explain, no symbols to attach our egos to. The mind can not grasp what is no mind. Gotcha there. But that concept is not exclusive to Shiva Shakti tantra (whatever that is) ….
    It is a basic philosophical tenet. Non-duality. Like fuzzy math. Where is the hardline which separates black from white? There really isn’t one – just an entire universe of various and gradated shades of grey – one extreme morphing into another …. back and forth; a vibration frequency of infinity and we the nothingness ride the quantum waves upon the sea of eternity as energy moves in equal yet opposite directions, of which the polarity makes up the fabric of samsara.
    (deb whipple copyright )

    What I don’t understand from your post, if what you say is Anusara philosophy, then why so much emphasis on “kula” and asana? To extend that further, on certification? Which is VERY asana based – right? Svatantrya is freedom; spanda is impulse. Clear the slate and wait for what arises. THAT is aligning with the divine and surrendering into Grace. Everything else is pretence and …. pissing into the wind. Dont you think?

  • mirror

    This is the quote that felt a bit narrow to me:
    “Let me share something with that your yoga teacher may have forgotten to mention. If you’re not working on de-constructing your ego-self, then you’re not doing yoga.”

    I don’t agree that deconstructing the ego is the only yoga, that’s all. Yoga can be talking to your girlfriend and finding common ground, or talking to your mother about why she acts the way she does at Christmas, as long as it is done with awareness and the intention to expand and become a more evolved and complex form of consciousness than you were before. Hell this dialogue we are having is yoga. It’s units of consciousness (god) having a conversation about what consciousness is, and the universe then expands as the result.
    As far as Shiva Shakti Tantra goes, I am not versed in it. It is a later development in the Anusara method.
    As far as asana goes, according to the tantra I am familiar with- life is a gift, embodiment is a gift. Our bodies are consciousness, our bodies are a form of mind, not a lesser form of consciousness, or something to transcend, rather our bodies are a key through which we can discover our own divinity.
    Bodies are also a storehouse of old energy and stuck patterns. Through asana we can be soften, transmute, or expand into better version of ourselves, and again lead to the expansion of our consciousness which in turn expands the universe in the ongoing waves of expansion and contraction (spanda) of god.
    Surrendering to grace is one part of the method, aligning optimally with nature takes action. Through our bodies we align ourselves more intelligently and energy flows and expansion occurs. As we continue on our day, inevitably contraction happens as we interact with the world, this too is part of the divine pulse. We have the freedom to expand and contract just like the cosmos and hopefully through yoga we are always spiralling “upward” as we ride the waves of spanda.

    I am enjoying this dialogue.
    Thank you.

  • Deborah

    Mornin Mirror …
    I am enjoying this convo too. Its very edge stretching. Unity in diversity creates strong community.

    So — I’ll try to address what arises for me, from your comments:

    <> :: Difficult. You are describing interacting egos. Unless the participants are extremely evolved (as you say). Yes Yoga is union — but it is union with NOTHING. Stillness. What I think evolves consciousness as a result of human interaction, is the existential angst which arises when our differences collide and our ability to not identify nor attach ourselves to … well, ourselves. :) What I like about your statement is “as long as its done with awareness”. Watching how our ego interacts is an interesting exercise. Try going silent for a day or a week. Interact with your world, but do not “talk”. (And don’t take a notepad either like some people Iknow have done – defeats the purpose of “not projecting your ego/self”). VERY POWERFUL exercise.

    <> Yes – the divine is always “at play” … Lila.

    <>… Abso-friggen-loutely! love it!

    Bodies are also a storehouse of old energy and stuck patterns.
    >> our bodies carry the samskars of the mind – the chakras are like a cluttered closet in need of purging and cleaning out. ;)

    <> .. better version of ourselves? let the word “self” go – “better versions” …. bwaHaHa :) … Expand consciousness by annihilating any notion of self. EROS, ecstasy, is intimate love/oneness, but the root/etymology of the word means – “to stand outside our self” … Yoga is that urge (spanda) to merge – right? No self, no problem. Its that totally annihilation of self-consciousness and letting go that is the doorway into bliss. Think of the koshas as a sequential journey in EVERY practice : moving through ana-prana-mano-vijnana-ananda …. peeling away the self/the thoughts/learned information/wisdom of direct experience/bliss. Samadhi.
    Nirvana = complete and utter cessation. Deconstruced ego.

    <>… aligning with nature. parush & prakriti. does it take “action” or does it just take awareness -paying attention. Really that is what its all about, right. Awareness. Self-realization. Yoga is a psychological practice – about going from the unconscious to the conscious.

