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Elena Brower Apologizes for Complicity, Forgives John Friend

in YD News

Once one of Anusara’s power teachers, Elena Brower, who resigned last November, has been noticeably quiet and tentative in her responses throughout Anusaragate. But she has finally released, via Huffington Post, a more personal response where she speaks of the two camps – the aware and the unaware – making up the Anusara community. Being part of the “aware” group she offers her experience with John’s “penchant for women” and being involved in covering up lies for him.

Even for us, the ones who knew some (but none of us really knew all of it), it felt terrible to see, from both sides: How could he? But then we realized, how could we? We were oftentimes complicit — some of us enabled the liar to lie by lying for him ourselves. There were these strangely uncomfortable, spooky moments in the past few years, to be sure; I was asked to help cover up one big personal lie for John, which ultimately needed to be cleaned up on my end. There was some fairly erratic teaching and seemingly incongruous commentaries as well. Shortly after the time that John unveiled his new philosophical model of “Shiva-Shakti Tantra,” there was also a shift in the business model, it seemed: We were notified that we’d all be obliged to give him first creative say in any products we made going forward and then 10 percent of any revenue we generate from said products. It felt strange; this wasn’t how it was when it began. It felt desperate and wrong.

When we explored the legality of it all, it was clearly flawed and didn’t stand up. And, with all due respect, I never felt connected to the Shiva-Shakti Tantra at all. It felt manufactured to me. I stayed because of the history, the quality of my education, and most of all, my fear about losing my standing in the yoga world. The night I called John to resign, back in October 2011, my first apology was for letting that fear rule my world, for staying for the wrong reasons, when true integrity would have had me leave long before.

She apologizes for complicity:

John seemed threatened, sad, unsure and at times, unsteady. Several of us tried to talk to him about it, only to be met with denial and even sometimes anger, which in many cases drove us, in our own personal ways, into old patterns of wanting to please our “parents”: backtracking, questioning ourselves, adding to the mounting pile of lies, assuaging him so we could stay in his good graces, feel safe, and keep our lives in order. That part might be the saddest part, and the part about which I’m personally most sorry, this repeating of family patterns in this professional context.

And extends forgiveness to John in the hopes “he can true up his past and truly heal” and become “an example of burgeoning integrity for all the world to see.”

As always, Elena tackles this with grace. She invites the community to unite in separating Anusara Yoga from the man and his wrongdoings (though she and many others have handed in their certificates).

She also tackles and trashes YD at the end of the piece for which we appreciate for its outspokenness, but with which we utterly disagree.

YogaDork, with all due respect: That salacious, desperately sensationalized voice with which you wrote the article “breaking” the story about John was not amongst your relevant contributions to the yoga world thus far. It was painful to watch you make light of a man’s life like that, in the name of “news.” I will not be contributing any more to your page until you release a true apology — both to John and to the teachers who’ve spent years learning from him. He is another human being, albeit with some highly questionable choices, but your heartless articulation did nothing but harm your own credibility.

We posted our reasons for publishing the initial piece earlier. With all due respect, any breaking news sounds like it wasn’t breaking at all since so many Anusara teachers and students (in the first “camp”) knew this was already going on and allowed it to continue, for any number of reasons. If you read the original post on accusations there was no desperation, but in fact a repeated concern for anyone taking this “lightly.”

Other highly powerful and once-respected human beings do bad things all the time like insider trading, sexual harassment, crime in the heat of the moment. Because John Friend is a yoga teacher does not excuse his misconduct. Unfortunately the suppression of what was happening behind closed doors at Anusara heated to a boiling point. Like a pressure cooker, with no one willing to blow the whistle, an anonymous person stepped forward to blast it out there.

We’re sorry this happened once again to the yoga community. We’re sorry this is still happening…anywhere. We’re sorry this was shocking to some and yet not surprising to others. We’re sorry no one felt they could step up and say something before the explosion of information was posted. Maybe it was a harsh and shocking method to us all at first. But, if YD has to be the bad guy to some people for getting this information out there, so be it. For that we are not sorry.

We’ll close by repeating what we said before:

While this information may be difficult for some to swallow, it’s not so outrageous in a time when power can so easily be misused, which we’ve seen time and again in the yoga world and beyond. Do we care what JF does in the bedroom with his Wiccan Coven? Not really. But we do expect taking responsibility for actions, and truthfulness and transparency when it comes to adhering to your own principles that thousands of people around the world believe in.



315 comments… add one
  • Very happy to see you sticking to your guns, Dork (although not surprised!). Elena wrote a very nice post, on the whole, but I found her decision to trash you in public bullying and arrogant. Unfortunate.

    Other than that, it’s wonderful to hear more and more Anusara teachers speaking in what sounds like an infinitely more authentic voice. I find it to be a very welcome, liberating change, and believe that it will have good repercussions for the American yoga community.

  • sarah

    “trashing” yoga dork… not quite… holding accountable… YES!

  • Nunya Beeswax

    You don’t owe anyone an apology. You did what NO ONE ELSE would do and finally turned on the light. I have been a Truth Teller all of my life, the person who says the thing no one else wants to say out loud. It can be a lonely road. You did the right thing and everyone is just upset about it, including Elena, because they weren’t brave enough to do it. They call you “salacious” and all of that because it makes them feel better about their own choices.

  • unimpressed

    while eloquently written, this letter demonstrates some unfortunate memes that seems to be playing on a loop throughout this entire story. 1. the bullying and shooting of the messenger and naysayers (YD is a big meanie!) 2. an apology without any real personal responsibility being taken (my daddy issues made me do it!) and 3. the continued assertion the superiority of anusara yoga (insert superlative descriptive language here)

  • Fab

    YD – I’m so glad you are not apologizing for breaking the story. It really sounds like Elena is speaking from the scared child’s perspective yet again – protecting the life of someone like John instead of the hundreds of people (such as myself) who have poured thousands of dollars into the pockets of a liar and abuser based on her recommendation.

  • Sybil

    Oh Elena…….all I heard from your letter was “whoa is me” and basically, a lack of accountability. Go have a good cry and lick your ‘wounds’. Frankly, I’m sick of this whole subject and not sure why I keep reading about it. Actually – I’m done. As of now. Moving on.

    And YD – don’t let the Elena’s of the world hold you back. It’s the lack of courage and accountability that leads to these situations. (Penn State, Catholic church, Syracuse Uni ring any bells?)

    People that KNOW what is going on and don’t get involved because of their fear for their own situation should frankly be ashamed of themselves. Step up to the plate and be accountable – make a difference, people!

  • Leah

    How ironic that the woman who openly professes her shame about covering up for John Friend’s wrongdoings is so offended when you expose them. To HuffPo, no less!


  • Scott

    Admitting fault and exposing some of the group dynamics that allowed this behavior to continue are steps in the right direction. More needs to be done to mend the destruction they wrought on yoga, and to do the work necessary to prevent this kind of thing from happening again. Unless they follow though with these measures, I would have a hard time believing they have actually learned the lessons they need to learn from all of this. I would be very afraid that the same dynamics will simply continue as before. I hope that I can forgive John. I also hope that I can forgive his inner circle which isn’t nearly as small as Ms. Brower would have us believe. I hope that I can forgive the wider Anusara community that wasn’t as ignorant as she wants us to believe. I hope they earn it because that is the only way it will come to them, and yes, they definitely have much more work to do.

  • SQR

    “I will not be contributing any more to your page until you release a true apology — both to John and to the teachers who’ve spent years learning from him.”
    …looks like you won’t need to do that- as long as there’s stuff she’s posted to other sites, you’ll have all the material you need… just cut and paste!

  • simply yoga

    Hoo boy. If YD hadn’t broken this story, hundreds, maybe thousands of poor fools would be plunking down their good money, as we speak, to start the long, corrupt, journey toward Anusara TM certification.

    Clearly the “tough love” needed to happen. And YD brought it on.

    YD, you were vilified by the teachers, the students, the organization, and Elephant Journal, but you kept steady. Frankly, you’re an inspiration. You are.

    Elena and the rest of the lemmings? Not so much.

  • xandra360

    Its taken her 6 months to finally fess up to her part in all of this. Her eloquent resignation and subsequent clarifications until now said nothing of what was really going on and were essentially lies.

    Its actually quite sickening and disingenuous. Makes me want to avoid former and newly resigned Anusara teachers altogether.

    • simply yoga

      A real profile in courage, that one. Seriously, I think they all should STFU for a while. It’s not helping their street cred. They sound so pompous and so un-self aware. Look at yourselves! Pitiful.

      • Salacious = word of the day

        Yep. STFU. These people will do anything to grab the spotlight; Amy stats the ball rolling then, Bernadette has to follow suit (i don’t buy her open apologies to the public nor to Doug Keller and think it is just capitalizing on the exposure and see NPD written all over that equation) … and now Eleana can’t be outshone so we have to listen to this drivel …. Gimme a break already.

        word of the day: salacious.

        How arrogant to claim that they (back in 2002) were shifting the landscap of yoga forever. GET OVER YOUR SELVES. You did not create anything “new” and nothing had changed except that you have all been exposed for what you are.
        You “knew” of Johns penchant for salacious behaviour and none were shocked to see the evidence. Meaning you turned a blind eye for how many years? That makes you culpable and unethical. How convenient for you to blame “family patterns” — are your parents responsible for the choices you make now, as an adult? You say that the “victim” seems to have been a willing participant. Really? Is it really that simple ? And from what we hear, there was infinetly more then one “victim”.
        It was your fear about losing your standing in the yoga world that kept you silent, and lying, and complicit? Doesn’t that translate to egomaniacal, selfish greed?
        You want JOHN to heal in honor of his family, his school, his teachers, and his students and become an example of burgeoning integrity for all the world to see. Are you kidding? The man is obviously a sociopath without conscience and that will not change. Sociopaths do not change. Its a life sentence. Do some research. What about all the many believers – those people NOT in the know? How about their healing … as opposed to this neverending self-obsessed drivel that you people keep putting out? And … I would like to know what exactly is “spacious conversation”? (Would someone please explain that to me).

        Eleana, you chastise YogaDork for making this story public (THANK YOU YOGA DORK – you have NOTHING to apologize for) wth a “sensationalized voice” all in the name of “news” …
        “news. But I just saw your sensationalized voice show up on twitter as you posted your HuffPo article to everyone below, INCLUDING Yoga Dork. Isn’t that just a “tad” on the hypocritical side, Ms. Brower?

        ElenaBrower @noahmazeyoga @amy_ippoliti, @yogichristina, @yogahourmix,@OpenToGrace33 @DigYoga @YogaDork @mbyoga @RossRayburn:http://t.co/aQBa4Qow
        3 hours ago from web

        You compare the teachers to a handful of glitter sprinkling all over the globe? Hm. Given all this non-sense I ‘d say its more like dust in the wind . Good riddance. This is ridiculous non-sense. Like our friend above says — STFU already. You are all digging the hole so much deeper – but due to your gross lack of conscience – how could you possibly know it?

        • another who knows

          RIGHT on.

        • Deborah

          Spacious conversation means talking to an air-head.

        • rob

          I was thinking the “glitter” was more like the particles from Fukushima.


    I am starting to think that the senior Anusara teachers are as complicit in the scandal as JF. Most of them knew what was going on, yet they covered up all Friend’s misdeeds. The majority of them did not have the guts to leave when John Friend was riding high. They did not even admit guilt or bore responsibility for contributing to the institutional rot in Anusara yoga. The senior teachers were too cowed by the fear of losing their prestige in the yoga community and by retribution from JF and his acolytes. It took one disgruntled employee (person) to expose the rut in the Anusara community. I am fed up of hearing about the superiority of Anusara yoga and its most elegant system. Other schools of yoga are as good as Anusara and provide the same or better benefits to practitioners.

  • simply yoga

    I’d venture to say that 99.9% of these Anusara teachers had no background, no knowledge of yoga, what.so.ever., before they became attracted to the charlatan. They were indoctrinated to the max. OK, fine.

    But step away and learn some history, folks. Don’t call yourselves the best and the brightest. It’s ignorant. And shows you’ve learned zero.

  • beth

    Shame on you Elena for letting the abuse go on for years and then turning around and giving YD a bitch slap. I lost my respect for you and as someone who practices at your studio, I won’t return until YOU apologize to YD. I guess John taught you more then just yoga.

    • michele

      I agree, I am wholly disappointed that there was not one senior Anusara teacher that had the courage/integrity to do the right thing. What about satya? what about practicing with non-attachment? Seems like everyone is so worried about the Anusara brand that they want to look the other way. Very disappointing.

      • HJCOTTON

        They are worried about their prestige and pocketbooks.

  • Jimmy

    As the “disgruntled former IT” guy mentioned in the article, Elena Brower needs to check her facts. Why would I be disgruntled? Why would a disgruntled employee give them two weeks notice and help them in the transition of their IT staff?

    Did John tell her I was disgruntled the same as he’s labeled everyone who didn’t “align” with him? Did she glean that because I didn’t resign and paint everything as roses and instead reported him to the Dept of Labor for doing something COMPLETELY unethical?

    You have a lot of gall Elena.

    • Bryan

      Jimmy, I think Elena’s labeling of you as “disgruntled” and “guy
      shows she still doesn’t get it and is still directing her anger at every place except where it should go. I appreciate your efforts, and you’ve saved a lot of people a lot of pain by exposing JF.

    • Kris

      Wow, Elena has a lot of gall??? Are you kidding Jimmy???
      Could you be any more of a self righteous creep. You stole somebody’s personal emails, you involved many people by name besides John Friend, you published nude photos of a woman who you mentioned by name and her most personal thought that you stole with no regards to her privacy. Did she or her family personally wrong you? Did any of the other people that you mentioned by name wrong you somehow? You didn’t just go after John, you went after an entire community of people, their reputations and livelihood and you take issue with Elena calling you disgruntled. John Friend may be an ungrateful douche with questionable ethics but you are an evil creep. You are the king of the evil creeps.

      • whatever kris

        Jimmy didn’t cheat on his spouse. Lie to hundreds of thousands of people. Exploit his power or any such thing. Seems like a pretty big assumption to accuse him of doing anything in all honesty. Who is telling people that…. John McCarthy Friend? These people are a cult and try to bully and intimidate by empty threats and smear campaigns. Even if he did do it… Good on him for doing something thousands were too weak to do. You don’t want your vagina all over the place then don’t take a picture of it and send it over the internet…. It’s not secure.

        • Kris

          Are you high or just an idiot?

          • whatever kris

            I practice Anusara… you tell me.

        • etc.

          @ Kris – sometimes the ends justify the means.
          Elena has ALOT of gall; you need to wake up. Jimmy is a HERO for what he did. He didn’t “go after” anyone – he exposed a shady and fraudulent scam that was ripping off and exploiting thousands of people. Go Jimmy ..>GO Jimmy ..> Go Jimmy! My vote goes for Jimmy, whom I owe a huge debt of gratitude because I smelled the rat named Anusara from day 1 and have taken ALOT of crap from the kula clique negating my feelings/opinions rgarding it. And I’m feeling more then a little “i told you so” smug right now. Smug feels good at the moment. Not proud of it – but it is what it is and I can be with that. Thats called yoga. The truth of being with what is and not resisting it.

      • Jimmy

        I didn’t steal or post anything, so I’m not sure why you’re insinuating that I did. Since you brought it up though, the things I saw in the course of my daily duties were beyond comprehension and way worse than the things that have been shared. I think the breaking point for me was being asked to log in to my boss’ computer late one evening(after hours while I was spending time with my family) and having my 6 year old son seeing my boss having oral sex performed on him by a teacher/employee on the screen. That was when I knew I was on the way out.

        Further, I don’t think anyone “went after” anyone. I think THOSE PEOPLE made choices without considering their families or the Anusara community. I guess your next question after “What did those people do to you?” would be “What did those people’s families do to them to make them act the way they did and betray their trust and love?”… or did they just ask the pendulum and choose which way it swung.

        I resigned and had my position on merit… not because of who I was willing to sleep with. I quit because of the stuff that was going on…

        • Kris

          When you take things that don’t belong to you and you put it on the internet then yes, you “steal” and “post” Or, are you saying that you were not responsible for that website? If you were not, then I don’t see why you are taking Elena’s comments so personally.
          Nobody is arguing that JF was an ass or at least I am not. There are many including myself who think that in the end this will be a good thing for the method. However, you could have exposed all of this without mentioning other people beside John or without posting nude photos of named individual. You did not have to imply that a whole slew of identified women are having sex with John because they belong to a “Wicca coven” The fact that you don’t see how you completely violated people who probably did nothing to you just out of your spite for John just shows how self righteous you are. Not unlike John, the end justifies the means.
          If any of these individuals made choices that affected them selves and their families it is theirs to make, not yours. You are not related to them. It amazes me that you don’t see that.
          I am sure that you have some secrets that you would prefer not to be posted on the internet by someone who doesn’t know you. I am sure that you would feel violated if someone recorded you and your significant other at your most personal moments and then took it upon them selves to make it public. It doesn’t matter what the circumstances are, it doesn’t matter if these were people having an affair. It is not your decision to make that public. Your desire to take down John apparently made it irrelevant how many people would get caught in the crossfire.

          Now regarding you logging into John’s computer. The way you describe it suggests that ultimately, you are the victim and you were wronged so everything else is justified. You were “made” to log onto his computer???? Did you say no but you were forced to…… Also, you did mention that it was his personal computer. Don’t mistake this as me defending him but technically, isn’t he allowed to have whatever he wants on his PERSONAL computer. Also, when you logged in was there a live action shot happening or did you have to rummage around until you found a video of him? Just asking because it is hard to imagine the scenario where that makes sense.

          • Jimmy

            Elena says, “After his disgruntled I.T. guy”… I was Anusara’s only IT guy for the last 4 years and I recently quit citing a lack of ethics or integrity in my resignation letter. So, I’m assuming that it’s referring to me.

            I didn’t violate anybody as I didn’t do anything except quit.

            Yes, those people made choices and now they must live them.

