Post-scandal, Anusara, the corporation and the community, has been scrambling to recover and salvage the company/school/method by forming committees, groups, and for some completely detached coalitions. Following the move to create a public presence, as resigned teachers did with the Yoga Coalition, the Steering Committee within Anusara, which formed once the accusations of founder John Friend hit, have stepped beyond their letter-writing approach with the optimistic url KulaEvolution.com, and tagline “staying steady. staying connected.”
The group published their first letter today and with it comes updates on what’s been going on “behind the scenes” including the standout news that Michal Lichtman, the appointed CEO and 50 percent partner will no longer be taking on the role as Chief Executive Officer. There is no word on whether or not the money has been withdrawn so we assume it hasn’t.
We also hear more about the nonprofit school plans, John’s ethical evaluations and “mismanagement” and yes, the creation of more committees.
What we don’t hear is who will be take on the role of CEO, who exactly still is Anusara, Inc., what’s happened with the center in Encinitas, how long John will be on sabbatical (though he doesn’t seem to be breaking much), and many other questions we’re sure you can proffer.
Here’s the full letter:
Statement of the Interim Steering Committee on Work to Date, and Proposals and Concerns Going Forward
March 14, 2012
Thank you for visiting this new site. The intention of the site is to provide an information and discussion location during the transition of Anusara Yoga.
We (the Steering Committee) realize how frustrating it’s been for so many in our community during this time when so many “behind the scenes” decisions have occurred. Up until now, it’s been imprudent to express every detail of this very complex transition.
Now, with an official announcement pending from Anusara, Inc., it is time for the committee to detail to the community the events of the past few weeks and some of the possible ways forward.
The SC was formed when John Friend was stepping down from teaching and the move was being made to transition Anusara to a teacher-run organization.
Due to the time pressure of that second week of February, there was a need to show real change and not just hollow words of change. The fully democratic idea of an elected body was held off until the necessary election infrastructure could be established. Therefore the Steering Committee was appointed to represent the teaching community in the interim.
Throughout this intense time since Feb 25 when John Friend agreed to work with us as a Steering Committee, we have engaged in this process with the highest intention to serve the community.
John Watkins, who wrote, “Put on a Pot of Tea,” and has been working in the field of organizational restructuring for 20 years, joined us as a facilitator. John Watkins has been extremely helpful in helping frame the issues and keep our eyes on the big picture of serving the community.
Jessica Jennings, who had collected suggestions from the community for ways to proceed, joined to help maintain two-way communication with the community until other structures are set up to do so.
When Michal Lichtman stepped in as CEO, the SC worked with her to clarify the vision for the future. At the time, the SC and Michal were working toward building a relationship between a non-profit teacher organization and Anusara, Inc. However, there were a number of issues held in disagreement. Michal then decided not to take the position of CEO.
The Steering Committee consistently negotiated its desire that the yoga school would have full and exclusive use of the Anusara name under a new licensing agreement that was based on industry standards of fairness. The Steering Committee also agreed with John Friend that a fair, independent and professional (non-teacher) group needed to take over the inquiry and assessment of the ethics allegations against John.
The Steering Committee, along with many in the community, hoped for a time when John Friend could be an important and respected leader in the community again. We realized though, and expressed to John, that whatever the reality of his transgressions were, it needed to be out of the hands of those, like us, who are too close to the process.
John was in complete agreement with this assessment.
While there has been general agreement on the structural relationship between the teachers and the company, there are still a number of issues needing clarity.
The working presumption of the Steering Committee had been that we were creating a non-profit, which would be licensed to use of the name, Anusara. That solution would ensure independence of the teachers, yet it would require massive time and money to create.
Last Friday, Anusara, Inc. asked the SC to organize the teaching community under the umbrella of the company. This would relieve the pressure of starting a non-profit but would possibly endanger the independence of the teaching community and, in the eyes of some, simply be a return to the past where John Friend made all the decisions singlehandedly.
