In this latest letter, John Friend reconfirms his resignation as director and officer of Anusara, Inc. and mentions a third party to transfer ownership of the trademark company. [ed. who knows about trademark as of yet.] He acknowledges the allegations and takes “full responsibility for being out of integrity in my intimate relationships” as well as making the statement “I am absolutely not a sex therapist” which, to us, rings a little too reminiscent of statements we’ve heard in the past from other accused parties and gives us a little shudder (regardless of whether what he’s saying is true or not – totally and absolutely our opinion).
He thanks us all for our patience. So without further ado, the letter from John Friend March 20, 2012:
Dear Teachers and Community,
It has been a long, painful, confusing month plus for our beloved Anusara yoga community, and for that I wish I could personally and sincerely apologize to each one of you.
Understandably, there is still much confusion about the allegations that precipitated this upheaval and where we should all go from here
Because of the privacy of others involved and the complexities of the situation, it has been difficult to communicate openly during this time. So thank you for your patience.
In order for the Anusara yoga community (and those who have left it) to heal and move forward, it is imperative that I address the allegations, as well as report on the work being done to help evolve Anusara yoga into a new, more sustainable paradigm. My statement here is offered in sincere hopes of bringing as much clarity as possible.
With the help and encouragement of others I respect and sometimes disagreed with, I have suspended my public teaching as of February 20th to allow for a needed period of self-reflection. In this past month, I have been listening intently to countless valuable suggestions from various segments of our community for restructuring the organization, which I acknowledge as something that is overdue.
With respect to management, I have resigned as a director and officer of the company. We are working toward potentially transferring the ownership of the company to a third party who is not connected to me personally or to my staff, yet continues to be within the community.
With respect to the allegations that have been made and other criticisms, I offer the following:
I take full responsibility for being out of integrity in my intimate relationships. I have entered into intimate relations with married women. I am deeply remorseful about my actions in this regard. I will never violate these sacred boundaries again.
I recognize that there is a fundamental power differential between student and teacher, and employer and employee. Over the 15 years of Anusara’s history, there were students, who at one point were employees, with whom I was intimately involved. I have earnestly tried over my years of teaching to honor the integrity of my relationships with students. Nonetheless, there were times when I failed in that effort. Even then, however, I was careful and respectful when entering into closer relationships and only after years of cultivating deep trust and friendship with those students. There was never a rush into any of these relationships. My former wife, to whom I was married for 10 years, was initially a student of mine.
Regarding the charge that I am a “sex therapist,” I am absolutely not a sex therapist. I once described the nature of a private relationship as therapy in an effort to hide the relationship, and this was both wrong and the source of the false label.
The speculation that I am a drug trafficker is ludicrous and untrue.
Since I was 15 years, old I have openly practiced and belonged to non-traditional spiritual groups dedicated to bringing positivity into the world through healing prayer circles. I have never had sex during ceremony within these circles. I have never been part of a “sex coven.”
The charge that there was illegal action with the company’s pension fund is simply not true. There was an honest mistake in the administration of the pension plan, which has been corrected. We have verified that it complies with all legal requirements.
Now that there is the beginning of a genuine plan in place for moving Anusara yoga forward independent of my management, I am taking a sabbatical to embrace a process of self-awareness, transformation, and healing. I will be on teaching hiatus and have sought out professional therapists who are helping me on my path.
Those who are angry with me have helped me back to the path as much as those who have supported me—and to all of you, I am grateful.
My best to each of you,
The message we get: take this or don’t. He’s grateful either way.
And it just keeps going on and on. Enough already.
Still confused about Michal.
would like more info.
probably not going to be forthcoming too soon.
we’ll have to wait for “the book” (surely there is a book…. or a movie deal in the works already) to be released …..
i vote steve martin for the role of john friend. 😉
Jack Black would do a better job
can we put this to bed now? please?
“It ain’t over til it’s over…” remember that song? I don’t think we are done with this yet. I’m grateful that people are still paying attention & not going back to business as usual. This psycho drama has been going on for more than a decade, from what it sounds like, escalating & getting more and more out of hand until it fortunately imploded.
It will take some time to unravel, and we don’t have to rush the process. We just have to pay attention that nobody is getting lulled back to sleep by the sound of “seductive misinformation” as Sarah Faircloth calls it in her “Kula Without Borders” blog.
Justice can take some time, and obviously John is not up for confessing anything beyond of what he has to, and that hasn’t come out through other sources. So we have to allow space for more and more of those concerned speakers of the inconvenient truth to come out – like Suzey & Betsey with their recent article on EJ: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/03/honoring-truth–betsey-downing–suzie-hurley/
“can we put this to bed now? please?”
The word choice here leaves so many puns available that it feels unfair to even list one…
That comment brought up some unpleasant images for me … was that pun intended? John has been putting too many into his bed, and now he would like to put the whole issue to bed, so that everything can go back to business as usual, whitewashing the company name as quickly as possible!
Fortunately, enough people are not ready to let him off the hook. If you think this topic is finished, you are most welcome to drop out of the discussion, but please do not request anyone else to hush it over.
“The speculation that I am a drug trafficker is ludicrous and untrue.”
Is it true that you had your weed sent to underlings in touring locales rather than owning the responsibility?
“Since I was 15 years, old I have openly practiced and belonged to non-traditional spiritual groups dedicated to bringing positivity into the world through healing prayer circles. I have never had sex during ceremony within these circles. I have never been part of a “sex coven.”
He denies that he was part of a “sex coven” which had sex during the ceremony. It was likely just a regular coven, and sex may have been after the ceremony. To say this was “openly practiced” is news to me as I first was made aware by YD.
No doubt he is dizzy from all the spin control….
…. and lying.
This letter (like all the past ones) still comes off as a defense and defensive in tone. Not that there is anything that he (anusara) could say that would make me respect him or the model. HE fed on and abused authoritarian power, so did all involved in the Anusara model, he isn’t sorry for it, he’s sorry he got exposed. He is speaking a head of a church whch I find ironic because I thought we were all trying to get away from these/those destructive patterns all to common in a church model, but alas we simply repeat the same silly patterns, needing to find an identity by joining a group, establishing levels of authority to ensure validation of this identity, and then craving more and more power, etc..
Read The Guru Papers, reflect on at all ties, and simply go and practice yoga or help others define their own practice. It’s pretty simple really… if you want it to be and if you don’t need to validate your worth via an identity of being a Yoga Teacher, or Yogi, or Master Yogi, or Guru.. Breathe, move, reflect. If it calls you help someone else do it when they ask.. It doesn’t make you a Guru, makes you a instructor.
He just downplayed this incident worse than has been done to date. But honestly I am a little bit more understanding about the teacher/student relationship thing. AS LONG AS THEY AREN’T MARRIED WOMEN.
I don’t think in modern American culture, that it could be so bad for a teacher and student to engage in relations, should the relationship be based outside the dynamic of student teacher. If the teacher is seen as a spiritual guru, guide, or master (whatever you choose to label it) it is a little different. For a simple teacher, teaching asana to various classes, it does not strike me as wrong to engage in activities with a student outside of class.
There is a big difference between having a spiritual teacher/guru and having a “yoga instructor” in my opinion. I mean really the teacher student thing isn’t so bad. It’s the way it is done.
But seriously, it sounds like he just denied every claim that he already admitted to. It doesn’t really make any sense.
exactly. I saw one the married men and he was clueless. to this day it still makes me ill
John Friend is GROSS!
Can we please move on from this and get back to more enlightening and interesting yoga articles? I started reading yogadork because I really enjoyed the variety of the writing presented here. No more.
Obviously this topic is still of vital interest to a large number of people. About 200,000 people are estimated world-wide to have been associated with AY in some way. Plus there are others like me who have a stake in it for different reasons. This really is important to the whole world of American yoga.
So if it is too much for you, just don’t tune into it anymore… We others still have some work to do here. And we can see, John is not helping to speed up this matter and putting it to rest by offering clear language of owning up to things. So this is still an open issue, and we will keep on it as long as it takes.
Thanks for YogaDork for posting this on here!
Part of the strategy of JF and the others that want to keep the aberration that is ay alive is to start the refrain of “this is old news”. They will couple this with minor “admissions” as JF does in his letter. Then they will get self righteous and try “can we just move on already?” These are time honored tactics that should be identified for what they are: tactics. Many of us have a stake in this including those harmed by JF and his underlings. These creeps acted with conscious intent; they are continuing to do so. And they are hoping that the interest will die down so that they can try to revive ay. They have learned nothing except to be slightly more careful, but any iteration of ay that survives will employ the same methodology as before. You know this because they do not consider what they have done as wrong. This is classical sociopathic behavior. You also know that they do not consider anything they’ve done as wrong because they are employing the current minor admission strategy, coupled with the phony “remorse” and “can we move on”. These tactics are commonly used in the corporate world. JF has an ace advisor in Goodman.
BTW, appeasement is not an option. JF and his underlings will look for that and consider it a sign of weakness, which they will try to capitalize on. History is full of lessons on this.
Thank you, that is very enlightening how you put that together! Spin control all over…
“Part of the strategy of JF and the others that want to keep the aberration that is ay alive is to start the refrain of “this is old news”. They will couple this with minor “admissions” as JF does in his letter. Then they will get self righteous and try “can we just move on already?” These are time honored tactics that should be identified for what they are: tactics.”
I feel I am learning a lot here, to be alert & not buy into spin & also not necessarily assume that everyone is posting for honest self-directed reasons. It seems that these one-liner posts are coming up quite a bit now, also on EJ. As you said, it seems that they want to create the feeling that the topic is now finished & they are being very put upon by still hearing about it.
As if they didn’t have the freedom to go somewhere else with their time… Freedom of Speech is a right in this country.
You got IRM. I agree with you that this matter is way to important to drop. Yoga is way too important. Here are the rules of disinformation, which is a derivative of mind control techniques. Real yoga does not require mind control techniques, branding, marketing, falsehoods, exaggeration or other such things. You will see variations on these general techniques being applied throughout this affair.
Twenty-Five Rules of Disinformation
Note: The first rule and last five (or six, depending on situation) rules are generally not directly within the ability of the traditional disinfo artist to apply. These rules are generally used more directly by those at the leadership, key players, or planning level of the criminal conspiracy or conspiracy to cover up.
1. Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil. Regardless of what you know, don’t discuss it — especially if you are a public figure, news anchor, etc. If it’s not reported, it didn’t happen, and you never have to deal with the issues.
2. Become incredulous and indignant. Avoid discussing key issues and instead focus on side issues which can be used to show the topic as being critical of some otherwise sacrosanct group or theme. This is also known as the ‘How dare you!’ gambit.
3. Create rumor mongers. Avoid discussing issues by describing all charges, regardless of venue or evidence, as mere rumors and wild accusations. Other derogatory terms mutually exclusive of truth may work as well. This method which works especially well with a silent press, because the only way the public can learn of the facts are through such ‘arguable rumors’. If you can associate the material with the Internet, use this fact to certify it a ‘wild rumor’ from a ‘bunch of kids on the Internet’ which can have no basis in fact.
4. Use a straw man. Find or create a seeming element of your opponent’s argument which you can easily knock down to make yourself look good and the opponent to look bad. Either make up an issue you may safely imply exists based on your interpretation of the opponent/opponent arguments/situation, or select the weakest aspect of the weakest charges. Amplify their significance and destroy them in a way which appears to debunk all the charges, real and fabricated alike, while actually avoiding discussion of the real issues.
5. Sidetrack opponents with name calling and ridicule. This is also known as the primary ‘attack the messenger’ ploy, though other methods qualify as variants of that approach. Associate opponents with unpopular titles such as ‘kooks’, ‘right-wing’, ‘liberal’, ‘left-wing’, ‘terrorists’, ‘conspiracy buffs’, ‘radicals’, ‘militia’, ‘racists’, ‘religious fanatics’, ‘sexual deviates’, and so forth. This makes others shrink from support out of fear of gaining the same label, and you avoid dealing with issues.
6. Hit and Run. In any public forum, make a brief attack of your opponent or the opponent position and then scamper off before an answer can be fielded, or simply ignore any answer. This works extremely well in Internet and letters-to-the-editor environments where a steady stream of new identities can be called upon without having to explain criticism reasoning — simply make an accusation or other attack, never discussing issues, and never answering any subsequent response, for that would dignify the opponent’s viewpoint.
7. Question motives. Twist or amplify any fact which could be taken to imply that the opponent operates out of a hidden personal agenda or other bias. This avoids discussing issues and forces the accuser on the defensive.
8. Invoke authority. Claim for yourself or associate yourself with authority and present your argument with enough ‘jargon’ and ‘minutia’ to illustrate you are ‘one who knows’, and simply say it isn’t so without discussing issues or demonstrating concretely why or citing sources.