            I was required to log in to John’s computer at various times throughout my employment. While he did use his work computer bought by the company for personal things like I mentioned, that was his business. The thing that I mentioned was up in preview(the mac image app) and behind his Mail program. He was trying to e-mail that photo to the employee and it got stuck. I know it’s hard to imagine, but then again, you didn’t work there.

          • Come on now

            “I don’t see why you are taking Elena’s comments so personally.”

            Uh, Maybe because she is accusing him of being the person who posted all the info and places more scorn on him then on the real problem, JF.

      • Sarah

        Hmmm…John Friend is an “ungrateful douche” but the IT guy is a “self-righteous creep”. Sounds like somebody recently got dumped and fired and is a little teensy weensy bit bitter!

        I bet “Kris” is really someone else whose name starts with “K” and ends with “atrina”.

        Married women with children who sleep with their bosses are evil creeps. I hope you start living your life with authenticity, honesty and love going forward.

        • Kris

          Wow, that is dark!

          • Sarah

            Truth telling needn’t be dark. I feel sad that person made those decisions, but she did, and now she has to live with them. She needs to own up to them, grow up, and move on. I hope her family is still intact in the wake of this…turn of events.

    • Interesting

      Sounds like the smear campaign is in full effect. Old habits die hard.

      • Kris

        You must forgive me if I am somewhat skeptical about your claim that you were not the one who set up jfexposed.com. After all you were the IT guy, the most likely individual to have access to emails, personal photos and skype conversation, all required to set up the site. You did after all explain how you came across one photo here above. You also take credit for exposing the alleged pension irregularities which were a quarter of the allegations made. Isn’t it possible that denying the portion that violates federal law and could actually get you a prison sentence, should Anusara Inc file charges against, is more pf a self preservation tactic. After all, how many people really knew that the IT guy at Anusara was called Jimmy. I think Elena hit close to home and you took it personally because it was the truth.

        • Jimmy

          You’re excused. Was the photo that I came across posted on the site? Why wouldn’t it have been if I was in control?

          I was the IT guy and I never denied telling people about the pension issue. After it came to light and was denied, I provided documents given to me by Anusara that contradicted their statement.

          A lot of people know that the IT guy was named Jimmy as I dealt with the community a great dealt. You’re welcome to your opinion and speculation, but I took offense at her identifying me by my unique job title and accusing me of something I didn’t do.

          • etc.

            Kris needs to go take a long walk off a short pier.
            My feeling is that she has an agenda and by focusing on Jimmy and making him the bad guy, it takes the focus off the “real issues”. In this case Elena and her whiney drivel. And that dynamic is a standard Anusara mind manipulation “protocol”. Should anyone ask too many intelligent questions, stand up for what they believe in, criticze or challenge “the Brand ™” or any of the “Brand ™ Managers” (in disguise as yoga teachers) then they are to be ridiculed, shamed, insulted, harassed, tarred + feathered + burned at the stake, etc. Persecute the innocent and turn the perps into the victims.
            Those VIP private meetings were all about how to handle detratctors by using the most vile means of toxic shame avaliable. It was all contrived and well planned out – part of the critical path. And they did “dark” so very well by pretending to be of the “light”. Yech! Good riddance to bad rubbish.

  • Xandra,

    I have studied Anusara for six years now, and while I am not certified, inspired, etc., I do believe in the efficacy of the method and its ability to transform bodies and lives. I also love the community: to me, the encouraging, beautiful community is much bigger than any one teacher, or even all of the teachers.

    I always tell my students that yoga makes us more of Who We Are. When we run up on those nasty bits, we are forced to consciously engage to work that $#!% out or we skirt around it out of fear and ego. If we carefully hone Who We Are without the messy, deep delving into that same self, I think we probably run into HUGE disconnects from reality and right action. I hope all of us are prepared to do that work, no matter what kind of yoga we practice.

    There are plenty of stellar Anusara people who’ve chosen to keep their license and try to salvage the method they love, just as there are magnificent former Anusara folks who’ve chosen to break with the organization. As previous conversations on have illustrated (Doug Keller and Amy Ippoliti being obvious examples), it has been tough, even litigious, to get the truth out in a public forum. It’s not easy being a whistle-blower, even when you’re righteous. It’s *especially* not easy when the wrong-doer is family: don’t you usually try to address family problems in house before you go to an authority figure?

    As a part time journalist, I don’t know if I would have published the jfexposed content. YogaDork’s never been about hard journalism, though, no offense intended. That said, I think HuffPo’s Stewart J. Lawrence’s tone was far more salacious than yours: “But the reasons for the splits were left vague, until the online magazine Yoga Dork published an anonymous but highly detailed memorandum in which Friend’s wide-ranging transgressions were spelled out in gory detail, with emails and letters describing his fondness for yoga witchcraft, marijuana peddling, and ritualistic sex with just about anyone who might find the pudgy 52-year-old an appealing bed mate — including, it appears, hundreds of his ‘followers,’ as well as dozens of trusted associates over a period of many years. ” Many people are conflating YD’s tone with Lawrence’s tone, or the tone of the original jfexposed content. I certainly wish an esteemed teacher like Elena Brower has/will publicly chastize her HuffPo peer on the same offense.

    • SQR

      Yeah, I have to say, that other Huffpost article (Stewart J. Lawrence) was kind of stupid. I see an interesting irony in Brower mentioning YD at the end of her piece, though- given Huffpost’s readership, there are now a whole lot more people who know Yogadork exists… she’s unwittingly done this site a favor.

  • Yoga Chick

    I’ve never met Elena but after reading this drivel on Huff Post it is clear she has a whole lot of healing to do. What a co-dependent, and sad perspective. Glittering and sparkling? What exactly does she think she is, a yoga angel? Sad… Just sad.

  • Professor c

    I really think that the “Anusara Elite” need to take some time off and evaluate their lives and what they teach. From what we have been reading lately they have been covering up John’s behavior and lies for many years.

  • Oh Elena. Here’s the thing: if you and other senior teachers in the know HAD spoken up, then YD wouldn’t have had to be in the position to break the story. Your inaction, and that of others who were enabling John made this situation worse.

    I get that JF sounds abusive and manipulative and that all of those closest to him were probably conditioned to put up and shut up.

    But seriously, I think it’s probably too soon for Elena to claim she “forgives” JF. I reckon she and all the others complicit in his actions have just as much work to do on themselves as he does.

    Once again – yoga without integrity just doesn’t sound like real yoga to me, no matter how often you’re “melting your heart”.

    • Svasti,
      You hit the nail RIGHT ON the head – I mean, is she not apologizing for being complicit? Why on Earth would she expect YD to keep quiet on the subject? Just because the news bums you does not mean it isn’t news. Unfortunate and painful news, yes-but news nonetheless.

  • Yoga woman

    Instead of “I lied for John, hurt people, got caught, and had to apologize”, it’s …”I was asked to help cover up one big personal lie for John, which ultimately needed to be cleaned up on my end.” These “inner circle” Anusara folks seem tragically steeped in denial and narcissism .There is a persistant attempt to deflect personal responsibility for their own behavior, as well as assign blame to those who would expose it. I would venture to guess that Elena, and other “senior” teachers bailed in order to save their own asses, their own perceived rising “rock-star” status, and income. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that every female senior teacher slept with JF at one time or another. The truth has a way of outing itself.

    Glitter indeed.

  • Salacious = word of the day

    They’ve gotta be cranked up on something.

  • Karen

    What a missed opportunity for Elena. Here she had the perfect chance to help heal the yoga community and instead she furthers the discord by dissing yogadork. There really is something rotten to the core with Anusara. Disappointing. I wonder if she only stuck around to get her meal ticket punched and decided to move on once she got popular enough to go off on her own. It’s the thing that makes sense to me why she stuck around so long.

  • sabine

    For me as a (non-Anusara) Yoga teacher this is a really important discussion. I think it speaks to how important it is to have some integrity as how you deal with your students bodies and minds.
    A part of me is quite angry at how weak the responses of some of those senior Anusara teachers are. You *knew* what was going on and did nothing! Nothing.

    Another part feels quite reaffirmed about why I never trusted Anusara, too much flakiness, “glitter”, too much adoration of John Friend. And now those same teachers still do not have the courage to take some responsibility. It sounds like a cult.

    It might be best for some of these teachers, like Brower to remove themselves from teaching, at least for a while. I could not take them serious as a teacher.

    AND a shoutout of support to YD. She just informed us what was already on the www. Remember the internet! And to threaten to boycott YD is just cheap and an insult to people’s intelligence who read this blog.

    • Yoga Chick

      Sabine, I agree. The “senior teachers” should step down from teaching for now. They are as complicit as John is and as a yoga teacher I do not respect or support them. I have studied with a few of those mentioned above and even did an Anusara training in my early days. There was far too much adoration of John to the point of actual desperation if someone couldn’t make it to a workshop or “gathering” for me and I lost respect for those I saw throw themselves head on into Anusara without ever once taking a workshop or teacher training with anyone other than an Anusara biggie. How many times, I wondered, can you read the same damn book? What a grossly limited education as a yoga teacher, no matter how “Senior” you’ve become.

  • P

    YD, thanks for breaking the story. No one else had the guts. Agree with those above who say that the senior Anusara teachers seem to be as complicit as JF. They left so publicly, clearly wanting to send a message, but obfuscating the reasons why—until YD brought in some harsh daylight.

  • supporting YD on this one. I found Elena’s potshot out of line: http://www.ujayii.com/2012/02/20/anusara-showdown-brower-takes-on-yogadork/

    And, yeah, it’s not that funny to fake-post under teachers’ names. I will have something to say about one of the names that was invoked, though.

  • simply yoga

    Seems to me when someone drags you, kicking and screaming, into facing personal responsibility — you owe them a huge thank you (even if it makes you squirm and you are still embarrassed. )

    I say, Elena, please thank Yoga Dork for helping you and so many others in your position. That would be the proper thing to do, if you truly are contrite.

    Otherwise — epic fail.

  • another who knows

    TO forgive a sociopath is more madness. See him for what he is, forgive your SELF for falling prey to his god-complex, and realize that what you see is what you get! He isn’t PRETENDING to be an ass, he has made it very clear that he IS an ass! For goodness sake, be willing to admit you SEE it!! Stop doubting what you see and feeling guilty that you see it. We are born with the ability to discern; use that ability. And for goodness sake, stop taking out your guilt on YD. All YD did was finally expose a sociopath — when you would not.

  • simply yoga

    Honest question, because I don’t know. Under her name on the HuffPo article it says: “Founder, co-owner of Virayoga, Art of Attention”.

    What is that? Is it another yoga method? Is it a book or a studio? A co-owner of what exactly? I’m not being snarky at all. I really just never heard of “Virayoga, Art of Attention.” And how is it “owned?” Help me out here.

  • simply yoga

    Oh, maybe it’s a DVD series? I swear I’m not being snarky. I’m just overwhelmingly curious!

  • claire

    Very interesting that Elena was worried about “her standing in the yoga world”…WHAT????? should we get a couch for her ego????? so nice to see how they all preach and don’t practice. What about the standing of a human being seeing another human being hurt and used and taken advantage of? Oh, I guess that was not part of the yoga world she belonged to, but it definitely is part not only of MY yoga world but most importantly of the WORLD I like to live in. It goes down to basic human principles. How many more are there hiding behind this word YOGA to cover up their own faults but be ready to preach about redemption, liberation, loving communities, etc…? shame that is being misused once again

  • Yoga Chick

    Her studio. It appears the next teacher training is, you guessed it, Anusara.


  • So much ego, judgment and defensiveness here. Saddens my heart for all. According to the deepest yoga, none of this is real. It is all a dream. A play. Lila.

    And we are all being played by THAT which has touched our yoga hearts and is calling us to wake up from the dream. Deepest bow to all of the yoga communities everywhere. xo

    • jennifer

      “According to the deepest yoga, none of this is real.”???? Where did you get this “fact”? At Anusara University?

      • W. Fields

        Technically, that is actually the basis of vedantan philosophy.:-)

  • I wrote a response/comment on EJ about this.

    First, I applaud her for admitting her complicity as well as her reason for it.

    Second, I am also appalled by the scapegoating of YogaDork. Usually, whistle-blowers are treated in a very clear course of actions: 1. assertions that the materials are fallacious and mean-spirited; 2. assertions that the person has a personal agenda against the individual/organization/both; and 3. that the information is correct, but the way it was shared was incorrect.

    The reality is that the senior teachers — and those who retired — had ample opportunity to bring this very relevant information to light, to bring forth this painful-yet-healing process, and to do so in the way that THEY saw fit — to say it in the “right” ways.

    THey also had a greater duty to John Friend and Anusara to do so than anyone else — and yet actively chose to be complicit for years (actively) and then continued to be so after retirement (passively), when they didn’t speak up at retirement.

    And, to be sure, had YD not broken this story, I would have had no clue about who these people are/were. I now read several blogs regularly because I found them *through* this scandal. They only had a limited audience before (Anusara folks), and now they are writing on Huffington Post!

    It is *because* Yoga Dork had the courage to bring this information to light that these teachers are getting even more attention and gaining more status in the yoga community, as well as the fact that they can now candidly speak about this (when they didn’t have the courage to do so before) and be lauded for being so honest (after all, even I laud them for this honesty).

  • Cat

    As a mother, I believe this sends the wrong message to her daughter. I’m sorry, but it sounds like she is saying, if you see something bad, don’t say anything and if someone else tells, call them a snitch and don’t play with them anymore. This is a very distressing post by Elena when she could have sent a stong message. This kind of evasion and blame does not make her a strong women .

  • Yoga woman

    Interesting that Ms, Brower opens her piece with a litany of name-dropping. As though Shavasana to Krishna Das somehow validates the integrity and validity of Anusara teachings. Jesus. What strikes me further is that most, if not all, of these aforementioned senior “teachers” were a part of the “inner circle” and knew that John said one thing and did another. They lied and covered for him. For years it seems, while John acted out in an almost schizophrenic way. No wonder Ms Brower takes her temperature every 5 minutes, throws money out the window (the only thing that seems motivate her to change her behavior) obsesses over, and shares every little thing, and is petrified her boyfriend with leave her. Jesus. Go work in a soup kitchen for gods sake. Give blood. Go sit with some HIV positive babies without mothers. And don’t tell anyone about it. (I dare ya!) At first it seemed that JF was just another cliche. Now it appears that the dysfunction is endemic to the Anusara community. Well, not the whole community, just the most educated, most respected, most successful Anusara teachers. You know, the “inner circle” (eyeroll). Bottom line is, the “system” of Anusara is flawed. The problems are systemic. Ms Browers ego is truly astonishing.

    • linny144

      I so agree. the self absorption is mind blowing and she is completely oblivious. how soulfoul she is- able and ready to forgive. wow.

  • Padma

    It looks like these ex-Anusara teachers are jockeying for position to be the head of the new “Reformed Anusara Kula”. That does have a nice ring to it, don’t you agree. Shit, I better trademark that name.

    • Passing more on!

      I read a comment on another blog by Elena herself that she was contacted by Desiree and Ross (the current committee) to come back and help them save Anusara!

  • Casey

    The Anusara community slays me, it really does. John Friend is a charismatic guy who went to India and studied with the greatest yoga teacher of the 20th century, B.K.S. Iyengar, then came back to America and “invented” his yoga. Now you’re suprised to discover he’s an egomaniac without scruples. Really? And am I the only one who is sick to death the that damn repetitive Anusura vocabulary? THis is really just a giant case of the Emperor’s New Clothes. Is there anyone involved who honestly didn’t really now that anything this cultish couldn’t actually be an honest spiritual path?

    • simply yoga

      It kinda seems like they think the whole yoga world revolves around “them.” How did these people get so inflated? They’re like a blip on the radar screen. So unimportant in an ancient tradition. It is to laugh.

  • simply yoga

    And they’re all like, “life coaches” too, as a sideline I guess. Can you imagine asking one of these clowns to coach you on how to live? LOL.

  • Ike

    I did think her sex memo to John was hot.

  • Jane C.

    Thank you, Yoga Dork, and thank you, Jimmy.

  • Emily

    If I never have to hear the words kula, melt, or elegant again, I will be a happy yoga teacher! Sayonara, Anusara

  • Passing more on!

    I just found this one on one of the other blogs!

    yogini February 13, 2012 at 8:45 pm

    I started out an adherent when JF first originated his Anusara system of yoga. I sat beside him on a moutaintop when he celebrated several of its self-appointed anniversaries (August, btw). I listened through the smoke and mirrors to hear, how exactly, he could promise a system that was more than alignment in body but a true method to guarantee choices for true lifelong yogic integrity.
    I then watched, growing more cautious as I pursued an actual life (education, career, marriage and family) with yoga in it rather than yoga with life on the side. One by one, I observed quietly as yogi friends seemed to be so persuaded to submit to his siren’s call and join him on the merry bandwagon. I stood unjudging as they seemed to toil little over how easily it was to simply leave behind lives, relationships, careers and educational pursuits to travel. Like a giant spell, I absorbed with growing concern the way he was able to manage to gain strength to cast a wider and wider net to encourage what he wanted to be a cultural paradigm shift towards a way of being, based in tantric spirituality, yoga poses and, oh yes, integrity. And I grew sad as I waved many a goodbye to those so clearly moving away and only towards JF and, of course, his promises for profitable new directions laid bare by their worn yoga mats and some lululemon tops. I even stood aside as several rose to the highest ranks in his method, joining to become members in the elite circle of associates and teachers that I had to forsake to study, build a career helping save lives and pay the bills. I am not privy to how many of them may have subsequently bedded him (okay, I know of one or two, years ago) but have far more a “hmm” than an “aum” in consideration now.
    What I can say, without reservation, is that JF has remained pretty constant throughout the many more than ten years I have know (of) him, up to and including those since my hasty departure seven years ago after more than enough more than creepy undertones. Forget all that melty heart semantics he has coined to persuade and never mind the naked-goddess-wannabes I myself witnessed (years ago, but still…) dancing naked, high and drunk, in front on him AFTER the training was over and the rest of the regular students had gone on home.
    Bottom line: JF is his ego and all its missing boundaries. I do, however, feel some sadness for those he actually acted against (possibly) in criminal ways – stealing from the pension plan, John, really???
    But there was never much more to this conversation, folks: that John, former corporate type, wanted an empire and wanted to be its emperor was actually fairly transparent to anyone who bothered to keen his/her attention. The real – and simple – story is that he used doublespeak to cover any and all his lack of integrity while smartly convincing all those masses (and masses they became, just check the NY Times) – sensitive new age guys and gals fretting their own disconnect to manage real life and defaulting his magick to anything empirical…like yoga is a form of exercise and meditation is good to help you stay mindful.
    I am not a moralist but there is an unavoidable moral here, for certain: The Man Himself now being conveniently abandoned by his own brand (hmmm…did anyone else see the emperor was without his robes?) and all its namesake(s). And, perhaps worse, the many who jumped ship just in time to be convenient in dodging the bullet of complicity about all that most of us knew, superficially or deep down. It wasn’t really that difficult to taste the spike in the kool aid, folks. But I would reckon to bet that, in the end, from John to all the rest, dumping the dream that once lived in his mind isn’t much of a problem, certainly it does not bely any harm to others, in a universe where reality doesn’t much matter.

