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New CEO Moves to Save Anusara, Buys 50 Percent Stake in 50/50 Partnership with John Friend

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Another letter from new Anusara, Inc. CEO Michal Lichtman on the state of affairs. Read on for the CliffNotes, and full letter below.

  • Michal, who has been a student of Anusara and John Friend for 8 years, shares a bit about her life and compares this latest scandal to her painful childhood memories from growing up in war-torn Israel.
  • Michal has purchased 50% of Anusara, Inc. and is now a 50/50 partner with John Friend so that he “will not have to deal with any business aspects.”
  • In 2008 she  founded Shalom Yoga – The Home for Anusara Yoga in Israel (www.shalomyoga.com) and has been inviting John Friend to visit. They finally set it up for March 2012.
  • However, the Israel tour has been postponed and John’s time there will simply be for reflection.
  • Michal is taking a break from promoting world peace to take on the mission of uniting the Anusara community.
  • Michal asks that the resigned teachers still wishing to continue teaching under the Anusara name simply pay the yearly fee and “reinstate your license as it seems more aligned with your desire to keep serving at your highest.”
  • Michal’s next letter will outline a plan for the next 3-6 months.
  • She is meeting with the Steering Committee this week to go over the non-profit part. They will release a report some time soon.
  • According to her, Anusara saved her life, and it seems she is giving hers to save Anusara.

Full letter:


Dear Kula,

And I mean this sincerely…each and every one of you is dear to me.

Since many of you have asked who I am, I would like to share with you my personal story and my recent appointment as the CEO of Anusara. This letter is directly from me so please forgive any lack of editing as I want to communicate directly to you from my heart without any outside filters.

My name is Michal Lichtman and I am a loving wife, a proud mother of 6, and a grandmother of a 10-month old. Until 4 weeks ago I was a certified Anusara yoga teacher who was involved with The Center as a potential investor in the expansion of the vision of Anusara yoga. As someone who cares so much about Anusara Yoga, I have been talking to John about enhancing both the structure of Anusara yoga and its business potential.

When John called me to tell me about the accusations posted on a website by an ex-employee of Anusara, I was shocked. I paused, took a breath and asked many questions and received very honest answers. John has been my teacher for 8 years, those of you who know me can tell that I am a very dedicated student. If I come to a weekend workshop I will take all 4 classes in each day, to soak-in as much knowledge as possible.

As the FB groups started forming I read them all. Getting to know each and every one of you through those Internet groups was an amazing journey. Thank you, Bernadette for forming the FB groups. Thank you all for sharing your hearts – the light and the dark, the full spectrum of sensations and emotions…as true Anusara students – the method I love so much. Your writings and contemplations are a great teaching, and as always, I take my seat as a student.

Your words penetrated into my heart and reminded me that when I was 5 years old we had to excavate our own shelter, digging into the hard soil while bombs were exploding nearby. I remember feeling the desire to make peace, that there will not be war anymore, and that all men like my Dad will come back home safely. No men were left in any town in Israel during the 6-Days War, the women were in charge. As I grew, this desire for peace grew with me.

Yoga came to me as a gift during an emotionally and physically difficult time in my life … And Anusara yoga was my life-saver. As a survivor of brain surgery for a benign tumor at age 30, I lost my left balance nerve and therefore the balance on my left side. I have always been an active person with a busy lifestyle. I have a loving husband, 6 kids, 2 big dogs (those who know me can tell how big they are…), and various businesses in the US and Israel. I managed to rely on the right side of my body for balance and support, and so my body was very torqued. Step by step through the love and practice of Anusara yoga, I unfolded into a new freedom in my body-mind-heart connection. I realized that Anusara yoga is a gift I would like to share with my people in Israel.

In 2008, on Israel’s 60th birthday, I founded Shalom Yoga – The Home for Anusara Yoga in Israel (www.shalomyoga.com) with the vision and belief that freedom of the heart has no borders. That through the teachings of Anusara yoga we can allow our neighbors to feel a deeper connection to their heart. With the love and support of great teachers, Ross, Desiree, Todd, BJ, and Hagar, Yael, and Tal we created a beautiful Kula – Thank you all for your efforts.

For years I invited John many times to visit Israel to support the expansion of love and to support the peace in the Middle East. As we all know, when you have good heart intentions it does manifest. John finally accepted my invitation, and Israel was on the schedule for March 2012, just two weeks from now. It was a dream come true.

I am not condoning John’s personal actions, but I felt the need to help save Anusara, the system I love so much. The system that so many of you speak so highly of, even those who have resigned.