9. Play Dumb. No matter what evidence or logical argument is offered, avoid discussing issues except with denials they have any credibility, make any sense, provide any proof, contain or make a point, have logic, or support a conclusion. Mix well for maximum effect.
10. Associate opponent charges with old news. A derivative of the straw man — usually, in any large-scale matter of high visibility, someone will make charges early on which can be or were already easily dealt with – a kind of investment for the future should the matter not be so easily contained.) Where it can be foreseen, have your own side raise a straw man issue and have it dealt with early on as part of the initial contingency plans. Subsequent charges, regardless of validity or new ground uncovered, can usually then be associated with the original charge and dismissed as simply being a rehash without need to address current issues — so much the better where the opponent is or was involved with the original source.
11. Establish and rely upon fall-back positions. Using a minor matter or element of the facts, take the ‘high road’ and ‘confess’ with candor that some innocent mistake, in hindsight, was made — but that opponents have seized on the opportunity to blow it all out of proportion and imply greater criminalities which, ‘just isn’t so.’ Others can reinforce this on your behalf, later, and even publicly ‘call for an end to the nonsense’ because you have already ‘done the right thing.’ Done properly, this can garner sympathy and respect for ‘coming clean’ and ‘owning up’ to your mistakes without addressing more serious issues.
12. Enigmas have no solution. Drawing upon the overall umbrella of events surrounding the crime and the multitude of players and events, paint the entire affair as too complex to solve. This causes those otherwise following the matter to begin to loose interest more quickly without having to address the actual issues.
13. Alice in Wonderland Logic. Avoid discussion of the issues by reasoning backwards or with an apparent deductive logic which forbears any actual material fact.
14. Demand complete solutions. Avoid the issues by requiring opponents to solve the crime at hand completely, a ploy which works best with issues qualifying for rule 10.
15. Fit the facts to alternate conclusions. This requires creative thinking unless the crime was planned with contingency conclusions in place.
16. Vanish evidence and witnesses. If it does not exist, it is not fact, and you won’t have to address the issue.
17. Change the subject. Usually in connection with one of the other ploys listed here, find a way to side-track the discussion with abrasive or controversial comments in hopes of turning attention to a new, more manageable topic. This works especially well with companions who can ‘argue’ with you over the new topic and polarize the discussion arena in order to avoid discussing more key issues.
18. Emotionalize, Antagonize, and Goad Opponents. If you can’t do anything else, chide and taunt your opponents and draw them into emotional responses which will tend to make them look foolish and overly motivated, and generally render their material somewhat less coherent. Not only will you avoid discussing the issues in the first instance, but even if their emotional response addresses the issue, you can further avoid the issues by then focusing on how ‘sensitive they are to criticism.’
19. Ignore facts presented, demand impossible proofs. This is perhaps a variant of the ‘play dumb’ rule. Regardless of what material may be presented by an opponent in public forums, claim the material irrelevant and demand proof that is impossible for the opponent to come by (it may exist, but not be at his disposal, or it may be something which is known to be safely destroyed or withheld, such as a murder weapon.) In order to completely avoid discussing issues, it may be required that you to categorically deny and be critical of media or books as valid sources, deny that witnesses are acceptable, or even deny that statements made by government or other authorities have any meaning or relevance.
20. False evidence. Whenever possible, introduce new facts or clues designed and manufactured to conflict with opponent presentations — as useful tools to neutralize sensitive issues or impede resolution. This works best when the crime was designed with contingencies for the purpose, and the facts cannot be easily separated from the fabrications.
21. Call a Grand Jury, Special Prosecutor, or other empowered investigative body. Subvert the (process) to your benefit and effectively neutralize all sensitive issues without open discussion. Once convened, the evidence and testimony are required to be secret when properly handled. For instance, if you own the prosecuting attorney, it can insure a Grand Jury hears no useful evidence and that the evidence is sealed an unavailable to subsequent investigators. Once a favorable verdict is achieved, the matter can be considered officially closed. Usually, this technique is applied to find the guilty innocent, but it can also be used to obtain charges when seeking to frame a victim.
22. Manufacture a new truth. Create your own expert(s), group(s), author(s), leader(s) or influence existing ones willing to forge new ground via scientific, investigative, or social research or testimony which concludes favorably. In this way, if you must actually address issues, you can do so authoritatively.
23. Create bigger distractions. If the above does not seem to be working to distract from sensitive issues, or to prevent unwanted media coverage of unstoppable events such as trials, create bigger news stories (or treat them as such) to distract the multitudes.
24. Silence critics. If the above methods do not prevail, consider removing opponents from circulation by some definitive solution so that the need to address issues is removed entirely. This can be by their death, arrest and detention, blackmail or destruction of their character by release of blackmail information, or merely by destroying them financially, emotionally, or severely damaging their health.
25. Vanish. If you are a key holder of secrets or otherwise overly illuminated and you think the heat is getting too hot, to avoid the issues, vacate the kitchen.
I meant “you got it IRM” sorry for the typo. I respect your posts a lot!
Wow, that is an amazing compilation of possible tactics! I have to go through that again, very clever. Makes me a little queasy to see all these options available to the power players.
Still, I do feel that some justice has been done here. So much information has come out & is available on the internet, in “the age of foreverism” as someone called it. Things can’t quite go back to how they were before. Or at least only on a smaller scale, with a much smaller number of people falling for it.
And thanks for the kudos, by the way:)
That is the playbook for corporations/politicians to deal with scandals and wriggle out of messes. There are variations of it being employed by ay. Knowing when someone is using these techniques acts to disarm/disempower them.
I think it is a credit to the practice of yoga that this whole affair has been so potently exposed. That includes all of the material relating to the sy (and now lululemon) connection. Hope to meet you one day..
That is the definition of “consciousness raising” See where the injustice is, and Never “Let it Go” … Never Let it Rest .. Never Forget … especially in this environment …
Politicians use “moral suasion” and filibustering all the time …
Eventually, public opinion makes an impact.
Religions incorporate rituals that reopen injustices done in the past into their services …
And, Anusara has been a “religion” for some … Suffice to say, this is a new wrinkle in religious observance …
Seferrara, I for one think the John Friend fiasco is quite enlightening. It is a cautionary tale of how easily one can be seduced by the false glow of a charlatan. Too, too many were hypnotized into wanting to be close to the unicorn and glitter world that was JF’s modus operandi. They were so in his thrall that they looked the other way as he exploited woman after woman, cheated people out of wages, got greedy and mean tempered with others, sabotaged other yoga teachers and played favorites (who are now desperately trying to save their no longer revered status).
It is a lesson that yoga is about being awake to the real world and not living in lala land. If that’s not enlightening and interesting, what is? It’s a whole lot more interesting and educational than knowing that Kristen Cavallari is doing yoga while pregnant.
Well stated Yoga Mama! I could not agree more.
Fewer celebrities, and more of us regular folks in this metastatized commercial yoga world!
Watershed moments, for sure!
YD- You say John says in his letter that he is taking steps to transfer the trademark. I missed that part. What he wrote was:
“With respect to management, I have resigned as a director and officer of the company. We are working toward potentially transferring the ownership of the company to a third party who is not connected to me personally or to my staff…”
I would be shocked if he relinquished ownership of the name Anusara Yoga. Is that really true? Also, as I asked on another thread, the Kula Evolution says they are working with Anusara to pull together all these new committees. If JF has resigned as director and as an officer (though sole proprietorships don’t have officers) what does it mean to say they are working with Anusara? JF is still sole owner of the sole proprietorship and, most importantly, the trademark so it must be him or someone representing him. I’d be interested to know.
you’re right. my goof, it’s ownership, and we’re still waiting to hear about trademark.
More of the same…
More smoke and mirrors, more playing things down. The letter sounds exasperated like ” I’ll give them this since this is what they seem to want”. From all that is currently out there by previously certified teachers this man wore many masks, and is adept at stretching ‘truths’ to fit. I think there are many many more allegations out there now that leave all this stuff he is ‘addressing’ for dust. That is, telling half truths, manipulations, playing favorites, not practicing the ethics he wrote and modifying them to suit his needs, progressing students through certification by bypassing the certification committee…..the list goes on and on. With all his silence over the last little while, these measly paragraphs are all he can conjure? Another slap!
I’m sorry John, I’m confused, in your letter of March 20, 2012 you said: “Since I was 15 years, old I have openly practiced and belonged to non-traditional spiritual groups dedicated to bringing positivity into the world through healing prayer circles. I have never had sex during ceremony within these circles. I have never been part of a “sex coven.”
BUT — In your private correspondence to “Laura” as revealed through jfexposed.com , you said:
….. “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”.
So yesterday you said you never had sex during ceremony, but in corresponding with Laura you said that you used sexual energy to build the efficacy of your Wiccan practices.
Hm. Sounds contradictory to me.
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.
That’s because he’s unorganized and can’t keep his lies straight.
Very true, and that is hopefully what will bring down the house of cards, if enough pressure keeps being applied to not let him wiggle out of it. Someone said in one of the comment sections that a narcissistic character like John needs “a strong container” to be forced to deal with his omissions & twisted explanations.
I sure hope that public forums & the internet will help with pointing him in the direction of a strong container – like some lucid heads-on therapy with someone who will see through the mirage, for starters. And some retributions to the parties that got hurt.
I think it’s more complicated than meets the eye. John was a devotee of Malti who was initiated into the Siddha tradition by her guru Muktananda. At one workshop that I attended John told the story of how he was overwhelmed (spiritually I suppose) when visiting the room that contained Muktananda’s bed. He also told the story of a dream visit by Malti before he gave his yoga demonstration to the Siddha ashram in India. She later became his guru, I don’t think it’s in dispute that John was a Siddha yoga devotee (Elena Brower wrote of taking a yoga class with John at the SYDA ashram in New York).
I also don’t think the word “kula” was chosen randomly to describe the community of John Friend and his Anusara followers (certified teachers, inspired teachers on the path to certification, and the students who attended AY classes). The ones who stayed in alignment with him.
Sarah Caldwell writes:
“This article has a triadic heart, a phrase intentionally borrowed from Paul Muller-Ortega’s beautiful book, The Triadic Heart of Çiva, which treats in detail the Kaula Tantric tradition of Abhinavagupta. It is to this tradition that I will look for partial interpretation of the late Swami Muktananda’s teachings and ritual practices.”
“My essay suggests two apparently contradictory theses: namely, that Swami Muktananda (1908-1982) was an enlightened teacher and practitioner of an esoteric form of Tantric sexual yoga, and that he also engaged in actions that were not ethical, legal, or liberatory with many disciples.”
“…it presents him (Abhinavagupta) as a typical follower of the Kula system…. [T]he characteristic feature of…Kaulism is that it denies antagonism between sensuous joy and spiritual bliss (Ånanda); recognises the former to be a means to the latter; and emphatically asserts that it is meant for the few, who are highly proficient in the Råja-Yoga as distinct from the Ha†ha-Yoga, who have such control over the mind that they can withdraw it
from the stimulating object even at a time when it is being enjoyed most….”
“… I eagerly fingered page after page describing in detail the secret sexual rites of the Kaula Tantra, the drinking of wine, eating of meat, and sexual intercourse.”
A little more on Kaula:
-”The Kaula lineage is closely linked to the Siddha and Nātha traditions.”
– “Kaula practices are based on tantra, closely related to the siddha tradition and shaktism. Kaula sects are noted for their extreme exponents who recommend the flouting of taboos and social mores as a means of liberation. Such practices were often later toned down to appeal to ordinary householders, as in Kaśmiri Śaivism.”
– “Group practices, which are restricted to the members of a kaula (family), include rituals, festivities, initiations and the secretive tantric sexual union. The purposes of this practice are the initiation of novices, the expansion of consciousness and expression of the bliss already attained as participants become more and more advanced.”
Returning to Sarah Caldwell quoting June Campbell: “The imposition of secrecy therefore…when it occurred solely as a means to protect status, and where it was reinforced by threats, was a powerful weapon in keeping women from achieving any kind of integrity in themselves, for it seems clear that the fundamental and ancient principles of Tantric sex—the meeting together of two autonomous individuals as partners for sexual relations to promote spirituality—was tainted by the power wielded by one partner over the other.”
Was John a follower of the kaula tradition? Did he, like Muktananda, after all his years of practice see himself as an enlightened teacher and practitioner of an esoteric form of Tantric sexual yoga? Did he embrace [T]he characteristic feature of…Kaulism (the one) that denies antagonism between sensuous joy and spiritual bliss (Ånanda) and see in that opposition the way to his own “spiritual enlightenment”? Seeing his embrace of sensuous joy and spiritual bliss as one of “the few who are highly proficient”, as one who has “such control over the(ir) mind that they(he) can withdraw it from the stimulating object even at a time when it is being enjoyed most….”? After all there seems, from what’s been posted, that the coven did practice “secret sexual rites of the Kaula Tantra – the drinking of wine, eating of meat, and sexual intercourse.”