  • simply yoga

    It seems they signed on to a business venture more than a yogic path. Every one of their posts stresses their “product”, etc. I can’t think of another lineage of yoga that has this kind of mentality. But maybe I’m just a hayseed.

  • simply yoga

    Ha! Don’t let the door hit ya… Sayonara kula. Can’t say it’s been too swell.

  • Jane C.

    Jimmy – I don’t mean to put you on the spot and I appreciate your candor. My understanding is that Elena was saying the “disgruntled IT guy” put up the JF Exposed website. Can you clarify? Thanks.

    • Jimmy

      I was Anusara’s only IT guy from March 2008 until January 23rd. I put my resignation notice in on January 5th, 2012 and worked my final two weeks. I assume she’s referring to me when she says “disgruntled IT guy”, but her assertion that I posted that stuff is not correct and I am far from disgruntled. I went out on my own terms and tendered my resignation.

  • Yogi

    What an incredibly arrogant post.

    Elena Brower is another one of these fashionable, celebrity-name-dropping yoga teachers who rides her good looks and popularity like prom queen. People worship her, but it’s just because her teachings are lessons in self-help and narcissism packaged as yoga.

    Do what you do, YD.

  • rob

    Thank you Yogadork!

  • T

    Way to go Yogadork! Keep up the good work!

  • jeremy

    Thankyou yoga dork . It is indicitive of the deep conditioning of these stellar and luminous teachers that they to a person have not come clean but continue to spout the john friend babble talk , I have just youtubed elena brower giving talks (Dharma talks !!) at wanderlust , great recruiting ground for the progrom, her talks are excruciating and totally confused , this remember is a senior anusara teacher , it is actually really serious if she thinks what she shares has any clarity or merit or anything to do with yoga , its just a self aggrandising show of insincerity and narcissm , I seriously thought it was all a bit mad . I have never listened to one of the senior teachers because i have heard the script that they are indoctrinated with, this nauseating, everything is positive and nothing is wrong just dont look at what is really going on , live in light mumbo jumbo and i dont like high sugar , low nutrition type products and anusara yoga is nothing if not a product , but this was really just nonesense shot through with big doe eyes and a false humility , either she was pretending or she does need professional help because she is lost in a fog of delusion , Im being really serious . I cant speak for the other stardust enhanced stellar teachers but some of the pronouncements that they have made have followed this pattern of denial , grand delusion , and a complete lack of transparency , is this how this method that works with great results , look how JF got to sleep with those hotties and get some primo mary jane ,and all the time being worshipped , it worked for him , what a blast he had , and after all this yoga is the best, with the rock star teachers , best trainings , happiest shiniest yogis, this method which they will carry on with because it makes loads of money and you get unconditionally adored even if you just spout platitudes , or certainly used to , this method which even elena brower said she was not in alignment with nor presumably the teachers that have resigned and are busily trying to keep the gravy train running, the name anusara is all over the new product , hold on its the same product, although i thought the head manipulator mr friend owned everything , where is he by the way ? does he not need to address the 100s of thousands of adoring fans and followers around the globe ? is he in contact with any of these senior teachers ? Presumably because teachers like elena are so enlightened they do not need any period of standing back self reflecting or any of that , there are innnocents out there that need help , and these people are going to sell it to them, because they are so unaware they cant see the damage that hasnt even arrived for some , the car crash that is anusara yoga isnt over its still spinning down the road taking people out. Anusara and its sheeplike followers are not the only ones who abuse and misuse/misunderstand the powerful blessings of yoga but there is a silent majority of teachers that over the last 15 years who have been subtely put down by Mr Friend and his not so merry band of fools , he always used to give an insult and then say that he had great respect for all other schools in the community of yoga and then talk about the need for community , it was of course , his community and only the adoring could be in it and then they would be very special people like elena , how sweet . Now his accolytes are so programmed that they cant speak for themselves and are either silent or still in co-dependency with friend and his cheap brand
    it is like they have been wound up like one of those clockwork toys and the winder has not yet unwound they are still spouting that the method is the best, they are the best teachers , they have seen it in the anusara adverts and the eyes of those innocent youngsometimes not so young,( midlife crisis anyone ?) people desperately searching in these difficult times , they have seen and tasted the power they could have. If you look on the films of brower you will see the reverence given to her is bizarre almost scary , how would these people be if they met a sincere sharer ?
    The attack on yoga dork was surreal she almost had me fooled at the top of the article . Buyer beware of her messed up take on what yoga is. Mr fiend has infantalised these people with the manipulation of a sociopath , they need to be helped back into society, never mind carry on sharing the precious jewells and tools that yoga offers us .By the way nothing that Mr Friend shared was his he just cobbled different things he had learnt from others and moulded them to suit himself , he even wrote those genuine teachers out of the story yes it is all just a story.
    jai ma

    • This is the first realistic comment i have read.
      From the first time i meant John Friend in a workshop in 2000, where he disrespected the hostess, it has boggled my mind how many people have fallen for him and his “principles”.
      Yoga tools are precious jewels – thank you for your insightful comments.

  • Through a Glass Darkly

    The word from those contacting ‘Anusara’ for refunds for upcoming workshops such as Maui (April) and Chicago (April) is that THEY ARE STILL ON! No word as to who is teaching them — in the absence of info, all signs point to JF showing up after his month-long ‘year’ of healing.

    One more lie.

    • Sarah

      They can’t cancel the workshops. I’d be willing to bet Anusara doesn’t have the money on hand to refund anyone anything. If they had an ounce of extra cash, John would have already opened The Center in Encinitas. In fact if they had an ounce of spare cash, Anusara wouldn’t have fired all of its employees. Right now Anusara is down to John + five employees + a “corporate consultant” : http://www.anusara.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=127&Itemid=181

      • Michael

        I like how John and Wendy are towering over the others… as if their on a pedastal.

      • Through a Glass Darkly

        You’re probably right — employees were likely let go because they couldn’t make payroll, and no money for refunds. Complicated.

    • Yoga Chick

      This just came today via email:

      Dear Anusara Yoga Friends,

      Greetings from The Woodlands, TX, and the staff of Anusara.

      Please know that our office is open and that we are here to serve you. It may take us a little time to get to all of your inquiries, so we greatly appreciate your patience during this transitional time.

      Yesterday, John began his leave of absence from teaching. We know that many of you are wondering what is happening with John’s teaching schedule. We will be postponing some of John’s workshops and hopefully rescheduling them to a later date this year. As soon as we have updates to the schedule, we will send another email, within the next 48 hours.

      Communications from John are forthcoming.

      Thank you for your patience. We are working hard to serve you.
      The Staff of Anusara

      Rescheduling? Later date this year? He should not be allowed to sit in the seat of the teacher again for a very, very long time.

      • Sarah

        I agree totally. He shouldn’t be sitting in the seat of the teacher until he has made amends for his actions. However I strongly suspect Anusara has no money, and he’s partly doing this out of desperation. I could be wrong, but…seriously why else would a company fire nearly their entire staff in the wake of a scandal? Surely John wasn’t sleeping with ALL of those employees? Even for him, that sounds far-fetched.

        “It may take us a little time to get to all of your inquiries” because we just fired nearly all of our staff and we have no customer service people any more. But don’t worry, John will be rescheduling his events after he takes a lengthy month long period to reflect on his actions and the harm he has caused others. Maybe a month and a half. Six weeks should do it! Surely by then people will have forgotten and want to clamor to give me their money again…

  • Bravo Yoga Dork!

  • eva

    This’ woman’s commentary on Huffpost is pathetic, wrong-headed, and disingenuine.
    She needs a good de-programmer.
    Yes, she is still spouting JFspeak, esp. the bs about the “disgruntled employee.”
    Yes, she is still protecting the perp, keening over what Yogadork said about “this man’s LIFE.”
    Bitch please. What about what “this man” did to OTHER PEOPLE’S LIVES?
    Start there.
    On another thread I kept asking how people could give up their own sense of self-power and authority to John Friend. Now I know. It was easy — they really did agree with him. They had fucked up values themselves, to begin with. They were just as slimy and freasy and dirty as John Friend. Sure it was a stressful environment, but also,obviously, they got off on it.
    Pack of vicious ignorant little RATS.
    The entire inner circle. ALL those people, until they demonstrate otherwise.
    And though I still respect Birney for her public mea culpa, I am now also less impressed with her after having visited her website and FB page. Ew. What’s with all the pretty-girl posuer bullshit; what’s with the lacey half-sleeves and all the shots of her doing asanas by a creek? If she gonna burst out and go YEAH BUT I’M A MODEL AND AN ACTRESS TOOOOOOOO! AND I REALLY WANNA DIRECT.
    I mean, where’s the head shot?
    I’m all for aesthetics — love em! — but what a lot of vain, self-promoting shit.
    Desiree Rambaugh too — all UP into havin’ that cute body, way back from the 80s on.
    THAT’S what John Friend tapped into with these people.
    Listen, since yoga has gone so Hollywood, it’s really not surprising that the casting couch was often used to the point of breaking.

  • Dude

    Good lord, do you think Ms. Brower takes herself a little too seriously? Then again, given that she got to be in a room of anointed people at the very beginning of it all, why shouldn’t she be? I’ll tell you what I truly and deeply hope: that all of these people would swallow all the crow they have coming, stop blaming other people, and just admit what it is all about: money and yoga fame, whatever that is worth. All of these self-appointed experts and gurus may be really good at yoga and repeating Hindu terms, but their greatest accomplishment must be self-absorption. Remind me not to take a class from any of the people on that mountaintop who, in order to maintain standing in the community, sold their souls to Anusara and John Friend. My practice will be better for it.

    • Jade

      i don’t have anything constructive to add, just wanted to show appriciation for your post!

  • David

    Stand messenger against wall. Ready, aim…

    As has been suggested above, the inner circle weren’t dupes they were into it, apparently. They all have a lot of work to do. Gotta feel for all the local teachers around the country who in good faith have so much riding on the brand.

  • Sooooo MAD !

    I am very angry and sick of those ” knew” camp Anusary senior teachers, especially those famous, big name one like Elena……
    How can they traveled around the world, spreding those suger-coated flowery anusara languages with all the life-enhancement spiritial preching while knew all alone ( or maybe even participating) the Deception, Lies, Dishonesty, Deceit….for all these years and in the name of “YOGA TEACHER”.
    Where did those people came from? Were they normal before they met JF ? Doing yoga won’t save them, they need deep psychic therapy.

  • Barbara Most

    As someone who lived in abroad for a number of years, I can attest to the manipulations in small yoga communities, by senior certified teachers and John, who always came in with a sense of entitlement to the local community.

    In other countries with stronger social/cultural fabric, the consumption of yoga is much less pronounced. So when someone dedicates themselves to a kind of yoga such as Anusara, they give up their life savings, their families and their social life. We in America have no idea what that might be like.

    I have seen so much dischord all over our region in relation to who comes to teach what and when, and for how much – followed with fancy contracts. Just look at who their teacher is/was, and you can see how they learned.

    The senior teachers knew what was happening in the underground of Anusara, and they helped create it. How else did the organization grow? And just look now at how those teachers are launching their “careers” after having jumped ship – monkey see monkey do.

    To sum it all up, there is one common force in all of the corruption and lies, and that is the almighty dollar. What other country in the world can take such a beatuiful practice like yoga – conceptualize it, brand it, market it, and sell, sell, sell like the pied piper, all over the world.

    Anusara’s foray into the world market had a lot to do with John’s Siddha Yoga days – now talk about another affluent, syncophantic spiritual-holier-than-thou community. Many of those Siddha contact are the people who have hosted John internationally, and that’s how those exclusive deals with local studios got cut (everyone knew about those deals). Those hosts/studios had the monopoly, regardless of how corrupt and dysfunctional they may have been, and how much they messed with other people’s lives in their love and pursuit to study yoga.

    We used to look at each other as we spoke of the insane practices of Anusara, John and the teachers. And we knew that if we ever told anyone about them, they would think we were crazy. You can believe that what we witnessed and experienced first-hand is of the same magnitude of what has been revealed on YD recently.

    Any decent journalist out there would have a great investigative piece that would be appropriately seen in The New Yorker (HINT), where a lenghty article was written about the corruption of Siddha Yoga, many years ago. Just look at who John’s teacher was.

    Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
    Let us hope we don’t get fooled again.

    Perhaps we should all just get a life and do the practice within that life. Sounds like yoga to me. But that can’t be turned into a product now can it?

  • Julie

    Elena’s abbriviated blog this morning basically begs us to forgive and move on. It sounds like the Anusara forgiveness is actually enablement. I have unsubcribed to her. And as far as throwing YD and Mr IT Guy under the bus – I am reminded of a line in an old Monkees song (did I just out myself as being too old to bed Clifford J Friend??? Lol…) “She needs someone to walk on so her feet don’t touch the ground”

  • eva

    I’d like to point out that in the responses to her resignation in November, which you can look up on here, this woman mentioned only positive, “growth-orientated” reasons for leaving.
    And the respondents practically fellated her.
    She, in other words, back in November, lied omission.
    And oh how everyone bought it! Pant pant pant.
    What a big stroke-job.

    • She is a..........

      What do you call a person who lies all the time and really believes his /her lies?
      .(a)…… Deluded.
      (b)…….congenital liar
      (c) …….Psychotic
      (d) ….. A pathological liar.
      Oh no, she is a yoga teacher !

  • Bruce

    I wonder if Elena gets it yet? “YD needs to apologize” indeed -GIVE ME A BREAK. Thankyou YD – The only one who heard about it and decided not to be complicit by ignoring what was going on to.

  • Cynthia

    Elena’s comment on HuffPost regarding yogadork after being repeatedly slammed there:

    “And as for the YogaDork comments, the reporting was really just mean. It wasn’t just reporting the facts, it was a level of ridicule that just seemed too much. The facts are the facts, the ridicule didn’t need to be there. That was my only point.”

    Kind of sounds like Waylon whining about how everyone is being mean to him.

    • Andy

      Well they both have an obvious burning desire to be centers of attention in the yoga scene.

    • Yoga woman

      She continues to delude herself with this statement, and perpetuate the cycle of dysfunction, denial, and deflection:

      The point was, YD burst the anusara bubble, which we see now, was only the tip of the iceberg, exposed he truth, and unless YD apologize to John (Really, Elena, are you freaking kidding?) She’s gonna withhold her love, take her toys and go home.

      She learned well from her teacher.

  • Andy

    The thing that irks me the most is all these senior anusara teachers feeling the need to come out with public statements; as if they are all some sort of politician. Just the fact that they all need to be managing PR for being yoga teachers. This is yoga we’re talking about here—-inhale, 1,2,3…” Something has gone of track here… Perhaps it did a long long time ago, but it ain’t right.

  • abbylou

    Strong aversion to Anusara-trained teachers…

    I don’t pay much attention to this yoga scandal stuff. It doesn’t matter much to me. All communities have their scandals.

    I do want to poll the readers though…I’m asking in ALL SINCERITY whether anyone else has a strong aversion to Anusara-trained teachers. I try to be open-minded about teachers. Occasionally one of a few different Anusara-trained teachers will sub for my regular teacher. They all seem like very nice people before and after class, but something creepy happens the minute class starts and they start preaching, I mean teaching. My hackles go up and I want to leave the room. I have tried to view this experience as a style of yoga that doesn’t “resonate” with me. I really can’t pinpoint what exactly rubs me the wrong way other than that it all feels very inauthentic and more like the cool girls in the yoga clique than a regular class.

    Has anyone else had this experience?

    • Andy

      Yes. I have taken a couple classes with a couple senior Anusara teachers and found them to be insufferable. Unbearable. I don’t want to talk down on them or take away from someone else’s awesome experience, but for me – no thanks. I can’t deal with the constant sound of the teachers voice throughout the class.

      • Yoga woman

        Ditto what Andy said. As a 30 plus practitioner with 20 years of teaching experience, when I do go to a yoga studio to attend a class, I want the teacher to get me in and out of the postures safely. Period. I tune out anything that’s not related to asana. I’m not there for that. And that is not what Hatha Yoga is about. I have had a daily home practice for 25 years. My spiritual life is mine and mine alone.

        If JF did anything to “shift the landscape of yoga forever” (again, eyeroll) it was a dilution and bastardization of what yoga really is. The proof is in the pudding. He’s an admitted liar, adulterer, and a cheat. Elena is an admitted liar as well. She implies that most, if not all, of the “inner circle” were liars as well to one extent or another. (You might want to prepare yourself for a taste of your own “slay the messenger” medicine on that one, sister) This isn’t just the failings of one man. This was an understood and agreed upon code of conduct in the “inner circle” of the anusara community. A systemic dysfunction at the core. You all appear to be culpable.

