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Update: John Friend on Reorganization, Letter from Newly Appointed Anusara, Inc. CEO

in YD News

Two letters have gone out to the Anusara community over the last 24 hours. One is from “founder, student and teacher”  no-longer CEO John Friend describing the reorganization of Anusara, Inc., with an introduction to new CEO Michal Lichtman, while the other is from Mrs. Lichtman herself (whom we’ve been made aware has one third investment in the new center in Encinitas, CA). John Friend states that there have been no verifications of the previous accusations that shook the community. We move to disagree and offer that pointing this out himself leaves a wide open gap of doubt that any of it is false, after multiple former teachers have come forward to speak up (some about other issues coming out of the woodwork).

Moving on though, which is what seems to be occurring, is more logistical information about the restructuring and future of Anusara, Inc., and the Steering Committee/Advisory Board of the new “teacher run, non-profit organization – the Anusara Yoga School.”

At this point we do not expect the accusations to be addressed any further by Anusara higher-ups. While the new changes seem like a step in the right direction, we also don’t expect John, though he is taking an undefined hiatus from his teaching schedule, to really step back.

Update: Bernadette Birney, who has been one of the more vocal and candid teachers to resign, responds on her blog about passive language, victimism and passing of blame.

Should we be reflecting upon the ways in which we may have given away power and conferred too much authority upon John Friend? Absolutely. Does that make John Friend the devil? No. Does it make him the victim? No.

She casts doubt on the 8% resigned and believes it to be much more. She expresses discomfort with a CEO so closely intertwined with John Friend and in fact appointed by him, all appearing to have occurred without John subjected to an ethical committee review. She also points out that a transition to non-profit will require at least $1,000,000 annually in donations to support. In short:

As my friend Natalie Miller explains, “For me, it’s not an “era of Anusara yoga” that will expand Light throughout the world. It’s you, and me, and our teachers and students. One by one, community by community. We deserve – no, we REQUIRE – direct, truthful, authentic communication, to be able to do that. This is not a good start.”

Letter from John:
Anusara Yoga Reorganization
February 24, 2012

Dear Anusara Yoga Kula,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With love to all,


Letter from Michal Lichtman,
New CEO, Anusara, Inc.
February 24, 2012

Dear Anusara Yoga Kula,

My name is Michal Lichtman, and I am writing you today, my dear Kula, to introduce myself as the new CEO of Anusara, Inc. Furthermore, I wish to pledge to you my support for the healing and future growth of our community. Anusara yoga is dear to my heart, as I know it is to yours. As a kula we have all experienced personal transformation and growth as a result of this outstanding hatha yoga school.

Eight years ago, Anusara yoga came to me as a life-saving gift during a very emotionally and physically difficult time in my life. As a brain surgery survivor of a benign tumor, I had significant deficits in my physical ability until I applied the principles of Anusara yoga to my practice and my life. Through Anusara yoga I uncovered a new freedom in my body-mind-heart connection, and I witnessed myself literally transform, unravel, heal, and regain equanimity. I realized that this practice was a true gift that I could share.

Like all of you, it is my desire to positively contribute to this life and its people. I know that for us as a community to bring peace and deep awakening to the world, we must first focus on bringing these values and virtues to our own community. As John has stepped down from his leadership position of Anusara yoga on Monday and is now on sabbatical, I offered to help bring harmony to the community through clear leadership and business acumen. I have run successful businesses in the US and Israel, including sitting on the Board of Directors of several non-profit organizations. Most importantly, I have a great husband, 6 wonderful children, and 2 giant dogs! Their support and love fuels my dreams and visions for a healthier world.

Within the last year, John and I began discussing taking Anusara yoga to a new level of excellence. During these last 3 weeks I have now become an integral partner in Anusara. I fully support a new, exciting reorganization of Anusara yoga to give voice to our teachers for our future direction. I have always felt lucky to be part of this global family, and now I feel even more fortunate to support it on a deeper level of involvement.

As the new CEO of Anusara, Inc, I am taking on all the day-to-day managerial operations, so to free John’s time in order to allow him to return to being the teacher, visionary, and inventor that we all love to be with.

We have appointed an interim Steering Committee that will help to set up the Anusara Yoga School and its Board of Directors.

Over the years I have been blessed to work closely with Desiree, Ross, Todd, Sianna, and BJ, all of which will be either on the Steering Committee or the Advisory Board of the teacher run, non-profit organization – the Anusara Yoga School.

I commit to standing with you, with truth and integrity, to serve and grow Anusara yoga – the practice which has saved my life, and has transformed so many of your lives as well.

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

Looking forward to connecting with each of you.

Love and a big hug,
CEO, Anusara, Inc.



152 comments… add one
  • lala

    He strikes me as curiously detached from the situation, not really associating himself with the scandal. It sounds like he’s “scratching his head” over the resignations of licensed Anusara teachers, perception of Anusara yoga as a corporation.

    I really have a strong aversion to the word “kula”. Ugh.

    • simply yoga

      HA! That word really has to go. 🙂

  • No so Kul-ah. Sigh. The play continues to play out.

  • Seriously?!?!?!

    It just keeps getting worse. So disconnected, so delusional, so…

  • Andy

    “I really have a strong aversion to the word “kula”. Ugh.”

    My sentiments exactly.

  • My strong sense when reading this was also of someone very detached from the situation. I hope the reorganization settles this mess.
    As for the reply directly above this one, well, it speaks for itself if it is genuine.

  • DebW

    Murkier and murkier.
    This is going to make for a most interesting tell all story after the all is said and done. Next stop: Hollywood! 60 minutes? TMZ?
    The Real Housewives of Anusara Kula?
    I say hang on to your hats – this is gonna be one helluva bumpy ride.

  • Larry

    I’m not convinced by any of this.
    The tone of John’s letter is eerily like his first public statement. That is, ‘I’m a victim – someone is bad mouthing me and my organisation’.
    And then there is the whole concept of a CEO, the brand the business…..oh and then there is ‘The School’ not for profit for all the ones actually helping build the bigger ‘Pyramid’ (ie: slaves who built pyramids in Egypt). It stinks of lets gather who is still loyal to me, it will be business as usual, and don’t forget who created this thing in the first place. All stake-holders taken care of, new ‘structure’ that has all the correct words in the right places (non for profit, teacher-driven…).
    Let’s see how it all pans out. More Yoga, less business please.

  • Jane C.

    follow the money.

  • Русская Мафия,

    Not to worry; Igal bought the Brand!
    He wants Michal out of that stinking kula kult and he will “look after things”.

    (It’s wonderful that the Iron Curtain is gone, but it was a shield for the West. Now we’ve opened the gates, and this is very dangerous for the world. America is getting Russian criminals. Nobody will have the resources to stop them. You people in the West don’t know our Mafiya yet. You will. You will!)

  • ‘Flowing with Grace’, he’s not.

  • Yoga woman

    this is what he said…”Within the next 10 days, I will make a full public statement that will transparently address the entirety of this situation, …”

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

    This appears to be more denial than what he initially admitted to.

    …”a wide range of intense reactions and judgments has divided our community”.

    I need a drink.

    • Where's The Boycott?

      Maybe some of that yummy Kool-Aid that’s being served up?

    • worth the read!

      This is ALSO what he said:

      Letter from JohnFriend to his coven
      (for those who did not see jfexposed.com)

      Seed money from wealthy Vanderbilt benefactress to build a large center/colony?
      ETC> …. worth the read! Its psycho scary – like he is trying to relive Pierre Bernards life.

      Dearest BSF Coven, My Beloved Tiffany, Sisters Shakti and Devi D,

      I am writing you all tonight to formally apologize for my deceptiveness around my relationship with LM. My poor judgment and misaligned energy put the whole coven, each of you and your families at risk. First of all, I attracted her into my life, into our lives, by vibrating in my mind-body with a frequency of deception and lack of integrity. I have always considered myself intelligent and clever, and so I easily could create my own world even if I had to shrewdly cut corners since I would not get caught. Of course, I have never intended to be malicious nor harming to anyone. However, I wasn’t truthful, and I was deceptive to those that I love, which created pain, confusion, and now even hatred and feelings of betrayal.

      It turns out that my sexual experiences with LM are the source of her hateful energy towards me and the coven, and even Anusara. I hid my sexual relationship with LM from each of you. I seriously thought it was inconsequential to any of my other relationships. This is just one of my serious errors of judgment that I made with LM.

      First of all, we come together as a coven out of perfect trust and perfect love. I trusted LM…I thought that all aspects of our intimate relationship would be used for only goodness, delight, and beauty. She trusted me. Evidently, she felt betrayed that I would be sexual with Tiffany too. I guess that from her perspective that I, the only male in the coven, the GM, and the head of the Kula, was so deceptive and powerful that all the women in the coven would be become one of my many concubines! She evidently extrapolated this notion because she sensed that my energy was going to both her and Tiffany, and that I was not being completely open with either woman. So, she figured that I would be so deceiving to every woman that was close to me. She saw me deceive Christy, so was a unbroken pattern that she was observing. Then you add a lack of communication from me and the coven, other negative rumors about me sparked by Michael and Tanya Phelan after the New Year’s Day at their house, the Mahashivaratri performance in San Fran, the Art Happening in LA, and probably from Jeff, my PA, who also betrayed me this year….and it all leads to LM’s vampire novel imagination conjuring JF, the GM, as the next Aleister Crowley or Pierre Arnold Bernard! The Texas Tantrick Guru is the Big Bad Wolf in Magick cloaks taking innocent girls from their faithful husbands and wrecking families to drink the juices of Little Red Ridinghoods. WOW!

