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.
- Running Timeline of Anusara Controversy, Updates and Teacher Resignations
- Elena Brower and Amy Ippoliti on Leaving Anusara and Recent Controversy