If John does see himself as much further along a path to enlightenment than the rubes who fill his workshops, then he quite possible may think he owes no one an explanation, that those who are asking for his head are fools, ignorant of the true self and in denial of their own true nature. The are blind to the shree of his choices. If he does see himself in an “enlightened” place he may not have seen that his imposition of secrecy was possibly the side in opposition to this belief. That secrecy was really to protect his status, reinforced with threats and other behaviors that were tainted by the power wielded by him, as teacher-founder-guru over another. And not as a means to enlightenment.
Only John Friend knows the answers. The rest of us are just guessing. Making our own different arguments and speculations that help each of us I believe (though I’m not a follower of his, John still represents something to my psyche) make sense of this and maybe to convince others to agree with our “truth.” Quite possibly forgetting that the true teacher resides within? Learning from the experience then moving on, not stuck, but free?
he is hitting the bong and wanting to be Jim Morrison
Hi DebW, this is brilliant research in my eyes! It just shows we need to look carefully at every well-crafted sentence that John puts out there. I would suggest that you go over to EJ & also post this on the comment thread there, below John’s letter.
Thanks … I have a very good memory so inconsistencies and anomalies are like a thorn in my side .. or a stone in my shoe.. Its this reaosn that I could never drink the cool-aid and was not able to buy what JF/AI was selling. Too many inconsistencies.
I “would” post it in EJ if Waylon had not blocked me. I was blocked for suggesting (in response to DebNeubauers recent article) that seeing the good “first” is dangerous and that critical, glass half empty thinkers are important factors for spotting … inconsistencies and anomalies — and for keeping it real.
I would love to know if Waylone deleted my comment from that EJ article – it was posted under “What John Friend is Teaching me Now” by Deb Neubauer.
Here’s thread of Waylon convo on FB when he told me he was deleting the above comment and blocking me, FYI:
Reluctantly, reluctantly skipping huge Kitchen VIP opening party in Denver because readership is only up 10% this month (which sounds okay but isn’t) and because I can go tomorrow, anyways, for Friends/Family day. Listening to This American Life while bloggingblogging. Time for dinner-in with still-Creek-wet dog.
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Sam Gastro Readership @ 10% on EJ? How do you get that calculation?
Sunday at 12:23am · Like
Mark as SpamWaylon Lewis Mmmmm think I got you confused. Our readership is up 10% this month. Which sounds okay but isn’t as much as I’d like…we’re trying to grow, ovah heah!
Sunday at 12:30am · Like · 1
Deborah Whipple Waylon, if you stopped editing and deleting maybe you’d stop losing readers; your membership should be way up given the anusara scandal and how much exposure you have had – but you’ve pissed off too many people via your pandering and censorship (removing thumbs down? really waylon!) …
Sunday at 9:16am · Like
Waylon Lewis Deborah Whipple, I’m deleting your comment, after editing it, and then I’m blocking you. Actually, we’ve just waited for facts, and published dozens of articles from all points of view, most critical of course, given the circumstances.
And if you reread what I wrote, we’re up 10% for the month. We just don’t go in for damning folks with rumor when facts will do the job. As for the thumbs down, it was feeling like junior high in our comment sections. We’re all about critical, respectful dialogue—not thumbing folks down for having a different opinion than ours. We’re about creating understanding, not further aggression or confusion. As for pandering and “censorship,” I’d say we’ve broken just about every “fact” re the whole Anusara tragedy, and those we haven’t broken were because we waited for non-anonymous, second sources. Thanks, D.
Sunday at 1:53pm · Unlike · 1
Waylon Lewis Deborah Whipple, is publishing this the act of a censoring panderer? http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/03/honoring-truth–betsey-downing–suzie-hurley/
Sunday at 1:54pm · Like · 1
Deborah Whipple did you not censo&editr Betsy & Suzies article waylon? has it not been altered with passages deleted since it was originally published? this is not intended to be offensive – its an honest question. how do you expect to be taken seriously?
Sunday at 3:33pm · Like
Deborah Whipple lemme ask this : if you are all about critical respectful dialogue – isn’t thumbs down a nice way of saying “I don’t agree”? Otherwise – why even have a thumbs down in the first place? Now you only leave room for thumbs up agreement and …
I just read Deborah Neubauer’s article over on EJ. There are only 7 posts in the comment section, & only 924 views in total, so it obviously didn’t get much traffic. There is no comment from you on there., none of Waylon either.
The last short post there is without a name, with a very interesting content, addressing D. Neubauer:
“Was this written before or after John gave you an offer you couldn’t refuse and “unresigned” joining the steering commitee-?”
It sounds like Deborah got convinced by John to come back on board. Her article sounded a little overly focused on the positive to me, it sounds like your comments went in that direction of pointing out the dangers of that. So maybe the last post is an easy explanation to her all-positive “Newspeak”.
If you want to be back in the discussion on EJ, or if you don’t want to sign up & pay EJ fees, here is a suggestion:
Click Ctrl + Shift+ N, to open up an incognito window. Then do a google search for http://proxy.org/cgi_proxies.shtml. Click on any of the free web proxy providers. Then go the right side of that website, to “Most Popular”, and select one of their free web proxies, like ultrafastproxy.com, or many others.
When you get asked to sign up for EJ, after a few articles, you can repeat this procedure & go in with a different web address. You can leave comments there in this way, too – maybe just sign with a slightly different short-name, if you are comfortable with that. I think we could use your voice in the discussions over there. ..
Thanks IRM – I’ll give that a try! I really don’t look at EJ too much because of such non-sense. I used to, but got into it with him last spring when he started openly talking about deleting negative comments, etc. which is beyond ridiculous and, a waste of time. The comments I made on the Deb Neubauer article were in no way offensive and did not mention “Anusara”. Like you I found it too ‘rah rah rah’ and back to that brainwashing “always see the good first”. As a long time advocate on behalf of gifted children lobbying for changes to the educational paradigm (here in Canada) which dumbs everything down to the lowest common denominator – I am well acquainted with the correlation between glass half full and glass half empty thinking. Critical thinkers are glass half empty and can see the weakest link, and the flaws, the inconsistencies and anomolies. They are big picture analysts and generally don’t have a lot of respect for “authority” nor do they always behave in the socially acceptable way of supporting the status quo. One of the leader researchers in this area is a guy named Kasmir Dabrowski and he developed “The Theory of Positive Dis-integration”. IE highly intelligent individuals don’t integrate well but that is a positive thing because the species is evolving. Their level of consciousness is adapting becuase the species is evolving. And to integrate well is to support statsis which is in contradiciton to growth and adaptation/evolution. I don’t want to go off on that tangent on here … but …. all this talk about seeing the good/positive is not conducive to higher levels of intelligence, critical thinking, or towards an evolving consciousness. Those who are selling the Anusara programme of seeing the good …. being the Shri … are intoxicated … numb…. They can’t see the forest for the trees. And to start to present material which triggers their higher cognitive abilities is to be deleted. Waylon is obviously part of the programme . They are very very clever …. as sociopaths are. Clever without conscience. I wonder who the mastermind is. Someone really does have an incredible awareness of the human condition and its tendency towards slumbering in unconsciousness and the need to “belong” … and is exploting those traits by promtoing all kinds of conformist policies and mindsets which is frighteningly covert psychological manipulation. The “masses” within the Anusara community are/were buying it lock stock and barrel ….. It can be frustrating. Sometimes I just wanna say in big bold underlined letters WAKE UP SHEEPLE! WAKE UP! 😉
(now watch the response team jump all over this — someone will post something vile about me as was done consistently throughout early February whenever I would make comments such as this. Halid posted “Deborahs vagina smells” … etc. and this is part of their “programme”. Shunning, humiliation, verbal abuse to invalidate anyone who gets anywhere near to the truth of who they are. And when I say they I don’t refer to the many who practice Anusara or even many of the teachers, I refer to those behind the curtain. The wizards of Oz.
Bill Clinton ….. I’m going to say this again: I did not have SEX with that woman !
John Friend…… We NEVER have sex with each others during ceremony , we just use sexual/sensual energy in a positive and sacred way …………..
You’re right to remind us, usually when men in power (or let’s say: human beings in power) get caught, they lie and keep lying until they absolutely cannot defend their lies anymore.
Next John Friend is going to follow Clinton’s track by proclaiming to us that he tried pot, but that he never inhaled…
Re his claim of “carefulness’ developing sexual relationships w/ students:
“however, I was careful and respectful when entering into closer relationships and only after years of cultivating deep trust and friendship with those students.”
This is indistinguishable from classic “grooming” behaviors by sexual predators. “Recognizing a power differential”, indeed.
This guy is a clueless disgusting asshole.
you got it fah fah! He only fucks students after developing deep trust and friendship. What a guy!
HEY THERE FAH FAH. I like to consider myself as a Clueless, Disgusting, Asshole and I have to say, Please dont lump that Dude in with me.
You’re right it is worse. Rather than just having a coming on to every student JF fancied he exploited them “only after years of cultivating deep trust and friendship”.
Oh, and he says “I have earnestly tried over my years of teaching to honor the integrity of my relationships with students.” And yet he admittedly failed over and over and over again for years. How does he define earnest?
Amy Ippoli or whatever her name is one
I am a former employee of Anusara like you Brian and I know Amy Ippoliti. Believe me when I say that she is not the person you perceive her to be. I can’t go into the details, but trust me… she’s just not.
my day off (on a saturday) I was basically forced to cook JF and Amy I. a meal. I was pissed off because I was sick of having this guy wanting me to work for 24 hours a day. I would not care if he paid me for my service. That starts at about $1500 for the week usually with all expenses paid. JF & Anusara Inc was paying me about $10 after taxes. I cook this meal and Amy does not even say thank you. John friend just wanted me to leave. The conversation on ‘Yoga” was much more important. She kept looking at me like “who is this guy?” Amy was staying at JF house. Now was she banging that clown also. Who knows.
I have been treated with more kindness by homeless people on the street than most of the people I encountered working for this company/yoga
PS who is the long hair idiot Anusara Teacher That blew the sound board in Denver, CO 2005.
JF blamed that on me. I was at the hotel about 3 or 4 miles from the venue when it happened.
That guy kept touching my computer over and over. I told him to keep his hands off my property and he laughed saying that it was “Anusaras Computer”. Hey guy I bought that computer with my money. You are the fucker that pissed me off so fucking bad along with that maduri chick.
Just because you are a Anusara Teacher does not mean that you are somehow better than me!
Can you explain more of what that means, like, is it good or bad? I have kind of enjoyed Amy’s contributions in her resignation letters, but now I’m not so sure what to think of her after your comment.
put it this way. John Friend wanted a private chef/ with butler services. Not a “hi” or a “hey”. She just looked at me. John Friend just acted like he was entitled to my services.
Being forced to cook for those two idiots ruined my afternoon because I had plans with my Girlfriend.
If you work you should be paid. The founder of Anusara Yoga Took Advantage of me!!!!!! He did not want to pay me? He wanted me to work for free??? I had to sue him with the Texas Work Force Commission and have the audio to prove it.
I still find it weird that all these so called yogis do not care
how JF treated people. If they were truely “enlightened” they would have said something. I said something. I told him that he is a fraud.
oh and loving light. hahahahahahahahahahahahahah!
I’m quite sure that the rest of the world outside of the so called ‘yoga community’ does’nt even know who John Friend is or what hes done or what Anusara yoga is. It really is time to resign this tidious case to the trash cans of our periphery and just get on with it. In Johns defense, I’d like to know how many of you out there can honestly say that you have never or never will fuck up at some stage of your lives, even whilst persuing a yogic life style? Lets admit it now- Is what we practise these days really Yoga or just some kind of Yoga Journal fashion trend/ego boost/personal therapy/callithenics Frankenstein mish mash? Why get so upset about the hypochrisy of it all?
I have never, nor ever will, have sex with any of my studio employees or yoga students. The fact is that most of us never fuck up this bad. Never. Fucking up, for a lot of us, is a traffic ticket, or stupid credit card debt, or getting impatient w/ a kid or backbiting and gossiping. Maybe we eat or drink too much on occasion, maybe we white lie, etc. Maybe we fight bitterly w/ family of origin members while a parent ages and gets sick. That’s run of the mill fucking up. This qualifies as a set of major fuck-ups: infidelity, lies, manipulations, intimidations, sex across ethical boundaries. No, a lot of us never fuck up that bad. This is major fucking up. There’s even more major than that: fraud, stealing, rape, murder. That’s mega-major fucking up. So this guy qualifies as middling major fuck-up.