      Are you kidding me?! This is the real life 21st century yoga world which is about to become globally broadcast. History spins in spirals too….In San Francisco in 1906 the mystical western Tantrick, Pierre Bernard was arrested by the police and charged with ‘morals violations, hypnotism’, and ‘soul charming’ on complaints by two young women. The police investigated but could not substantiate the claims. Thus, the charges were dropped, though the newspaper stories were scandalous and the story was widely spread. It was one reason that Bernard moved to Manhattan to escape the uproar in the San Fran society. Bernard next made an appearance in the scandal pages in New York in 1910, again as a subject of an investigation by the police based on complaints by two young women. This time Bernard was accused of abduction…The Wolf steals away the little Red Ridinghood. The two women accusers had been students of Bernard and had served as “nautch girls”, a female form of apprenticeship in his Tantrik school ,”The Temple of Mystery”, which operated under a number of different names, another of which was the New York Sanskrit College. The police arrested Bernard and he spent up to five months in the notorious New York City jail “the tombs”. Journalists had a field day with Bernard and his alleged “love cult”. The story ran on the front page of many newspapers for days in a row in May of 1910 as readers followed the story of the mysterious “Oom the Omnipotent” and the girls he had kidnapped to serve as sex slaves in his oriental sanctum. In the end the case never went to trial. At the preliminary hearing, with Bernard in the room, the two women refused to testify, thus embarrassing the District Attorney. The New York press reported that Bernard held such mental power over the girls, and glared at them so intently during the hearing, that they were reduced to tears on the stand and thus could not testify. The case was dismissed, the women fled the state, and Bernard, with a new name and reputation, went back to his esoteric activities in New York. At the New York Sanskrit College, Bernard taught courses specializing in hatha yoga, Sanskrit, health and religion which attracted many prominent people including many socialites, some from America’s most famous families, and businessmen. It was natural because of the prominence of the people that came to these establishments and the then unusual nature of the teachings that there should be complaints to the authorities about them. Once Bernard was arrested for simply teaching Sanskrit, the police evidently considered the language occult and therefore open for suspicion. As Bernard once described himself, “…I’m just a curious combination of the business man and the religious scholar”. While still in New York, and again under mysterious circumstances, Bernard met and married Blanche De Vries, a dancer, interior decorator, and yoga teacher in her own right, with whom he shared his life and the management of the Clarkstwon Country Club until his death at age 80 in 1955. De Vries by all accounts was a remarkable woman and teacher–she taught yoga in New York until the early 1980s, and had a highly developed sense of art and beauty. If Bernard was a scholar, De Vries was an artist, the two complimenting the others talents perfectly in the creation of that unique institution that was the CCC. Legend has it that the “seed money” needed by Bernard to buy the properties for the establishment of his “rest colony” in Nyack came from very high sources, perhaps from Anne Harriman Rutherford Vanderbilt, second wife of William K. Vanderbilt II. In 1920 the Bernard’s purchased for more than $100,000 a 76-acre estate in Upper Nyack for the purpose of founding a club specializing in the study of “physical culture”. Some Nyack citizens, once the club was established, spied on their new neighbors, but reportedly the most exotic thing they ever saw were club members clad in modest gym suits doing gymnastics. The early CCC, like Bernard’s previous establishments, was raided by the police on several occasions, usually as a result complaints filed by neighbors of it being a “love cult”. On the contrary the club’s atmosphere was almost puritanical in nature. For example, no intoxicating substances, especially liquor, was allowed on the grounds. There was an insistence on modest appearance and a requirement that all residents, no matter their social station, should attend to themselves. As Bernard himself once said when asked about the purpose of the club, “…this ain’t no love cult here. Just a bunch of people in love with beauty and books.” And, “Some folk like to spout a lot of Sanskrit terms like Prana, Pranayama, and Karma and what not, as if there were some virtue in foreign words, but it would do their souls a power more good to be on a course of household drudgery, scrubbing floors and so forth…because the first step towards merging with Brahm or God or the Infinite or the Universal Spirit or whatever you like to call it, is a sympathetic understanding of one’s fellow men. The background of true Yoga is not book-lore or metaphysics, but character. Without character all the book-lore and metaphysics are sounding brass and tinkling symbols.”

      The CCC would really an ashram. Here is a description from the CCC’s own publication of 1935 “Life: at the Clarkstown Country Club”, “This is much more than a country club, it is a place where an attempt is made to translate the business of living into art. It provides every form of country life enjoyment, and at the same time offers facilities for the further development of the individual, a “new deal” in both body and mind. Here the ideal is expressed in terms of balanced living, in contrast to the lop-side development so current these days.” In its heyday the CCC counted 400 members and occupied 260 acres and 15 buildings at two different sites in Nyack. There were six tennis courts, in and outdoor swimming pools, guest houses, elaborate gardens, a miniature zoo, a cabin cruiser on the Hudson and a sports stadium (with night lighting), a theater (the Inner Circle Theater), a lecture hall (the Open Forum), two gymnasiums, billiard and cards rooms, a play-room for children, music and artist studios, a powerful rooftop telescope and the famed library. The Open Forum, a series of lectures in layman’s language by notable authorities on ethics, philosophy, psychology, science, medicine and travel was sponsored by the club and held on 150 nights each year in the lecture hall. Speakers would lecture, show foreign and scientific movies, and demonstrate their knowledge in such a way as to foster the club principles of “adult education”: a means by which knowledge may be efficiently shared by one and all regardless of one’s degree of formal education. Bernard would often lecture at the Open Forum on Vedic literature, especially the Yoga System of Patanjali, a scientific scheme of mental and physical development evolved from the early Indo-Aryans. Many sources have paid tribute to Bernard’s understanding of his subject matter. Here are Bernard’s credentials as described by Dr. Potter, “He is a most amazing and vari-colored personality. He could lecture on any religion with singular penetration and discernment. He knew the human body, anatomically and every other way, to such an extent as to amaze veteran surgeons and physicians. Perhaps the most amazing fact about him is that he knew the theory and practice of Yoga best of anyone in this country.” In addition to the Open Forum, the CCC ran a small theater company called the Inner Circle Theater and the Theater of Much Discipline, which created many unusual productions. Amongst the townspeople of Nyack the CCC Circus was fondly awaited each year. Acrobats, tumblers, jugglers, wire-walkers and clowns performed, all under the CCC Big Top, the largest privately owned tent in the US. The highlight of the circus was the a performance by the CCC elephants, nine in all, including “Old Mom” a legend herself, all of which were acquired and trained by Bernard and stabled on the CCC grounds. The CCC also ran its own semi-professional baseball team and built, in part with elephant power, a 3500 seat sports stadium in Nyack equipped with night lighting and a public address system for the games. Music recitals were also a part of the rich life sponsored by the CCC with many popular and well-known musicians and singers performing there.

      Bernard and his library were without peer or precedent in demonstrating and introducing the principles of Yoga to America. Pierre Bernard never intended to be known as a charlatan but always portrayed himself as an “everyman”. He once said, “Yoga’s my bug, that’s all…like another guy goes in for running a Boy Scout Troop or collecting stamps…I’m just a man of common sense in love with beauty.” He taught Yoga at a time when most people in America considered Yoga a cult. Instead of presenting yoga as an esoteric occult philosophy, he showed it as a pratical means to a balanced way of life, translating Yoga’s ancient wisdom into a modern method of human psychological and physical development.

      *** Isn’t this a trip that LM could take the above story that create the validation of her delusion?!

      So, the big lesson here is we are aligned to the Light, to Shri, to Shiva-Shakti….yet I was attracting these betrayers and enemies into my house, to my puja, and into my bed by my own energy of deception and lack of impeccable integrity. So, to defuse and dissolve the black magic against me is to take away the veils that block the Light. By openly speaking my truth with full humility to each of you, to Christy, and to LM, I expose myself to her mercy or her wrath. With any sensitivity she will feel the Shakti of the Truth in every word of my letter. Hopefully, this will settle her. Please review the letter and let me know any thoughts or edits. I will print it and mail it overnight to LM.

      Again, I deeply sorry for any pain or harm that I caused any of you or your families or our coven. I will be super strong now in the Light and will clear any of this black energy from my field and from our circle.

      Thank you for your love and forgiveness, and your deep trust and good-hearted beauty,



      Dear Laura,

      I offer the following to you with only goodness in my heart. For months I thought that you had a serious issue with Anusara philosophy for some reason, and so you were not speaking to me, yet now it is clear that you have an issue with me personally. I greately misperceived you and our relationship for quite some time, which I am now terribly sorry about. So, it is time that I speak up and present my truth to you in hope that there may be some resolution and peace between us.