        Yea, they changed the landscape of yoga alright, and it’s potentially a stain reflected upon all yoga teachers. I’m pretty pissed about it. Thanks for that, Elena. Thanks for embarrassing us all.

    • Not my English !

      Thank you, thank you, thank you !
      I have been to several Anusara classes, and I was depressed every time when I left the class. I am a foreign born graduate school student, major in Psychology in Texas. I always thought my English is good enough to understand and communicate with most of the people, consider the heavy study I have been thru.
      But, I have big problem everytime when I went to the Anusara class, (no problem with the Iyengar and Ashtanga Yoga.)
      When the teacher started to talk about the Anusara yoga philosophy , everybody else seemed all very involved and moved by what the teacher says, and I will have no idea what he/she was talking about and got totally lost.
      I always thought it’s because my English is not good enough to understand these deep spiritual talk , and that is very discouraging for a Psychology major grad student !
      Thank you. Now I feel much better!

    • not only the classes...

      but the practitioners can be pretty annoying as well. i had an anusara practitioner come to a class that i was teaching (brought her injured friends on a recommendation from one of my students, whom she told me couldn’t handle a full anusara class b/c of their injuries) who proceeded to leave her mat multiple times to walk across the room and adjust her friends. mind you, she wasn’t a trained teacher, just a regular joe practitioner. it totally disturbed the class and created a dangerous situation where her friends weren’t able to pay attention to instruction or stay present with their own experience, and then doubling the possibility of injury with her inexperienced adjusting “skills”. after class she spent 5 minutes lecturing me on how anusara has been proven to be the “most effective & safe teaching method” out there. yet, she brought her friends to me because she heard i specialize in working with injured people and knew anusara wasn’t right for them. it was one of the strangest student encounters i have ever had.

      • another who knows

        I have had the same experience and it happens quite often. I teach with more emphasis on breathing your way into a pose, and less emphasis on getting into a “perfectly aligned” pose. I was struck, at a retreat I offered, when an anusara inspired brand new teacher, kept jumping out of his practice to “correct” someone else practicing yoga. You cannot correct people and practice yoga at the same time. What rubs me the wrong way with anusara is that the teacher is taught to FIX the pose and FIX the student. In my experience with yoga, there is nothing to fix at all. When the “teacher” (and that is such a mis-nomer, really) remembers that his/her job is to remind people to stay present and in their bodies, the “student” then gets to experience PRESENCE, a stilling of the mind, and their own innate intelligence. Then the teacher quickly realizes that the “student” (again, these terms bug me) doesn’t “need” anything else from them.

      • Yoga woman

        oh that would be the famous anusara “partner” work. Forgot about that. Yea, the last thing I want on my body are the hands of a novice practitioner. Really scary.

        • not only the classes...

          oh yes, i forgot about that too. it was rampant in the one and only seminar that i took with JF. such a clear and manipulative strategy – to get a room full of beginner yoga students and have them spend 2 hours pulling and prodding each other into backbends that they couldn’t possibly achieve on their own then sending them back into the world all jacked up on heart prana (after a short a talk on how great anusara is, of course). yuck, yuck and yuck. my back, which was perfectly healthy and pain free at the time hurt for almost a week afterwords.

    • john

      No strong aversion but the method really doesn’t work for me on a basic physical level. Never bought into the “philosophy” but that’s not what I go to yoga class for and there are plenty of other places I have to tune it out. Only senior teacher I’ve trained with didn’t feel weird at all. I’ve done tons of Iyengar so I’m used to partner work, always found it useful in its place – though always better with a strong group.

  • simply yoga

    She isn’t getting much love on HuffPo either. The other “senior” teachers would be wise to distance themselves from her.

    And oh, gee wiz, what will YD do without Elena as a contributor? oh noes!

    • Yoga woman

      This appears to be the tip of he iceberg. She’s just the first one to come out and say she lied for JF to save her ego and financial future. She implies everyone else did too. The truth will out itself. These people need handlers. It’s astonishing she’s teaching yoga and admonishing (in a thinly veiled, passive-aggressive way) the whole world to forgive. Forgive what, exactly? It’s not for us to forgive John, you and your merry “inner circle”. All we are doing is observing and commenting on the truth. The yoga community didn’t create this mess-YOU DID. John did. And who else knows how man others. I don’t know why, but I continue to be amazed at the size of this womans ego, and her utter inability to see herself clearly. It’s really getting tragic. As someone said on this or another board-she needs to STFU. Consult with her lawyers, and STFU. Hand off the shovel. It’s truly amazing she’s in Mexico teaching right now. And with one of John’s exes, Christy Nones. The one he most recently cheated on. Ugh. Who are these people?

  • Charles

    Seems like whenever a spiritual practice in the west gets involved with money-making, it all falls apart. (In western Buddhism, in contrast, however, the teachings are typically offered freely). Since there’s such a cult of business around yoga, the yoga itself is lost as a spiritual practice. We should probably just recognize that in the west, it’s one more commodity and treat it as an exercise class instead of doing all this soul-searching and creating a tempest in a teapot. People mistakenly trust yoga teachers with their well-being; yoga teachers are out to make a living. Making a living and caring for other people is a delicate balance. (I was once an Anusara teacher too). Let’s stop pretending that American yoga teachers are spiritual gurus and accept the fact that they’re offering a service which some of us like to pay for. (I can’ resist adding that prostitution is a service some of us pay for too).

    • Vision_Quest2

      Yoga teachers … identify with prostitutes on some level. I am not proud of the fact that I had gone to a yoga studio whose name evokes that of an Oriental outcall-massage place. In retrospect, the name is a dead giveaway that I temporarily chose to ignore.

  • simply yoga

    Agree. I took a class once and thought it was just silly. I don’t get the whole “glittery”, brightest, most intelligent, blah blah meme at all.

    Is anusara really all that popular? With who?

  • Yoga woman

    I’m not sure how popular it is exactly. We have one studio in our community and my son (who also has a daily home practice) and I checked it out. It started with a story about one unrelated thing or another. It was all about her, her struggles, etc. blah blah blah. She just went on and on and on while we’re hanging out in DFD. She oblivious to the class. She just wanted to hear herself talk. There was smoke coming out of my sons ears and she was oblivious. We never went back. To be fair, I have experienced this in other styles of yoga as well. But never in Ashtanga. Never in Iyengar. Never in Bikram. And as an aside, for all the grief Bikram gets, at least with him what you see is what you get. He’s brutally honest about what he’s about and what his intentions are. In light of this scandal, it’s downright refreshing.

    • Vision_Quest2

      Not once have I never commented that Bikram’s lack of hypocrisy is downright refreshing!

      Love the guy or hate the guy, he’s out for what he’s out for and he does not pretend otherwise …

  • David

    Ok. Just went over to HuffPo and read her post. Kinda sorry I did. It’s sad. She is in her own, glittery world.

  • simply yoga

    I’ll stop piling on, because I’m starting to feel mean. But oh my gosh, that first paragraph of her piece is hilarious. You’d think she was there for the signing of the Declaration of Independence or the first moonwalk. She and her comrades “shifted the landscape of yoga forever.”

    The girl needs help.

  • shaktipirate

    This is one of the only places online or in the physical world where I feel I can get an actual REAL view of yoga. Light and love has its place in the yoga world but I prefer it to not be constantly blown up my ass. One can only breathe in glitter and chocolate unicorns for so long until the desire to smoke, drink and swear like a truck driver on the way out of studio takes hold.
    Who in their right mind can even begin to maintain supergroovylovelightbullshitasana that is crammed down our throats in class, books, and magazines!?! The really awesome part of this whole thing is.. If you do not maintain it then you must not be a true yogi. (a namaste for all but a notsomuch for you)
    No ego could support that level of self deception for long.
    Life is suffering..who said that? some one important I think…So embrace the icky, grab a little reality, hold on to your mat and make sure your feet dont stink. Its gonna be a wild ride!

    Thank you yoga dork! You are the true shaktipirate!

  • Bob

    Thanks YD, for all that you do for yoga. The JF information was and is important for us to know. And we weren’t going to get it from JF or his inner circle. As a student, I have benefited tremendously from Anusara classes and teachers. But the yoga world is much bigger than Anusara and the recent scandal. I’m sure we will all survive and continue to grow and practice. 🙂

  • sphere-o-blog

    Kind of impressed with the yoga community on this one- & maybe even with Anusara- relatively speaking. If you follow news on fallen gurus, priests, and coaches, as I do, you might find it remarkable how many thoughtful and fair comments are on the blogs about this situation.
    One thing more would be the rarest of all- which is for the people involved to be selflessly and industriously planning for the help and care that will be needed by those specific people who were sacrificed to their leader’s ego. Sure everyone’s hurt, but there are always those that really take it in the neck. Bet they are ostracized, friendless, and in financial trouble. Turn that around, and that would be moving forward. Thoughts from one who has been there, in a different brand.

  • Yoga woman

    Hit the nail on the head, Shaktipirate. Made me laugh. It’s ALL yoga.

  • vivian araullo

    You have no reason to apologize for exposing misconduct. You have no need to apologize for reporting the truth. Good job. You have the support of truth-tellers everywhere, this is the work of satya–you did the yogic thing.

  • vivian araullo

    i don’t get it–why is satya–truth-telling–one of the yogic principles, being berated? why is there a demand for an apology? if no one had the guts to expose misconduct, then why should the one who does bring misconduct to light apologize? the logic, or lack of it, is beyond my comprehension.

  • Alrighty all.
    Glittery: guilty.
    Lied in the past: guilty.
    Deluded in the past: guilty.
    Respectful of YogaDork: guilty.

    Sad for my former teacher and his school: guilty.

    Shall we keep it moving now?

    • Michael

      Blaming people for the consequences of the truth coming out and only piping up after everyone already knew: guilty

      Passing on the opportunity to frame the truth from your own perspective before it was out there: guilty

    • eva

      Keep what moving?
      Sorry that dealing w/ consequences is such a drag for you. You can’t control the velocity of the winds you’ve loosed. That’s the law of karma, girl.
      Grow up. Suck it up. Be a woman and stop whining. You’re in Mexico?. The rest of us are here, working.
      You can’t decide for anyone else when and how it’s time to “move on.” You are not the artbitrar of such things. You can”t be active in the inner circle of complicitors, and then get exasperated with the pace of the larger community’s responses just according to what’s comfortable for you. Sorry, the world doesn;’t work that way.
      And it isn’t just you. This is not personal.
      give it time. STFU, do your work, pay your penance, and give it time.
      Teach. Teach asana, and stop thinking you’re more spiritually advanced than anyone. You’re not.
      In time, you’ll need, like everyone else active and complicit in that snake pit, to earn back respect and trust through action.
      The rest of the community has to still cycle through the implications of what’s happened. Chill and have patience and compassion for THAT, instead of expecting that it all revolve around you.
      Get it?

      • Julie

        Eva – excellent points. Time to put the big girl panties on and earn some respect from the greater yoga community. It’s not all about AY.
        Kids these days – sheesh!

        • “The rest of the community has to still cycle through the implications of what’s happened.” – Eva – you are so right about that! Honest and committed practitioners have been very upset by this debacle.
          Your advice to Elena is smart; i hope she heard it.

    • Yoga woman

      keep exactly what moving, Eleana?

    • xandra360

      Shouldn’t that be DISrespectful of YogaDork?

  • judge judy

    Elena – one word:

    Don’t pee on our our legs and tell us its raining.

    Todd Norian just announced his UNresignation from Anusara in his February newsletter:
    In the midst of the week Todd resigned his Anusara license, but has since stepped back in (“unresigned”). There is a group working now to build a new Anusara teachers organization. Todd will likely be part of this group moving forward. We are holding a positive vision for a bright new future for Anusara”.

    Are you likewise going to UNresign and become part of this group working towards rebuilding the Brand ™ and this recent admission of guilt is just part of your contrived and covert narcissitic manipulative attempt to do damage control and save face?

    OR … maybe there is a group of you from within the inner circle,,, those “in the know” … a greedy bunch – who actually set John up and are yourselves behind jfexposed so you could steal his company out from underneath him …and fill your own coffers and ignit your own fame … (how nice to try and blame Jimmy) …

    I wouldn’t put it past you, and I’ve had some hints from inside that this might be the case. Which is not to say that Jf doesn’t deserve it but two wrongs don’t make a right. Hm…… Clever. and Nasty.

    So — lay it all down for us “teech” — or should I call you Ms. Brand Manager/Account Executive/Head of Sales & Marketing? Wuz up? Keep it moving in an open, honest, and transparent fashion, shall we? And — don’t pee on our legs and tell us its raining little girl.

    • Hello?

      Well – Elena hasn’t responded to this yet. Interesting.
      Elena – are you going to join the new band of old merry pranksters and reinvent another branded ™ wheel?

  • What to keep moving?

    Big girl panties on, child to raise, yoga to practice.

    Definitely not more spiritually advanced that anyone here. Definitely not exasperated, just admitting that some time needs to pass, and we all have other things to attend to.

    I meant to try to make things more clear, and from your perspective, I hear that I’m sounding trite, holier-than-thou, and annoying. I assure you that wasn’t my intent. I’m humbled, and appreciate your insights.

    • etc.

      Bravo. Take a bow. And the Oscar goes to …(drum rolll) …. Elena Brower.
      Elena, dear, your agenda is showing.

      • Michael

        I’m happy to be in the minority here. When objective discourse is replaced by mean-spirited, anger-fueled, judgment then it’s time for those judging to reflect upon their own short-comings, instead of hurling childish insults on to someone who admitted to her own.

        Elena Brower may not write with clarity, but she showed a level of courage and leadership that most people do not have the capacity to demonstrate. Most importantly, she expressed compassion and empathy for others – traits found consistently in people that possess the highest inter-relational skills.

        And it is not now, nor ever has it been a crime to make money. It’s actually an admirable pursuit.

        I say she is fantastic. Elena – if you read this, I’ll study with you anywhere , anytime. Stay strong.

        As for the others, walk in someone else’s shoes and feel what they feel before you judge.

    • eva

      That’s nice. Actually you did not admit that time needs to pass; you ask that everyone move on. Ie speed things up. Or … ?
      It was my recommendation that you step back and let time pass. Let the winds blow. Stop trying to do image-damage-control. Stop trying to step in and re-frame the arguments from some higher ground.
      I have no idea about any of that Todd Norian shit, but I tell you, girl, this is all very creepy. If you get back involved with those people, you put your “child to raise” at big risk in a sleazy environment. Did you think of any of that along the way?
      What’s the salvage, child to raise, or Elena Brower as a big tent name?
      Time will tell where your motivations are. Where your values are.

      • dayita

        folks, this is starting to sound to me like a lot of outright hatin’ happenin’

        but then again maybe it is just me

    • Sarah

      Elena, you owe Jimmy the IT guy a public apology. You were extremely out of line in saying anything negative about him. Not very Shri or from the heart.

      • simply yoga

        This has been bothering me. A lot. Jimmy, the “IT Guy” is a person, a human being, the INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY employee who probably worked long hours and plenty hard, who serviced an organization that relied heavily on promotion and media. I think he said he worked there for five years or so. Not a short amount of time. Sounds like a pretty loyal, devoted person. He’s also a family man, as he talked about his child in one of his posts.

        I think flinging out the phrase, “the IT GUY”, you know, like a fleck of dust under one’s shoe, is dismissive and rude. I think it sounds obnoxious. Just my two cent.

        • Sarah

          I wasn’t trying to be dismissive or rude by referring to him that way; I just wanted to be specific enough about who I was talking about since I don’t know him. However I do feel badly for him and I feel like he’s being mistreated by public figures in the public eye for no reason other than they’re angry and need to blame SOMEONE, even an innocent.

          It seems to me he had nothing to do with this, and Elena had A LOT to do with this. She knew all along what John was up to, and instead of showing a bit of integrity and TELLING someone, she instead decided to spew false light and love. Probably so that she could keep as many career options open as possible. She is a business woman before she is a yogini.

          Sate hitam satyam, Elena. You should be ashamed of yourself.

          • simply yoga

            Hi Sarah. I wasn’t referring to you at all! I know you were just quoting. I agree with you entirely.

      • Through a Glass Darkly

        The characterization of Jimmy as ‘disgruntled’ shows that the JF way of thinking — in which everyone not in ‘alignment’ with him has a personality disorder, mental problem or is just ‘angry’ or ‘bitter’ — is still alive and well in the minds of Anusara teachers. Even those who have distanced themselves from him personally.

        The smarminess of this ‘disgruntled’ piece of smack, when Jimmy displayed a stronger and truer moral compass than those many people who claim to teach ‘yoga,’ is appalling and an embarrassment. It is the absolute low point of the entire piece by Elena, and is likewise the most revealing. Nothing has changed in the way of thinking that has so long enabled this diseased pattern of behavior to continue for the better part of a decade, if not longer.

        Rather than thinking of this mindset as ‘glitter’ cast to the wind, I see it more as cells that have metastasized and are spreading. It is a cancerous way of thinking.

        A full apology to Jimmy is in order, on the same level as Ross’s apology to Douglas Brooks on EJ.

        EJ, by the way, remains too squeamish to give Jimmy a fair hearing on EJ, simply because he is unwilling to expose himself fully to the wrath of the Kula by casting aside all anonymity. This despite the fact that both JF and his ‘kula’ have already been demonstrated to be abusive and unscrupulous in its methods of responding to criticism.

        JF’s lawyers are likely threatening nothing less than financial ruin, and comments such as Elena’s (“disgruntled”) show that teachers with the Anusara bug remain complicit in making this threat very real. YogaDork is the only place where they are genuinely called out on that behavior. EJ should man up too.

      • Yogaurt

        I don’t know the details on the “IT Guy” as I haven’t had time to read ALL the threads on this issue. Just wanted to post a personal perspective….
        Sometimes being in a position where you control information flow puts you in conflict. Being privy to inside operations can drive you mad with guilt for not letting people know about horriblie goings on. Being an “IT Guy” is not just being a computer jockey that reboots your box when you can’t print. It means managing data, even incrminiating data.
        Did he sign a privacy agreement? Did he breech contracts? What did he really do/what do people think he did?
        Was he morally right?
        Was he helping others?
        Was he acting in kindness?