    <> We use the body to anchor the mind. When we are internally rotating our thighs or laying our shoulder blades down flat on our backs or being with our diaphragm as it rises/falls/rises/falls and all the ensuin sensations — then we must be absolutely present in that nano-second, our thoughts anchored in “presence” and not time travelling hither and yon. Until they come knocking at the door of consciousness (as they do) and we answer the door and off we go. No longer present. The yoga is to not answer the door. :) Just that simple. And just that complicated.

    <>.. upward? don’t forget downward. energy is always moving in equal yet oppostie directions. the dark is as valuable a place as the light. embrace your shadows – they are great teachers.
    don’t quote me directly, cuz i’m too lazy to look for it directly right now – but …. You know what the great teacher Krishnamurti said when he was asked about being at peace all the time? His answer:
    I simply don’t give a shit. That’s yoga. Non-attachment. Non-identification. Deconstructed ego.

    :)
    have a sweet day….. its family day here in Canada, and I’m off to embrace mine. Blessed Be.

  • Deborah

    weirdness: half of what I typed above disappeared because of arrows I included… ooops — I’ll try again — perhaps YD could delete the prior post?
    __________________________________________
    Mornin Mirror …
    I am enjoying this convo too. Its very edge stretching. Unity in diversity creates strong community.

    So — I’ll try to address what arises for me, from your comments:

    Yoga can be talking to your girlfriend and finding common ground, or talking to your mother about why she acts the way she does at Christmas, as long as it is done with awareness and the intention to expand and become a more evolved and complex form of consciousness than you were before. Hell this dialogue we are having is yoga.__________ >> Difficult. You are describing interacting egos. Unless the participants are extremely evolved (as you say). Yes Yoga is union — but it is union with NOTHING. Stillness. What I think evolves consciousness as a result of human interaction, is the existential angst which arises when our differences collide and our ability to not identify nor attach ourselves to … well, ourselves. What I like about your statement is “as long as its done with awareness”. Watching how our ego interacts is an interesting exercise. Try going silent for a day or a week. Interact with your world, but do not “talk”. (And don’t take a notepad either like some people Iknow have done – defeats the purpose of “not projecting your ego/self”). VERY POWERFUL exercise.

    It’s units of consciousness (god) having a conversation about what consciousness is, and the universe then expands as the result._____________ >> Yes – the divine is always “at play” … Lila. We try to embrace that with consciousness. Really, thats what Namaste is all about. The spark of the divine within me acknowledges and honours the spark of the divine that is within you. :)

    As far as asana goes, according to the tantra I am familiar with- life is a gift, embodiment is a gift. Our bodies are consciousness, our bodies are a form of mind, not a lesser form of consciousness, or something to transcend, rather our bodies are a key through which we can discover our own divinity. _________>>> … Abso-friggen-loutely! love it!

    Bodies are also a storehouse of old energy and stuck patterns. ____________>>.. Yes : our bodies carry the samskars of the mind – the chakras are like a cluttered closet in need of purging and cleaning out, and we do this via asana and pranayama (and dance, and art, and creative experiential expressions of all types).

    Through asana we can be soften, transmute, or expand into better version of ourselves, and again lead to the expansion of our consciousness which in turn expands the universe in the ongoing waves of expansion and contraction (spanda) of god._____________ >>… better version of ourselves? let the word “self” go – “clearer, less blocked, expressions of divinity? ” …. bwaHaHa … Expand consciousness by annihilating any notion of self. EROS, ecstasy, is intimate love/oneness, but the root/etymology of the word means “to stand outside one’s self” … Yoga is that urge (spanda) to merge in Eros – right? No self, no problem. Its that totally annihilation of self-consciousness and letting go that is the doorway into bliss. Think of the koshas as a sequential journey in EVERY practice : moving through ana-prana-mano-vijnana-ananda …. peeling away the self/the thoughts/learned information/wisdom of direct experience/bliss. Samadhi.
    Nirvana = complete and utter cessation. Deconstruced ego.

    Surrendering to grace is one part of the method, aligning optimally with nature takes action. ____________>>..… aligning with nature. Parush & Prakriti. Does it take “action” or does it just take awareness -paying attention. Really that is what its all about, right. Awareness. Self-realization. Yoga is a psychological practice – about going from the unconscious to the conscious.

    Through our bodies we align ourselves more intelligently and energy flows and expansion occurs.___________..>>We use the body to anchor the mind. When we are internally rotating our thighs or laying our shoulder blades down flat on our backs or being with our diaphragm as it rises/falls/rises/falls and all the ensuing sensations — then we must be absolutely present in that nano-second, our thoughts anchored in “presence” and not time travelling hither and yon. Until they come knocking at the door of consciousness (as they do) and we answer the door and off we go. No longer present. The yoga is to not answer the door. Just that simple. And just that complicated.