      Somewhere along the way in our relationship you began to believe that I consciously wronged you and others like Daryl and Tiffany. Although you have never expressed this to me, you have expressed this to Daryl’s husband according to Daryl. From what I can gather from Daryl, you believe that I am manipulating and brainwashing her like I have done to Tiffany and Shakti in order to gain power and sexual gratification. As I understand what you told Daryl’s husband, I ruined your marriage and then did the same to Daryl and Gabriel’s marriage.

      You and I always shared a love for what is Good, Shri, and Delightful. We shared a love of Wicca, which is grounded on doing that which enhances Nature, affirms the Goodness of Life, and fosters love. We shared our love for Anusara yoga, which is a philosophy and practice that is totally aligned with Wicca on every level. With this common ground of wanting to bring more Light and Love into the world you and I started a small circle to use our knowledge and power to manifest our elevated intentions. Tiffany joined us in this auspicious and sacred endeavor. As part of our rituals you and I both agreed that we would use sexual/sensual energy in a positive and sacred way to help build the efficacy of our practices, which is a common element of most Wiccan circles, as you know.

      From the beginning of our circle there was sexual attraction between you and me, and me and Tiffany. This was openly affirmed. You and I both mutually consented to engage as lovers without what I felt to be any attachment or expectation of deep emotional involvement. We came together intimately out of trust in one another and with only goodness and kindness in our hearts. On the few occasions that we were sexual with each other we were both loving and respectful to each other. From my perspective there never seemed to be any emotional attachment on either of our part, and there was never an indication, verbal or in writing, that either of us was getting emotionally attached with the other. From my point of view I thought that we were very trusting and intimate friends who were open sexually with each other, and yet were not possessive with the other.

      Regarding your marriage, it was a subject that we rarely talked about and so I really don’t know any details of your marriage or of your ex-husband. I only understood that your marriage was essentially over when we started talking about starting a coven. You never told me, Tiffany or Shakti that our circle had anything to do with dissolving your marriage since we all understood that it was over by the Summer Solstice of ’09. So, do you now believe that the teachings or practices of Anusara yoga caused you to dissolve your marriage somehow although you really didn’t want your marriage to end?

      Over the last half of ’09 and the beginning of ’10 Tiffany, Shakti, and I repeatedly expressed our prayers for you to be happy in any romantic relationship that you were involved with. At the end of the year we specifically did prayers for you to find your true love in your life and to have deep fulfillment in a loving relationship for all of your days. I only wanted you to be happy in a love relationship. If you would have told me that you loved your husband and you wanted your marriage to prosper, I would have done anything I could to support you and your heart’s desire. I had no motive for you not to be happy in a committed, loving relationship with another man.

      I felt that you and I were completely trusting and open with each other, and that we only wanted ultimate freedom and happiness for each other. I have been completely open with Tiffany that you and I were sexually intimate. I was clear with her that it was a mutual, unconditional intimacy between us, and that we trusted each other without emotional clinging. Even as Tiffany and I were falling in love with each other, she never felt that my intimate relationship with you negatively affected her relationship with me, or with anyone else for that matter. Furthermore, I had no intention of continuing my sexual intimacy with you after Tiffany and I committed to each other in the Spring. So, I did not foresee any future conflict in the deep interconnection between you, Tiffany, and me. Certainly, Tiffany has only been loving with you and continues to wish you well.

      Even the last weekend that I saw you and was physically intimate with you at my house, I felt certain that we were both emotionally clear and respectful of one another. We had a very positive time talking that day before I drove you to the airport and you were focusing on the friend who was going to pick you up that day. Through that whole weekend at my house, Tiffany, Shakti and I wished you so many blessings that things would get better with your friend and that you would be happy. There certainly was never any shadowy, selfish, or manipulative intentions involved on my part in our intimate relationship.

      Then the Spring came, during which time you and I did not speak and only infrequently corresponded, mainly because I became immersed with my work and touring overseas, and Nashville was hit by the flood, and our lives were simply crazy busy. I am so sorry that we lost touch during this time since I believe that it was during this period that you started to create a negative scenario in your mind about me. Tiffany and I fell in love in the Spring and yet we didn’t tell you or anyone until we returned to the US in May. Again, I take responsibility for the lack of communication, and I am sure that you were hurt by not telling you right away, so I greatly apologize to you.

      I figured that once we told you that Tiffany and I were now in a committed relationship you would be very happy and totally supportive. Also, I presumed that it would be totally fine if our sexually relationship ended since it was unconditional. Tiffany and I never thought you would be disappointed or opposed to our relationship.

      So, in May it sounded like you were still considering coming to Ireland with us in August. Then suddenly around the Solstice you informed us that you did not want to be part of our circle and that you have issues with Anusara. As by your choice, you and I have not spoken since.

      Evidently, Gabriel, Daryl’s husband, contacted you after finding some emails of Daryl connecting her with BSF. It is true that Daryl hid our circle from Gabriel and this deceit hurt him greatly. She purposefully did not tell him because he doesn’t believe in Wicca or doing magick for healing and manifesting Light. According to Daryl this fundamental incompatibility in philosophy to Life was from day one in their relationship and so their marriage has suffered for years, much before Daryl found Anusara or met me. From the very beginning of Daryl’s sharing with me about her marriage, I have been totally supportive of her and her family. If I heard about any of her marital conflicts, I strongly encouraged patience and reconciliation especially for the sake and wellbeing of the daughters. I only wanted their family to flourish. At no time have I ever told Daryl that she should leave her family or do something that would be harmful to the family. Furthermore, I have never had sex with Daryl nor do I ever intend to. I have also not had sex with Shakti either. Christy, you, and Tiffany have been my only lovers for the last couple of years.

      So, Daryl and Gabriel have had years of marital trouble according to both of them. The accusation that I am responsible for the demise of their marriage could not be further from the truth. Daryl has made her own decisions about the marriage after trying to work things out with Gabriel for years. I totally support Daryl’s decision to do what is best for her and for her family. I only wish Gabriel blessings as well. I have never even talked to him, so I only know him through Daryl, and she does not speak negatively about him, so I have no reason to wish him harm.

      I also understand through Daryl that you feel that I was wrong that I hid the BSF and our intimate sexual relationship from Christy, with whom I was breaking up with in ’09. Yes, I was untruthful and deceptive with Christy about these things, and that was certainly wrong of me. Christy and I have always been good friends, and we broke up in a very harmonious way, so we continue our friendship in a very positive way as of today. She is supportive of my relationship with Tiffany, and I am supportive of her relationship with her boyfriend who she now lives with. Encouraged by Tiffany to clear the shadowy past of deception, especially with our loved ones, I recently revealed to Christy about my sexual activity in the Summer of ’09 and apologized to her for any dishonesty. It has not been easy to look at my shadows. Yet, I want to clear any of my patterns that lead to harm, and to improve my character as a man. I never meant to harm anyone when you and I became sexually intimate back in Montreal.

      I have openly shared all of this now with Daryl and Shakti. They only wish peace for everybody too. No one is wishing harm to another. Revealing our private relationship has forced an open honesty which has illumined what needs to be healed. And it provides a fresh chance for all of us to use our will in ways to clear suffering and make the auspiciousness grow.

      So, this is the truth from my heart. My only intention is to create good in the world. I have no interest in creating hate or evil, or doing harm to anyone, especially you. If you feel that I have wronged you in some way that I am unaware of, please express to me your heart. As always, I wish you only happiness and love. Earlier this year we were very close. Out of tens of thousands of friends, I trusted you fully, more than almost anyone else. I felt that our deep friendship was mutually healing and inspiring in many ways, and for that I will always be grateful.

      So, now I only hope for peace with you. Please communicate with me so that we can bring harmony to this situation. I fully realize that you do not wish to have any relationship with me in the future, and that is fine with me. I just want you to know my truth and accept that I never meant to cause any harm to you and anyone else. I hope that you clearly see that I am open to examining my faults and to improving as a person, and so I am open to your feedback without maliciousness.




      • Maybe I missed it

        Was the second letter above on the original site? I honestly can’t remember reading that. Seeing his language in that letter that seems to be from a few years ago sounds strangely familiar some of the things he is writing now.

        • worth the read!

          The second letter was on the site as well as some explicit sexual content between Friend and Katrina.

          YogaWoman you are right – he is a GENIUS gaslighter.

          My take on this:
          innocent smitten Michal just happens to be married to man with millions. mega millions. JF “courts” her to get her to invest in the new center. Things go awry and that damn YogaDork ruins everything for him. PlanB: I’ll move to another country where they don’t know much and start over again there. Isreal is a good place – I can make Michal think she is CEO, she will give me money for that title, and I can coast along on her connections and influence … and … bobs your uncle> we’re off to the races. Look out Isreael. Someone DOES need to expose this fraud to the Isreaeli people — and someone does need to send MR. Lichtman a copy of the letters from jfexposed — and let him know the history and what Mrs. Lichtman has “bought herself into”. Not many husbands I know would be okay with their wife getting into bed with someone as nefarious as JF.