I kept reading all your posts on FB, and when Douglas Brooks wrote:

“Fear can be a constructive experience when we learn not to deny or repress, and understand its role in empowering experience. There is no courage without some important element of fear to empower the heroic act. My teacher called this process “radical affirmation.” When we create inclusive conversation about every human possibility, then community can understand that everything we humans were born with can become an asset to our understanding.”

realized this is just what was supposed to happen. This is the opportunity to help support separating the Universal Principles of Alignment and the method from John Friend, and with the help and support of all of you who had great ideas on FB (I took some names), to bring Anusara to the new level.

The past three extremely difficult weeks have brought me to the awareness that as much as I want to help the world gain peace, there is a much greater need to help our community at this time. We were always taught to start from our local center and then move global. As John is taking a leave of absence and permanently stepping down in his leadership position of Anusara yoga, I offered to help bring harmony to the community, and to financially support Anusara by purchasing 50% of the company which allows the bills to be paid, refunds to be provided for cancelled events, rents to be paid, and more, as the income of the company has been dependent on his work. And the truth is that even though some of John’s shadows have become public, we Israelis do not leave our wounded behind even if they mess up.

John needs to rest now and take the time for himself to reflect and resurrect and to come back to us the man we all love, not the man responsible for the business side of the organization, but as a teacher, the one who taught so many of us this exceptional method. Since we formed a 50/50 partnership, from now on John will not have to deal with any business aspects, I will take care of them. And the truth is, being an entrepreneur is a gift, and what John had created is amazing so let’s be compassionate and forgiving.

Douglas so beautifully stated –

“We all need community, because to realize our potential as human beings we need the love, the support, and the evolution of valuable conversation. As yogis we mean to engage deeply, to yoke ourselves. To what? To each other, to the things we understand to be of worth and value, to the possibilities a universe so vast offers. But to create deeper engagement we must nurture a conversation of peers. We must learn the difference between deference and submission. We defer to allow others to do their job well, express their gifts, and make an offering to the community—but we don’t submit, we don’t abdicate the responsibility to conscience. We become better, greater when we realize that we can accomplish more together, far more, than we could ever achieve alone. Enlightenment is a collective experience.”

To experience that I believe we should start by combining our three groups on FB, and choose to be cohesive. More than that, in order to avoid further turmoil, I believe that those of you who resigned and still desire to service students under the Anusara yoga name, to simply pay the yearly fee and reinstate your license as it seems more aligned with your desire to keep serving at your highest. Furthermore, I believe it is the wrong timing for a tour to Israel, therefore the tour is postponed.

I believe you understand the challenges in this transition. I keep collecting your questions and will do my best to respond clearly and comprehensively shortly. My next letter will outline a few simple steps that are both attainable and measurable for the next 3-6 months about moving forward into our future.

There will always be people that will not be happy and to those folks I have nothing but love and understanding. All of you, who are interested to support, please contact Ross Rayburn at anusaraevolution@gmail.com

The Steering Committee and I intend to meet this week, as it is important to start the process of creating the non-profit school as a separate entity. Following the meeting a report will come out. Please be patient with us. I promise to write you with our continued progress.

I have always felt lucky to be part of this family, and now even luckier to support it on a new level. To me “Anusara is flowing with Grace by saying yes to the whole magical spectrum of life. It is a willingness to be aware of all parts of ourselves- the light and the dark, the full rainbow of sensation, perception, emotion, and thought. To be in the flow is to look at whatever arises with freshness and freedom. It is simply to open our hearts with love to the present moment without clinging or pushing. Anusara is accepting the world and ourselves as we are, and then responding with love.”Anusara Yoga Teacher Training Manual p.20

Please be forgiving as an unfortunate glitch in the system prevented many of you (including myself!) from receiving John’s and my emails. We are working to resolve this issue and posting all of our communications on our website Facebook page. The staff in the office is putting their heart into this transition, answering all of your questions and requests, so please be understanding.

Thank you for all your Love and Support via e-mails, texts, Facebook and phone calls- it touched my heart. Please continue to connect with me as I step into these new shoes. I am ready to serve and root into the mud with you to create something new and beautiful.

As a new partner in Anusara, Inc. I commit to staying strong and steady, truthful in my heart, and to support my love of Anusara yoga, which saved my life.

Looking forward to connecting with each and every one of you.