    As we continue on our day, inevitably contraction happens as we interact with the world, this too is part of the divine pulse. We have the freedom to expand and contract just like the cosmos and hopefully through yoga we are always spiralling “upward” as we ride the waves of spanda.____________..>> upward? don’t forget downward. Energy is always moving in equal yet oppostie directions and the dark is as valuable a place as the light. down is as valuable as up. ;) Embrace the shadows – they are great teachers.
    Don’t quote me directly, cuz i’m too lazy to look for the actual quote right now – but …. You know what the great teacher Krishnamurti said when he was asked about being at peace all the time? His answer:
    I simply don’t give a shit. That’s yoga. Non-attachment. Non-identification. Deconstructed ego.

    Our thoughts are the servant of our ego. Yogashchittavrittinirodhah.. Sutra 1:2
    Yoga is silencing the fluctuations of the mind therefore, yoga is about deconstructing the ego.

    Sweet. Have a great day….. its family day here in Canada, and I’m off to embrace mine. Blessed Be.

  • another who knows

    There are many studios and studio owners quietly doing the right thing, holding the instructors accountable for their actions, yes making money on yoga and then turning a good portion of that money around to give back to their local and international community, offering their gifts and genuinely being of service.
    Generalizing and making sweeping statements about yoga people can never be accurate. This is how I choose to make my living and support myself and my children. I am as unlike John Friend and other narcissistic sociopaths in this yoga world (and I could name at least one other one out there still being protected) as could be. I wrestle often with the angst I feel of even being associated with people like them. But I love yoga and believe it is one way to embrace my own potential and turn people on to their own human potential. I don’t teach to be famous or to use people or to get rich. SO please again, don’t lump all of us in with the few. I can name at least 100 yoga studio owners, all from different “styles” or traditions, who love their work and offer it for the right reasons.

  • SQR

    I also know a number of studio owners who are doing exactly what you say… I suspect they’re the majority.

  • Brooke

    Another, thanks for this. Straightforward and lovely.

  • jaiKaliMa!

    Mounta Madonna Center, Santa Cruz/Hanuman Fellowship – profits go to Shri Ram Orphanage . Svadyaya, Kriya, Bhakti and… Karma yoga is emphasized, Live to Serve. Teacher is silent monk.
    ___________________________________
    Almost anybody can learn to think or believe or know, but not a single human being can be taught to feel. Why?
    Because whenever you think or you believe or you know, you’re a lot of other people: but the moment you feel, you’re nobody-but-yourself.
    To be nobody-but-yourself—in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else—means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting . . .
    Does this sound dismal? It isn’t. It’s the most wonderful life on earth.

    — e e cummings

  • Georgia
  • Radhe

    It is so hard not to refrain from just making fun of everyone in Anusara, especially John Friend! I hope he steps down and stays down. Definitely one of the most uninspiring teachers I ever practiced with. He had the mechanics though that is for sure. And oh my god was he really shagging students! He isn’t even hot or sexy or particularly witty. If he were totally hot this conversation would be so different. God I think I want to say I told you so!!! Oops I just did. At least JF wasn’t responsible for watering down our profession quite like CorePower did. And well there is capitalism and with free market freedom comes mediocrity so that moldy bread I have accepted. But yoga why did yoga have to become so mediocre. I will hang my head and go eat candy laced with beef.

  • Brenna

    Thanks to “another who knows” for providing an uplifting response. I lately have felt disjointed about where yoga is going in our country. I dislike studios who are only focused on money and offering teacher trainings that ill prepare teachers. I think both of these facets contribute to recent remarks about the lack of safety in yoga and how yoga is harmful. I think those comments come from people who have most likely experienced yoga with a teacher who was not fully prepared to teach or lacked an understanding of human anatomy. It seems that there are many teachers out there just wanting to boost their own ego; rather than wanting to help someone else bring out their true inner self.

    On the flip side, there are many yoga teachers and studios in the West who are emerged in yoga for the right reasons: to help others and care for others. They are not in it for just self glory. We do have to remember that in our society we have to have money to survive, but marketing yoga as trendy and overtly commercial bothers me; however, disillusion is suffering.

    I think yoga is like all learning: it has to be desired by the student and there needs to be a teacher who wants to honorably help that student explore and learn at a deeper level. I think we need to re-look at how we train teachers. How we select teachers. How can anyone be a teacher after a one week training in Costa Rica or one month at some fancy retreat? How has such a short span of time prepared one to work with people coming with a whole range of issues?

    I feel lucky that all the people I have learned from come from a place of integrity. That they teach yoga because they care. They teach because they LOVE yoga.