          • worth the read!

            It is interesting that Todd Norian resigned,then he unresigned. Todd was in Israel and training with Michal at ShalOm Yoga ….. They must have really sweetened the pot to get him back on board. Its always about the money and now – the integrity of Mr.Norian is in question. Why did he come back and what is his involvement with the Isreaeli operations?
            Does anyone know who is teaching in Isreal? Schedule says its John. Are John, Michal, & Todd going into partnership to take over the middle-east?

  • Yoga woman

    He’s gaslighting. He’s a genius gaslighter.

  • Rich Hubby

    Hm. Michals husband plays in the big leagues. I don’t see him bowing down to the immense ego of JF.

    From New York Post:
    The troubled One Madison Park — a 60-story condo building that’s facing multiple lawsuits from creditors, including one of its former brokers — has some good news to report.
    Technology entrepreneur/investor Yigal Lichtman closed Tuesday on a $10 million unit at One Madison. The four-bedroom, 4½-bathroom condo is 3,310 square feet on the 42nd floor.
    And the developer is considering offers on 15 other units, with a combined value of around $40 million, Prudential Douglas Elliman broker Tamir Shemesh says.
    But the building is also wrangling with unhappy buyers who signed contracts in a better market and now want out.

    SO INTERESTING isn’t it?
    Rich hubby buys his wife her own Yoga brand.

  • Yoga woman
  • Yoga woman
    • Very interesting links! So much for taking off until June . . . I guess JF forgot to clarify that he really means “taking off for Israel”! Whoops.

      How can he still be lying, even now, in the middle of his supposed rehabilitation phase (of a whole four months). Honestly, we have really moved all the way from tragedy to farce with this one. W.T. F.?!

      • It will reach maximum farce when JF invokes ‘Lila’ or ‘Maya’ as his alibi.

    • hmm...

      not impressed with Shaloms website … nor the schedule.
      very rudimentary and unpolished.

  • Virginia

    It is up to us to not fall for this stuff!

    • + 1,000 blazing suns

      Yes! Right on, Virginia.

  • chan

    If anyone is holding their breath waiting for Anusara to fail, good luck. It’s a viable yoga school, and it will succeed with a new CEO. Anusara is more than John Friend and still has strong people associated with it. Get back on your mats.

    • LIAR

      fuck off chan/ i mean JOHN.

    • Larry

      Chan thanks for reminding us all how not much Yoga has been practised off the mat at all. This is the precise problem. So I suggest stay off your mat a little longer and start living the principles beyond the mat and ask the business people running this viable Yoga school to do the same.

  • Yoga woman

    Can I get you a refill, Chan, I mean John?

  • Curious

    Can they read YOGADORK website in Israel ? Someone should introduce this wonderful YOGA website to the new Anusara CEO if she is not familiar with it !

  • anita

    Was not able to see it on the website until now. Thanks. What a mess of crap. So disappointing. A sabbatical for JF if he ever takes one-wilk probably not help.

  • hmm...

    Both Michal Lichtman AND rich hubby Igal Lichtman are on Facebook if anyone wants to send them a link to YogaDork …. and Elephant Journal …. and BayShakti …. and other relevant links that expose this demon-master for what he is. Mr. Lichtman needs to see the content of jfexposed. There will be a rapid change of plan, I feel certain of it.
    The other studios in Israel should be similarily forewarned for a heads up and that the circus is coming to town ….

    • anus -ara

      LOL why doesnt this sicko John friend go back under the scumbag rock he came from??.. what a sick fuck. and all this kula, shri, light shiva shakti bullshit nonsense this is america not india. boycott anus ara

  • HY

    Somehow I am convinced that they are fully aware of this but being in contact in JF they received his version and decided to plod ahead regardless. I don’t think any savvy investor would skip research just like that. They are active participants in damage control after all.

    • RedHerringHy

      you don’t think so Hy?
      i don’t think that your opinion should stop anyone from forwarding the information to the interested parties nor to the studios in Isreael. HY.

      • HY

        By all means, go ahead. They do know more than you and me though, I’m sure. They know they are buying damaged goods.

        • RedHerringHy

          I doubt they know more then you do HY

          • HY

            Don’t, honestly. Direct your suspicions where they rightly belong.

  • HolyBlazingSolarFlames!

    There is one cure for the innocent victims : ride the man out of town on a rail.

    To “ride someone out of town on a rail” is a classic American locution dating back to the early 19th century. In its usual figurative use, “to ride someone out of town on a rail” means to severely punish them by means of ridicule or public condemnation and, optimally, to banish the person utterly from further serious consideration in whatever field they committed their offense.

    • And – how he was ever considered seriously is still a mystery to me.
      i am so disappointed that people fell for him and his (obvious) insincerity.
      i would hope that (especially) Yoga teachers would have made more use of their abilities to discern and discriminate.
      Now i am hopeful that this serves to make people think twice before swallowing someone else’s stuff.

  • Sara

    Why was jfexposed taken down?

    • hm.

      extremely salacious content.
      i tried to post a copy, FYI but YD website won’t accept it.
      (no criticism of YD – there are probably internet prohibitions
      against such graphic content)
      its very very graphic and “detail oriented”.
      salacious is an understatement.
      the letters to the coven are available and posted on these
      threads, fyi.
      the sexual content/convos are removed (although many hundreds, if not thousands, of people have copies of it).

  • Dude

    If the Anusara method can survive, the only way it can do so credibly is that Friend not only steps away, but allows a full accounting for his business and personal words and actions. The Anusara school cannot, in order to have credibility, be handed over to a Friend loyalist who is willing to act as his conservator while he allows the storm to pass. Yet this is exactly what looks to be happening.

    While I do no not know Friend or any of the top teachers who have recently fled like rats off a sinking ship, given what I have read from all of these people not only do I not trust Friend’s motives, I do not trust the motives of any of the people (many who have rightly resigned) who participated in the fraud on an ongoing basis. Don’t get me wrong, there are several levels of culpability, but any teachers who have resigned only as it has become more apparent that Friend would be exposed for the charlatan that he is, does not reflect well on any of them. We were stardust and glitter, we were changing the world, we were the chosen ones, we had the keys to the kingdom, when we fart, it doesn’t smell. So many of them became so deluded, they believed it.

    I have a lot of respect for my local Anusara method teachers; they are excellent people and practitioners. I am relatively new to yoga and Anusara, but I have always been very suspicious of people who are viewed as having magical powers, and so I have been of Friend and other people held in such high esteem by my excellent teachers. I would wonder, what’s so special? These top lieutenants of Friend have all made modest money and yoga fame as a result of their connection to Friend. And they chant an invocation created by a huckster more interested in money and brand than the words of shiny glitter they sing before class.

    Snake oil tastes bitter. My sense is that this solution created by the charlatan is more smoke and mirrors less than a real fix. I am not sure what impact it will have on me at my local studio, but I know I want nothing to do with an organization and band of teachers still out there selling there own special brand of magic potion. The method works just great thanks, I just don’t need the hocus pocus.

    • hm.

      lunch conversation:
      one twenty-something Anusara Inspired ™ teacher says to another:
      “so this means that we’re going to be ” just” yoga teachers like everyone else” ….. nothing to make us special”.
      just yoga teachers like everyone else. nothing to make us special.

      pick me up off the floor pleeze.

      and what were you before that made you so special? was my question. well, we were ANUSARA teachers.

      pass the kulaid. i need some.

      • Love hm’s response.
        A question to dude: Why would we want the Anusara method to survive?

        • Dude

          I have found the practice itself to be safe. I don’t speak to the business, quasi-spiritual, or sexual aspects.

        • SQR

          I think it’s possible to keep the method, or parts of it, alive while losing the idol and the pyramid scheme. Dude is not alone in his assessment of it, so why shouldn’t it continue? Teachers have to charge for classes (including you, from what your website shows) in order to keep the lights on, and pay for the time, effort, and education they got. Nothing wrong with that- we live in a market system. It’s human nature to think the method we use is the best one, but if it blinds us to other views, then we get a world full of fundamentalist Muslims and Christians each damming the other.

          • Here’s the thing as far as I can tell.

            Anusara method of UPAs exist outside of Anusara, as I learned them, and did not learn them in Anusara training. I learned them in Iyengar training.

            Anusara method, therefore, is more than the UPAs in order to be Anusara. What are these other aspects of method?

            First, I would say that the special invocation — as it was/is apparently required. So, this is part of the method.

            Second, I would say it was the theme-ing aspect, which seems to be prescribed as well. So, this is part of the method.

            Third, I would think that the concept and application or method of developing and working with the “kula” is an important part of the “method.” It seems to be important because people talk about it a lot.

            Fourth, I would include the new tantric ideology/practice/”religion?” into this as part of the method as well.