        • Answers

          I know it’s time consuming, but if you follow the thread back, he actually did answer your questions, under the name Jimmy. What he did was right. He did not post the jfexposed site, but he did report JF’s actions regarding the pension fund. He was reporting an action that was illegal at the time, and only made ‘right’ later, BECAUSE he acted.

          Now I ask you, was that morally right?

          • Yogaurt

            Thanks. I did go back and read the threads. I should have indicated my questions were rhetorical, only set forth to forward the discussion.
            As far as a moral determination, goes, I am in no position to sit in judgement. I’d say if he acted in the best direction of his conscience and in the interest of bettering the outcome for others, then yes he was morally right (on the pension thing only, as he admitted to exposing that).

            As for being “disgruntled”, what IT person isn’t? That’s why guns are prohibited in my workplace (not the post office).

  • Question:

    If YogaDork had not brought these accusations to light,
    do you think the Anusara community would have internally dealt with their dysfunction to this great an extent, or swept it once again under the rug? Based on how it operated in the past, I’d have to guess the latter.

    For all the ugliness and the risk of printing something from an anonymous source, I think YD’s actions and the public outcry it triggered gave Anusara a true asana-kicking of public proportions, and through that fire, a real chance to come back to itself. Or, more specifically, it gave JF and those who enabled him an invitation to take a good, hard look in the mirror and hopefully, eventually, move forward with a more integrity-based structure intact, both within and without.

    I am not an Anusara yogi, but for all those who are, and who want to remain, I wish you all the best.

    And, YogaDork…well played, ‘sir’.

    • etc.

      sadi – why do you change your tune?
      this has very different tone then your post on HuffPo where you were high fiving Elena, your “sis”.
      c’mon. cut the crap.

  • Yoga woman

    Unbelievable. You publicly dis YD. Demand and apology and then show up with some lame-ass passive aggressive admonishment for us all to move on. You have no voice here sister.

    • etc.

      unstable borderline personality disorder is co-morbid with narcissistic personality and sociopathic tendencies. chronic liars and manipulators with more then their fair share of charm; could charm a snake oil salesman out of his skin. LOL. make very good executives, salesmen, and brand managers. monsanto is full of them.

  • eva

    On the off-chance that this is not all as nefarious as it appears, let’s consider this:
    Maybe these folks are just genuinely piss-poor thinkers and writers after years of being saturated by JF bullshit.
    Maybe this woman truly wouldn’t understand why a puff-piece commentary in Huffpost would be ill-considered, esp., given the hypocrisy and perp-protection it evinced.
    So maybe the object lesson is just, to, once again, for not, stop trying to spin-doctor everything, stop trying to control and frame public image and arguments.
    Girls and boys, you’re just not up to it. You’re not. Recognize your limitations, and move on.
    A mea culpa is a mea culpa, not a blame and hypocrisy and spin-fest. When your organization has entailed employees and students fucking their teacher/boss, you have no business criticizing the exposure of those obscene acts as a crass act. The exposure, not matter its tone, was not crass, the BEHAVIORS were crass.
    Pot, meet kettle.
    Really. okay. If you don’t get it, yet, just wait. Just go and work. Everyone else is working — oh, except JF, who’s probably getting a BJ right now in Hawaii or something.
    What a mess.
    In the mean time, maybe take a nice class in writing. And logic. And ethics. And….yeah.

  • Hold your fire!

    Elena relented. No full blown retraction, but I believe her sincerity. Resignations, un-resignations, tunes changing–I’m not in the Anusara kula myself, but my best advice to those involved is to slow this train down. At the very least, have a non-Anusara (or, better yet, a non-yoga) friend read your article/blog post/resignation letter before it goes live.

  • Andy

    Take it easy. Elena is a human being and her admittance of fallibility deserves acknowledgement.

  • Sara Kimmerle

    I’m sorry, the impression I get from all of it is that they were all willing to look the other way while JF behaved in ways which were explicitly forbidden by AY’s own teacher training rules AS LONG AS THE MONEY STAYED GOOD. The classes, the videos, international travel, it was all pretty sweet.
    Then he had to mess with the money and demand his 10%!!!! That’s why the early resignations happened. Nothing to do with affairs, lies or disappointment with human fallibility. Just money, honey.
    After all the dirt started coming out, they knew they’d better come out and say, “Okay, I know we quit months ago with no real explanations, but actually, we were just HORRIFIED by what was going on!”

  • meanwhile

    Elephant Journal posted this on the Anusara facebook page,

    “Some folks are kinda tearing Elena apart in comments. We can do better. Please leave a comment—whether critical or positive, both are welcome—that’s thoughtful and respectful. If you like a comment, whether you agree with it or not, if it’s reasonable and constructive, please uparrow. Help keep this forum uplifted and honest, both!”

    Translation, “Some people are so mean. We are clearly better than them. Please help Elena and John by posting positive things, we will delete them if you don’t…oh and I am a Buddhist and Not Racist …yours Way”

    • simply yoga

      So funny!

      They really seem to have an obsession with the “up” and “down” arrows over there. What does it matter if their commenters do whatever they want with the arrows? They want to tell you how to angle your arrows? That’s crazy talk. Sheesh.

      • meanwhile

        Yeah, and don’t get them started about how many hits they missed out on by being “real journalists”.

        • Kelly

          Yes, you have to love it that people are thumbs down and you have Kate and Waylon getting all pissed off. Kate has the same problem that the John Friend groupies have. Guess I have to do some thumbs down to balance the truth there.

  • Yoga woman

    “Some folks are kinda tearing Elena apart in comments. We can do better. Please leave a comment…”

    That would be called shilling.

  • eva

    Yeah I’ve looked over there a bit; the guy who runs it is crawled pretty far up the asses of some of the very people he covers. But given the way he even introduces that blog post, his biases are clear.
    “Hard journalism?”
    Give me a break.
    Yes, he’s endorsing his favorites.
    But maybe these, again, don’t even see how crass that is, because the whole AY world is so hyper-saturated with self-promotion and mutual stroke-jobbing.
    Even Amy Ippoliti seems like some kind of uber-PR woman. Yes, nice smile, high sweet voice, but same peddler with bright and shiny eyes.
    Man, thank god I get to practice with my small band o’ folks. Everybody there is real, has a REAL job, and is not trying to become a yoga rock star.
    Fuck this shit.

    • Hey! My job is real! 😀

      I’m not trying to be a “rock star” — I just humbly teach my classes week in and week out, and hold the space for other practitioners and yoga teachers to work. It is work — really — providing this space for fellow practitioners and students alike. It’s a lot of work running a business. 😀

      Just saying. I’m a “pro” yoga teacher — it’s my job. I also run this business (collective) that provides other people to do their jobs (massage, acupuncture, othre yoga teachers teach their classes). There’s a lot of work involved (and overhead/risk).

      So, i’m real too. 😉

      (and not involved in anusara in any way, just for clarity)

      • eva

        : )

        I didn’t mean the normal work-a-day yoga teachers. I meant all those glittery girls lining up their next product lines….
        And yeah, I’m a teacher too, in my own field — a prof — so I know how much effort goes in
        Stay strong!

  • Jane C.

    I posted this on EJ. I have a funny feeling it won’t see the light of day:

    First, let me credit Ms. Brower’s effort to take some responsibility for her complicity, halting and myopic as it might be.

    Having said that, a number of things about the post disturb me.

    First the litany of stars that litter the first paragraph. Why? How does that inform the discourse? Mitchel Blier? Seriously?

    Next, the lack of concern for how JF’s behaviors, and EB’s complicity hurt people – lower level teachers, students, and yoga in general.

    Then, of course, the trashing of Yoga Dork. Holy John Bradshaw – this “don’t tell” above all else ethos screams dysfunctional family and a level of wounding that will take many years to heal.

    Talking about misconduct is not the misconduct – misconduct is the misconduct.

    But I gotta say, the thing that really pushed me over the edge was pointing the finger at Jimmy – the “IT guy”, who, by the way, denies posting JFExposed, and who, by his posts, seems utterly reasonable. Why, Elena, was that little tidbit necessary? it raises the specter of JF foot-soldiers cracking the whip. It seems petulant, at best.

    So I guess I’m not giving it a very good review. I hope EJ will recognize that I’m stating a basis for these comments.

    This whole wacky mess, combined with the William Broad book, might be a necessary correction to the crazed narcissistic culture that has enveloped the yoga world. The tropes, the tramp stamps, the lululemon nonsense – I can’t abide it – I’ve taken refuge in my own mat, and some kind, quiet teachers who help me along the way.

    Good luck, kids.

  • CT

    I’ve been following the various conversations among the Anusara crowd taking place since Yoga dork first exposed John’s indiscretions. I reserved judgement on John as well as the rest of the Anusara leadership until now. Nearly all of you who have contributed to this discussion – top teachers, committee members, studio owners, etc – are missing the point. If you knew what was going on yet continued to sell Anusara, you are part of the problem. Admitting now that you’d long known about the problems doesn’t buy you a free pass. It implicates you in the entire scandal.

    For those of you who suspected or knew what was going on, you were willing participants in the effort to sell a tainted brand. Moreover, this effort to bring new comers into Anusara included an overt and consistent deification of John, the man you are now blaming for all that ails Anusara.

    The people who have suffered and deserve your attention are the thousands and thousands of students and yoga practitioners who paid good money to study Anusara, clearly oblivious to the reality lurking just beneath the surface. Many of them have not only spent tens of thousands of dollars but have also dedicated a tremendous amount of time and energy absorbing what you’ve taught (and sold!). And, you made money at their expense. This is the crime.

    Let me be clear: if you knew or suspected what was going on and continued to promote Anusara, you can not let yourself off the hook that easily. I’m am not simply referring to John’s sexual behavior. From the letters and blog posts, many of you also had serious and long-standing misgivings about how John ran the organization and even the financial arrangements he imposed on certified teachers. Alone, each of these issues should’ve raised red flags. Combined, they amount to much more.

    Anusara might be controlled by John but it never could’ve thrived without so many willing accomplices. John deserves what he gets. John sought out and created a public persona for himself. When his private behavior intruded on his public life (read Anusara), it became the business of everyone who studied Anusara.

    In short, it is not only John who is guilty but also those who not only enabled his behavior but helped market a tainted product.

    If you want to make amends, it’s not enough to simply walk away now (or two months ago). As a starter, offer all of those you lured into Anusara immersions or teacher trainings a year’s worth of free classes, workshops and programming hours. After that, go volunteer at your local homeless shelter. That’s what a real yogi would do.

    • SQR

      If John Friend will always be the main (or only) representative of the Anusara system, then perhaps his teachers marketed a “tainted product”. If, on the other hand, the numerous teachers who’ve invested so heavily in it can form something sustainable and move forward, that would be a pretty good outcome. The “product” would then be more about the stuff that’s helped a lot of people in a lot of places. Despite Mr Friend’s seeming intentions, the community that ensued has built up a lot more goodwill than one might think from reading blog comments online. I’ve been wary of this situation where increasing numbers of trainees enter saturated markets for some time, though, and I suspect the model will need to change for the community to continue in anything like it’s present form.

    • eva


  • The following by Elena Brower in an earlier piece here at YD really amazes me… (the current piece in HuffPo amazes me as well):

    “My practice was giving me feelings of fulfillment but they didn’t last, and I was still going home and acting out of alignment with my yoga, which was getting painful.

    So I sought out coaching, other styles of yoga, other voices, other visions, quietly, over time. And in that process, while I found more rules, I also found more freedom. Through coaching I’ve found that I can finally look at my behaviors head-on, and not flinch, but instead, HANDLE them. Talk about them. Apologize for them instead of being too proud to address them. And then – most importantly – SHIFT THEM. I’m proud of that most of all.”

    ***This is quite frankly bizarre, and represents either a completely deficient understanding of Yoga, and/or an admission of the failure of the JF method in enabling extremely basic improvements in person’s lives. The methodology seems bankrupt if one needs to go into ‘life coaching’ to achieve a sufficient improvement in foundational things such as managing relationships. Because the practise is really just Hyper-Asana, and not Yoga in the full sense, of course it fails. I hope people wake up to how things are.

    We live in a bizarro world, where quite dysfunctional persons are crowned the Prom Queens of Yoga. A word of advice… Elena should never go to India and try to represent herself as a “Yogini”… people will laugh. But in the West where Yoga is for weight loss and flexibility etc., Elena has been utilized quite well by commercial interests to boost sales of “Yoga stuff”… of course she gets something from it too: a celebrity status, but built upon nothing (as the above quote indicates).

    I don’t know how all this can be fixed… maybe swept aside in a big wind?

  • simply yoga

    I think the elephant in the room is… does anyone do yoga in a top that low cut? One inversion and it’s all over. Anyhoo…

  • Yoga woman

    Is it just me, or does anyone else notice the deafening silence? Darren Rhodes, Amy Ippoliti, Christina Sells, Noah Maze, Bernadette Birney, etc. are all strangely mute. Not one is coming to Elena’s defense on this blog, EJ, or Huffpo.

  • simply yoga

    I agree. *** crickets ***

    Very odd.

  • Satya Bound

    I read a few of the comments above and parts of others, but then I had to stop. I am left with the impression that the people reading from this blog are hypocrites insulting Elena Brower. Cursing, putting her down for weaknesses they have perceived or perceive in her while putting there own ego on display. Or is there a lot of projection at work? The first Yama is Ahimsa, non-violence. Words are powerful things. Despite the literal interpretation one might like to apply the first yama, do not be mistaken, speaking about others in that manner is in fact violent. Just saying. If this is you, and you wish to practice YOGA… check yourself.

    • eva

      No hypcrisy here.
      No projection.
      No one asked for advice, or for your finger-pointing self-righteousness about “real” yoga, Satya. Get over yourself.

      • Satya Bound

        Eva, I don’t know you, but you must feel guilty. And pointing out people cursing and saying mean spirited things goes against Ahimsa is not the code of ethics I came up with. It was the Rishis. If you have a problem with this tenant than you will never REALLY practice yoga. If you can’t step back and see how verbal assault is only really against yourself then you chides lack any substance at all.

        • eva

          I don’t feel guilty at all.
          Nor am I interested in any of your sanctimony about the One True Yoga as Practiced and Understood by You.
          Take yourself seriously much?

        • eva

          Additonally, I have verbally “assaulted” no one. Victim-play any?

          • Satya Bound

            You responded to my comment honey. I never said you did.

    • Brooke

      “The first Yama is Ahimsa, non-violence. Words are powerful things.”

      I agree.

      I don’t think any of us is in a position to call the others hypocrites, but I do think that you make an excellent point about the inherent violence in verbal attack. Thank you for that, Satya.

      • Satya Bound

        I use the word hypocrite kin to self righteousness. It is absurd to think that anyone who is drawn too, and practices, yoga does not struggle with all of the yamas in niyamas. If we were there already what would be the point? And after all they are really tenants meant to lighten our energy so we can undo the karma of all the ego driven attachments that our sense perception and sense organs have created. It is often unconsciously driven and it takes a lot of time to undo. As for pointing it out as being hypocritical I think it is safe to say we are all hypocrites, but some of us just aren’t mean.

        • eva

          No — some of you are sanctimonious.

          • Satya Bound

            Not sanctimonious, just making a choice point out the outrageous rants on this site. Considering its a YOGA blog.

    • SQR

      I look at these forums a bit like the syndicated right-wing AM radio talk shows… lots of fear, hatred and ignorance thrown around, but probably not representative of the country in general. As stupid as some of the comments are, it’s worth bearing in mind that the vast majority of people practicing yoga don’t care about the politics- if they get classes that help them along while preventing injuries it won’t matter where the teacher learned his or her craft.

      • Satya Bound

        I agree, specifically about preventing injury. I study with teachers of many different lineages. And I am not ashamed to say I am familiar with the Bhagavad Gita, and Pantajali’s Yoga Sutras. And I am not a Hindu. I have dived into Classical Yoga and Raja Yoga, Ashtanga, and Anusara etc. And what I have learned is that while yoga can be very beneficial to the body/mind just as a hatha practice alone it also can serve to just strengthen the ego if it is approached as just another form of athleticism. Unfortunately, this is where injury and imbalances often enter the building. Likewise, these rants strengthen the ego, and it is no shock that this too is where injury can occur.

  • David

    Her post begins with a paragraph of name dropping (KD plays for their savasana?) and ends with glitter. I have no doubt at all that she and the rest of them are good people. It also appears to me that they are so high on themselves that they are delusional. The comments here might get through to her and might not. Maybe she has a good friend who still can see and who can talk to her. What galls me the most at the moment is her lack of comment on the damage surely done to all the local teachers and students in the AY system. I don’t want to hear about the clique’s pain until some of them look behind themselves at the wake of destruction. They should start stepping up and stop talking down.

  • Nick S

    Yoga 101

    Ahimsa – non-violence, non-injury, harmlessness;
    Satya – truthfulness, honesty;
    Asteya – non-stealing, honesty, non-misappropriateness;
    Brahmacharya – continence, control of sensual pleasure;
    Aparigraha – freedom from covetousness and possessions beyond one’s needs

    Pretty basic stuff… or am I missing something?

    • All of which the ‘inner circle’ of Anusara violated in one way or another, right?

  • Elena and Accountability

    Concession – I didn’t love the comment about YD in the Huffpo article, because I thought it was beside the point. (Not missed the point, beside the point). And I told Elena this in a private message.

    This whole comment thread is disturbing though. The volume level of the 100+ tonally identical comments on everything from Elena’s message to her child, to her delusion, to her motives, to her lack of speaking out about the people hurt as a result of the this (the JH roadkill if you will), hypocrisy, projection, and capping it off with the accusations of a Vichy France-like enablement and collusion related to John’s behavior.