Fuck. Fuckidity fuck shit fuck. Mother fuck? Fuck fuck. Shit mother fuck fuckmastic. Fuck Fuck Fuck! Fuckouslly fuckitty. Shit. Fucker fucking fuck fucks. Fuck-down fuck-up fuck you! Fuck. Fuckomatic fuck. FU! Fuck. Damn, mother fucker. Mutha fuck. Bitch? Fuck! Fuckers fucking. Fucked up? Dick? Fucking asshole? Fuckocology. Fucking fucking fucks fucked fuck.
testing the censors?
Thank for letting me post YD. 😀
First, this is a yoga blog, so your observation about those without an interest in yoga is contextually irrelevant.
Second, as long as JF insists on spinning the record to benefit himself, and insists he is aligned with the highest intentions, it is part of a meaningful discussion to point this out.
To quote The Who from “Won’t Get Fooled Again”, “Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss”.
Thanks, Anusour, great name by the way! Thank you also fahfahfahfah, I second your responses to Gavin. Most of us do not ever mess up (can’t quite bring myself to use the f-word, even though it does fit here) to the extent as the sociopathic leader of a cultish organization (like Anu-land). “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
I am tired of minimizing any of it. We have to hold strong to not be lulled into that, by the charming sound of John’s well-crafted words, giving us a the few small token admissions. We have to read them like astute lawyers, questioning every part of it.
“Second, as long as JF insists on spinning the record to benefit himself, and insists he is aligned with the highest intentions, it is part of a meaningful discussion to point this out.” Period.
OK, are we done now? Please let’s move on.
you may move on…
Obviously not done yet…..
What’s the deal about banging married women. With all the hot single students out there, this seems to be a perverse power trip to their husbands. Any studies on what motivates a person to get involved in such a messy relationship when others would be easier. Is this a cry for help or someone who is trying to reconnect to their mother. Was he abused as a child?
like a rock star he probably went for any tail that came his way- students, lonely houston marrieds, hula hoopers, employees.
and it did come his way.
yoga sex with toned bodies, open hearts, tight spandex and tantric guidebooks would be hard to pass up if you’re a graying narcisistic egomaniac
Bingo. It’s all about control and feeding his insatiable ego.
I’m pretty new to this whole discussion, and it’s hard to follow, so maybe I would be better off posting somewhere else, but here goes.
I was a staff person in siddha yoga when j. friend was thrust upon us by gurumayi. It was a big surprise, but we were used to big changes at any moment. When j. arrived, what to me was personally beneficial hatha yoga teaching by quiet, careful fellow staff people was thrown out the window in one swoop. It was clear that j. had a lot more showmanship to offer, & that his enthusiasm was fully pumped up by gurumayi. This meant that a lot more people would arrive as paying customers to take his classes. That was OK with me, because anything that brought in money took the pressure off. You see, over the years gurumayi was always complaining that “I’m the only one making money, giving intensives around here” and she wanted department heads (which i was at various times) to work harder and think of ways to bring in more revenue.
I was in siddha yoga for many years, but left some time ago, so i was really surprised to read in the nytimes (last year?) about the phenomenon that j. had become. Now i see what a manipulative jerk he became. I wish everyone who is affected to come out of it whole, to see things clearly, and to not let j. off too easily. For sure there’s a lot of force trying to pull things back to business as usual, but you have a lot of power through the web to push back super-radical reorientation. When i was in siddha yoga there were so many scandals swept under the rug, but the web wasn’t there to counter all the dis-information.
One thing that baffles me is, douglas brooks seems to have gotten a free pass on this whole mess. Great that he thinks j.’s a. yoga should go away; good idea. OK, he says he’s been trying to reign in j. for 5 years or something, to change the teacher structure. But how come he didn’t speak up publicly before now about everything he was seeing? Was he just going to wait until j. changed his mind? And how could he not know about all the sex when he was so involved with j. & a.y.? Seems to me he’s playing holy all-seeing guru to say what he thinks should happen now, but he must know a lot more than he’s saying.
This way of douglas’ is familiar to most who were in siddha yoga. I remember when doug and several other scholars were dropped into the siddha yoga scene. To my ears, every public word out of his mouth sounded contorted with sweet high-brow tones, but when I had to fix up his room (as a lowly maintenance person) in the siddha yoga ashram in ny he talked a very different tune. Then he & the other scholars came out with the most contorted book “meditation revolution”, which was supposed to be a history of siddha yoga, but it left out all the dirt of muktananda’s sexual appetite for young girls, and gurumayi’s vicious fight with her brother. Well, some of that was left out from the start, but some of it was there & then got removed. Talk to doug & sally kempton/durgananda about that! Have you ever listened to doug defending himself on that score? http://www.leavingsiddhayoga.net/db.wav What a bunch of bull! You can also hear a (more accurate) version of the story: http://www.leavingsiddhayoga.net/sc.wav
It seems like doug collected most every a.y. teacher as his devoted follower, from what i’ve read lately. How did this bloviator’s star rise like that, and how is he staying above the fray? It’s clear that he knows how to manipulate his image; in the biographies on his web sites he mentions the guy he lived with in india for 16 years, but he makes no mention of his involvement with siddha yoga! I also wonder what sally kempton(ex-durgananda) and carlos pomeda(ex-gitanananda) knew about j’s nefarious activities. They are both siddha yogis who appear, along with doug on j’s “documentary”: http://anusarayogatheheartoftransformation.com/
Enough already! Isn’t it sad that a famous teacher and founder of a still respected, truly inspiring and definitly restorating practice has to explain who he has slept with, why, how, and to apologize, and discuss moral and sex ethics and on and on and bla bla bla. Come on! I don’t care about the sexual life of a teacher, as long as he/she is a good teacher. This is all becoming so gossipy, so morbid. He’s resigned, full stop. Now let’s quit the peephole and let’s all go back to the yoga mat.
marina, dear, what you suggest is called the ostrich syndrome.
sticking your head in the sand.
its gossipy because it IS morbid. many people have been abused in one way or another. JF and AI are anything BUT “shri” and there is very little “grace” in anything they had done or “are”. hundreds of thousands of people were sold a false bill of goods … and thousands of teachers were well on their way towards certification in something they believed in – which was false. the company was corrupt and deceptive. people were manipulated and essentially stolen from. there was plenty of psychological abuse and emotional rape. He has not resigned. that is PR spin and you are a silly cat to believe it. If you are a true yogi who believes in the principals and is actually interested in self-realization and waking up, then you most certainly will care about the conduct of your teacher and the state of his soul for it is only the realized masters who can truly guide with integrity. and they don’t come in the package of a north american businessman who turns yoga into a brand/product and trademarks it. yech. There is no peephole involved in the equation and that just might be projection dear. Sorry.
No, TemplePriestess. I am sorry but I am not looking for a guru, and I do not get shocked idìf the conduct of JF isn’t an exemple of chastity- I can go on practicing without feeling fooled. And, I’m sorry, I keep thinking that this discussion is more morbid than its topic. Glad to be, as you so nicely put it, a “silly cat”. Silly cats do not take themselves too seriously. Luckily.
marina – i don’t think you are hearing me.
i didn’t say a word about a guru. i didn’t say a word about chastity. and i am certain that most of the commentors on YD do not take their own selves too seriously either. perhaps you will kindly share with us what you find “morbid” about the discussion. it is a gloomy subject most definetly – but the answer is not to “turn away” …. like an ostrich … sticking your head in the sand. in some regard, such attitude makes one and enabler, and thus complicit in the many betrayals. i don’t think anyone on here is on a witch hunt. the general tone looks towards accountability and full disclosure. without such, healing will never occur and trust is fractured forever.
your comment has the smell of being generated by the online response team.
TP, darling, statements such as “your comment has the smell of being generated by the online response team” do not even deserve a comment, and perfectly illustrate the “I take myself and thing REALLY – almost ridicuolously – too seriously” syndrome. Ciao from the Orchid, that now has to go back to work. And not to a “online response team”, you silly person.
you silly person????? marinathecat is that you Wendy????
He is not a good teacher. He is a good talker.
Perhaps Brian. I have never had him as a teacher. I only attended Anusara classes form an Anusara certified teacher in Italy and loved every single one of them. This is why I do not particularly care about crucifying the founder, which does not mean that I think he is a saint or whatever: I simply do not care that much, and find this interest in his personal life a little extreme and moralistic. But maybe it is just me, too European or something
marina, please go back to work. you have much to do and are a little too obvious in your disinfo campaign.
truth, you are as pathetic as your name
marinathecat are you american living in europe? Since you do not care then why are putting words on this site? From the founder to the teachers in Italy spreads the virus of Anusara. Why are putting words on this site.
You must have some motive. If you are with John Friend tell him to please ES&D for me.
marinathecat is a lover. She loves Anusara Yoga Teachers ad what they stand for, Dishonesty.
No, Brian, I am an Italian living in Italy, frankly surrised by this aggression. I am putting words into it because I like to express my opinion, like everyone else on this blog I guess. And I was reading this post because of course this situation raises curiosity. But then I read it and thought that it seemed a bit too morbid for me. For me, I repeat, according to my humble opinion…
It really hurts me to see that one cannot express an opinion without being accused of being a Pr of AY, part of some cospiracy. But please, feel free to keep thinking that people that do not share your point of view are dangerous enemies. Ciao. I am no longer answering.
i speak solo. JF and the whole organization is a Fraud. Italy alreay has Mc Donalds. You realy should be aware of the fraud from Ansuara.
stings, doesn’t it marinathecat (or should I call you John)?
I feel like joining the people questioning your identity & motives. Your English sounds way different to me than any Italian I’ve ever known, and I’m from Europe myself… The way you are saying things like:
“But maybe it is just me, too European or something”.
Next time, maybe mix in a few more odd expressions when you play the innocent foreigner, who is so surprised by American prudishness to care so much about “whom their teacher has slept with”. You are missing the point (on purpose, I believe) and enough people have tried to lay it out for you.
What we are doing here is not “moralistic”, or “crucifying” a wonderful teacher – it is shining light on a situation that has been obscured by the powers to be for far too long! Anusaragate is finally out in the open, after maybe a decade and a half of undercover agents pulling their strings, and followers being asked to tell lies for their leader.
If you really are an innocent Italian, just tuning into this out of sheer surprise, then please forgive us. We have serious reasons to doubt the motives of posters asking us to ” move on”. There are plenty of stalkers posting here, on EJ & on BayShakti for us to have some healthy suspicions. And yes, we absolutely do want to move on, in the direction of the truth (which is not a pathetic name, by the way).
Maybe you remember how long it took for Watergate to unravel, and how much bashing of the press had to be endured until all the details were put together.
..Thanks IRM – I’ll give that a try! I really don’t look at EJ too much because of such non-sense. I used to, but got into it with him last spring when he started openly talking about deleting negative comments, etc. which is beyond ridiculous and, a waste of time. The comments I made on the Deb Neubauer article were in no way offensive and did not mention “Anusara”. Like you I found it too ‘rah rah rah’ and back to that brainwashing “always see the good first”. As a long time advocate on behalf of gifted children lobbying for changes to the educational paradigm (here in Canada) which dumbs everything down to the lowest common denominator – I am well acquainted with the correlation between glass half full and glass half empty thinking. Critical thinkers are glass half empty and can see the weakest link, and the flaws, the inconsistencies and anomolies. They are big picture analysts and generally don’t have a lot of respect for “authority” nor do they always behave in the socially acceptable way of supporting the status quo. One of the leader researchers in this area is a guy named Kasmir Dabrowski and he developed “The Theory of Positive Dis-integration”. IE highly intelligent individuals don’t integrate well but that is a positive thing because the species is evolving. Their level of consciousness is adapting becuase the species is evolving. And to integrate well is to support statsis which is in contradiciton to growth and adaptation/evolution. I don’t want to go off on that tangent on here … but …. all this talk about seeing the good/positive is not conducive to higher levels of intelligence, critical thinking, or towards an evolving consciousness. Those who are selling the Anusara programme of seeing the good …. being the Shri … are intoxicated … numb…. They can’t see the forest for the trees. And to start to present material which triggers their higher cognitive abilities is to be deleted. Waylon is obviously part of the programme . They are very very clever …. as sociopaths are. Clever without conscience. I wonder who the mastermind is. Someone really does have an incredible awareness of the human condition and its tendency towards slumbering in unconsciousness and the need to “belong” … and is exploting those traits by promtoing all kinds of conformist policies and mindsets which is frighteningly covert psychological manipulation. The “masses” within the Anusara community are/were buying it lock stock and barrel ….. It can be frustrating. Sometimes I just wanna say in big bold underlined letters WAKE UP SHEEPLE! WAKE UP!