            So, here is what happens when a person strips away most of anusara: all you’re left with is the UPAs — which pretty much all yoga teachers of the krishnamacharya lineage share.

            Which means that, in fact, they are just like the rest of us. How?

            First, we choose for ourselves what invocations — if any — to use to open our classes.

            Second, we choose, for ourselves, which themes and ideas will be taught — without any prescription from anyone else (unless, of course, we are teaching another method — such as how Iyengar is taught, or how Bikram is taught, or how Astanga is taught).

            Third, we have a community which is self designated, created, and designed around our own interests, with diverse individuals with diverse training and backgrounds often sharing and debating and supporting each other. There’s no centralized hierarchy, and no specific, determined exclusion.

            Fourth, there’s no specific ideology to which we must “align” and teach, or what have you — we can come from our own spiritual perspectives (or lack thereof) with openness and clarity.

            So, turns out that — if they remove all of these things except the UPAs — then they are no longer Anusara, and therefore just like the rest of us (who are not teaching within a prescribed lineage such as Bikram, Iyengar, or Anusara).

            And yes, are just the same as the rest of us.

            I’m glad of it.

            But, I might also say I’m glad for those teachers in their own lineages as well, teaching in a specifically prescribed way, because that can also have benefit.

            Everyone so far has asserted that the ‘real benefit’ of Anusara method is the UPAs.

            I agree, the UPAs are beneficial. But we all share them. So in that way, it doesn’t make Anusara *special*! It’s the “other stuff” that made it special/different, and without that “other stuff” it’s probably not anusara.

            And without that other stuff, I have to say I’m interested to see what people create. 🙂

          • SQR

            OK, that seems like a pretty good assessment- thanks for taking the time.

          • SQR – Nice diversions! i fell for the golf one.
            What does teachers charging for classes have to do with the Anusara method(s) surviving?
            And, which of the Anusara methods would you like to see survive? the brainwashing? the secret-keeping and covering up? the teaching script?
            Seriously – why would we want it to survive?
            The teachings that are useful have survived for thousands of years. They never had to be called something else and have acclaim and adoration go to the person who created the trademarked, registered name.
            Yoga is Yoga. You can still teach it and earn money doing it without tainting the teaching by calling it Anusara.

        • SQR

          By the way, on completely different subject- the golf connection on your site… have you seen the film “The Legend of Bagger Vance”?

          • DebW

            I have one word in regard to “keeping the method alive”.

          • SQR

            I’m fine with Iyengar… have friends who teach it, as well as friends who teach Anusara, Ashtanga, Bikram, and CorePower. I remember, though, occasionally hearing from folks new to yoga who had some issues with the Iyengar classes. I heard less (if any) of that about Anusara, so I stand by my earlier comment- hope to see the method continue in some form.

          • SQR – re: Bagger Vance – not yet, believe it or not. Will watch it one of these days. Have seen parts, but not the whole. Thanks for reminding me. Have you read “Golf in the Kingdom” by Michael Murphy?

  • Chris

    Anusara, Inc. ?

    Hello ? Was the “Inc.” not a dead give-away then ?

    Patanjali meant for Yoga to be taught under the ancient Hindu education system of Guru-Shishya (Teacher-Student). Thus, Yoga was to be taught by selfless and humble Gurus to earnest and disciplined Shishyas, residing in the Ashram of the Guru.

    In this system, the Shishya offers to the Guru nothing but Seva (service) at the Guru’s Ashram, and the Guru demands nothing of the Shishya, save total dedication to his studies. At the culmination of his studies, the Shishya offers to the Guru a simple, yet meaningful gift or service (Guru-Dakshina), and receives his Guru’s blessings, as he sets out into the world, to carry on his Guru’s noble work.

    Patanjali would not have approved of today’s horrible “Yoga, Inc.”. Much like JC would not have approved of the Vatican.

    • Chris

      The whole point being that the ancient Hindu education system of Guru-Shishya was a not-for-profit system of education.

      The Seva provided by the Shishyas at the Guru’s Ashram was designed to ensure that the Ashram remained self-sufficient, in terms of resources such as food, shelter, etc. In addition, benevolent Kings (Rajas) would bestow endowments on the Ashram every now and then.

      The Guru and his Ashram only imparted Knowledge and Wisdom, and did not accumulate wealth.

      In India today, many Yoga institutes, such as the Yoga Institute of BKS Iyengar in Pune, and the Yoga Ashram of Baba Ramdev, operate almost as not-for-profit organizations.

  • Curious

    Has anybody seen the video in Bay Shakti that John introducing the now CEO of Anusara, Michal Lichtman, to the kulu? She seems nice and none-business type. What a good old day and a big happy family.

  • John Friend is an amateur. I banged thousands of my students. I’m still banging them even though I’m dead. BTW, who’s the fuck changed my name after I croaked?????????

    • DebW

      LOL / … thanks for the giggle …

    • DieGedankenSindFrei

      Yes! Oh Bagwan I miss you! Are there any Rolls Royces in Heaven, Bagwan?!

      Great posting. Needed the laugh.

  • Season

    I’m still completely grossed out that someone would want to sleep with a creeper like John Friend in the first place. Yuck!

  • maggoot

    Elena Brower’s new bo is a rich developer.

  • Danius

    I’ve already commented on this mess on Bernadette Birney’s blog — whose response I heartily endorse — but I will note this. It’s utterly absurd for JF to say that the claims are unverified and have not been investigated.

    The pension issue is supported by documentation, and JF himself has confirmed improper sexual relationships with employees and students, in direct violation of his own code of ethics. Can he really be claiming that his own admission does not constitute “verification” ? Or that the documentation on the website does not constitute “verification.”? He has not challenged its authenticity — neither the pension documents nor the letters.

    As far as an investigation is concerned, no one would have the standing to conduct such an investigation without filing a lawsuit claiming damages. Of course, JF himself could enable an independent investigation and offer to cooperate fully. This is not a realistic expectation, of course, since at this point we can assume that JF is lawyered up and interested in minimizing his own liability. But the lack of an investigation is an indictment of JF and Anusara Inc, and not a reflection on his critics.

    • Dude

      I agree. I said earlier regarding accountability, without achieving that through audit, investigation, accounting, or by any other name something that achieves such an outcome, Friend’s words are more empty gestures. Nothing more.

  • Ashley Hayes

    “The Real Housewives of Anusara Kula?” ~DebW

    HAHAHA! Love it.

  • Race, Pot, and Prison

    why are the pot deliveries not being discussed?

    “Compared to Non-blacks, California’s African-American population are 4 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana, 12 times more likely to be imprisoned for a marijuana felony arrest, and 3 times more likely to be imprisoned per marijuana possession arrest. Overall… these disparities accumulate to 10 times’ greater odds of an African-American being imprisoned for marijuana than other racial/ethnic groups.”

    Source: Males, Mike, “Misdemeanor marijuana arrests are skyrocketing and other California marijuana enforcement disparities,” Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice (San Francisco, CA: November 2011), p. 6.


  • Race, Pot, and Prison

    In other words, isn’t it illegal to possess and mail pot? Maybe not for white men?

  • Yoga Chick

    After reading the emails that came in from John and this rich and clearly brainwashed Michal woman I did two things:

    1. I threw up a little in my mouth. Twice.
    2. I did a little happy dance in honor of the fact that I walked away from Anusara after one small teacher training as I refused to drink that kool-aid.

    John has just further proven what a manipulative predator he really is and this woman Michal and her husband are enabling John to skirt responsibility for his actions and perhaps even escape prosecution. Shame on them! They can all go to israel and stay there as far as I’m concerned.

  • Where's The Boycott?

    Anyone else find it ironic that the company that Michal’s husband Igal founded and then sold was called Magic Solutions? Maybe John’s Wiccan spells worked after all?

  • John is no longer teaching in Israel, but will go there, as planned, and participate in a tour of the country. The website that posted his schedule has simply not been updated.

    • bonanzaJellybean

      Tick tock goes the clock Wendy ….. its time the website/scheudle be updated.
      Whatch y’all waiting on?

      Who is teaching in Isreal, out of curiosity?

      OPEN TRANSPARENCY Wendy… might be an “idea” to consider. Seriously.

      “You used to be much more…”muchier”…. You’ve lost your muchness”. (-theHadMatter)

      • oH gOOd lORd!

        save bet to assume ToddNorian is teaching in Isreael. certainly He unResigned for this very purpose … I’m sure there is a juicy back story to that as well. cha ching. everyone has their price don’t they; i think it is so sad that these people can be so easily “bought” …. and then have the cahoonies to call themselves yoga teachers. astavakrasana does not a yogi make.
        om swaha.

  • Investors???

    Does anyone know if there are more investors? Yogadork can you find out? If they really are being transparent now it would be good to know who has invested and if any of those people are on the committees or boards.

  • I think it’s time that Yoga Teacher Training included a basic course on personality disorders, pathological liars and sociopaths. Here are two resources that may be helpful in understanding what we are dealing with here. There are many more.


    In Sheep’s Clothing: Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People, by George K. Simon, Jr. PhD.