Love and a big hug,
Michal

——
Earlier

47 comments… add one

  • Pavanatanaya

    This was not some mistake of business. The man (lower case) was fu*king students, some of whom were married. He needs his head examined if not caved in. If Michal wants to pour her money down a rathole, goodonya. But lets not forget that JF is a scoundrel and a criminal who wants to slide out the side door when the cops come calling. Anusara speak of forgiveness is just more Kula-ade to suck in more Kula suckers. Its a ponzi scheme that Bernie Maddoff would be proud of.

  • shaun hannocks

    YOU NEED JESUS YOGA

  • peyoteyonimoon

    @Pavanatanaya
    Bloody brilliant! I’ve now read hundreds of comments regarding this situation, and almost every sentence of yours here had me shamefully cracking up. (You would make even George Carlin and Richard Pryor proud for your comical way of exposing the truth)
    MORE PLEASE!!!

  • Yoga Mama

    Oh Michal,

    I know you will be forever grateful to Anusara Yoga for helping your healing (but, you know, any good yoga method would be equally healing) and I’m all for compassion and forgiveness. But forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting. John Friend is a liar, a cheat, he’s greedy, manipulative and has destroyed as many people with this revelation than he ever helped. And now you’re suggesting those who resigned return (oh, and don’t forget, pay up) and they will be forgiven? I don’t believe for one second he’s going to go quietly and let you run the business. He’s used to being the boss and as soon as he feels home free you’ll find out. This is harsh, but he just wants your money. You should sic those two big dogs on him. So, good luck to you and the rest of the desperate clingers to the illusion, you’ll need it.

  • Yoga Chick

    What Yoga Mama said x 2! Another desperate follower throwing money at the problem thinking it will make it go away. Not pretty. Not pretty at all.

  • malti

    Yoga Mama, thank you for having the courage to tell the “ugly truth”.

  • HolyBlazingSolarFlames!

    No offence Michal, but yoga is yoga and business is business. It is either one or it is the other but it is not both. I think we have seen clearly what results from such strange bedfellows (ahem). The two are dramatically “mis-aligned” and this is not going to change. You may be a very brilliant business woman and your husband many have scads of cash to fall back upon but at the end of the day – what does any of it have to do with Yoga? Nothing.
    Its very nice for you that you believe Anusara cured you, but as YogaMama stated above – any good system of yoga would have done the same. You have no way of knowing otherwise. Did you practice any other styles of yoga before you met Anusara?
    Certainly, John was very attentive to you in particular and gave you undivided attention; he is a sociopath, cunning as a snake, and knows how to play the players. You were probably an easy target as he sat back counting your money in his pockets. Svadyaya Mrs. Lichtman – what was it that “sold” you?
    Where is your vulnerability and how did he use & exploit it to “reel you in”?
    I caution you (as will thousands of others) that you are putting your marriage and your family and your good reputation (if you have one – I have no idea – in all likelihodd you may be as cunning and slithery a smooth talkin manipulator as he is and it will be a most interesting “evolotion” indeed) at risk.

    Despite the flowery glowing heartfelt phrases in your letter, it is easy to read between the lines that this is a business investment for you as much as it was for the remarkably un-friendly Mr.Friend. Smart business people know that there is tremendous opportunity to profiteer and capitalize from failing businesses – but Anusaragate is quite a big gamble. How much did you pay for it ? Tell us cuz – we’re interested in full & open transparent disclosure.
    Do you really believe that the brand will survive without its charismatic leader? He WAS the product. No offence madame, but you are no John Friend. The curtain has been lifted, and the wizard has been exposed as a fraud. There is no place like home Michal, if you are smart, you will take your money and run. Go home. Save yourself before its too late.

    p.s. — John doesn’t need to take time off and “rest”. John needs to take a long walk off a short pier.

  • Yoga Kool-Aid

    Having represented three of the major failed yoga organizations in the past 30 years, this pattern of manipulative behavior has become obvious: The BigMan, The GrandPoobah, The VoodooGuru, finds a mass of insecure, ‘please tell me the answers’ followers who then buy hook, line and sinker into whatever rules or behaviors he advocates. “Allelujah!”, they cry! Finally, someone with the answers. And look, everyone around me agrees with the rules. We ‘understand and love’ each other. Our hearts are open. We have reached the promised land!” Really? People! Wake the freak up. The baby-fying of yoga in the West is a complete comedy. Read the yogic texts. Yoga is not about you feeling good and having a firm butt. It is not even about the radiation of ‘love’. It is about you getting with the realities of this life. It is about leaving your fantasy states behind and finally understanding that the ‘you’ you are promoting is a complete farce. As long as you buy-in into the fantasy you have created about ‘you’ you will spend the entire life in a state of struggle, manipulation and stress. It’s up to you, kids. Time to leave the sandbox. Daddy’s gone.