(now watch the response team jump all over this — someone will post something vile about me as was done consistently throughout early February whenever I would make comments such as this. Halid posted “Deborahs vagina smells” … etc. and this is part of their “programme”. Shunning, humiliation, verbal abuse to invalidate anyone who gets anywhere near to the truth of who they are. And when I say they I don’t refer to the many who practice Anusara or even many of the teachers, I refer to those behind the curtain. The wizards of Oz.
Read about Large Group Awareness Training on the Rick Ross cult site. AY is an offshoot of Siddha Yoga. John and his scholars are from that group. Muktananda was connected to Werner Erhard, founder of est now called Landmark Forum which are pyramid schemes. Reactions to my busting abuse from fellow yogis was shunning, “it’s the shakti”, “move along, nothing to see here”, “you’re negative”. Not surprised by reactions from the head in the sand yogis.
Ok. Once again, I am not saying that some truly interesting and even morbid stuff is unraveling here. And, as a journalist, I find it intriguing. But as a yoga student, I just do not feel that involved in what is going on at the top of the pyramid of AY. I don’t feel it affecting me. Why, by stating that, am I accused of being a “head in the sand yogi” or, worse, a pr representative for Anusara (thank you Temple Priestess and Truth)?
Then why even look at this thread or reply if it bothers so much? Move along, darlin’, nothing to see here , it’s just the shakti playing a lila and you sound negative. Wink, wink!
People like you, darlin’, are the reason why, when I tell my friends that I am into yoga, I simultaneously feel the need to also show that I possess a brain and a sense of humour. Join a cult, yoga is too free for you, I’m afraid.
When I worked there, the VP invited a few of us to the Landmark Forum.
Marina gave this command:
“Join a cult, yoga is too free for you, I’m afraid.”
The Cult of Anusara Yoga was not free! It’s brainwashing affected many, for that reason the expression “kula-aid” has become so popular.
Maybe on the far far periphery, for local students taking a few classes here and there, it was clean. As one poster Carol said in an earlier thread, you had to get reeeeeeaally far away from the center to not get pulled into the cultish aspects of the enforced conformity & submission to the leader.
Interesting. North of the border there is a very strong relationship between LuLuLemon (where all employees are mandated to participate in Landmark Forum Education weekends – formerly known as EST and developed by Werner Erhard) and Anusara. Much cross promotion and many mutual admiration cliques. Mostly young 20 somethings with extremely limited life experience and brand new to yoga and yogic consciousness. Wouldn’t know a Yama or a Niyama if they tripped over one. Very “community” (cult) oriented … and as you say, all about the shri and the shakti (i doubt they have a clue what shakti is) and not being negativistic. Brainwashed. The future Stepford trophy wives in the making. And they spend alot of money to perpetuate the avidya and sense of Asmita that makes them “oh so special”! and gushy mush.
Many a SYogi tried to get me involved with the Forum. I went once with my aunt who could never actualize her goals, going from workshop to workshop. I learned that day that life is not a rehearsal, which is the goal of those that want you to spend money on their bogus workshops instead of going to a real school to learn a skill. One of my fellow sevites ignored my existence until she called to recruit me. I told her off during that call.
Thank you, No LemonAid & third eye, for bringing up those very relevant connections between all those organizations & pyramid schemes!
Many of my previous SY friends went to Landmark. For a long time I thought of it highly, seeing it through their eyes, and even considered doing it some time myself. Later, I found out about all the scandals there, the pressure that is applied until people break down & the brain washing.
Enforced conformity, and as you point out, succumbing to a cult in the name of celebrating community. It is very seductive, the power of the community… and it gets abused by many cultish organizations.
I think the connection between John Friend & Siddha Yoga cannot be overstated – people would benefit from seeing where he came from & how Anusara developed out of it. The invocation mantras in the beginning of AY classes are taken from SY, Friend talks about that openly, & about his connection to Gurumayi. We talked about some of this on earlier threads here, too.
Werner Erhard, the Landmark founder, was instrumental in bringing Baba Muktananda to the West for his first world tour. That is how Siddha Yoga started its fast ascent.
“North of the border there is a very strong relationship between LuLuLemon (where all employees are mandated to participate in Landmark Forum Education weekends – formerly known as EST and developed by Werner Erhard) and Anusara. Much cross promotion and many mutual admiration cliques.”
That is fascinating to hear about! Do you mean Canada by North of the border? I had never thought of Lulelemon as that kind of organization, prescribing harsh Landmark trainings to their employees. Do you have more info on that?
Re cross promotion: There was a lot of that between Siddha Yoga & Anusara Yoga, one validating the other, John Friend attracting more people & yoga teachers to the SY ashrams, Siddha Yogis taking his teacher trainings etc. , and as you said the scholars like Douglas Brooks & Sally Kempton all come from SY, even if they downplay it now.
Anusara’s VP and who is now in charge in John’s absence got very absorbed into Landmark Education and even held a meeting to invite some of the employees to it. I said no thank you.
Wow, the plot is thickening! Thanks for the info that is further confirming that Anusara Inc. headquarters is not a good place to be! Landmark has so many nasty abusive elements to it. But then, so have cults in general, & the way is was flowering in the inner AY circles, it seems to confirm that.
Who is Anusara’s VP who is now in charge in his absence? It can’t be the infamous Wendy, right? It sounded to me from all the info online like she is more the right hand person, executor of all of John dirty requests.
BTW, I am starting to feel seriously infiltrated here, with all these mean & dismissive comments here, commanding us to stop thinking about it.
There is some heavy duty infiltration going on over at EJ in the comment section on John’s article & the one before that.
Landmark Forum is a self improvement cult. http://boingboing.net/2009/08/31/suppressed-60-minute.html
NoLemonAid, what’s “north of the border?” Canada?
Of course Canada – what else is north of the border?
LuLu is based out of Vancouver. Google LuLu Lemon and Landmark Education and … read on. There are many articles which make reference to LuLu’s management policies.
Anyone who has been at LuLu for any period of time is basically mandated to attend Landmark Education weekend seminars (pyramid building) …. and if they don’t they have no hope of promotion or moving up the LuLu ladder. Many of these young retail clerks aspire to become key holders and I believe that in order to do so they must attend Landmark training. Its just more cultivating of the cultish. They are cheerleaders! Rah Rah Rah! With silicone inflated yoga tops @ $100/per.
… cuz looking smokin hot with perky boobs is guaranteed to up your shri and make your practice more sacred (sorry – couldn’t help myself) ….
But yes – there is alliance, I don’t know if it is an official or unofficial “alignment” (you scratch my back I’ll scratch yours) between Chip Wilson & John Friend ….. maybe nothing more then energies & entities who are cut from the same cloth “find each other” and hook up. Chip Wilson is our equivalent to JF.
Many young Anusara=Inspireds offer free Sunday morning classes at the hundreds of LuLu’s that are all over the map up here in the land of the black fly and the mighty pine …. 😉
From Wikipedia: The company also pays for management staff and other employees who have worked for the company for over a year to attend the Landmark Forum, a personal development course.
Can someone verify my memory since I cannot get on EJ. I’m pretty sure I read JF say it wasn’t sex because he “didn’t kiss” them? Hellooo?
i saw with my own eyes John with a married women. They had their cloths on. I saw exactly where his hand was. I am not stupid. I was in a awkward situation in his personal hotel room in Denver 2005. I never asked to be invited. It completely grossed me out.
I read that somewhere too — but I can’t get on EJ either.
It had something to do with “sex therapy” he was administrating but he didn’t consider it as being inappropriate because he didn’t kiss her. Something like that … Perhaps someone else can find the information and share the statement here …
(might be in his full letter of Mar.20 – have to re-read … it was recently) …
John hasn’t publicly made that statement. It was in the letter Betsy Downing and Suzie Hurley published a few days ago, “Honoring the Truth.” It’s on EJ. I believe they said that he made that statement during one of their initial conference calls, immediately after the scandal broke.
marinathecat you can call me a stupid american. i am part italian. I think italy is a tourist trap. i have been all over the country manytimes and only favor the north part of the country for the mountains.
i think a italian with a brain would question the anusara invocation.
some clown in texas made that shit up.
If anyone would like to find out how many Anusara Employees filed claims with the Texas Work Force Commission its free. Request in writing with name and contact info. or fax your inquiries to:
Open records division -Texas Work Force Commission
101 15th street room 266 Austin, TX
Their fax number is 512-463-2990
OOOOOO THE DRAMA! It finds its way deep inside the blog comments!
For those who are intetested in more recent development in Anusara world, here are some articles to share :
1. Misuses of Power (Michelle Indianer)http://bayshakti.com/misuses-of-power
2. On Stepping Down as Anusara Communications Liaison.
by:Jessica Jennings .
Please, everyone, read Michelle Indianer’s intelligent article (available on the link listed above). She gets back on track with what is really at the crux of this AY mess, i.e, narcissism, favoritism, blackballing, general misuse of power and not primarily about JF’s sex life although that is pretty raunchy too. It is a welcome and thoughtful respite from the posts that have gotten a bit hysterical (though I understand that too! People are angry.). Much to think about. Thank you, Michelle.
From a comment on one of Michelle’s posts. Wow!
“I tried to go to Wanderlust and was so disheartened by the whole hedonistic display. Honestly, I was not the only one to see him teaching the loops backwards and teaching very poorly (especially for his standards) at the SF immersion a few years ago. There were a few hundred people in the room to see that he was very likely stoned and to see him put a rolled up mat between his legs WHILE TEACHING pretending he has a large you know what. There were signs for ALL to see. “
I was at the SF immersion and it was bizarre. The sexual energy between John and one of his employee/students was so strong you could feel it in the air. He developed nearly the entire opening or closing ceremony (can’t recall which one) around her dance. Very awkward. It was also the first of three times I’ve seen him publicly humiliate a senior certified teacher in front of the whole room – hundreds of students. Surprisingly, or maybe not, she’s still strongly supporting him and AY. She was not one of the new, young, hot teachers he favored, so I guess it was fair game for him. He tracing was different that week than I’d ever seen it in the past. I seriously would not be surprised if he was high.
I also thought Michelle’s letter was fantastic. Really clearly communicated.
I tried to leave a comment there, but couldn’t figure it out. Ah well. 🙂 leave one here instead.
I also read the other article (about communications officer), which I thought was also well done.
I wonder how many teachers were in the exclusive skyclad coven? Are the witches going to be put on trial?
Put that guy Douglas Brooks on trial also. He knew what a creep JF was and did nothing. He just started a new bullshit yoga called Rajanaka yoga.
This is why I quit doing yoga in 2005. Too many “old pathetic” guys trying to screw young chicks, and sell all of their mubo jumbo.
Then you get these Ego driven Entitled chicks who bang these idiots and they think they are the cats meow.
I wonder how the collapse of Anusara Inc. might boost Douglas Brooks revenue stream? Guru replacement therapy is sure to be in demand.
Douglas Brooks posted this letter on his facebook page:
February 28 at 2:38pm
An Open Letter to Michal Lichtman, CEO, Anusara, Inc.
and the entire Anusara Community
Common Sense: Thoughts on the Present State of Affairs
I find myself compelled to write to express to Michal Lichtman a genuine sense of appreciation for her efforts, for her desire to bring healing and value to the many who have been hurt by John Friend’s actions and the long-term consequences these actions will have on the yoga community. Michal means to provide a voice of healing and gracious inclusion and I do not mistake that voice. I have remained over these past weeks a public voice that has meant to bring the discourse into reasonable understandings rather than legitimizing or representing a particular point of view. Today, I find myself brought into the public conversation in ways that require me to reply.
Having been cited liberally in Michal’s letter as she outlines plans for a reorganization of Anusara, Inc., I feel compelled to reveal my own understandings of the situation and to distinguish her genuine intentions from what I understand to be a strategy and a plan from Anusara, Inc, that will certainly only further divide the community and exacerbate a situation that will continue to prove more problematic for all. I offer, as Thomas Paine put it, “nothing more than simple facts, plain arguments, and common sense.” But let me not be disingenuous either. Paine fomented a revolution. I am recommending nothing less than that.
Certainly, I understand Michal’s efforts to bring together community and to arrive at a place where those who have devoted lives in time, effort, resources, and love towards the yoga taught within Anusara feel the sense of real value for their accomplishments. All involved for these many years are grateful to John Friend for having brought us into valued relationships and conversations about yoga.
Anyone privy to the conversations of the then-Interim Committee to which I was party before the Miami event will know that I expressed my opinions regarding the situation at the time and for the evolution of Anusara with a certain stridency. All I can add to that memory is that I would offer no opinion to true friends that is without passion, seriousness, and rigor to the argument. These I take to be demonstrations of how deeply one cares. I hope everyone involved in those events knows that I meant then, and mean now, to help my old friend John and to opine in ways that serve the students of Anusara Yoga. I am not expecting these opinions to be followed; I respect disagreements and I never ask my own students (much less my friends) for “alignment” with views, only their most honest criticism.