    It pains me to say this and being human I might be mistaken, but that February 24. 2012 letter from JF reads like a classic case of manipulation and denial. It speaks volumes that the Steering Committee and Board of Directors allowed it to be published.

    • DieGedankenSindFrei

      Yes yes a thousand times yes!!!!!!!

      This has been going on for millenia —

      1. Person has this personality and career pushes him (or her) to leadership role.
      2. Person finds themselves accidentally in this role and turns monstrous as the ego is fed.

      Thus, when a “teacher” says I must study with a guru, I’m always gonna say “fuck off! I’ll be my own guru thank you.” I don’t want to “have my ego deconstructed” which is a perfect example of something that gurus supposedly can do, but could be part of a sociopathic personality.

      To find a balance, to find a teacher who is not feeding his/her ego, ahhh that’s a trick.

  • Just read Bernadette Birney’s Blog . Found the link at top of this page but in case anyone missed it: http://bernadettebirney.com/2012/02/my-response-to-johns-latest-letter.html

  • Huh?

    Nothing on the website has been updated… except for the teachers list. Every teacher that has left has been removed from the list. They are having no problems updating that list, but everything else is ‘business as usual’.

    • FREE

      I checked my State on the website and several teachers I know have resigned for sure are still listed. I don’t think it is being monitored that closely.

  • Julian
    • simply yoga

      Thanks Julian. Sarah is so articulate and her post is an important read.

  • When I read what various students/teachers say about cutting their ties to the lead teacher, I’m struck by the similarity of when one cuts the ties of a personal relationship. The hope and naivite is the same! One teacher wrote: “I’m stubborn when it comes to close relationships—I will stick around ’til the last shard of hope shatters. I did not leave earlier because I remained hopeful. Then I realized:

    Sometimes the way to hold someone accountable is by not enabling their behavior any longer. Sometimes the kindest thing to do is to walk away.

    Even though they might plead, cry, promise to change, pretend to listen or be convinced that all is well, I have lived long enough to know not to listen to words but to hold people accountable for their actions.”

  • Another book I recommend:

    When Your Lover Is a Liar: Healing the Wounds of Deception and Betrayal, by Susan Forward, PhD.

    Throughout the book, if you substitute the word “lover” for “teacher,” the parallels are uncanny.

  • kulashaker

    The haters will hate…

    otherwise .. Anusara will move on, transform and become something more healthy then it was before, if anything the business practice is seeing transformation as one can see by being on the mat. I have practiced many styles and Anusara… I personally have only gotten alot of insight and goodness from my Anusara teachers and see the connections to the traditions based in India, Iyengar, Hatha and others. Most interesting part of Anusara is that looking at the sacred text of the Siva Sutra’s and John’s obviously dedicated work to bring an understanding of them to many, it opens truly a ancient door to some extremely interesting writings given on your matt. People on this forum are full of judgement, based on silly arguments about a words without even knowing their meaning ‘kula’, or there origin or there place in time and so otherwise not understanding the context of there meaning. People make mistakes, a US president comes to mind right away and so does a smile while I think about it.

    I wish the best for the Anusara community as these major upheavals are great times of new expansion, growth and expression.

    • simply yoga

      We all know what kula means and its origins. It’s just that the word has a new association these days and it’s cringe-worthy.

      If I were doing an overhaul of the brand I’d drop it like a hot potato. Words conjure images, feelings, associations — and this kula language has seen its expiration date come and go.

      But I don’t think Anusara is salvageable, nor should it be. So, hell yeah, keep sayin’ it. Over and over and over and over. Because no matter the meaning of origin, it sounds like coven, cult, and worse. The word has been poisoned in the yoga community at large.

      • Where's The Boycott?

        Kula-Aid anyone?

    • Jane C.

      Suza Francina – thank you. I’m going to follow up on those suggestions. Sadly, the books have many applications to my life.

      Kulashaker –

      for the record – “haters will hate” is an empty statement – something more appropriate to a TV reality housewife then a serious discussion of yoga lineage and the abuse of power

      “traditions based in India, Iyengar, Hatha and others.” Hatha is not a lineage, it is a sanskrit word referring to physical practice – one of the eight limbs of yoga described in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.

      Iyengar is the style develped by BKS Iyengar. John Friend was a certified Iyengar teacher before his ego could no longer contain itself and he sought to take Iyengar’s “hatha” yoga techniques and apply them to Siddha Yoga – a meditation school famous for its own scandals including the leader – Muktananda – having sex with underage girls, and his heir – Gurumayi – physically caning her brother and other apostates. See the Lis Harris New Yorker piece – O Guru Guru Guru.

      JF has disposed of tantric philosophical point men (yes, they’ve all been men) like used hankies. His insights into Kashmiri Shavism and the tantric tradition of householders in India is slim. “Shiva Shakti” is a contrived load of hooey designed to get him the best tail, weed and vacations.

      As someone who takes pantheism seriously I am abhorred by his cheap, calculated exploitation of earth based philosophies. I refer you to Rene Dubos, A God Within, or Pierre Teilhard de Chardin for a surface scratch of what it means to live deeply imbedded in the world.

      Accordingly, I’m not seeing a basis in your post to be making claims about the meaning of “kula”. You might want to take a look at Dr. Robert Svoboda’s Aghora trilogy to get a start on an understanding of tantra.

      John Friend anointed himself as someone blessed with special spiritual knowledge. He must deal with the consequences of that boast.

      • Svoboda’s work is fabulous, but I find Feurstein (sp?) easier to read. I wish people read more diverse texts. I suppose as I write/say this, I should read Brooks. I’d never heard of him before this business. LOL!

    • TemplePriestess


      is that you ,fellow Grateful Dead fan?
      the ripple feels ALOT like you. i just had to ask.

      FYI – I don’t agree with you and wish you to STOP flogging that dead horse already … 😉

    • Eva

      People on this site enact discernment. Judgment — using one’s judgment faculties — is, yes, fully part of that. Even scathing judgment and derision are necessary parts of that. We are adults. If you have given up your judgment faculties to your teachers, your kula, your tradition, you infantilize yourself.
      Interesting how even the concept of “judgment” gets deified in your twisted cultish subculture.
      As poster on EJ pointed out, the US president you refer to — Clinton — was sexually serviced by a 19-yr-old who joked about putting her “presidential kneepads on” to go work as an intern — meaning, of course, that she fully intended to serve him oral sex. If you wish to whore yourself as well, to put on your Anusara kneepads, and literally or metaphorically fasten your mouth around the penis or vulva of your teachers, no one can stop you. It’s a free country.
      But the rest of us are free, also, to express disgust and revulsion against such behavior.
      You, also, have made judgment. Your judgment is for shit.

      • DieGedankenSindFrei

        How vivid!

        and true! Well said, actually. :-0

  • simply yoga

    And calling people “haters” who have a different opinion is really lame. A very poor and transparent attempt to shut down discerning thought and expression. No soup for you!

  • simply yoga

    That letter John Friend wrote to LM needs to be posted in every thread. It’s a great reminder of what we’re dealing with here.

    He really let his personality shine in that one. I bet he wishes he’d simply said, “It’s not me… It’s YOU” and moved along.

  • jeremy

    Kulashaker , Im fed up of this sorry little tale that John Friend has helped manifest within me . its not great reading , but posts like yours is what keeps me here , so well done for reminding me what this is about , or what keeps me here .
    In your first line you adopt a infantilised passive aggresive stance that seems so common from those ones “in the Kula ” Friends of Friend , it really makes me wonder if you are being told what to say or perhaps how programmed you are ,even now , i am struck from the 100s of thousands of claimed anusara students worldwide why so little has been said , maybe they are frightened because they know what it means when people are not in alignment with John Friend. It is a little eerie how the same argument and voice comes up time after time . Kula, good, open hearted , everyone else judgemental non yogic haters blah blah , it is the stuff of the playground , or schoolyard as i beleive they say in usa . You know these people you label judgemental maybe care about yoga and feel that it is a duty to stand up to the terrible misinformation that John Friend has bandied about for the last 15 years , actually people are being on the most part respectful and just looking to bring balance to this madness . I have always been amazed that nobody has stood up to friend before, we have seen how those on the inside were marginalised and obviously scared of big daddy friend , perhaps like me those on the outside thought he was a bit of a bad joke and therefore relatively harmless , however he has recruited mostly young folk who were searching , enclosed them in a kula and filled there heads with a jumble of stuff, got them to turn nearly every yoga pose into a backbend and told them to ignore anything negative , especially if it is around him , its all shri , indeed .
    Can you give me details of John Friends tantric credentials and im afraid saying he hung out with gurumayi (sp) is not going to cut it for me nor that he hung out with some accademics and got them to do his dirty work , If john met a true tantric he would kack his pants , What was his sadhana ? where did it take place , for how long ? He must of had one otherwise he couldnt have gained the understanding that he is now passing onto you. You know how serious it is to misuse tantra , what the consequences are dont you ? how easy it is to fall off the path . It amuses me for people who spout the non dual path how vain and obsessed alot of anusarians are , im sure many are sincere practitioners as well they may have not been encouraged to try other schools/ systems why would they when the kula tells them otherwise and would make them feel bad and marginalised? just in case you have me down for a complete hater
    You know john was just an average Iyengar teacher but this was not enough , so he cobbled some ideas together , stole/borrowed claimed as his own others ideas , and coated it with super positive unrealistic attitude and turned it into a product/ brand for money fame or punani im not sure , sent out lots of misleading adverts , which his script speaking accolytes continue to spout without even thinking about the veracity of their sttements or how it might look to perhaps the person who has lovingly been sharing the tools of yoga for lets say 40 years without the need to boast make false claims or actually tell people how they should be living , which for me is the most idiotic act some of his teachers seem to partake in .the ignorant arrogance .
    The more i read your comments the more i think you may be satya or some of the other hit and run posters who never actually engage in any adult debate ? are you ? can you tell me where in this thread for example you have seen people arguing about the name kula , it maybe there but i missed it and i cant be bothered to read everything but ive had a quick look and couldnt find anything, are you being honest or just trying to keep the subject and light off john ? Little diversionary fires , there are some great voices here you are not going to fool them, they are not partaking of the koolaid , some of these people have a weight of practise behind them they are authentic voices from the community of yoga,
    Lastly can I thank you for your judgement that people are being judgemental , how ironic.
    Oh by the way a kula displays certain characteristics not sure the anusara kula is living by those qualities.