To be clear, John’s mismanagement of the past few years is not a universally agreed premise. The steering committee realizes this. However, there seems to be a strong consensus that a paradigm shift would need to occur at some point in the future of Anusara Yoga. And although this scandal has been tragic on so many levels, it has afforded us all the opportunity to move Anusara Yoga into the future. It’s given the teachers’ an opportunity to create a framework where an evolution of our great school can unfold. And a note: John has been in agreement with this sentiment since the scandal erupted.
Additionally and importantly, it addresses the reality of the size of the global community, which is bigger than any one person can manage, and which needs to reflect the varied cultures it now contains.
John agreed with the need for independence of the teachers, as did Wendy and other members of the Anusara office. The obstacles remaining are 1) how to enshrine these changes into the company and the school; and 2) whether and how John will follow through on his promise to address the specific circumstances that precipitated the scandal.
Overcoming these obstacles is where we are now.
We believe the yoga system and alignment principles that we have been studying and teaching for years have great value to the world, and we want to maintain the integrity of this system. We want students to be able to learn this system and teachers to continue to be able to be certified in it.
In order to ensure greater unity of the community, we have created this space called Kula Evolution. This will give the community a chance to communicate ideas, get involved, and move forward toward a selection of leaders and a creation of a new paradigm.
The SC has tried diligently to listen to and reflect the full spectrum of opinions in our community. One opinion is that the SC was lacking some of the perspectives of the teachers still remaining in the system. Therefore, the first order of business will be to replace the SC with what will be called Leadership Committee.
Some of the present SC members will remain and some will move into an advisory position. Over the next two days, SC will solicit and select potential nominees for the leadership committee, with the willingness and the time to help lead the community. The clear intention of this expanded leadership committee will be to add voices different from the committee members presently serving.
We believe that if a yoga school is to continue to thrive, then more power, information, and vision needs to be in the hands of the teachers, and that this needs to be built into the new structure.
The Steering Committee will take steps immediately to expand the role of the broader community in this transition time. To this end, we are soliciting names of nominations who would like to serve on the Leadership Committee.
The Leadership Committee nominees will be submitted to Anusara, Inc. by Friday March 16, 2012. At that time Anusara, Inc. and the Steering Committee will finalize the members of the new Leadership Committee.
Some Possible New Ways to Organize:
We suggest the following guidelines for the future organization, which have been gathered from members of the Steering Committee as well as members of the community. All are open to discussion, and we welcome your future input as a voting member as well as through your emails to individual members.
Our intention is to create a deliberate process of making sure our proposed new structures are aligned with the intention of the community and the new organization, meets our sense of principles and standards of organizational practice, and addresses our sense of what is valuable and meaningful to us going forward together.
Once the new Leadership Committee is in place, it will be tasked with the following list along with other items it deems necessary to address.
- Resolution of the Ethics process re: John Friend
- Finalization of the structural relationship with Anusara, Inc.
- Establishment of the committees that will make policy (e.g. Curriculum, Certification, Licensing, Ethics, Regional Leadership, Communications, and Seva).
- Coordinate the method by which the committees will be refreshed in the future.
- Review and implement new communication methods throughout the community to ensure a more open and transparent system for all levels of teachers.
How to Continue the Conversation
Let’s continue to align with strength, with authenticity, and with each other during this time of intense transition.
From now on, our updates will appear here on this website. Please enter your email below. Our goal in this process is to empower each member by freely sharing ideas and information.
If you want to volunteer, please email Mindy with your city and any particular skills you can offer (web and communications especially) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like to talk to any of the steering committee or those working with them, you can contact them through Facebook or email:
Thank you for being part of the evolution of our kula.
- True Confessions of Former Anusara Teachers
- Running Timeline of Anusara Controversy, Updates and Teacher Resignations
- Douglas Brooks: Anusara Inc. Must Cease to Exist to Avoid Further ‘Irreparable Harm’
- New CEO Moves to Save Anusara, Buys 50 Percent Stake in 50/50 Partnership with John Friend