  • anus -ara

    wel said! Michal money bags is stuck in “Avidya”

  • Hallelujah !

    The Kingdom is saved . Long Live The King !

  • Marsha

    So another monied enabler steps in. Shame on you Michal. As a Jew, I am offended you would defile the memory our war dead in some context of a fallen pop yoga star.

  • I see

    Now one Jew (Michal) is not allowed to access her personal experience living in Israel b/c of your conception of what it means for her to be Jewish. I got it. Makes sense.

  • Michael

    Well no… she can do it. She just looks stupid comparing John’s activities coming to light with people bombing Israel and excavating the shelter to saving Anusara.

  • I see

    She’s making the point that Israeli’s by nature and experience are accustomed to dealing with difficult times perhaps more so than Americans and therefore approach them differently. So literal you are. And perhaps as stupid.

    I hardly think she is presenting these two events as moral or literal equivalents.

    Bitchy bitchy bitchy.

  • Michael

    This isn’t the same thing or even close though. There’s no relation to be made unless she is doing it to fish for sympathy. This isn’t bombs or anything like that. It’s some guy who preyed on his employees/students.

    She’s not coping because of her life in Israel… She’s coping because she has an unconditional devotion to John Friend/Anusara.

  • another who knows

    I agree. I found it most appalling to have her refer to John Friend as a fallen soldier. WTF? Disgusting. And saving John Friend financially is the WRONG move. You should let him face his demons and let him figure out how to account for all the money people sent him for events that haven’t happened yet. . .

  • Danius

    We have more questions than answers.

    Michal claims she got “honest”answers. Why haven’t we gotten the same? Why doesn’t she share those answers with us?

    How will the non-profit be funded? Or the for-profit, for that matter? Previous funding came from John’s teaching and speaking fees, to a large extent. With no fees, how will there be enough money for both?

    Also note that the non-profit is supposed to be governed by a board of directors elected by the Anusara teachers. Its leadership will be elected by the board, and therefore would not necessarily include Michal. Unless, of course, the non-profit is dependent on the non-profit for its funding, in which case, if the board elects the “wrong” leadership, it could be denied funding. Which would make the non-profit a mere fig-leaf — or an outright sham.

    One question leads to another.

  • I suspect, but do not know, that Anusara Inc will be funded in two ways:

    1. licensing teachers to use the name Anusara and the method for their classes, studios, etc;

    2. the products-royalties publication business.

    I suspect, but do not know, that the non-profit Anusara School will be largely volunteer run (for committees and such), with a voluntary board of directors, etc — and probably a skeleton crew of paid people. And the money will come from Immersions, Teacher Trainings, and Continuing Education.

    I suspect, but do not know, that how these trainings will be run would either be a split between the Anusara School and the teacher, or the teacher will be employed at a set rate to teach the trainings, with the money going to the organization to maintain the school (and the skeleton crew of people doing the paid work).

    So, if an Immersion costs the student $1500, and say $300 of that goes to the studio, and the remaining $1200 would go to Anusara and the teacher, then perhaps the teacher would get $600 per student and the School get $600 or what have you. And there you go.

    Money comes on in.

  • i suspect and i am pretty sure

    you have no idea wtf you are talking about. meaningless blather contributing nothing to the dialogue.

  • SQR

    Yet somehow this comment is contributing to the dialogue?

  • i suspect and i am pretty sure

    touche’

  • I suspect it because I have understanding about business formation, corporate law, and relevant experience in both legal and business realms (i.e., law degree and I run my own business).

    Likewise, I have read the materials from teachers regarding the licensing process and relevant fees, as well as the products/royalties — and I know how this relates to trademark and intellectual property.

    I also understand how the teaching of Anusara works and could effectively be segregated from the licensing/trademarking arm of it. People could take Anusara training and choose not to maintain the Anusara license.

    It’s also similar to another organization: Yoga Alliance. Yoga Alliance’s income is drawn directly from it’s fees in getting on the registry. In exchange for your fee, you are on the registry (web site) and you get to use their trademarked images (YA registry logos) on your web sites, business cards, etc.

    This is really a simple licensing process. Yet, Yoga Alliance trains no-one.

    Similarly, The White Lotus Foundation is a not-for-profit yoga training school — and they have been for a long time. Does this mean that they teach their teachers for free? No, they have fees that are charged and these are tax-deductible donations for participants. These fees are no less than other schools (they run at a competitive amount) — and this pays for the accommodation, the teachers, and supports the non-profit organization.