Regarding events since February 3rd and into the Miami situation, it seems clear to me that none of my advice or input was much heeded by John or those who agreed to his choices. I mean to make clear here that some would not agree with John’s choices (myself included) while others believed these decisions were his to make and so would continue to stand with him, regardless of whether they agreed with his actual decisions. From John’s every public statement, I have found myself beyond credulity with the absence of disclosure, by the insensitivity towards the true victims of this crisis (i.e, the members of the community), and, frankly, what I can only describe as a disingenuous lack of candor on John’s part. I cannot doubt John’s sincerity, which I take to be more alarming for the facts that we already possess.
John’s actions and statements further establish a pattern of behavior that one senior teacher describes as having created “irreparable harm” to the reputation of the community. I believe this to be a fact beyond reasonable dispute. However events in the press portray the situation, the conversation about yoga’s benefits, the history of teaching and teachers, and the study of Indian spiritualities, especially Tantra, has suffered a significant setback due to John’s actions. The Anusara community and the yoga community at large suffers that degradation by association, implication, and public perception.
Let us not fool ourselves, the deep feelings of betrayal and fracture are accompanied by evidence mounting each day to further substantiate the case that John’s actions are continuing to make matters far worse— especially if his wish is to heal fractures, accept the reality of his actions, and understand that the Anusara community can no longer exist with any form of his leadership in any capacity or association. Not only do I see the current efforts at healing and reconciliation from Anusara, Inc., as premature, I believe that for all good intentions involved, that these plans and strategies will reinforce “irreparable harm” to Anusara, the community, and to the cause of learning and practicing yoga.
So long as there is Anusara, Inc., even one organized by teachers or established as a non-profit (the business of which I understand is complex and would involve enormous resources of community effort), there will be direct association with John Friend. Call this a mistaken perception or even a misunderstanding of the “new” Anusara, any such reorganization will further fracture community, harden feelings, and create the tangible impression that John’s actions and choices are supported and being represented. In my opinion, any re-formulation of Anusara as a teacher’s co-operative, a non-profit organization, etc., can only result in these unwanted consequences.
If I may be so bold as just another person with an opinion: There is, as I see it, a common sense solution that will create a situation for the entire Anusara community to come eventually to healing and, perhaps too, for John. I will present this as a series of steps and a rationale for each.
• Announce that Anusara, Inc., in any possible configuration will cease to exist by the end of 2012.
This will forever prevent any possible faction of “us” and “them”; it will relieve doubt and any implied pressures to “rejoin”, and it will assert the integrity of all persons, including those who have been party to re-organization efforts. Everyone will be equal, at last. Everyone will be recognized for good intentions and actions that serve the cause of “uniting.”
The alternative of a “rejoining” a “new” Anusara, as is currently proposed, cannot achieve as much as simply bringing Anusara, Inc. to a natural conclusion, an end.
• Allow all certified teachers to finish their 2012 programs with the intention to use the approval from Anusara, Inc. as a mechanism for establishing their own relationships with accreditation that no longer relies in any way on Anusara, Inc.
Teachers will organize organically in well-wrought relationships with each other (this is already happening, of course); they will find their way without Anusara, Inc., because they have been well-taught and have brought their gifts to bear in the study of yoga. The teachers have the expertise and the community resources to represent themselves as “Anusara” method practitioners. Their credibility will belong to them, not to the organization. In short, simply allow the teachers to teach. If there are financial issues to the administration of pending approvals or hours of credit then find ways not to place that burden on the teachers.
• Ask John Friend to retain the trademarks and properties of Anusara, Inc., so that no one else can reform or reorganize in any formal way. If John leads the revolution to give Anusara to the community then perhaps everyone can see the wisdom in understanding that Anusara belongs to the community. A crucial component here is that John permits any one to teach the method beyond 2012 without any enforcement or claim on the concepts and practices.
The “standards” of Anusara must organically be reformulated without any single organization representing the method. Why? Because then “Anusara” can create a long lasting, community-based legacy that is entirely dissociated from the perceptions of the past and recognizes that irreparable harm cannot be undone. We want to forgive but not in any way if we are being reminded to forget. We can heal when it is time but not before we recognize the real effects of damage done. Don’t worry about Anusara losing its method or its standards: these will continue in new ways led by an already formidable corps of talented persons.
• This final dissolution of Anusara, Inc., will secure the best of its past and create the opportunity for a future that is inclusive and honest. There will be innumerable Anusara classes and people will decide for themselves how a given teacher teaches: the onus belongs to the teacher, where it should. Anusara, Inc. in any form can bring no such credibility.
Why? Because there is no possible configuration of Anusara, Inc. that could in any practical, honest, or realistic way distinguish itself from his leadership or his role as founder-teacher. You cannot undo the realities of history but you can move forward without creating future burdens, perceptions, and fractures.
• John in time may reclaim his role among his peers disavowing any relationship to Anusara as it continues beside him in the work of former students. He will be the revolutionary that created the Anusara method and he will be remembered as the one who gave it to his community and then rejoined the larger yoga community as a gifted teacher. For John to continue in any role of leadership, implied, concealed, or actual is to consign Anusara to the status of another fallen yoga cult. That would be a real shame, unnecessary but, in my opinion, a certainty unless he leads a revolution that changes everything currently being proposed to “re-organize.”
I have not been privy to any recent conversations regarding re-organization and some may suggest that I mean here to exert an undue influence on people within the community. I apologize if I exhaust your good will but I cannot believe that my influence outweighs the common sense of individuals who have the intelligence, good nature, and inner resources to make up their own minds. Further, I cannot for the life of me think of one way I benefit from making public my opinions, especially since they seem to be so at odds with the strategies and on-going plans announced by Anusara’s new CEO. I have not at all, for example, addressed those with a financial stake in Anusara, Inc., and offer no business opinion about licensing agreements, investment, or other related matters. Those issues I leave to others with more expertise.
As I said at the outset, without any personal connection to Michal Lichtman, I sense as others have that she means to offer her very best efforts. Since she seems to have considered so much of my input from previous efforts (I mean, her liberal citation of my written efforts), then perhaps she will regard what I have offered here too as my honest, good faith effort to be a constructive presence within the yoga community. Folks that don’t like my ideas, are upset perhaps by these proposals: to them I say thank you for having considered this an offering that is an effort of heart expressing good intentions. I hope you will see it as that: an invitation to think about the situation in a way that doesn’t solve every problem but comes to the heart of the matter.
I think that is a very interesting point to discuss. I agree that Douglas Brooks’ new “Rajanaka yoga” sounds very made up. My husband researched it, since he has had some aversion to Douglas from his involvement in covering up SY’s scandals & their book Meditation Revolution. He found out that Rajanaka yoga is pretty much Douglas’s promotion, with not much behind it.
He was very surprised to see Douglas speaking now as the new pure authority now. He has not come clean on his previous SY involvement, in my eyes.
The corporatization of yoga only benefits those at the very top. How do the followers of Anusara Inc. (those drinking the kula-aid) follow the money? Who will see the biggest gains from this debacle? It’s important to note the winners and losers. Who is/was in the coven?!!
Rajanaka Yoga should be dropped from the Yoga Journal Conference (Estes Pk, CO) until Anusara Inc. corruption is fully understood. Douglas Brooks’ has not yet taken responsibility for his involvement with Anusara Inc.
Oh, if you only knew how TOTALLY wrong you are on this one. Brooks had major, major issues with SY and was outraged by GM’s abuses of power.
Hi, thanks for that comment – could you explain that a little bit more? I really wouldn’t mind for my doubts re him to be wrong. It would be helpful to know more about his transition out of SY. Has he written or spoken publicly about it? Or do you know about it personally? I couldn’t find anything so far.
I was positively surprised by all his articles on AY, speaking out so eloquently against a sole guru/teacher authority as a set-up that invites abuse (as proven again by JF). I just couldn’t quite reconcile it with what I knew about his role as one of the “SY scholars”. GM had them on such a pedestal & they were given the role to give SY more credibility in the world, as you probably know already.
So … I find this a little disturbing.
I read down through your points, below, and I understand that you’re trying to get at the root of a power imbalance — questioning how much those apparently closest to John Friend will end up benefiting from this whole debacle. I don’t take issue with those kinds of questions. It makes perfect sense to be asking them.
But this whole “witches on trial” notion, however ironically you’re using the phrase, is pretty problematic.
I find it interesting that Wicca, the faith itself, has gotten kind of lost in the mayhem here in favor of the sensationalism around particular Wiccans — John’s coven-mates, namely. Whoever they are, they are members of an organization of faith. I don’t think it’s acceptable to use historical examples of the mass-murder of other suspected members of their faith (or, given that modern Wicca is a relatively recent thing, of something as closely akin to it historically as we can get) as a recommendation, no matter how tongue-in-cheek, for what should be done with these particular Wiccans in our community. It seems … distasteful, at the very least, and threatening, at the most, though I don’t think that was your intent.
Whatever John or those close to him did or didn’t do aside, Wiccans have as much right to our respect of their practices as anyone else does.
I have less of a problem with Wicca/modern pagans than I do some other types of organized religion. Let’s face facts; another power tripping new age guru used religion as a way of manipulating his followers. One of JF’s manipulation tools included inviting special corporate foot soldiers into an elite coven as a reward for blind obedience.
Maybe so. That certainly seems to be suggested from the facts we know. I just don’t think we get to play the down-on-Wicca card because of it. We don’t know these people’s hearts or their beliefs. We don’t even know who most of them are. I think it’s generally wiser to assume that someone’s professed faith is sacred to that person, rather than a sham, because we just can’t know otherwise.
But, again — I feel like John Friend and how he used Wicca is secondary to this point. The Salem Witch Trials were homicidal hysteria on a frightening scale. I just don’t feel like we should toss them around suggestively, even as an ironic way to highlight the very real point that Mr. Friend *appears*, from the little we know about things, to have used his and others’ faith manipulatively.
People shouldn’t be put on trial for their faith. Their actions, sure. Their faith? Nope.
what religion is JF his is selling the bhagavad gita for profit on the Ansuara website.
the bottom line John Friend is Out of line.
Krishna, I was talking about the Wicca practitioners in JF’s coven, with specific regard to SRJB’s “Are the witches going to be put on trial?” comment.
I don’t really mean to start a big thing — I understand the valid point SRJB’s making about apparent misuses of power with regard to people Mr. Friend appears to have favorited. And I think her question was intended ironically, not offensively. I just feel like there are precious few people in this conversation talking about things from the point of view of practicing Wiccans. And I imagine practicing Wiccans, or pagans in general, don’t really appreciate the subtle ironies of Salem Witch Trials references, and more than other minorities appreciate subtle references to mass murders involving their predecessors.
I cannot believe that someone is still addressing me after I left the conversation more than 24 hours ago. I am still laughing for what I read yesterday, when someone not fully aware of his/her comic sense, wrote “Marina… or should I call you John!”. My boyfriend keeps calling me John now… Anyway: thank you for praising my English, even while trying to say that I am some doungerous AY representative. Once again: I am just a curious person (hence the “cat” in my name), I am of course intrigued by this whole story. Plus, I’m a journalist, so curiosity is a mindform for me, just like answering and saying what I think is. But, since, either as a journalist and as a person, I do not cover gossip, I dared writing that this whole thing was getting morbid for me. But you all seemed so touched, so aggressive, so shocked, that maybe I am the one who’s wrong and I will re-think my dismissing this topic as of no longer so important.
Anyway, if your apologies were sincere, I accept them, and hope that, should I be so stupid and naive to post other comments to other posts of this blog in the future, I won’t be accused to be “Wendy”(???), or “someone from the online response team”, and even John Friend himself. It is not THAT funny.
yes, Irm, I am Italian. No, I do not know if I am “innocent”. Thanks again for doubting it from the way I write. BTW, my current yoga teacher is English, she teaches in english, and not even anusara 🙂
I haven’t read all back through this thread, so I have no idea what this is all about, but you said — “mindform”?
No self-respecting “journalist” would use such a cheesy word. But anyway, please folks, don’t do flame-wars. It’s such a waste of space.
I am Italian, English isn’t my mothertongue. Sorry to offend your taste with my “cheesy” choice of words. I am sure that your Italian is a lot more elegant than my English is.
Anyway, peace and love…
Never expected to find so much aggressiveness in a yoga blog
Marina, I had a similar reaction to some of these threads, initially. The vitriol surprised me quite a bit. And disheartened me.
I’ve come to see it, though, as the sort of wound-lancing of this whole mess. Painful, not very pretty, but hopefully necessary in some way. It’s an ugly situation — this, I think, is the result.
Maybe that’s right, maybe not. Either way, way to deflect attack with good cheer, yet again!