    • DebW

      It felt GREAT to read that.
      Big sigh.
      THANK YOU.

  • Eloise

    I have been practicing yoga since my early 20s ( iyengar hatha yoga) and I am in my 40s now. For a long time I practiced vinyasa flow yoga at a very well known yoga school, whose teachers get invited to conferences and Wanderlust and the like. I was strong, I could transition in and out of the poses with ease but my practice stayed the same. I took my first Anusara class in 2002 and my teacher at the time kept that method until she began exploring other things and moved on. I moved on as well. By chance I took another Anusara class about 4 years ago. It took me a while to get the instruction but once I did my practice changed entirely. I never suffer any pain, I am super strong and my vinyasa practice is night and day because I maintain integrity at all times, good alignment and an awareness of my anatomy.

    I took all three immersions. My teacher taught everything from the classical yoga perspective and the Tantric perspective. We had two texts for the Sutras and a really neutral Bhagavad Gita text plus Douglas Brooks commentary. We had lively discussions. There was no indoctrination at all. In fact the more the conversation pulled in from multiple traditions the more engaged the group was.

    I never liked JF. I have a built in BS detector. I don’t like Wanderlust. Same BS detector. Now the word Kula makes me sick. I take what I want and I leave what I want and I take classes in two completely different studios.

    But it was only the physical practice of Anusara yoga that opened real doors for me in my personal practice. The philosophy comes from many sources and always will.

  • Puddin

    Thanks Kulashaker….I was just thinking what a lot of yoga meanies, quick to judge….what you see in others is also in you.

  • truth

    Officially JF is scheduled to officially teach Anusara in just a few weeks….far away …. in Israel. http://www.shalomyoga.tv/John-Friend-in-Israel.htm Yet someone wrote that he won’t be teaching there …. that someone else will teach in his stead, and that they just haven’t updated the site. Curious thing that they did not find time to update the site when the retreat is just weeks away. Hard to imagine there will be transparency to folks in Israel about the real story – lots people would cancel.

  • Not Teaching Anymore?

    Officially JF is scheduled to teach again very soon …. but far away so everyone in this thread won’t be present. http://www.shalomyoga.tv/John-Friend-in-Israel.htm Someone wrote that someone else will teach in JF’s stead, that they just haven’t updated the site. Curious thing – no time to update. The retreat is just weeks away. Hard to imagine there will be transparency to Israelis about the real story. It could lead to cancellations.

    • Jerry

      Actually, there’s a little blurb on the site that says the event is postponed, details to follow.

  • I’ve been thinking about John Friend/Anusara, etc. and wondered why, with all the adjacent publicity about William Broad’s articles and book, I’d seen no link between the sexually-interpreted aspects of yoga (Shiva Lingams/kundalini energy/description of erection that tore his loin cloth in Swami Muktananda’s autobiography) and John Friend (and many other Gurus/well-known teachers/stars). Now, William Broad has written his own linking article in today’s NY Times. I see the comment above mine has a link, but I’ll repost anyway: http://nyti.ms/ziJnUT

  • Jane C.
  • Katrina
    • DieGedankenSindFrei


      • ha

        looks like a typical John Friend class to me.

  • Yoga Mama

    Oh good grief. William Broad needs to take a sabbatical of his own. Like the recent article in the NY Times his take on this sad tale is over-simplistic to the point of being silly.

    Mr. Friend isn’t practicing anything traditional. He’s simply the latest in a long line of liars, snake charmers and sociopaths (yoga and otherwise) who have charmed their way into needy people’s lives, bank accounts, and beds. And he’s good at it. He’s a gaslighter. His yoga is excellent and he surely taught people to practice and teach with skill. But, Anusara is no more special than most other methods especially since Mr. Friend borrowed most of his techniques from others. What’s special is his skill at whipping a crowd into such a glitter frenzy that they think all the syrup is essential to true yoga. It’s not. He gets folks high so’s they don’t see that he’s the Wizard of Oz. He may be essentially good but he is not nice; he’s a liar and a cheat and, right now, he’s in full spin mode. I’m sure he thinks he’ll talk his way of this mess and he probably will to some extent.

    He must not be able to believe his good fortune that among the still gullible is an Israeli woman willing to bankroll his rescue. Yes, yoga saved her but any good yoga would have helped. It’s too bad that she can’t simply thank him and say good bye. But that’s her journey…

    For those who have opened their eyes and are feeling adrift please take heart in knowing that while Mr. Friend was seducing you with gobbledy gook there were many more of us out here practicing tremendously inspiring, transformational, and intelligent yoga free of the boosterism. And we invite you to join us.

  • maggoot

    Is John banging that Israeli woman? That’s pretty hot!!

  • geez

    good grief… how many committees does anusara need?

    • Well

      Your going to have to take that up with the committee committee.

  • An aside:

    While Broad lambastes Yoga teachers for not alerting their students that Hatha Yoga will make them horny, he fails to mention that American culture sexualizes everything.

  • Andy

    I’ve been following and participating in these comments for quite a few days now, and I found myself thinking this morning—and I’m going to get slammed for this, but perhaps everyone is blowing this a bit out of proportion? ::ducks:: I am repulsed by the word “kula” as much as the next guy, and I have never been really drawn to Anusara, but I have an honest question – what does it matter to students of Anusara that John Friend had a lot of sex and smoked weed? I would say that is true for most yoga teachers. The only difference is he has a high profile. While the NYTimes piece may have a few generalizations about yoga, he brings up some true points, in that John Friend having sex w/ married women is not unprecedented. And really, how does it affect your practice? It really has no bearing on you and your Care Bear Stares.

    • jeremy

      You are entitled to your view and i dont think you need fear reprisals . I cant speak for most people , but now people are making it about the sex , for me the sex and weed are the least im concerned about , but for others they might feel differently , my concern is for the presentation of yoga and what it may or may not be, and to have open dialogue around this, im pleased that many teachers are having plenty of sex although how you know this is baffling cos i isnt . I have seen John Friend , be to my mind be deceptive (in a smiley happy way ) and dishonest in lots of little ways that would make one seem nitpicking if i had pointed them out ,from the first days of his creation , this new yoga where he is inventor and controller , im not sure why we needed new yoga , has lead to people being marginalised and unthinking, steeped in ignorance, deeper attachments to the ego and having extreme fixed views . To my mind this is not a yoga that is in alignment with any yoga i know that is my problem ,yoga is supposed to liberate not lead to bondage , and we are certainly seeing the bondage in the words of johns fans now , i find this chilling and feel the need to state a view . It affects the practise because it affects right understanding of what yoga is and the confusion is multiplying rather than becoming clearer. William broad claims to be a lifelong practitioner im glad im not his teacher because i would be embarrassed . I certainly dont think john f has been clear , or is a good example of clarity in action. It is a shame that ethic is not very important nowadays , perhaps we should all just not give a flying what anybody in power and privelege does because its none of my business , anything goes , we have all got rights no need to worry about duties , perhaps its ok to groom students , and try to sleep with married women if it is why was john so deceptive about it , he is a tantric after all.
      Mostly its about the yoga , which of course will always be there if people are interested in serious enquiry or not. Its just a shame that friend will continue ,in my view , to lead people up the dead end path and has stained further the name of yoga which i find sad but that is my personal issue to work with ie not personalising this emotion but lovingly watching it. so in one sense it is all fine .I suspect JF has got away with it anyway , the adoration will continue and the trainings. I suspect there wont be so many young hotties around , perhaps more like desperate housewives, they seem to be in great support on the world wide web ., of course he has found one with stacks of cash so its all good , although i do wonder what her hubby makes of it all , given his heritage im sure i dont need to worry about him russians are a little tougher than the westies.
      I know the word kula from my Buddhist days its now been used in a context that has bought new and unpleasnt connotations i used to like kula and now it sends a shudder down my spine , latent kundalini perhaps , I think it would be better for humanity if the word yoga did not bring up feelings of revulsion in people hence these posts from me, just my little bit.