    So, while I do not know with absolute certainty that this is how the business and school will be divided and where it’s income will stem, I strongly suspect that this is the case.

    It is, you might say, and educated guess.

    And, thereby worthwhile and relevant to anyone who could look at it and go “right, this makes sense.” It will be interesting to see what the formation actually is.

    And from a legal perspective, it was foolish to buy only 50% and /or for John to give say 50%. It means that there is no majority shareholder, and that these two could get dead-locked in any decision where there is disagreement.

    In my legal training, we were told to always make sure that *one person* holds a *majority share* so that ultimately a decision could be made. If 6 people own the business, one person should hold more shares than the other 5 — even if the remaining five have equal shares. This is so that the organization would NOT get deadlocked.

    What I can foresee happening is that Michal has some ideas that are great, John disagrees, and therefore he can stymie her efforts because SHE does not hold majority share. And, vice-versa.

    And, this is not like it’s because John is a “bad guy” or what have you. It’s just how I have seen these sorts of partnerships play out.

    The toughest are the ones where someone brings “sweat equity” and someone brings the “cash.” Those are rough as can be! The sweat equity person may have more emotional ownership from having put in the labor, but the money person feels that s/he has more ownership because without the money, the sweat equity would have gone nowhere. And, they often divide their shares equally, but quibble over how to continue when a decision needs to be made.

    I’ve seen many businesses fail this way — with the parties ultimately dissolving a thriving business that could be sold (and the sale money split via the sale and used as seed money for new ventures), or simply emotionally destroying each other until one gives up the shares in frustration (rather than selling them to the other party, or asking to buy the other party out, or what have you), and so on.

    In this instance, a 50-50 deal isn’t a good one — and her husband (if he’s a businessman and clever) would know better. Of course, they may have pushed for 51% (and who knows, maybe they got 51%, but are saying that it’s 50-50), but John doesn’t have to agree to the sale of shares of his business anyway.

    And of course, with the “scandal” that business looses value. If they started talks and negotiations months ago, John probably could have asked a higher price for the shares based on the value of the brand alone (and thereby trademarks etc) — but since the brand has been singed a bit. . . it’s not worth as much.

    I think it would have been wise for Michal to drop her offer and demand the majority share at this point — and for John to count it a blessing — which is probably why it happened so quickly within this last month.

    But again, these are just my ruminations.

    It’s not vitriol of any sort — just how I think on these things.

  • Brooke

    Jenifer, thanks for this — it’s actually really helpful for me in framing the kinds of questions I have about the future of the business. Really good information.

    I think this is particularly interesting:

    “The toughest are the ones where someone brings “sweat equity” and someone brings the “cash.” Those are rough as can be! The sweat equity person may have more emotional ownership from having put in the labor, but the money person feels that s/he has more ownership because without the money, the sweat equity would have gone nowhere. And, they often divide their shares equally, but quibble over how to continue when a decision needs to be made.”

    All true. And here, it may get even trickier, because the “cash” person is also the person charged with “saving” the image of Anusara publicly, if that can be done. Lots of potential for conflict, there, in the business relationship. We’ll see; it’s early. But I’m really curious to watch how it plays out.

    Well-said, as usual! Thanks. :)

  • Thanks Brooke.

    I am also curious, which is why I keep reading these articles.

    This is a growth process for everyone — and seeing the creative process as people move forward, both within and without the organization — is truly interesting.

    I do see Michal asking for people to rejoin the licensing process a bit premature. It also seems self-serving. When the licenses are revoked, it means that those specific, individual revenue streams have been lost (and therefore the value of the business that she purchased a portion of decreases).

    Though, she may really be doing it from her heart, not based on the bottom line, or honestly, perhaps from both.

    I personally believe that business and yoga/values can function well together, and in fact is one of the best places for yoga practice “off the mat.” But, perhaps that is self-serving because I, too, run a yoga business! LOL

  • Brooke

    “I personally believe that business and yoga/values can function well together, and in fact is one of the best places for yoga practice “off the mat.” ”

    Very much agreed.

    I mean … my yoga teachers have to make a living in *this* society, *this* culture. If they couldn’t, they wouldn’t be able to teach me yoga because they’d have to be off doing something else that made them money, for survival. And that would be a damn shame.

    That’s part of why a lot of this “yoga and the Great Capitalist Machine just can’t mix” stuff confuses me. They *have* to mix. That’s the world we live in. I think you’ve hit the real question on the head — can we practice a business of yoga that still retains our commitments to the core principles we teach? There’s the rub.

    The answer better be yes. Otherwise I think we’re all in trouble.