Thanks Brooke. Nice to read a not aggressive answer 🙂
Is anyone concerned that it appears the trademark, ‘Anusara’ looks like it might be sold soon to perhaps the highest bidder. It’s interesting to me that the community of teachers who are still ‘on board’ and loyal to the name Anusara don’t seem interested in this most important transition.
It appears to me that John Friend has abandoned his post as leader and is going to sell the trademark for as much as possible to afford his break from teaching.
That none of the teachers are coming out in protest seems to me to appear as though they’re wondering around leaderless. I invite them to take this thing by the horns and own it or I suppose they can wait around for the next ‘leader’ to follow.
Darren, you seem to know something is going on. Whatup?
That was the point in John’s letter I found most confusing. I was a little unclear as to how one finds a third party who isn’t associated in any way with John Friend, yet is still a member of the community (or “within the community”? Forget exactly how he phrased it.)
I don’t find it quite as disturbing as you do, mostly because I can’t envision who this third party might be. But I’d certainly like a little more clarity about it.
The commodification of yoga continues… I predict that Sonia Tudor Jones and her sugar daddy Paul Tudor Jones II of Tudor Investment Corp. (a multi-billion-dollar hedge-fund empire) will acquire Anusara Inc. and merge the business with the Jois Yoga chain. If my prediction is correct Jois Yoga will decide what brand assets to keep or discard, develop messaging about the merger, train staff on the message, set up interviews with bloggers, implement a visual identity, and reassess strategy. The “coven” will not be on the transition team.
And why not? Your prediction is as correct as any others found here, there, and elsewhere. Of course to shut this conversation down the Empire Must Strike Back! Except I see you’re still holding on to that whole “Anusara Coven” meme. I have it on good gossip authority that was the check-out line attention grabbing headline settled on for the latest issue of Yoga Enquirer. The reality was the enlightened ones were sitting around in Spedos eating Cheetos while having a bitch-fest deconstruction of “The Secret”. Of course it was men on one side and women on the other. At least that’s what they did at Kripalu until the Guru was outed for his power-sex-money thing, though I understand teh gays were happy with the arrangement.
Ick. A corporate acquisition. That’s the worst thing that could happen and the best thing, too. At least there could be no confusion regarding the role of money.
Anusara is a big money making machine that JF has created. Power, sex and money go togeter. Anusara, Inc. is deeply embedded in illusion where no clear insight or clarity can be found. There are many wonderful Anusara teachers (or ex teachers) but several that I see are completely out of touch with the basic teachings of yoga (and I don’t mean asana). Their websites are beautiful and their words are uplifting but there is no substance underneath. They are PR and marketing geniuses (check out Amy Ippoliti’s infomercial on her website) but not spiritual leaders or yoga teachers. The JF scandal is simply a natural evolution. You can’t make something spiritual by dressing it up with words like shakti, shri, lila or yoga.
I saw the current Amy Ippoliti video you refer to. It’s a message to current and budding Anusara teachers? As a primarily home practitioner, I actually hate being adjusted in class UNTILLLLL the teacher, using their divide-and-conquer strategy, starts spending loads of time adjusting the future yoga rock stars in class, and downright ignoring me, to the point of not even suggesting modifications (even though I know home-grown crude ones).
Well, if Anusara is so adjustment-happy, I am totally fine with having never experienced Anusara yoga. Dharma-Mittra-inspired is too rich for my blood in that department, already.
I think after I’d left off taking OM Yoga classes, they started getting adjustment-happy. Just WHAT is going on in yogaland, anyhow?
The thing that’s weird about Amy Ippoliti is that she celebrates competitiveness while claiming to have the larger goal of getting as many people on the mat as possible. She says that competitive drives creativity and access to yoga IF you’re not an asshole about it — sure, okay. But in competition, in order for there to be winners there MUST be losers, and no one in America arrives on an equal playing field. Not matter how “skillfull” you get (and she wants you to buy her coaching vids to get there! Just like Elena and the rest!), this is not a meritocracy. Being under forty-five, thin, pretty, white, and from an educated middle-class background gives ALL such competitors advantages. Yet Anusaris esp. continue to simply ignore race/class privilege differentials the same way John Friend and his lovers wanted to ignore the power differential between teacher and student. They are purblind, self-seeking, insular, and hypocritical. Anusara will be brought down by the continued refusal to cop to its own internal contradictions. Amy Ippoliti (a good friend of Walyon Lewis) doesn’t want just a more ethical yoga; she wants to keep her high octane, high-income career. She wants to keep WINNING, like Charlie Sheen. This isn’t about people wanting to teach yoga to many different kinds of students of different bodies, ages, and abilities in old church basements, wearing cut off sweats and tank tops. This is about rich white women who want to get out from under one corrupt guy so they can be queens of their own castles. The tiaras have yet to come off.
As a student of dance, also, a partial workaround to the claims of “privilege” is to be a young, suburban wigger with loads of music and dance talent:
Though this one is merely an Anusara-“Inspired” teacher, which I guess, is something “lesser” in Anusaraland
Yeah that’s SAD — they dance well, but the guy can’t rap worth shit. This is like Anusara goes Vanilla Ice. But yeah, there’s more and more of this stuff the more yoga criss-crosses with the world of dance and performance and advertising. A lot of times now I expect to see copies of teachers’ “head shots” around the studios — they’re more and more often aspiring actresses and dancers gone half to seed. And god knows the little profiles of (ahem) the “writers” over on EJ — though some attempt to be silly and funny — read like the typical profiles of actors who find on the programs of theater productions. It’s all show biz now.
I totally agree, but remember that the AY meltiness is all that Amy and others know. As they de-programme they will come to see that the merry band , see only good, shri (whatever that is), glitter, unfounded superiority and “inner body bright” was just babble that got them high and that they were played by JF. He’s been a con man all along. As DebW said, he’s the Wizard of Oz. I hope they will spread their wings, venture out, meet the much greater yoga community that sees life as it really is and be able to find a new home free of Anusara pablum.
Yeah, I bet JF alternately praised and castigated (and/or ignored) his proteges, too. A silver-tongued demagogue doling out intermittent reinforcement. Playing them the way a gambler plays a series of slots or blackjack tables in Vegas. No wonder this is taking so very long for the community to process.
I agree, there are so many layers of this insidious dysfunctional mess, and it will take a while to process.
As Bernadette Birney explored in one of her recent blogs http://bernadettebirney.com/2012/03/under-the-influence.html, people have to do self-inquiry and see when and how they were drinking the kula-aid. It takes some time to adjust your world view & de-programm from Anuland jargon. The fairy dust was sprinkled over every experience, invalidating anything that didn’t fit into the glow of it all.
“they were played by JF. He’s been a con man all along. ”
“I bet JF alternately praised and castigated (and/or ignored) his proteges, too. A silver-tongued demagogue doling out intermittent reinforcement. ”
One of my AY teacher friends told me how JF would sometimes overly praise her, put her on a pedestal for no particular reason which made her uncomfortable. The next workshop he would embarrass her in public, which would make her mad, of course. (But she had never told me that before; it was usually just about how great Anusara always was, being invited to his special invitation-only beach parties for his 50th etc.)
We have heard enough from Brian to see JF’s impatient, unfair & disrespectful behavior with people he employed (read: used) .
It is that unpredictability of the narcissistic leader that keeps people in line and vying for his favors, in the world of cults. Fear is all pervasive. As Elena Brower put it in the Huffington Post, she apologized for having stayed so long, mostly for fear for her standing in the yoga world.
The praise end can be damning, really. It makes the other students secretly hate you. My teacher praised my impeccable, perfect alignment once (her words) and the other trainees distanced themselves from me. I could feel their eyes rolling. But then, just as you describe, the next day I would be rudely condemned for some petty ‘infraction’.
IRM, thanks for reminding that Elena Brower did apologize. It’s easy to forget that given her resentment toward YD.
That’s really all I would be hoping for. Some honest apologies. Since I was getting sucked into some of the Anusara fear tactics you describe, I want to be understanding toward others especially if they help clarify, and not obscure or sugar-coat the situation.
Eileen & Brooke,
The name Anusara is trademarked. It’s probably going to sell for a fair pile of money. It’s owned by shivashakti LLC. I don’t know who owns that. In any case whoever buys the trademark Anusara will have potentially tremendous power over the way that business and all of its teachers conduct themselves. I just think it’s important at this point to keep in mind that this is a ‘for profit’ corporation not
unlike any other in this country. It’s not a non-profit community organization. Legally this corporation shares more in common with a fast food chain than it does with a non profit or church.
I think it’s sad and potentially damaging that many young women who became teachers may still be a part something to which they have very little power. John Friend and his comrades spoke so much about empowerment and yet seemed to pull this clever brand name ownership manuever. It’s incredably dis-empowering to so many energetic and truly loving young women who are trying to make a go of it.
I feel in a bind because I want to continue to applaud and empower so many young women for being in business, yet I can’t ingore that they’re potentially towing a line for an unkown business entity. I also think they’re more empowered presently than they realize. Agreement amoung all the remaining teachers about what course they wanted to take would be powerful. I don’ t mean to not include the young men. They play equally important a role. It’s just remarkable that their seems to exist this moment when so many women have appeared empowered both in business and in spirituality. I hope that doesn’t die with the loss of thier leadership. I also hope that if Anusara continues the gang gets a deeper grip on hhumility.
Thanks, Darren. That’s … quite a lot to think about.
I hadn’t really considered the gender ironies, here — this many women, particularly young women, holding licenses to in essence distribute a brand. You’re right. That’s a whole lot of power. I’m hoping they can harness it.
Don’t know about the shivashakti LLC business, as of last week on the US Govn’mnt website these are the 4 trademarks found with the word Anusara:
Music, tapes, cassettes: Registration Number 3136921
Registration Date August 29, 2006
Owner (REGISTRANT) Friend, John INDIVIDUAL
Clothing: Registration Number 3093600
Registration Date May 16, 2006
Owner (REGISTRANT) Friend, John INDIVIDUAL
Retail store and on-line services:
Registration Number 3073986
Registration Date March 28, 2006
Owner (REGISTRANT) Friend, John INDIVIDUAL
Manuals and books: Registration Number 2634294
Registration Date October 15, 2002
Owner (REGISTRANT) Friend, John INDIVIDUAL
It appears to me that John Friend, Individual owns them all. There were many reasons that I decided to not follow the path to certification but for me one of the most important ones was this situation of ownership and I really couldn’t get an answer to my question of what would happen to Anusara if something happened to John? My concern was that I would make a huge commitment with my time and money and possibly find sometime in the future some new owner charging a ridiculous yearly fee. Teaching is one of many part-time jobs that pay the bills here in my humble home and if my “membership fee” took a large percentage of those meager earnings then that whole aparigraha stuff would be a distraction to my service. And too the Malti-Gurumayii-SYDA crap. Having been with a cult like group at one time and witnessed the deceit and unhealthy dysfunctional relationships that developed within the “elders of the collective” I decided that way wasn’t for me. The Landmark information is something new, that would also have caused me to hesitate. Remember kids there’s nothing secret in the internet age. Doing the Google is the yoga of knowledge. “The true teacher lies within and without.”
Whatever registrations are on the net now could be very dated.
Who knows what the current status might be of the trademarks, how they have been used as collateral or, ? As we speculate, JF’s attorney’s are very busy.
There are filings by Siva-Shakti LLC for Anusara, Anusara Yoga in several categories. (not all posted here) The Woodlands, TX address is Anusara the office. The correspondent for all registrations are
LINDA B. TAKAHASHI
NARVID SCOTT SCHWARTZ & FRANGIE, LLC (law firm)
Word Mark: ANUSARA
SECTION 8 & 15-ACCEPTED AND ACKNOWLEDGED
Serial Number: 76550182
Filing Date: 10/8/2003
Registration Number: 3093600
Registration Date: 5/16/2006
Goods and Services: Men and women’s clothing, namely, exercise clothing, namely, pants, shorts, tops, shirts, tee shirts [, jogging suits and undergarments, sleepwear ]
Mark Description: NOT AVAILABLE
Type Of Mark: TradeMark
Published For Opposition Date: 7/5/2005
Last Applicant/Owner: SHIVA-SHAKTI, LLC
THE WOODLANDS, TX 77380
Why is this contact information displayed?
Mark Drawing Code: Typeset (Words/letter/Number)
Design Search: (NO DATA)
Register Type: Principal
Disclaimer: (NOT AVAILABLE)
LINDA B. TAKAHASHI
NARVID SCOTT SCHWARTZ & FRANGIE, LLC
15060 VENTURA BOULEVARD, SUITE 490
SHERMAN OAKS, CA. 91403
WORD MARK: Anusara Yoga
Serial Number: 76193870
Filing Date: 1/12/2001
Registration Number: 2634294
Registration Date: 10/15/2002
Goods and Services: Manuals and books in the fields of yoga and meditation
Published For Opposition Date: 7/23/2002
Last Applicant/Owner: SHIVA-SHAKTI, LLC
THE WOODLANDS, TX 77380
When checking the Shiva-Shakti, LLC status on-line Delaware boldly states in red that “This is not a statement of good standing” and from what I gather (not familiar with legal terms and meanings) could mean Delaware isn’t sure that Shiva-Shakti even exists. Also you’re correct in that the trademarks were transferred a year ago. Of course one could pay a $20 fee to Delaware to get more conclusive information.