      • simply yoga

        Heart you Jeremy.

      • Thank you, Jeremy, I share your same concerns.

        • DebW

          me three. you articulate exactly what I am feeling/thinking.

      • Andy

        So, just curious, now that Friend has been “exposed,” if you will, you now feel you have the go-ahead to air out all your grievances in regards to yoga within a North American capitalist society whereas you did not feel comfortable doing so before?

        Because I nary ever saw/heard anything negative about Friend and Anusar prior to this? It was all positive. Everybody thought he was on par w/ Jois and Iyengar, if not even better.

        It’s just interesting that just because he is now brought down to earth via things everybody does – everybody piles on the guy.

        • jeremy

          @Andy its not a new discussion Krisnamacharya felt that yoga was being too commercialised in the 1930s , so not really a new topic. Not sure the discussion needs to be limited to the USA I can assure you there are folk in mother India who are watching the fabulous sums being generated plus the extras wink wink and are only too happy to supply product, plenty of teacher trainings there now , cheaper than johns ! Incidentally I have seen this subject discussed on various yoga forums and they were not rying to beat on anybody , perhaps more looking for clarity in a complex subject.
          I have never heard anyone compare JF to BKS Iyengar or pathabbi Jois , I find the suggestion bizarre personally , so when you say “everyone “can you elucidate more , where have you heard this , from who ? Id be interested to know .
          Another point is that we now have the world wide web so discussions like this are happening , I felt that JF was not being entirely honest before the www was invented and expressed this then , but nobody was overly interested and that is fine it was just my impermanent view or observation shared with my peers and teachers and I was more interested in my own journey so have watched over the years giving very little thought , Remember if some of what has been said is true then it is not John friend who is the harmed maybe his actions harmed others emotionally mentally.

          Not sure JF has been bought down to earth , he has after all found a new friend with a fabulously wealthy husband he has the support it seems, from many who love him and support him unconditionally. I actually can think of JF as a human being and there is still compassion for him , it just doesnt seem he is being transparent , as usual from my limited perspective , I think it only natural to post on a yoga forum with other adults . Again you say that everybody does these things well from my experience , not everybody does these things as most of us are not in JF s position or have his motivations , they dont do these things , and yes we have all behaved unskillfully or with ignorance im sure, although i cant speak for
          “everybody ” of course

  • jeremy

    Apparently John Friend in Israel has been postponed according to shalom website

  • Yoga Mama

    Agreed Jeremy. This problem is not about sex and pot. They demonstrate hypocrisy for sure but their exposure uncovered the much bigger issue of lying, deception, manipulation, greed, and mind control. Sadly, you’re probably right that he will soldier on with more “gatherings”, glitter and shri (whatever that is). Or not.

  • jj

    This routine of a male yoga instructor having sex with his married students etc. is so frequent it’s become cliche and many who have been in the “yoga business” for a long time just shrug and say “whats new?” That being said, for those folks who are surprised by it perhaps there are a few assumptions that are in the way. Yoga is “big business,” but because it touts itself as the “business of enlightenment or inner peace,” people expect their teachers, leaders “gurus” to be shining examples of perfection who are looking out for their best interest and are alarmed when their teachers/leaders or what-not turn out to just be great businessmen (e.g. determined, competitive, risk-adverse egomaniacs). The problem is that people are lulled into the false notion that commercialized and branded yoga is pure an unadulterated yoga- sorry friends (pun intended)- people are making money off of your reverie and the best businessman wins. Ask yourself this question would the head of a air conditioning company be asked to step down if he was found to be having sex with his secretary- absolutely not. Not that I condone this behavior but wake up- this is a business that happens to be selling “universal alignment” (what ever that means) and groovy love feelings and your leader is a good businessman who is reaping the benefits of his position while you sit in the fantasy that he is an “enlightened master.” Someone said “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” keep your thinking cap on folks when the oil-man comes to town.

    • simply yoga

      I doubt the air-conditioning guy runs around the office preaching “right-living.” Many yoga teachers preach non-stop, and yet their personal lives are a free-for-all. It’s unfair to the student, who tries to live up to the principles stressed by their respected teacher.

      There’s the difference.

      Is it so hard (or at least TRY) to live with integrity, be honest, conduct personal affairs honestly and sensitively? Not really. It’s something everyone should aspire to. It’s a slap in the face to find out the man (or woman) shouting out platitudes day in and day out is a hypocrite of the first order.

      ITHS (It’s the hypocrisy stupid!)

      (not calling you stupid, just trying to point out the real problem here…)

  • But – DO put your thinking caps on, please!

  • jj

    simple yoga- yeah I see what you are saying- but we have to be responsible for our own behavior and where we put our faith- that is why I feel more people need to see the yoga business for what it is- a business- it doesn’t matter if the leaders live the life anymore- its all in the presentation and the mirage that is created- students might willingly for whatever reason buy in but the choice is still theirs. However there have always been scammers in the yoga world and in fact when you consider the frequency with which male teachers take advantage of their female students sexually- it appears to be actually quite difficult for them live up to the restraints and observances espoused by the yoga tradition and yoga teachers.

    I think it is an unfortunate situation and disheartening but it is a business that is selling a product that I am terming for ease of use ” inner peace,” the problem shows up when we expect the business owner to use his own product and be an example and overlook the possibility that he/she is just another flawed and self-interested human being and business person…

    • simply yoga

      jj, I totally agree. That’s why I’m very careful about who I choose to study with. I have not been let down in all these many years of practicing. And that’s because I think (I hope!) I have a very fine-tuned b.s. detector.

      I have one or two teachers I study with now but mostly I have my own home practice. But when I step into a classroom I feel I have chosen the best, for my needs.

      I don’t have all that much sympathy for people who get sucked in to the junk aspect, tell you the truth. It can certainly be avoided, with a little bit of consciousness and discernment.

      Anyway, yup. Yoga is big business. The whole yoga world is extremely commercial, no question.

      All in all, yoga — the lovely yoga — is infinite and eternal. And everything is cyclical. So I’m not worried about its future. The true intent will stand and all the shysters (and this includes FAR more than Mr. Friend) will come and go.

      Geez, it makes me laugh. How old is Anusara? 15, 20 years? And spoken in the same breath with the Krishnamarcharya lineage? It’s supposedly held up as a triumpherate with Iyengar and Ashtanga on the other two sides? I don’t think so. Whatev!

  • Eva

    @ Andy —
    No, we were never all positive. A lot of frustration has built up b/c students have been silenced, and probably teachers-in-training have been silenced until now. So yeah, this is about a lot of other shit besides Friend.
    I love yoga, but as a student, though there are many studios, I don’t have much say as a consumer of these classes, let alone a voice in yoga culture. The teachers do tend to set themselves up on high as spiritual “leaders” of some kind. They do that, I contend, more often than students put them on pedestals. You pays your money down, and what you gets can be just about anything.
    Take the issue of talking. As has been expressed on recoveringyogini, there are yoga teachers who babble all through class. Many teachers reacted very defensively to commentators basically pleading teachers to shut the fuck upone in a while during classes. I’ve had that experience myself w/ teachers I liked, but wishes I could find some way to say, hey, could you tone it down/dial it back a little? But how, when they seem so quick to assume they know better about Life, the Universe, and Everything?
    So there hasn’t been a lot of good dialogue between teachers and students. Many of us students do internal eye-rolling at the arrogance and frankly idiotic “spiritual” exhortions we hear while moving into and out of asanas.
    So there is a real sense of, “See, you little fuckers, you ARE imperfect and you DON’T know everything after all!” in the wake of the JF mistakes. This is b/c most often it was the AY teachers, JF included, who acted as if they DID have some corner on spiritual wisdom.
    I hope some more truth-telling can come out of all this.

  • jj

    yeah- I like teachers who remain humble and admit they may not know everything and support the inner wisdom of the student and encourage you as a student to trust yourself above everything else… I think it makes a safer class and a more digestible one… not sure that is funny but…

  • Andy

    “I have never heard anyone compare JF to BKS Iyengar or pathabbi Jois , I find the suggestion bizarre personally , so when you say “everyone “can you elucidate more , where have you heard this , from who ? Id be interested to know .”

    I should have phrased it better. Saying JF is “on par” with Jois and Iyengar is innacurate. But in America people tend to speak in terms of what “style” they practice. “Do you practice Ashtanga?” “No, I practice Anusara.” That kind of thing. Anusara is considered a style of yoga you can choose to practice, the same as Ashtanga, Iyentar, Bikram, etc. I should not have said Friend is considered those guys’ equal.

    • jeremy

      OK I hear what you are saying ,thankyou.

  • Eva
  • jeremy

    @eva goodness gracious , thats interesting and quite a statement

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