  • doctora

    A sad and illusion filled letter-quoting and applying thoughts out of context. John found a rich lady to pay the bills and step into a maze of deceit.

  • you guys are mean

    Even if you disagree with what she has chosen to do, Michal has chosen to step out and try and save a system, not a person. And if you don’t want to be a part of it, that’s great, but move on.

    In the absence of moving on, please let the rest of us know where you plan to occupy space so we can seek out the ones who want to rescue the good parts while discarding the bad, and not spend more time in your negative crap.

    Yes John is an asshole and did wrong, so attack me if you want but do it for some reason other than I’m protecting John. He has to go.

  • Where's The Boycott?

    you guys are mean – your last sentence doesn’t match your argument. With Michal’s help and money John isn’t going anywhere. Yes, he sold some stock (notice he didn’t sell more than 50% so no one can veto any decision he makes) and he appointed a figure-head CEO, but if he truly intended to hand over power he would have done one of two things: 1) Sold/Given 100% of the stock to create a fully teacher-owned company (including all the trademark and intellectual property) instead of this confusing and clumsy attempt at spinning off a non-profit organization or 2) made plans to shut down the entire corporation and give the Anusara method to its followers as Douglas Brooks has suggested.

  • you guys are mean - clarification

    It’s not inconsistent. John has to go, if she enables him and keeps him around, I would never pay attention again. By “has to go”, I mean he has to leave and go away for a long time. Maybe he comes back if the community thinks its good, maybe he doesn’t, but above all he leaves immediately and turns the situation from being about him to about the system. His lack of accountability and transparency about the charges (and his insane letter complaining about the lack of verification) are insulting.

    Separate topic – future of organizational structure and the way that structure relates to the system. The process of legal transferring trademarks and licensing rights, forming a 5013c, etc takes quite a bit of time even when you have people on all sides of the equation who agree on the form it should take. So Michal (whether she succeeds or not) is working this through with the help of people like Ross Rayburn, Des, etc. In this instance, as you correctly point out, there are a variety of opinions on the form the organization should, largely given by a yogis who don’t have a ton of business experience but some given by those that do.

    It’s just not that simple for John to just sign away the trademarks or dissolve it. Who exactly is he giving it to? How is that group governed? How is that group funded? Who is responsible for protecting the marks at that group? What happens to the Anusara Inc employees, do they move to that new group or not? What obligations does Anusara Inc. have to its creditors that might hinder the transfer? What does ownership of the marks mean in the future? Is it for the purposes of ensuring the quality of the certification process? Cooperative community building?

    Until you have the answers and plans laid in detail, there is no transfer to be made b/c it would be premature to do it. Someone has to be in control during a transition even if its John for a short time.

    Bringing me to the next point, Douglas’ letter. I like his ideas but I respectfully disagree. While I agree that the generation of the community is local and local teachers will thrive irrespective of whether they are part of “Anusara” or are teaching the non organized Anusara method, I like the idea of a central non-profit, cooperative group administering the certification process to ensure the consistency of quality.

    His points about irreparable harm I’m not sure where I stand. When he says it’s a fact beyond dispute (I think I’m quoting right), well clearly that’s not the case b/c there are many smart, well meaning, knowledgable people who are trying to make it work, so it is in dispute.

    My question for those to whom it sees nothing but burning John at the stake is good enough – what would be good enough and what would take it far enough (a re-org) in order for the group to say “ok, this is progress, I’m willing to wait and see”.

    By the way, final part about John – in my view if Michal is starting from the standpoint that John will and should come back and there is no allowance for accountability for past actions, time away for healing, i.e. if she has decided now that he WILL come back with no chance for the community (not kula) to have its say, then I’m out. There has to be an accounting of the past, he must leave for a fairly significant period of time, he must stop with these letters saying nothing has been verified (b/c he has verified some of it and he is the only person standing in the way of future verification), then to me there is no point. Too much damage to worry about him when the focus needs to be on everyone else. John’s future can be decided later.

  • Where's The Boycott?

    Do you think 90 days is “a fairly significant amount of time” for John to be away? Because that’s what’s being planned. The Israel trip is now rescheduled for the first part of June and his workshops after that, including Wanderlust, are still being marketed hard. Wake up. The Anusara Inc. machine is rolling along and there is no accountability for past actions.

  • you guys are mean - response

    No, I don’t think 90 days away is long enough. But I’ve spoken with a number of people on the committees and I’m not sure that’s the final word on this piece of the puzzle. Which maybe explains why I’m not as animated about it as you are (and I respect completely your animation). I have also relayed to these people that the wishy washy statements which so far stopped short of stating for the record that accountability is going to happen as a condition for John’s future involvement (and their willingness to support a revised Anusara) are leaving everyone very cold.