    (yes I know Elena is Jewish and I know that reference will piss people off, but I’m ok with that and I know she won’t be offended by its usage. If you are, I’m sorry E but I know you get it. Btw to whoever made the comment about Elena’s message to her daughter, as if somehow a mother to daughter message is so sacred that her actions are even worse than if she had a son – well guess what? Elena has a son, not a daughter).

    To go through and actually have a measured or reasonable response to any of the above would take too long. But please tone it down a bit.

    I will say a few things:

    Elena is the only person involved in this drama who has been brave/stupid/courageous/suicidal enough to come forward and PUBLICLY APOLOGIZE AND ADMIT to the fact that by her inaction, she was in some way complicit and therefore responsible.

    When Amy Ippolitti delivered her EJ explanation of her actions including the stuff about Japan and confronting John etc., she bravely detailed her thought process and she indirectly admitted she knew this stuff was going on, but she did not apologize or concede any blame. nd the response universally was “thank you for giving us the full story”.

    When Christina Sell wrote on her blog that she had heard rumors and did she protect John by not sharing them, the response was “you have been so courageous in following your path we wish you blessings.”

    When Noah Maze left, he thanked John and looked to expand his wings. He’s a hero.

    The vitriol reserved solely (apparently) for Elena here is inappropriate and I know first hand the reason none of the Amy/Noah/etc crowd will speak up on her behalf (and the reason she is no longer reading these comments) is that they do not see any point in feeding this dragon any further. Stick your head up and you get shot.

    Elena has well thought out views on all of the things mentioned here, until this got so nasty she was reading the comments (although I believe she has stopped). But again, she is the only one of people who have left or stayed to stand and be accountable for lack of prior action.

    Isn’t that what all yogis/christians/parents/buddhists/secular humanists teach their children to do?

    • Jane C.

      Actually, by my count Bernedette Birney and Emma Magenta have given sincere public explanations and apologies, I’m sure there are others. Noah Maze, and the rest of the crew who have said *nothing* get no props from me.

      It shocks me that someone who is presumably versed in the yamas and niyamas and/or who has studied the tantric lineages wild embrace of the thing – as it is – would find ultimate authority in some fly-by-night life coach. It speaks to the underlying superficiality of the inquiry.

      to talk about coaching, alignment and forgiveness, and in the next sentence trash Jimmy the IT guy and YD – its so superficial, so self serving, so unobserved…I’m dumbstruck.

      Describing one’s lack of alignment in terms of a continued cigarette addiction or parental scuffles is so banal that I don’t know what to say. We come into this world with well, yes, Karma – parents, biological imperatives, inherited addiction proclivities. I mean cripe – has Elena given this a moments thought? Honestly, that’s what comes up for me.

      The more I read, the more mawkish, self absorbed and superficial it all seems.

      I teach my children to be in the world, look at themselves, understand the broad circumstance, dig deep, and tell the truth, including hard truths. Does that meet the current coaching standards?

      • simply yoga

        Spot on, Jane.

        I guess, for me, in a nutshell… this whole thing is a disgrace to people who love the practice of yoga and who aren’t in it as a career or for stardom or money.

        And let’s face it, there are a lot of star yoga teachers making a bundle, not just the anusara folks. It’s just the lying and the sanctimony shoved in our faces that is so upsetting. I happened to see Christina Sell’s 2012 teaching schedule on her website for 2012. Yowza. It’s like non-stop travel, workshops, trainings, etc. And this doesn’t include videos and product endorsements and whatever else. I don’t mean to single her out, (I just happened to see it) but it was an eye-opener.

        Unless I’m totally off-base, this is big money folks. Big. I’d venture to to say this is why a lot of the anusara people hitched a ride on the John Friend wagon in the first place. Express train to moola.

        I yearn for simpler days when I didn’t know about all of this. Like others, I just practice and that’s it.

        Please, anusara folks, please stop making announcements and pronouncements and excuses for doing what you’re doing. Just go away and stop with the pomposity and arrogance and phony spiritual glitter. Just go away and stop shoving our faces into your hypocrisy. You’re not the first ambitious yogis on the planet and you won’t be the last, that’s a given. So just go about your business quietly from now on. That’s my request.

        • Yes, please......

          And please stop saying that anusara is the best yoga style in the world and that you have shifed the landscape of yoga forever ! How many years have yogis been practicing Iyengar, Ashtanga …. yoga, and how many yogis all around the world who have never heard about “Anusara”?
          Please, if you didn’t learn anything from the traditional yoga philosophy, at least learn from this incident and try be humble in our big yoga world..

      • Yoga Chick

        I know Noah. He’s lost me. He’s too busy trying to “Occupy Grace” and take back Anusara to admit fault here. I can see the direction now is one of opportunism. Those who say they’ve surrendered their “license” but not their “certification” are clearly planning on taking over Anusara and making it their own. No victims here. Not in that inner circle. I’ve not read one word of accountability from Noah. He travels the world spreading John’s word. He knew. I’ve lost a great deal of respect for him because of this.

        • eva

          Ah. That’s what I suspected. The core group swoops in for the carrion. Well, then we will all rest assured the AY will always provide us with enough entertainment in the yoga world!

          • Yoga Chick

            Girl, you can say that again.

    • I feel so frustrated having to explain this.

      First, nearly everyone complimented Elena for being honest about being complicit.

      Second, people were rightly defending YD and it was appropriate to “call out” Elena on this.

      Third, if you call someone out publicly, and are wrong, you apologize publicly. That just seems obvious.

      So, why is everyone getting increasingly frustrated?

      Because the blame was passed from JF and his complicit inner crew to YD and now it’s been passed onto us!

      Look, here is the language spelled out:

      1. John Friend and his complicit inner crew behave inappropriately;
      2. YD calls them out;
      3. Elena asserts that it’s not the information that YD put forth that was wrong, but HOW — and that how is the cause of all this pain to John, her, and everyone else in the yoga community.

      1. Elena wrongly asserts that YD is to blame for the pain to John, her, and everyone else in the yoga community.
      2. Commenters assert that such is not the case, and that she should publicly apologize to YD since she publicly accused them;
      3. Elena privately apologizes to YD — essentially agreeing that the commenters were right — but now says that the pain of her actions toward YD and the anusara community and on and on is because of. . .

      how we are commenting.

      Not what — Elena already privately apologized for her actions. Obviously she agrees with the commenters that she is in the wrong. Now, the cause of suffering for her is not that she hasn’t apologized publicly, but because of *how* we commented.

      This is getting increasingly frustrating for me, and I’m a patient person and, honestly, I’m sure Elena is a super-nice lady.

      But, I’m not going to take the blame here.

    • stephen

      Why the vilification? Perhaps it was the tone deafness of her apology…

      Forget the old testament over tones of a bunch of Anusarain Moseses bringing down the “message” from the mountain top…

      Forget the display of overweening hubris – Savasana to Krishna Das? Changing the face of yoga? Glitter?…

      It was her playing loose with the facts (that darn “disgruntled IT guy”) and her willingness to smack down the one source that shone a light on the festering rot, that has left most people – me certainly, feeling more than a little underwhelmed.

      I have read both Bernadette and Emma’s apology. Take a look and do a comparison.

  • Yoga woman

    Elena not only admitted to inaction, she admitted she lied for John. I think the reason folks are coming down so hard on her is because of her years of shameless self-promotion. Next to John, she’s the most visible anusara teacher out there. SHE put herself on a pedestal right next to John. Hence, because of anusara’s agressive marketing practices, she one of the most visible yoga teachers period. So her misdeeds, as well as John’s cast a palor on the entire yoga teacher community. She has carefully, meticulously marketed HERSELF, just like John. She has HUNDREDS of photos of HERSELF all over her facebook page. Most of the “senior” teachers do. Their pages are like a shrine to themselves. The vanity is nauseating. I’m sure Elena will find this difficult to believe, but up until about a year ago, I had no clue as to what anusara even was. And I have had a daily practice for 30 years and have been teaching for 20. This “method” was made up by a middle-aged white north american guy, who apparently took what he learned from Iyengar and added glitter. I’m really sick of the very few people who come here and insist we “move on” “tone it down” etc. Like a dis-approving parent scolding us for saying bad words. Please. As someone said on EJ this is a community in crises. JF and his cronies hurt yoga as a whole. They embarrass me. I’m embarrassed for them.

    • It's scary !

      I am from an old communist country. Seems like the way the Anusara yoga trains their teachers, is the same “Brainwashing Techniques ” in the Communist system.( Cult too! )
      Just keep repeating: The anusara yoga is the best in the world; our community is the best place for you, you belong to the communithy, you need the comminity to survive ; community loves you and will help you to grow and prosperous, and you ‘ll forever love and loyal to your leader………
      The saddest thing is : Some people do believe it !

  • Michael

    I posted this earlier but in the wrong area. So here it is again:

    I’m happy to be in the minority here. When objective discourse is replaced by mean-spirited, anger-fueled, judgment then it’s time for those judging to reflect upon their own short-comings, instead of hurling childish insults on to someone who admitted to her own.

    Elena Brower may not write with clarity, but she showed a level of courage and leadership that most people do not have the capacity to demonstrate. Most importantly, she expressed compassion and empathy for others – traits found consistently in people that possess the highest inter-relational skills.

    And it is not now, nor ever has it been a crime to make money. It’s actually an admirable pursuit.

    I say she is fantastic. Elena – if you read this, I’ll study with you anywhere , anytime. Stay strong.

    As for the others, walk in someone else’s shoes and feel what they feel before you judge.

    • simply yoga

      Oh, thanks for reminding me!

      If anyone wants to read a really smart, touching, heartfelt and honest post you might have missed, take a look at Leah’s words to Doug Keller here on another thread. It’s really beautiful.


    • Satya Bound

      I concur. The yamas and niyamas of yoga are what “separate us from the wolves”. I said it earlier as well and will say it again. Harshly judging others and name calling is Ahimsa and has no place on a yoga blog.

      • Michael

        Separate us from the wolves? I think morals separate us from the wolves, but that didn’t stop these “senior” teachers from throwing their students to the wolves in pursuit of the almighty dollar.

        JF was literally the wolf in sheep’s clothing.

        • Satya Bound

          Michael, I am not defending any teachers. The truth is the truth no matter how you spin it. All I am saying is that we have a choice as to how we react to any situation. Ahimsa, being the 1st yama layed out by the great sages that invented this practice makes clear that violence of any sort, words or otherwise will only strengthen ego, and create negative karma. Which is the yoga clearly aims to undo. I am choosing the take the ORIGINAL teachings of yoga and apply them to this situation. The mean spirited nature of a lot of these comments is all very “TMZ”. In the case you aren’t familiar, as I don’t know you , with the 8 limbs of yoga the yamas or code of moral conduct here is a link to a quick simple explanation.
          Clearly John broke them, but it is glaringly hypocritical to blast these people with all the wit and insults one can hurl at them over a blog. The whole point of kula is to uplift one another not to tear each other down. This is a sticky situation and the whole point of the yamas and niyamas is that if we live in accordance with them we don’t create these kinds of waves.

          • Michael

            When their apologies for enabling include chastising those that they believe revealed the truth, I’d say, “Go f**k yourself” is a perfectly reasonable response.

          • Guest

            From the start of all this (whenever that was) kindness and compassion did not seem to have sufficient force to bring the truth to light. I don’t blame anyone for being angry and not speaking in sweet tones. Being nice to a liar or a cheater is not healthy. Being really pissed off is a really legit response to all this.

            Ahimsa includes not doing violence to oneself. One does violence to oneself by stuffing anger, stuffing the truth, staying in unhealthy relationships and situations. Enabling bad behavior = violence. Sweetening the truth may appear to be kind at first but it is not. Being sweet to another when you don’t feel sweet is not ahimsa. There is nothing wrong with feeling bitter. There is nothing wrong with being angry. (But stay in it too long and you will get burned.)

            Maybe teachers can help with this by acknowledging their students’ anger rather than trying to make it go away. Students should be angry. Perhaps someone wiser could make suggestions for working with anger in healthy and appropriate ways before we ask everyone to “move on.”

            I have faith in kindness and compassion but after so much violence has been done by Anusara (where was the ahimsa there?) promoting sweetness at this point, in these circumstances, may come across as false to some. After so much falseness has been revealed — calling for kindness is enough to make anyone even more angry. As we saw, kindness did not bring the truth to light.

            False ahimsa (loving inappropriate people at inappropriate times, supporting inappropriate behavior) has done more harm than good — more harm than some fiery and pissed off words after the fact.

          • Brooke


            “I don’t blame anyone for being angry and not speaking in sweet tones.”

            You’re right — I don’t blame anyone for being angry about this situation, either. And I very much agree that stuffing down and shutting away the truth, or one’s emotions about it — anger very much included — will do great harm.

            But feelings and actions are two different things. A person can simultaneously *be* angry and *speak* in respectful — even sweet, perhaps, though it’s a stretch for me personally — tones. The feeling and the means by which one expresses it are distinct. I think it’s entirely appropriate to express anger over what’s happened. I just don’t think it’s appropriate to do so viciously, or vindictively, or in a way designed to wound. For instance (and this is just example; I’m not quoting anyone): “I’m really angry right now, and I feel so betrayed,” is a very, very different statement than “I can’t believe what those narcissistic hypocrites did to me.” The former is an expression of deep anger. The latter is, too — but it’s also really mean. And meanness rarely serves anyone or anything particularly well.

            I don’t think Satya, or the others on this thread advocating ahimsa in our public discourse, are trying to convince anyone out of their anger. There are certainly plenty of reasons to be angry right now. But I do think those calling for us to actively try to avoid expressing our anger by violent means are correct. It’s a wise and needed point — as is your point about the necessary expression of honest, valid anger.

            Do you think there’s some common ground to work with, there? Is it fair to ask that we express ourselves and our anger clearly — but minus the vitriol?

          • ambroulard

            Let me get this straight then Satya bound- so critical thinking or any sort of criticism regarding what appears to be pretty awful behavior ( and not for a short duration either) is to be frowned on so that we may remain politically correct in the yoga world and on board with Ahimsa-? Clearly John had a lot of enablement (new word!) from those around him- they should share mightily in the blame for this- they do not deserve a pass for being the wolves who led the sheep because they are claiming to be the sheep themselves. They knew fully what the F was going on and I don’t mean Friend.

          • Michael

            Brooke… part of the problem is that the truth is so ugly that just speaking it seems like vitriol to some.

          • Brooke

            Michael, I hear you. I really do. Some of what’s coming to light feels really ugly to me, too.

            But I have to believe that there’s a way to have honest communication — communication that doesn’t back away from some of the brutal and ugly truths of this situation — and still retain a commitment to kindness. To treating each other kindly. Since at this particular moment most of the communication about this stuff is happening on blogs rather than in person, that means using respectful language.

            I’ve been accused of being a bit of a Pollyanna. That’s probably a valid accusation. Still — if we are, as I think we all are, here, people committed to truth, to rightness of speech, and of action — then this is an opportunity. It’s so incredibly hard to speak with restraint and feel enraged at the same time. But I believe that’s what makes it even more important, now, to find a way to do so — to say “You have hurt me, deeply, and I can’t imagine what in the world possessed you to act this way,” … without hurting anyone back as we say it.

          • eva

            Satya and Brooke,
            The probelm is that no one is allowed to script and control the debate, conversation, fight, disagreement, whatever. NO ONE can have that power. Least of all either of you.
            People have to learn to fight productively — it’s very hard to do, and even two people together in a marriage raising kids have a hard enough time doing it — hence the divorce revolution.
            What makes you think it should be easy, quick, simple, and un-messy for an entire online “community” to learn, esp. after an ugly scandal, years of silence, and in the midst of a culture so saturated with privileged snow-flakery?
            So many differences — philsophy, life experience, investment, values, style, taste — to work out.
            And this ONLINE.
            So no, fluttering about crying, Oh, why can’t be just be NICE? Why can’t we all do it My Way, according to How I Read the Scriptures (or, in this case, yoga principles), will never, ever suffice.
            It just comes across as santimonious and arrogant, b/c you don’t KNOW the people you’re addressing, b/c tone is odd on the internet, and b/c you’re arguiung in abstractions without having first established credibility, relationships, or even unpacked terms.
            That takes a LONG time, and a LOT of commitment and effort. Go do that face-to-face with an actual real-time community. The best you can do here is maybe have some fun and conversation, better define your own beliefs for yourself, and have a few good laughs.
            This is the INTERNET.

          • Brooke


            “The probelm is that no one is allowed to script and control the debate, conversation, fight, disagreement, whatever”

            Absolutely. You’re right — that’s definitely as it should be.

            I hear your point — it is the internet. I just don’t agree that making an attempt to maintain civility in tone is less important in the abstract, online, than it is in person, with one’s family and friends. As you point out, it’s absolutely *vital* there. But I still think it’s important here. I feel like in the last few days I’ve had some really important communications with people on these threads — ones that have helped me see more clearly, and ones that have warmed my heart. Public discourse means something. Communication, even with strangers and in the abstract, can really be important. And I think that unkindness blocks good communication. That’s all.

            I think, perhaps, that you and I aren’t going to come to agreement about this one. But I’m grateful for the conversation. Thank you.

          • eva

            Again, you presume everyone here is for the same purpose — your purpose. Wrong. Again the enactment of arrogance — though you probably didn’t intend that.
            I’m not here to work out conflict. Go do that with people who share your commitment. At least, however, refrain from arrogant tsk-tsking at people who don’t adhere to your standards. We’re not even all here for the same things. This is the internet. Again.
            I was, have been, and if I come back, will be here to express views, ask questions, and have some well-earned laughs.
            PS — love the photos! Thanks to whomever posted those! Hilarious!

          • Brooke

            Edited to include this:

            “As we saw, kindness did not bring the truth to light.”

            I just re-read part of this conversation again, and that line from Guest, above, really jumped out.

            That’s absolutely true.

            Not quite sure what I think about that. But it’s very true. Nothing I have to say about kindness in public discourse would have been useful to those who needed to know the truth of all this, a month ago.


