- 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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,