    In my mind, without complete accountability, there can be no reconciliation. And without reconciliation, timeframes are not important or relevant. I don’t really know what would happen if John came totally clean tomorrow, then what would the right amount of time. I doubt it’s 90 days, but it would depend on how it all went down and how it was structured, etc.

    I’m open to the idea that it needs to dissolve and be re-formed (or re-constituted) as Anusara-2 or Anusari or whatever. I like the certification process b/c it ensures you are getting well trained people. But aside for that, I think the community can re-constitute itself in another format and another name and be fine.

    I still, however, give props to those who are hanging in and seeing if there is good to be salvaged from the mess John created. If I were on the phone w John, my conditions for proceeding with him would be what I outlined (accountability, leave for a while and we see what happens later, relinquish control, make it not about you) and I would also take away his email accounts and his ability to write these letters. But I recognize that these folks have given their lives to a system they believe in, and in many cases they want to play it out and believe that change can happen from within (or as C Sell says from the inside out).

    I also know that they are willing to walk if John does not follow through on the assurances he has privately given them.

  • malti

    the visuals on this scenario are truly nauseating….

  • HY

    Re: John being held up to scrutiny, if this is what you’re pinning your hopes on, I would not bother. I am not from the “raze to the ground” brigade, but I do find his actions, as well as those of his senior enablers, repulsive and a proof of their lack of basic integrity.

    I see no indications, though, that after the exposure anyone was succesful in forcing him to own up or to do anything at all against his will. His sabbatical, letters, restructuring etc. are all his own choices; Michal is his long term associate. Of course he was forced to choose that course by the circumstances, but not by anyone else, no person, no committee. My understanding is that this is what the interim committee tried to do at first, but with the Miami event he showed them that he will not give up control, which when leaked rightly prompted all those second wave resignations.

    Also in Michal’s letters I see no mention of any plans for personal accountability on John’s side (or anyone else’s); only forgiveness, healing etc. He gave up business side of things, which with the Center he made a mess of regardless; he is still there and will be there consulting on everything else.

    I would like to see Anusara exist only as a non-profit certifying/training body run by a rotating committee, with John demoted to being just one of workshop teachers, if someone wants to learn from him at all. Dropping all this corpo/CEO/MLM balast. But I don’t think this is happening.

  • Why is there this continuing accusation that we are being mean by discussing these issues?

    It’s not at all mean to discuss these issues. It’s simply a discussion. I don’t get it.

    Anyway, here is the issue that I foresee: deadlock.

    But, let me back up a bit. When I bought the business that I bought, we actually bought it as a “going concern” that involved no transfer of shares. We formed a new company, which purchased the assets of another business. But, an alternative method of purchasing a business involves going into partnership in some form — or buying shares.

    If I were buying shares (rather than assets), I would definitely want the majority share. I would never settle for 50%. The problem is that if someone disagrees with the other, you end up in deadlock about what to go. John can stymie Michal; but of course Michal can also stymie John. Stymie-ing the process of business is bad for business.

    Now, it is possible that Michal did buy a majority share (51%) and that this 50-50 business is ‘spin’ — which is common in business, and from what I can tell of recent communications, common practice for John. And, if her husband is the clever businessman he must be, then I don’t think he would have gone in for buying 50% of a brand that now is worth probably 1/3 or less of it’s original value (when the school was an aspect of the business rather than being divided out).

    It will be interesting to see how the school continues. It’s actually not difficult to form a 501(c)3 — the steering committee can do that, and then set up for the board of directors. It could probably be done in several weeks. It’s essentially just dividing out the money to make it happen.

    And I assume that a person can take the training, say that they are anusara certified, but then they cannot teach anusara classes unless they have the license. (This assumes that anusara is somewhat formulaic — which is my experience — and therefore the certified, non-licensed teacher would simply be teaching in his/her own ‘style’ but with an anusara foundation or education).

  • you guys are being mean - response to jenifer

    my original contention was people were being mean to michal, not to john. people can be mean to john if they like, although at this point all that can be said (in my opinion) probably has been said.

    i was referring to the nasty comments (like the one right below where i’m typing) about a sucker born every minute, another thread about a woman’s wealthy husband buying her a yoga brand, the woman above and the bullshit about being ashamed as a jew (I’m jewish). people taking michal down for stepping in and acting on the fact that she has a different view of the future than they do…when they’ve never even met the woman.

    that, to me, is mean.