            Thanks for that, Guest. I’ll think about it.

          • Brooke



            I don’t think that I’m presuming that everyone here is here for my purpose. If anything, I think I was doing the opposite, and requesting that they be here for (or at least that they consider) what I guess you could call my purpose, right at this moment — namely, constructive discourse. (To be very, very clear: my purpose is *not* to defend Mr. Friend’s actions. It is simply to urge us to be careful in our language as we express anger with him, or with anyone else.)

            So … maybe we can agree that I was presuming that everyone *should* be here for the same purpose, or at the very least that that purpose — constructive discourse — should be one of the principles informing people as they enter public dialogue within this community. And you’re right — it’s an arrogant presumption. I hadn’t thought of it that way, but you’re right; I do think that it’s better to be civil than uncivil, and I will publicly exhort people to do so, which is a very particular form of arrogance — the arrogance of believing that my principles (around civil public discourse) are better (more constructive, more character-building, more likely to create positive shift in the community, and less likely to do individuals or communities damage) than differing principles.

            So … as I generally find both arrogance and unkindness traits that it’s wise to check in oneself, I’ll definitely think about you’ve said. It’s an interesting paradox — what happens if, in trying to apply one principle, you break another? Thanks for pointing it out.

            I do think, though, that it’s a particular kind of arrogance of which you, and most other people on this thread, are guilty, too. It’s a kind of arrogance that’s hard to avoid in public discourse, because even engaging in this kind of debate reveals it. I suppose that’s why I’ve sort of … given it a pass, in myself, would maybe be a good way to say it? I mean, you say this:

            “So no, fluttering about crying, Oh, why can’t be just be NICE? Why can’t we all do it My Way, according to How I Read the Scriptures (or, in this case, yoga principles), will never, ever suffice.”

            So: I think it’s better to be restrained and kind in one’s language, even about harsh truths, for various reasons; you think that’s ridiculous, and that it’s better to be unrestrained, perhaps harsh, if you think the truths warrant it, for various reasons. Two different opinions, and both of us think we’re right, and both of us have expressed that we think we’re right, in public. That seems equally arrogant, to me.


            “I was, have been, and if I come back, will be here to express views, ask questions, and have some well-earned laughs.”

            All good reasons. And so am I. I’m here to express my view that I think it would be awesome for people to speak more nicely. And, also, to follow this situation as it unfolds, because it’s important to me, and this is the place I’m getting my news about it. (Thank you, YogaDork!)

            And I’m also here to ask questions of people whose perspectives differ from mine. Like you. 😉

            Here’s one question I have: if you don’t think it’s important to be kind, civil, in one’s language here, even as one expresses harsh truths (like, for instance, totally appropriate outrage) — why not? It’s an honest question; I don’t mean to be aggressive, or sanctimonious. I’m just curious. I don’t fully understand your perspective. If a person is here to express views, and the language with which that person expresses those views is very hurtful to someone — why doesn’t that matter? Why doesn’t hurting people matter? I mean … I get why it doesn’t matter to people on every other blog on the intarwebz. But this is a blog full of yoga practitioners. I can’t imagine that random people who aren’t yoga practitioners would give a flying flip about any of this insanity — the only ones here are us yoga students. So … if kind speech doesn’t matter, here … why not?

            As for the laughter — maybe. I think I’m still a bit too close to the whole thing. And angry about it. But, yeah … mirth would be a great thing, right about now. I’ll try to follow your example and find some.

            Like I said, I don’t think we’re going to come to agreement about much of this, and that’s fine with me. I respect your reasons for being here; the beauty of the internet is that we all get to have our own reasons for being anywhere. Thanks again for your thoughts.

          • lala

            here, here eva. I agree with all your posts.

          • What kind of Pollyanna world do you live in? Protecting the Dharma is not always about handing out cookies.

            Glad to hear though that you’re engaging the Hindu corpus. Here’s something more for you to read, to balance what you’ve so far picked up…


            Realpolitik is also worth learning. If kindness were always enough, that would be nice. But… its not. So, the model is: start with the approach of Jupiter, then Venus, then Mercury, then Mars… always in that order.

          • Brooke


            Thank you! I haven’t read the Arthashatra. Will do.

            As for Realpolitik — it’ s worth noting both that Bismarck’s primary objective, other than the unification of the German state, was the maintenance of stability (read: peace) in Europe or at least for Germany, a feat he achieved for over 40 years — at that time in European history, quite the success story. (It’s arguable that peace was his primary objective, and German unification a necessary tool toward that, but that’s a longer discussion.) Peace, you’ll note, is something I also advocate.

            Realpolitik is a philosophy of political and military action, designed to secure stability of a region through political, if possible, and military, if necessary, conquest. If what we were about here had anything to do with actions to be taken or victories to be won, it would be an applicable topic. But, as far as I can tell, everything to be done has been done. Anusara the organization is disintegrating, Mr. Friend has stepped down, truths have been exposed, and all that’s left is for the dust to settle. We’re not *acting,* here. We’re talking. To each other. And there’s nothing about Realpolitik that urges a lack of restraint or respect in talking to each other. The opposite is true, really; Bismarck was an eloquent, if blunt (for his time), rhetorician. This is my favorite of his quotes:

            “Be polite; write diplomatically; even in a declaration of war one observes the rules of politeness.”

            Telling, no?

          • Deborah

            Long thread. I am digging watching this convo evole between Brooke & Eva.
            I got nothin left re: the Anusara debacle; I spun my wheels in a great deal of crap the first 2 weeks and I feel like I’m spent and its all out of me now. I had to go alias due to the response team and FB/LinkedIn stalkers harassing me. ( I’ve been on their watch list for a while).
            Its all getting boring now — all these teachers are just too phoney and self serving to take seriously and I got nothing left to say …. except, time will tell.
            I’ve felt extremely “I told you so smug” about the whole thing; and I’ve felt incredibly pissed about the 1% invading, branding, commercializing, profiteering and exploiting not just yoga, but innocent “victims”. Like you Eva, I do want to see the Tower of Babel fall. I have a sore spot when it comes to pretence and falsity. And I don’t dig sociopathic narcissits too much.
            But — I digress — I just wanted to say thanks Brooke for making me think about how to be angry without being ugly. 🙂 And thanks Eva for being so articulate and passionate about your feelings which are very much a mirror of my own. Each of you have been the best thing going on every one of these threads that you’ve participated in and I’ve enjoyed watching you hold your own throughout the discourse as it has evolved. You are so different and so much the same; theres that unity in diversity theme evolving again! You are goddesses. I feel like I’d like to drink some tequila with you Eva and dance drunkenly under a full moon to a primal drum beat … and I’d like to paddle in a canoe with you dear Brooke around a sweet deep lake and watch the eagles soar among the pines. You ladies rock it! Blessed Be.

          • Brooke

            Oh, Deborah!

            Such an amazing gift you’ve given me, here, again … *thank you.* I hope I get to cross paths with you one day — perhaps sit in one of your classes and learn from you. I would like that, very much.

            I’ve been thinking a lot about your mama bear image. And, frankly … I think you’re right. A lot of people out here could use one of those. So I’m keeping it close to my heart.

            Your image, here … the lake and the pines … being on a lake just like that, listening to my paddle drip and scrape and drip again, hearing and thinking not much else, is one of the sweetest memories of my life. You’ve read me well.

            I do my fair share of sitting by fires to a primal drumbeat out here in my life, too, and I’d deeply love to watch Eva take that Kali-ness of hers and dance circles around us all. Wise words, ma’am.

            Wild, deep, full blessings to you, and to yours, and to your practice — and thank you, so much.

          • He gives masterly discourses on non-duality,
            But has intense attachment for sense objects.
            Nothing shall be accomplished from such Gurus.
            – Shri Dasbodh

        • Eva

          @ Brooke
          Nice image. I’d love to join you two at that lake.
          I have to use my Kali energy for sharpening thought and making distinctions and working on my own stuff every day. I remember all those years in grad school, when debates would get so intense, and one of my profs said that the purpose of debate was to sharpen thought and parse dinstinctions and shine a light on assumptions and question claims and look at implications….not necessarily to agree. So some of those habits cross over.
          Beyond that, a lot of my cussin’ and carrying on is sublimated re-directed fury from the pressures of dealing w/ students of my own now in academia. Most of ’em are hard hard working people, but there’s a growing number who have this preciousness thing going on and expect A’s for breathing. These are the fabled teacup students, who crack under pressure, or the ones who freak on you and won’t stop and you have to call security. They’ve been raised by the fabled helicopter mommies; yes some of the stereotypes are true. You have to stay hyper-appropriate in the face of their extreme disrespect, and it’s exhausting. This problem of entitlement and preciousness in the larger culture is getting worse and worse and worse, which is why I’m so critical of it when I see it from public figures.
          Sorry to switch subjects. I’m just so TIRED. And I’m not pink-glittery and blissed and feeling blessed. I wish there was a yoga community I could go to with my tired fucked-up churlish self. I hope we can create those in the future. Namaste

          • Eva

            I meant, beyond my own little fav studio.

          • Brooke

            “a lot of my cussin’ and carrying on is sublimated re-directed fury from the pressures of dealing w/ students of my own now in academia.”

            Oh, damn, girl. That’s all you have to say. Totally, totally hear you.

            I spent the two years before this one as a teaching assistant to my mentor professor in my university’s English department. Mostly, I graded freshman papers — I was rarely actually in front of a class, so thankfully I didn’t have to deal with a lot of the preciousness and entitlement and utter lack of self-examination that you’re describing. But I certainly observed it. Grading was always hilarious, often appalling, and made me seriously consider my career path, because I swear if I’d had to explain one more time that “ideal” and “idyllic,” or “eminent” and “imminent,” or “variation” and “variety,” were *not* interchangeable and that yes, I *did* mark off for mistakes of that nature because this was an *English class* … I’d have bashed my brains in with the Norton Anthology — any of ’em — and called it a day.

            Gotta say, though — it did make me want to just hug and thank the maybe 5% who really, honestly earned their A’s.

            I think all of that’s a big part of my rigorousness around language choice, now that you bring it up … hmm. There’s a thought.

            I agree with your professor, and you — debate isn’t primarily about coming to agreement. I personally like coming to some place of mutual understanding, but that’s not the primary point. As you say — it’s ultimately about parsing and refining your own thoughts, and inviting other people to do the same, along with you.

            Tired is brutal. I wish I could say something other than I hear you — but I do hear you.

            For the record — from what I can tell of you thus far — I wouldn’t want you glittery. Fierce, out-loud truths are you forte. Glitter? I think it would just distract.

            Many blessings. Thank you, again, for talking.

        • swabidoo

          Please, do not insult wolves by comparing them to human beings, and particularly not to John Friend. It’s obvious your education about these animals stopped with “Little Red Riding Hood.” Sorry to go OT, but I had to step in here. I’m tired of all the blah-blah and empty words about this topic. People are both offended by the truth, and offended by people who speak the truth. The Anusara debacle is not a Disney movie; it is a nasty situation which cannot resolve itself overnight. In particular, those involved (John Friend and the teachers who enabled him) need to take the time to step away, examine their behavior, rectify mistakes and make amends. In this I wish them luck, but it is a process that can’t be rushed.

  • Yoga woman
    • SQR

      OK, I’m still not interested in judging Ms Brower, but that photo is very interesting.

      • Yoga woman

        That photo is downright frightening.

    • Hello?

      If ya like that photo – here’s another you might enjoy:

      hmmm …. yoga dealers. i take it that was an “inside” joke at the time. yuk yuk yuk …

      • Sarah

        Is that Christy Nones with Elena?

        • Hello?

          it is.

          • Just a thought...

            Sadly, it’s not an inside joke. It is an actual person (Michael Gannon) who refers to himself as the “yoga dealer”. Check out http://www.yogadealer.com. I am assuming just like the commercialized Anusara style, he has also trademarked the name. It’s like a narcissistic circle of shameless promotion to keep the money and adoration coming in.

            In the end, while I am completely appalled and saddened at the happenings (and coverups) in the Anusara world, I am perplexed that everyone was so shocked. Seems naive. JF and his senior teachers, yoga dealer, and on and on are all examples of yoga being hijacked by narcissistic types. This whole scandal, while so upsetting and sad, was predictable given the personalities involved and unfortunately it is probably much more prevalent than we wish to believe.

            Elena’s HuffPost puff piece was so delusional that to even discuss it would be to give it more thought than it deserves. She wants people to be talking about her… stop feeding her ego by stopping talking about her. Remember all press is good press. Don’t give her any more press.

            YD, keep up the good work!

  • Satya Bound

    I agree, specifically about preventing injury. I study with teachers of many different lineages. And I am not ashamed to say I am familiar with the Bhagavad Gita, and Pantajali’s Yoga Sutras. And I am not a Hindu. I have dived into Classical Yoga and Raja Yoga, Ashtanga, and Anusara etc. And what I have learned is that while yoga can be very beneficial to the body/mind just as a hatha practice alone it also can serve to just strengthen the ego if it is approached as just another form of athleticism. Unfortunately, this is where injury and imbalances often enter the building. Likewise, these rants strengthen the ego, and it is no shock that this too is where injury can occur.

    • eva

      Satya, I don’t know you either, but maybe this isn’t the site on which to play amateur teacher. You’re presuming no one already knows this stuff, and the we need you to educate us just people we don’t live it the way you think we should.
      You’re enacting the very ego-bounded hypcritical arrogance you wish to condemn and feel superior about.
      Why not just ask YD if you can submit a colum of your own? Anything else is an attempt to hijack the conversation and put yourself in the spotlight. Very attention-seeking.

      • Yoga Chick

        And good grief, too much. Many of us are teachers here and have studied for years with truly wonderful teachers from many different traditions. Between the hijacking student with her never ending, repetitious, multiple fill-up-the-page paragraphs and the hijacking student with the need to school us on what yoga really is, I think it is perhaps time to remember there are many voices here who know a thing or three about Yoga, the Yamas, Niyamas, ego, injuries, etc. Go get something to drink, eat some organic dark chocolate and settle.

        • Brooke

          Hijacking, mmm?

          From whom, exactly? Was there a ticket line I missed? Or an entrance fee?

          Yoga Chick, seriously — I’ve really enjoyed some of the conversations here, several of them with people who voiced opinions very similar to yours. Those conversations have altered some of my thinking. They shared thoughts. I got to share some thoughts. It was pretty cool. I made a few friends, which is always lovely. If I ever meet them out in the world, I hope to take their classes.

          What you just said convinced me fairly succinctly that I’d be wiser to avoid yours. Was that really necessary?

          If you don’t like the length of my posts, you’re welcome not to read them.

      • Satya Bound

        Sulk in your hate, spread it around. Project and marinate more lady. If you already know all this and carry on the way you are then you are the perfect shadow the things you loathe.. CLICHE.

        • jeremy

          satya Ironic that you pen your name as satya, but seem not to like peoples truth . talk about speaking nice and then post a rather unpleasant post , doesnt look good my ” friend ” whats going on ?

          • etc.

            yes jeremy. right on!
            satya – what is truth?
            what do you know definitively as being “the truth”? pick the truth apart a little bit, deconstruct it and analyse it, and you will discover that it winds up being a lie. and thats the truth.

        • Brooke

          Satya, I thought it was mean of her, too. But … aren’t we calling for a dial-down, here? Or trying to? I don’t think she’s speaking from hate. Not sure what she’s speaking from, but I don’t think it’s that.

  • simply yoga

    I like the ones with the EJ “ethics in journalism” fellow. So cuddly!

  • and in the end...

    i’ve just spent some time reflecting on my own process since this news broke. it went something like this:

    1. smug sense of superiority for having/following the intuition that JF was a fraud

    2. self-righteous anger for the damage done to the yoga community by JF and the AY teachers that perpetrated the fraud

    3. more self-righteous anger for the teachings of AY and the annoyances they have created for me over the years

    4. sickening sense of not being able to tear myself away from the gawking process of watching the dishing out of online pain

    5. body mind disturbances from all of the above

    6. returning home to compassion for the suffering of all involved, whether it is self-created or not

    7. a readiness/willingness to see the false reality that i created for myself in this forum

    8. freedom & acceptance – recognizing the shadow and getting back to the basics…sitting, breathing, grounding, sending metta, waking up and continuing the journey of inward attention.

    9. closure, through this strange little post. best of luck to all. thanks for the dialogues, and for the insights. you have all been my teachers these past 2 weeks. metta!

  • novecho

    Not familiar with Anasura, but when John Friend rode the wave of grace, was she single or married?

  • Yoga woman

    Thanks for the insight, in the end. I’m vacillating between 4-7. I’ve been alive long enough to profoundly honor process. It’s all yoga. Thanks to YD for providing a safe space for us to vent.

  • eva

    I am rightfully and righteously angry about this:
    No one asked us poor suckers, the yoga students, if we wanted the yoga world to blow up into this corporate madness. No one asked the other poor suckers, the wanna-be teachers, either. All those poor fools who paid for these unbelievably expensive training, and certifcations, and whatever.
    Certainly, when I plonked my money down, my hard-earned money, no one asked ME.
    Did I want this system of corporatized yoga, these big-tent festivals of mutual mastrubation between business and “spirituality?” Did I want the big yoga rock-star” gurus” and their groupies, the materialism and vanity, the enormous surfeit of products, the clothes and bags and straps and food bars and smoothies and mats and headbands and smoothies?
    I have done and do happily without.
    This bullshit is just as crass, foul, and repugnant as any of the Enron crisis, anything in the mortage loan crisis, the student loan crisis, the Abramovs, all of them.
    This is all just one more expression of the fact that in America, the corporation is God.
    Did I ask for all these prom-queen model-esque yoga queens? No. They bore me and exasperate me.
    No one asked us students.
    For the record — and yes I will say “we”
    I hope there is a huge, blistering groundswell of backlash against corporate yoga. I am not interested in working anything out. I want to bring the house down.
    But wait! John Friend and his gaggle of groupies may have done it for me.
    One can only live in hope….