    I hope all teachers of yoga return to the place of coming to students from a place of care. That teachers want to continue learning in order for students to learn more richly. I hope that current teachers are in it for others. I hope we all continue to self-reflect and connect to our practice, for it is always changing and it is our duty to respond to change and flow into it.

  • reforms for consideration

    REFORMS ANYONE?

    A few thoughts John Friend may wish to meditate on while on sabbatical:

    In a large sense, there exists a double standard in what Anusara’s leader/owner/company says and what (by it’s actions) really does.

    Beyond the well documented “ethical behavior”, these comments will be limited to the business practices which have emerged regarding Anusara Inc.

    Unfortunately, what has emerged (over recent years) is a business model that relies on having a central “cult leader” promoting a “philosophy” beyond its sound teachings. As a result, this conscious shift, in it’s business plan is aimed at enriching itself, in unorthodox ways.

    TEACHER/STUDENT or EMPLOYEREMPLOYEE relationship:
    A typical certified teacher in many ways acts as an employee of Anusara Inc. by promoting it’s brand. However, in reality, rarely (if ever) does that certified teacher receive any compensation for his or her efforts.
    Consider this: Certified and inspired Anusara teachers promote JF events and highly encourage their students to attend. When JF comes to a local community, all teacher’s (certified or inspired) are expected to volunteer their time and energy to make sure all of JF’s needs are taken care of and the “event” goes well. Furthermore, promotional goods are sold that benefit Anusara Inc.

    Why does this happen. This isn’t the norm in any business practice. I would argue only a leader who assumes a “guru” or cult leader status can achieve this behavior from his followers. Though JF refuses to be identified as such (when interviewed), his behavior at his events suggest otherwise.

    BUSINESS PRACTICES:
    Why should a certified teacher have to pay annual dues to Anusara Inc? If anything, why aren’t certified teachers who help expand the pool of teachers and students compensated by Anusara Inc? How many teachers (certified or inspired) would there be if not for the efforts of the certified teachers? How many students of Anusara would there be? Who benefits most from this growth? Why doesn’t a profit sharing model exist. Or why just eliminate the annual dues.

    ANNUAL DUES:
    Why is it required that continuing annual dues be collected?
    Don’t these teachers pay enough (directly or indirectly) to Anusara Inc. in the process of getting certified? (Immersions 1,2,3, Teacher Trainings, Testing, etc…). Why does the certification require membership and renewal dues?
    Typically, students choose to invest money to go to school or attend a training program; for a given trade or skill or to attain a degree. After achieving this goal does is person normally compelled to continue to pay annual dues to that same institution?
    Does that institution control how where and when a teacher may apply that skill? Or seek compensation from selling promotional goods of that institution? (SEE Amy Ippolitti’s letter).
    How much control and what regulations are “appropriate” if any for Anusara Inc. to enforce on it’s certified teachers? Is it legal to do so?
    How did we even get to this point that these questions have to be asked?
    If Anusara did not have a “Guru” or cult leader and not embrace a cult following, this controversy would never have taken place.

    SUGGESTIONS:
    Return to what you do best.
    Seeks to raise the standard in the fundamentals in sound teaching practices of yoga.
    Let your teachers free. Don’t regulate them once they have achieved their certification.
    Abandon the philosophy. This is what got you into trouble.
    Instead seek to bridge with all established faiths and beliefs.
    Abandon the “enlightened figurehead” cult leader persona?
    If Anusara is more about a “message: than a “messenger”, seriously consider a “faceless leader” for the company’s image.

    I hope he and anyone involved in true reform of Anusara Inc. understands the “big picture” that has emerged in recent weeks regarding it’s business practices. Hopefully many of the responses here will be considered in a responsible, open, transparent manner that can restore credibility to the “elite” training program that it once was.

    The “Anusara” label or brand has allowed itself to grow well beyond an elite school or training program, focused on teaching a sound methodology. This is all noble and good and may in fact be how things started out and perhaps where the company should return to.

  • Purushratha

    Still the mindstuff. What one sees as low moral standards the other sees as dharma. We preach “no judgements”, only what is. We can only learn a lesson and grow from it. Let him be. Let IT be. Just be who you are and move on already

  • Radhe

    There is no such thing as no judgement. Even when we realize not to judge we have judged prior to deciding not to. It is better but it is what human animals do. I think the community needs to ride all the various hurts, assessments and evaluations that surface because of what is happening here. Yoga is a science. Actions like his do a lot to discredit a valuable system for health and well being. A lot of us make a living sharing this science as a tool and way of life. Perhaps the yoga profession needs to move to a University setting in our country and stay there or be relegated to health clubs and call it good.

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