  • I can see what you are saying in the response to me (it won’t let me reply there). :D

    I can also see why people might feel that way. I see a woman who is really sold on an idea, and hopefully can do well with it.

    If she only owns 50%, I can see how that might be difficult for her. If she owns 51%, it will be less so — because she can make decisions completely independent of John, and effectively owns the assets of that business.

    I also hope that she was savvy in renegotiating her offer when the school was separated (since is decreases the value of the company as an asset) as well as for the fact that the brand is tarnished. The intellectual property still holds value in and of itself, but what the valuation of that is. . .is hard to determine.

    I certainly wish her the best, and disagree with Brooks about dissolving the company now. He’s effectively sold it into partnership (or possibly in a majority share to Michal), and if it is dissolved, then she’s given him money for nothing, and there is no value to be gained from it.

    And, to be sure, I’m not talking about “Yoga as a tradition” being an asset. I’m speaking of specific assets that belong to the business: trademarks, licenses, products/royalties, lease on office space, related chattels to the office space, the brand and marketing (web site, etc), and any other assets that may exist (eg, studio in encinitas — unless that is handed over to the school).

    She has paid for shares in a company that has a value (usually determined as 2x the profit margin of the business and/or what the market will bear).

    I think it’s only fair that she attempts to salvage that company as best she can, and to increase the profit margin of that company for her benefit as a businessperson.

    I can’t fault anyone for that, honestly.

  • Say what ?

    Michal—blah, blah, blah . “There’s a sucker born every minute”, but I think you may be the last to fall for JF’s BIG CON !!! Sucks to be you & YAY the end is in sight.

  • It is NOT Anusara yoga that saves a life. It is yoga. period. Brand it a 1001 ways. I have a brand. My brand is not what saves people. Breath, movement, rest, meditation. The heart of yoga is what changes hearts and saves lives. ANY yoga can save lives and does, everyday. Brand or no brand. For the last 5000 years. From books ,for heavens sakes in the old days, is how I learned. (more than 44 years in yoga at this writing)

    People get confused when they first meet and fall in love with yoga and or their teacher/s or a brand. In truth, it is the ‘inner teacher’ awakened through the yoga practices that saves lives. This is what I seek to share with my own students. Guru. Look in the mirror. The teacher simply ‘points’ the way.

    Om peace to this community and it’s leadership.

  • another who knows

    YESSSSSSSS.

  • Chris

    “CEO ?”

    ” Inc. ?”

    ” buys stake” ?

    “partnership” ?

    Every one of the above terms is alien and anathema to the ancient Hindu science of Yoga.

    You can no more buy a stake of Yoga, than you can buy a slice of the sky.

  • Yoga for sale !

    Oh, Please !
    Have you ever heard any Chinese sell/buy a style of Tai Chi or Chi Qung (Qigong ) ? Sorry, this is sooo Western thinking that as long as you are rich, you can buy anything. ( Oh! This makes me feel so good, I’ll just buy it and share with all my friends…..)
    Traditon is not for sale !

  • Yoga for sale !

    “sale” not “sell” , sorry !

  • Brooke

    Well … have you ever been to original Shao Lin Temple? In Henan Province, China? It does a ripe old business. Lord only knows how many millions RMB that place makes in a year.

    Don’t get me wrong; I think the John Friend business is tawdry and a damn shame, all the way around. I’m just saying that Westerners aren’t the only people in the world who’ve figured out that ancient traditions can be really lucrative affairs.

  • Pffff

    Think it’s hard being a Jew in that part of the world? Pfff. Trying growing up Palestinian. Or from Yemen. Or Jordanian. Or Egyptian. Or Afghani. Or Iraqi. Or Iranian.
    This is just weird Oprah-esque bullshit.

  • YoginiD

    As a yoga teacher I am so disappointed with the yoga world- It brings me almost to tears. John Friend f-ing around, others condoning and hiding his actions- I have also been puzzled by action of one of my former teachers. Anyway, The thing with JF that bothers me is the hypocrisy-which sounds like its about to repeat itself

  • Susan Cooper

    you guys, i have to laugh, somebody was talking about Occupy Yoga and i didn’t quite understand. now i hear that John Friend has been “bought out” (i.e., paid) to give up 50% ownership of the ship he ran aground through his own dysfunctional behavior and abuse of trust. sounds more like Wall Street/bank bail-outs than anything else. hypocrisy, lack of accountability and hubris are apparently regarded as a profitable & acceptable way of doing (yoga) business

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