    • *Applause*

      This thing will eat itself.

      • Vision_Quest2

        Yup. We will be back to mild hatha classes … no reinforced dependency on the yoga class (at the cellular level), teachers who taught from the heart and not the pocketbook … all ages, shapes, sizes and abilities welcome in the one-room-schoolhouse model of yoga class …

        The Lululemonheads and the Slim-Calm-Sexy-heads have started to call their classes “Mind-Body-Powercize”, and the sleepy-timers have started to call their classes “Relax and Recovery Stretch” or some such, instead of yoga …

        In my dream, yoga is much less commercial, and safe for the actual yogis to dive in …

        What year is this?

    • another who knows

      Yes, you have really nailed it. Why we are all reeling from this. Because we could all see it happening and wondered why people were buying it at all, let alone buying it ALL. Most of us knew it was all smoke and mirrors, a little guy behind a silk curtain projecting himself as a wizard, the emperor with no clothes on. But we watched, incredulously, as people bought the story, invested in the fallacy, saw the ornate robe where none existed. Very disheartening to see so many believe the lie and the image and the actor, when we would like to believe that the world is evolving; that consciousness is being raised. SO this uproar, this backlash against something so false and so vile, is REALLY exciting for me. It means people are starting to see through the charlatans of this world. People are starting to stand up for themselves and their own innate intelligence. This is such a good thing, not only for the yoga community but for the world at large. Kali is here and I, for one, am so excited to see the crumbling of the OLD ways of the world, which can bring about a new way of being and doing and experiencing. Not just in yoga but on this planet.

  • eva

    @ in the end…

    and disinterest in corporate yoga smoothies, which I just said twice, ha ha!

  • Deborah

    @ Eva.

    Thumbs Up.

  • Durga

    KALI is coming
    and SHE is PISSED!

    • another who knows

      It’s about time!

  • Eva

    @ Brooke —
    Good luck to you then, my dear! (not sarcastic here.)
    I’m not close to the situation, and not interested in restraint. I love laughter, and clarity, and a full spectrum of human emotionsm mind-states, experiences
    I want the whole crazy mess. That’s what yoga is to me.
    Not the “shoulds”
    Oh give it time. Pull back and the maelstrom will subside. I just hope that students and teachers can speak honestly now to eachother about what WE want in OUR yoga communities. No more peddling. No more lies. No more censorship.
    (Truly) Namaste!

    • Brooke


      Thank you, Eva, truly. I appreciate that.

      I love this, so much:

      “I love laughter, and clarity, and a full spectrum of human emotionsm mind-states, experiences
      I want the whole crazy mess. That’s what yoga is to me.”

      Here f’in bloody here. Well said. And if that’s the answer to my question — it’s one I can get behind.

      It reminds me of a Jed McKenna quote Deborah posted, on a different thread, which I also loved:

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

      And it also reminds me of my favorite (everyone’s favorite, let’s be honest) Jack Kerouac quote:

      “The only ones for me are the mad ones — the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow Roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars…”

      As I’ve gotten a little older I’ve come to believe a bit more in yawning. And in the commonplace, I suppose. But still — the madness to live — that hot, charged, vital core of things — is where my heart is.

      It’s a glorious life, really. Maelstroms and all.

      Thanks again for the conversation!

      • Brooke, replying to your comment above…

        You make a fair point. But also, JF has not really stepped down yet, its a leave of absence while he makes his plans… I don’t trust him, he hasn’t earned that. Things have not been exposed, its just a start by the look of things.

        Personally, I am not happy at having the Dharma turned into a what is now mostly a tool for fitness in people’s eyes. It has been trivialized in many, many ways. 25 year olds are not yet Yoga teachers, so much has the word “Yoga” been cheapened. I am hoping for a sobering up throughout what is now called ‘the industry’.

        Calling it as I see it, and I do many times in many places, is not always welcomed, is seen as not nice. Keeping the pressure up right now, is in my view a necessary thing. I am happy to hear voices like Eva’s and others here. “I am mad as hell, and I won’t take it anymore” is a fine sentiment and it fits.

        My feeling is that if the temp is turned down too much right now, old patterns will reassert themselves. Its fine for certain people to be called out harshly, as they have shown that they are incapable of policing themselves.

        Again, I do agree with your overall point, but also I think we should be prepared to yell it out if and when necessary.

        Lastly, in case you havn’t come across the Panchatantra you might enjoy that too. Its a teaching of the Arthashastra, but in a beautiful story form. Personally, I learned a lot from it… specifically, how to build and maintain friendships and the need to not be naive when it concerns those who are not friendly.


      • Deborah


  • arthashastra


    The Rajashri
    Arthashastra deals in detail with the qualities and disciplines required for a Rajarshi – a wise and virtuous king.
    “In the happiness of his subjects lies the king’s happiness, in their welfare his welfare. He shall not consider as good only that which pleases him but treat as beneficial to him whatever pleases his subjects” – Kautilya.
    According to Kautilya, a Rajarshi is one who:
    Has self-control, having conquered the inimical temptations of the senses;
    Cultivates the intellect by association with elders;
    Keeps his eyes open through spies;
    Is ever active in promoting the security and welfare of the people;
    Ensures the observance (by the people) of their dharma by authority & example;
    Improves his own discipline by (continuing his) learning in all branches of knowledge; and
    Endears himself to his people by enriching them and doing good to them.
    Such a disciplined king should: –
    Keep away from another’s wife;
    Not covet another’s property;
    Practice ahinsa (non-violence towards all living things);
    Avoid day dreaming, capriciousness, falsehood and extravagance; and
    Avoid association with harmful persons and indulging in (harmful) activities.
    Kautilya says that artha (Sound Economies) is the most important; dharma and kama are both dependent on it. A Rajarshi shall always respect those councillors and purohitas who warn him of the dangers of transgressing the limits of good conduct, reminding him sharply (as with a goad) of the times prescribed for various duties and caution him even when he errs in private.

  • Guest

    The recent Anusara revelations recapitulate the old adage about Absolute Power and its corrupting influence.

  • I don’t know call me crazy but isn’t the job of an “aware” teacher to make those that are “unaware” aware?

  • TigersEye


    Elena at Wanderlust Speakeasy 2010.
    At which time she knew what was going on behind the curtain in OZ.

    She is either one phenomenal actress – or has been seriously mind fucked. Either way – has perfected her “craft” to a T and very convicing. Job waiting at Monsanto.

    • Eva

      This should be used in sociology classes as a example of groupie-ism and cult-like worship of self-styled gurus — or, no — “teachers:” — or, no — “teachings.” If JF and Brooks meant SO MUCH to her the emotional dependency and codependency is clear enough. No other teachers? Mentors? Parents? Elders? Bosses? Sad.
      It’s incredible how some one could talk about growth and self-awareness as if 100 years of psychology and 150 years of feminism never occured.
      She’s only a little younger than I. What planet was she on? At twenty I was at an alternative college, working, traveling, and already in counseling. I don’t begin to think I have it all worked out just b/c I knew early on that I had to work on my shit, or would have it all worked out now if I had found some magic system or teacher back then — or now. No one I grew up with or knew as a young person thought that any teacher or any magical system could hold us up.
      Very interesting. Thanks for the post.

      • Jane C.

        back in the day – say 2004 or so – I took a few classes with Elena at Virayoga. She seemed lively and bright. I recall her reading W.S.Merwin and her references, generally, were worldly.

        My analysis is this is all about not wanting to lose stature – none of us do.

        I don’t think JF started Anusara with the idea that he’d stock the lodge with nubile nymphs, primo weed and exotic junkets. But that’s what happened.

        Now there both kind of insufferable.

        • Eva

          ‘nubile nymphs, primo weed and exotic junkets’

      • Yoga's Answer to Scientology

        Unfortunately the video of this talk provides an easy primer for emotional manipulation tequniques.

        First put names on all yoga mats. Then call out a new person’s name and say something encouraging/heartfelt/etc. (‘My God! He called my name! How did he know?!’)

        Then write to her, asking why she’s not coming to more workshops and is showing up late when she does. Question her commitment.

        Helps to have ‘life coaches’ around who will help her get over using her own critical faculties etc.

        And so on. Manipulation, pure and simple. Always works if you can get them to cry, which was JF’s forte.

        • AnuPsychoYoga


          Awolnation sums it up nicely.

          Interesting that Elena came out of the fashion industry; Anusara was a perfect fit for her. Fashionista Faux Yoga.

          The above video reminds me of the really big show – for so many reasons.

          • etc.

            a mans words coming out of her mouth
            being “showered”
            looking like one thing, being another
            and when the devotee … that was “showering her” … got bored and started to pound her – the angelic persona turned into a murderous demon…. yet tried to keep the facade going.
            art as a reflection of life.

          • a little basic psych

            The Cornell connection is really….well….surprising. Cornell is an elite school. She musta had some fabo family money and connections, and/or been one of those people who does really well on tests and papers but does not think for HERSELF. Then…that environment. Cornell is infamous for being such a competitive pressure cooker that it has one of the highest suicide rates for undergrads in the country. On her Huffpost stuff Brower writes about having developed an eating disorder in response to the environment.
            It’s hard to resist playing armchair shrink here, because this girl is such a hodgepodge of neuroses dressed up as sensitivity and “compassion” and “softness.” A lot about fear, anxiety, desire for approval, but also a lot about sublimated ambition, vanity, and competitiveness. She she found AY, the AY boys groomed her as a show pony/mule and and “held” her, and she thought she would be saved.
            Other vids indicate she’s drawn from CBT and and MCBT, without even realizing or acknowledging those sources and methodologies, or understanding that they only help with managing symptoms.
            She needs really intensive, long-term psychotherapy. Seriously. I hope she grows and learns to stand on her own feet.

      • Huh?

        at least you seemed to grasp what her point was Eva ….
        I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what the F her point was?
        I heard the questions and then I heard her reply with a bunch of babble that said nothing and didn’t really answer the questions, far as I could tell. Bullshit baffles brains right? Verbally pretentious “posteurizing”; and again, the Oscar goes to ……. EB! Meanwhile the sheeple sit hanging on her every word, with their heads mindless bobbing like those little dogs people put on their back windsheilds….

  • Yoga woman

    Could someone please explain why one would go to a “talk” or whatever the heck that was in the first place? Please? She worships her shit. She gives people permission to worship their shit. What does any of that have to do with yoga? Please, someone explain. At some point you need to grow up, pull your head out of your navel and just go do something for someone else.

    • simply yoga

      Why would anyone attend such an “event?”
      How about… There’s a sucker born every minute.

      That’s all I can come up with.

  • Alex

    The yoga community in NYC is full of young, impressionable woman who desperately want to be loved and deemed as “special”. Teachers like Elena only perpetuate the myth that Yoga is all about “life-coaching”, fashion and drinking green smoothies. She’s been a very good saleswoman from the start and she definitely has fooled more than a few people(including myself). I hope this will draw people to a less surface-oriented yoga.

    • “I hope this will draw people to a less surface-oriented yoga.”
      That is my hope as well. – Thanks, Alex.
      i also hope that people start to consciously hone their skills of discrimination and discernment.

  • The best commentary

    I just read this for the first time, emailed by a friend. It’s also posted on the timeline thread. It’s fantastic. The most intelligent take on all this mess. He’s an AY teacher and writer in Canada


    • Brooke


      So fantastic.

      Thanks for posting that.

      • D

        if you feel so inclined – please find me on FB
        would like to correspond
        Deborah Whipple – picture with a hoop

  • Elizabeth

    My greatest disappointment in reading the Anusara-related stories here is not what YogaDork wrote, but in reading comments left by others. Specifically, it continues to disappoint me that yoga practitioners resort to childish name-calling and personal attacks on other commentators. It is a sad state of affairs when a groups of yoga practitioners cannot have a civil conversation on an emotionally charged topic without resorting to puerile tactics.

    (It also bothers me when people make ignorant comments about yoga–like claiming that Iyengar yoga is derived from Ashtanga, or that Patanjali taught physical yoga postures beyond seated asana for meditation–but I’ve long given up on the idea that anyone else cares. Those writing the comments are generally not interested in educating themselves out of their ignorance, and you cannot force a bud to blossom.)

    • eh?

      that wasn’t very nice Elizabeth.

      i haven’t heard anyone on here claim that Iyengar came out of Ashtanga. Most people know that both iyengar and patthabi were studens of Krishnamacharya. Both follow the 8 limbed path. Perhaps it is you who is confused?

      I have also been observing the name calling and attacking and it seems to come from just a few people and in all likelihood they are part of the Anusara online “response team” who are intentionally trying to sabotage conversations, discredit individuals, and throw in red herrings. This has been their modus operandi for a very long time and was a common occurrance online long before the scandal broke and jfexposed.com went public with their material.
      When they get called up on this conduct and it is named for what it is, they generally disappear. Don’t think for a second that JF and his yes/men are not monitoring all these websites and threads ….. There are enough light & truth warriors participating now that most of the brand managing trolls have disappeared …..

      • The best commentary

        I’ve seen disagreements here, and some well-deserved scathing criticism. The arguments ad feminam towards Brower are understandable given she’s tried to play spiritual leader while having demonstrated herself as some one with poor judgment. And no, no one said ashtnga was from iyengar. They said John Friend drew from Iyengar.
        But. The AY branding will live on. Too many Americans want to cash in on the name. Everything in the US is about money money money.

  • You can practice yoga and teach yoga without possessing any wisdom at all. The sooner yogis grasp this concept, the better.

    He gives masterly discourses on non-duality,
    But has intense attachment for sense objects.
    Nothing shall be accomplished from such Gurus.
    – Shri Dasbodh

  • it just gets better and better

    so this vapid shallow twit just got herself anew sugar daddy. that’s why she left. that’s ALL IT WAS! and no wonder she hates YD!


  • I feel for all the sincere students and seekers who had their hearts broken by these events.

    HOWEVER. I am glad there was finally a wakeup call. Anusara is an American “form” of Yoga that has simply taken certain aspects of yoga and packaged them in a “happy-go-lucky” package that has nothing what so ever to do with traditional genuine yoga.

    Anusara in particular, and modern yoga in general, is simply a form of body worship / cultivation and it misleads honest seekers for truth. So much harm has been done in the name of Yoga that it is no longer considered a scientific spiritual path, but rather a form of exercise, by most people. Including its teachers and aspirants. Truth is that most teachers have never practised Yoga – just Indian gymnastics.

    I feel it is sad that Yoga has been hijacked by rascals and worthless teacher trainings vomit out incompetent teachers daily. Personally I went through great hardships in my training in the himalayan caves, including years of celibacy. It can not be compared to Bikrams 9 week training in a luxury hotel In Vegas, or anusaras intensives with 200 people in a room doing gymnastics.

    I pray for all the modern yogis – that you may now clearly see what is what and look at your own practice – and align it with the ancient and time tested teachings called of yoga.

    I mean – how come there is no real focus on meditation in any yoga classes, retreats today? Why do Ashtangis go to buddist vipassana to meditate when meditation is the essence of Patanjalis ashtanga yoga system?

    • Fa fa

      Because the VP meditation scene is a different industry. There a tiny bit of cross-over, but not much. In general, in the America enlightenment industry, there is yoga on the one hand, for a particular niche, and meditation, esp. Vipassana, on the other hand. ENtirely different sets of teachers and venues. It’s a market. That’s what it is. It’s America: a market.

    • Andy

      Because the asana practice along with deep attention to the ujay pranayama, drishti and bandhas leads one to a meditative quieting of the mind while practicing the physical postures. After practicing the primary series, your mind is pretty frickin still’d. I think that peeps had it right when they decided to teach asana first to western students. I couldn’t fathom coming close to any sort of meditation without practicing hatha yoga first.

      • fa fa

        agree but the point is these are different marketing niches in the states….different teachers, books, centers, everything. Not that there is or should be no cross-over but that no one has yet exploited that potential….but hey! book proposal idea, right? and then the endless lecture/workshop circuit to market a hybrid 21st cent form…just like John Friend. And so the “spiritual” entrepeneur story coninues.

      • jeremy

        well really the yamas and niyamas should come first, sadly not particularly very widely taught in the west , if Mr Friend had followed these he wouldnt have caused the damage he has. But i must say that i know lots of people who meditate and have a serious practise over many years and have never done a yoga asana in their life. In the same manner there are many who practise asana and have no intention of ever taking up a sitting practise , its all about the bodybeautiful , not of course yoga !
        I however feel we are getting away from the point of the thread
        its all according to nature .

      • Well, honestly, the effect of the primary series can not be compared with Meditation. Its like comparing a valium-buzz with a good nights sleep.

        I know, I did Ashtagna for 3 years before my Guru showed me that I did not concentrate, expand or channel my Prana with it. I just depleted myself energy-wise.

        The effect of proper Yoga practice is very very different.

    • Brooke

      The first meditation class I ever took was the regular, weekly sitting meditation offered by my yoga studio. The first serious daily study in sitting meditation I ever did was during a course my yoga teacher offered. That course was my introduction to Sally Kempton, whose “Meditation for the Love of It” (previously “The Heart of Meditation”) has become an integral part of my day. I had no developed meditation practice previous to my study of yoga, and I don’t think I’d have discovered a love of it without yoga.

      My yoga teacher was, until very recently, an Anusara teacher.

      Just sayin’.

  • Matt Masterson

    The idea of joining anything, only expresses lack of inherent self worth. Don’t ever doubt yourself.

  • Sml

    Anything and anyone not in ayni or sacred alignment will be sifted to the top and revealed. So far this prophecy has been revealing itself across the board. I was struck and inspired by a belief I read yesterday. We all wake up every morning and upload the reality we wish to live both individually and collectively. The way I see it, we are collectively saying we have had enough with the idea of a guru student relationship. There are no gurus. We are our own gurus, leaders, visionaries and everyone in our lives for good or for pain is a reflection of that relationship. In the words is Martha Stewart, ” it’s a good thing” all of it in perfect order.

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