I am still surprised to see that so many here are so critical of Mr. Friend. I am not sure what you think it is that he did wrong. You must understand that the true root of yoga is essentially sex. If this offends you, then perhaps you are still clinging to the religious and moral ideals of your European ancestors. It is true that many western yoga schools are apt to cover this up or skirt around it, but that is likely simply for the purposes of providing an appealing product to their audiences. Furthermore, I see a lot of people talking about yoga being about whatever they want it to be about. This is somewhat of a loose and modern interpretation on our historical values. Yoga is religious, no one can stop that. And it is sexual. If you don’t like it, perhaps you should learn cricket or something else. Also, some people have expressed concern regarding Mr. Friend being essentially a warlock. Once again, yoga is religious. How are you surprised if a master practitioner of it like Mr. Friend is
also a master of certain religious practices? At its beginning, the religion from which yoga sprang was somewhat specific about the names of the gods. Mr. Friend practiced yoga well, but he is like some other westerners who have renamed the gods. If you look into satanism, you will see that yoga is required in order to get in touch with Sathan. Their practice of it appears also to be more closely allied to the true root of the tantric than the watered down versions that abound in the West. Do not get me wrong, it is still all the same. It is just that you may not find yourself as successful in aligning with Brahma (or as to Mr. Friend, Sathan) as you would be if you practiced the purer form.
Also, you must know that neither the tantric nor the “sex magick ritual” (as described by the satanists) demand that one stay within marital boundaries. In fact, most who practice dilligently find such a thing to be rather inconvenient. You will not find the Dalai Lama teaching methods that have been watered down to suit westerners who still cling to their old religion and moralities. And so once again, in my mind, Mr. Friend’s practice of the arts is higher than those who complain of him. And Americans should either return to their old western religious beliefs or indulge in the true religious beliefs of yoga. You even see on this site that they are practicing naked yoga in New York. At least those individuals understand what yoga is really about.
“at least they know what yoga is about” ..sounds like “my yoga is better than yours”. We all water down what we aren’t prepared to understand. That’s part of the evolution of awareness…I understand students not being open to the sexual components of yoga, in general we are all conditioned to hide sexual desires. Rama, I appreciate your comments but as an awakening practitioner, I feel my path is valid as any, even if im married and have yet to take a naked yoga class…although id like to 🙂
Dearest Peaceforall, I hope I have not offended you. I am just trying to be helpful as well as to gain understanding of the various cultures. And I do wish to see people being more fair to Mr. Friend. Who is the most at fault in these situations, one must ask? People must take responsibility for their own actions. The women who learned from Mr. Friend should simply have told their husbands that they wanted to have sex with the instructor. It would have been easier for the husbands to understand if they (and all Westerners) had known that yoga is truly about sex, which practically speaking, is often extramarital. It would just be a lot easier if people were expressly invited to either join the new religion or to stick to what they are most comfortable with. Also, there appears to be a lot of jealousy in the average Western family. Many of the women would not be happy with their husbands practicing yoga with other females. These things need to be discussed and worked out before hand. That
would be more fair than blaming and abusing the practitioners who, according to the true art, are not deviating from established protocol.
Also, dear Peaceforall, it is not a question of “my yoga” against “yours”. All yoga is one. The heart of it will be reached by all of its various practitioners in time. Perhaps some are just overzealous and impatient for that time.
Are you really serious about this? I can’t quite believe I am reading this stated in such a casual way, as if everyone should know about this by now, and we are just not clued in to how yoga, or as you say “the new religion” should be practiced.
“The women who learned from Mr. Friend should simply have told their husbands that they wanted to have sex with the instructor.” When asked, JF admitted himself that the husband of a woman to whom he so kindly offered “sex therapy” said that it was “totally out of bounds”. I guess you are suggesting it should just be worked out amicably ahead of time – well, I don’t want to say that is impossible, but extramarital affairs are known to be quite a strain on most committed relationships. Marriage counselors usually don’t recommend them, to my knowledge.
“Also, there appears to be a lot of jealousy in the average Western family.” Are you saying that for the average Indian married couple, having extramarital sex with one’s yoga instructor is the normal state of affairs? Until now, that hasn’t been my picture of Indian society & tradition. And the Dalai Lama whom you brought up in your previous post, would back this all up?
Earlier you said: “I am still surprised to see that so many here are so critical of Mr. Friend. I am not sure what you think it is that he did wrong.”
Like, for instance, lying about his affairs left & right, bending people to his will, commanding them to lie & cover up for him, stalking & discrediting those who had fallen out of favor, manipulate, orchestrate a dictatorial reign of terror where people lived in fear, not pay pension plans while hypocritically boasting about the wonderful benefit programs at Anusara Inc, etc etc. Or as Yoga Mama put it, let’s get back to “what is really at the crux of this AY mess, i.e, narcissism, favoritism, blackballing, general misuse of power and not primarily about JF’s sex life although that is pretty raunchy too.”
JF was acting “according to the true art”? I would say this leaves a lot of room for discussion…
… or LOL, as Yoga Mama said. Well, laughter is good medicine, & comic relief doesn’t hurt for all of us following the conversation.
I took the liberty to copy and paste from the post on disinformation above in response to Ramakrishnan.
8. Invoke authority. Claim for yourself or associate yourself with authority and present your argument with enough ‘jargon’ and ‘minutia’ to illustrate you are ‘one who knows’, and simply say it isn’t so without discussing issues or demonstrating concretely why or citing sources.
-note his use of the Dalai Lama, and calling friend a “master practitioner”. Some might disagree with that characterization of friend.
13. Alice in Wonderland Logic. Avoid discussion of the issues by reasoning backwards or with an apparent deductive logic which forbears any actual material fact.
– general statement on Ramakrishnan’s comment
Oh yes and this one too (from the rules of disinformation):
1. Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.
-I think ramakrishnan’s response (part of the JF response team no doubt) fits this well as IRM points out.
I think Ramakrihnan is pulling our (collective yoga pants draw) strings and doing stand up comedy. At least I hope so…
“It’s all about your naughty bits…It’s also all about kinky superstar “gurus,” sexual healing and drug-crazed orgies where everyone gets naked, sleeps with married people and prays to weird Hindu gods with ten arms, flaming red tongues and giant stone phalluses that crazed devotees pour lots of milk, butter, honey and flowers all over as regular ritual. I know! What’s not to like?”
Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2012/02/29/notes022912.DTL&ao=all#ixzz1pzQjhjAh
Please join my Tantric yoga sex cult, Mark Morford – San Francisco Chronicle
Many Blessings and Loving Light. Many Blessings and oh you want Anusara to be a fortune 500 company when you know the dishonesty by the leader. Bottom line. They do not practice what they preach.
“perhaps you should learn cricket or something else”.
Perhaps you should let JF bend over and start kissing his arse. I am sure you love to do that.
Its all about money right?
“Mr. Friend being essentially a warlock”
hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. all the women want one thing. to be certified. Put up with him until you are certified and then split so he can find another hole to fill.
I live in San Diego, CA. Instead of going to the beach Surfing, or riding my bike I think I will play cricket. That sounds so much fun!
That sounds exactly Like going to Thailand to eat Mexican food.
Oh, for the life of me I have just never run across so much childish negativity–and all over this silly dust-up!
Waylon says this thing is just about winding down. People could take a lesson from his elevated and expansive vista. Back to your mats, folks.
Penny, why are you transparently trying to dismiss the issue and get us to move on? Are you part of the JF response team? Waylon is a JF shill. Of course he wants it to go away. We do not wish for that to happen. We do not wish to go back to business as usual. If you were on your mat, you might develop the consciousness to understand why that is important. But then, you are not on your mat.
The person who posted JFexposed.com to me should be commended!!!!!! Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you!
Hey Penny, Seriously, going to a yoga class still makes me kind of ill.
I would rather go to the Beach or to the park instead of being inside a yoga studio.
Hey plus 99% of most yoga teachers I told “hey i have had a craniotomy when I was 14” really have no idea what that is.
Brian, in fairness, most people who aren’t doctors don’t know what a craniotomy is. You weren’t really expecting your yoga teachers to recognize the word off the bat, were you?
IN FAIRNESS. JOHN FRIEND WAS NOT FAIR. YES I DO EXPECT A YOGA TEACHER TO KNOW ABOUT SERIOUS HEAD INJURIES. Yoga teachers should know! JUST LIKE JOHN FRIEND SHOULD HAVE. JF JUST DID NOT GIVE A F8888.
I QUESTION EVERYTHING.
I LIVE IN SAN DIEGO, CA AND WILL NOT SHUT UP.
THE WORLD SHOULD KNOW ABOUT MY EXPERIENCE!!!
this is the exact reason yoga teachers Should have STRICT training and requirements!!!! I could care less if a yoga teacher says “in loving light” “nameste” “etc etc Indian words”
What I care about is their education. How much real Training Does JF have?????? Or did he make that up too?
John Friend It looks like spent 2 months in India training?????? Where is the real training folks??????
Where is his continuing education?????? Both Doctors and Massage therapists have to continue with their education by law.
Looks like all Mr Friend wants to do is sales. Eat, Be Glutton, and Shag everyone s girlfriend or Wife.
The founder of Anusara Yoga is a Scumbag!
The ice cold court of public opinion is not easily satisfied. Leave us to relish this dust-up!
“Back to your mat, folks?”
You sound like you’re saying, really, “Shut up and get back to work.” or “Go to your room.”
Oh, the condescension. I thought we had at least taken down the arrogance in the yoga world a little. Then you show up.
And “Waylon says?” So what? ” Waylon” has cynically and openly milked this whole thing to get more membership $ for his site. He’s as much of a profiteer as John Friend, just at a smaller scale. AND he’s a bit of a petulant, pompous weenie.
“Waylon says?” It sounds like “My DADDY says—” Is he your daddy? You poor dear girl. Go home.
Sure, Waylon is a pompous weenie profiteer, and he works in bad faith, pretending to be far more virtuous than he really is. There’s so much T&A on his site. In the name of the “sex positive” aspect of Tantra, he’s created a site of soft porn for upperlcass whitegirl yoginis. An exercise in exhibitionistic narcissism. Yeah “grrrrrls,” asana looks sexier with pasties! You fools. Waylon Lewis is making plenty of money off you. He’s your daddy all right — your pimp.
And what about *you*, yourself, Penny? Do *you* think this thing is “just winding down?”
Perhaps it is. Perhaps it’s not. But it strikes me that it’s probably a good idea to come to your own conclusion on the matter rather than citing someone else’s. He’s welcome to his opinion, as you are to yours, as the people in this conversation are to theirs. They’re clearly of the opinion that, for them, this thing is still going strong. That’s their take, and they have the right to it.
We don’t respond so well over here to commands from an “elevated and expansive vista”, directed downwards to the “silly childish”commenters.
You managed to put quite a few offensive statements into just two sentences. . .
This ain’t winding down until public opinion is satisfied and has seen sufficient accountability. You are welcome to go back to your mat where you will not have to be bothered by our discussion.
I think I gifted a generous measure of patience in my choice of words. But I have a saying: It’s good medicine if it tastes bad to the ones that need it.
Point: When we have access to a clarion voice, a voice such as Waylon’s, we need not and we DO NOT apologize for invoking the wisdom of that voice. If you are not resonating with that wisdom and integrity, then you have the option to elevate your vista.
Point: Some of us are making a conscious evolution toward what I call the Clearing. When we step into the Clearing we have a responsibility to help others step up, too. Gossip, mud wallowing, and disrespect for the mindful community are simply not accepted at this tier.
Point: If my comments seem ‘directed downward”, that is the direction YOU require conscious beings to speak to you from. Try sweetening up your act a little, and the medicine might taste a little sweeter.
@ Penny Im not sure you are really being serious and not just trying to wind people up , goad them , are you ? not very high vista if you are is it Penny ?
This missive has alot of the Anusaran cult babble and methodology of misinformation , first your little made up saying about medicine , just makes no sense , and with these empty sayings they can be twisted to mean whatever you want and we know who is skilled in that dont we ? Your first line is incredibly patronising , I think perhaps you imagine yourself to be more evolved but you are coming across as smug , superior above others if you will and we know who displays attitudes like this dont we Penny ?
This second paragraph makes me think you are not serious , do you really think Waylon has a clarion voice , sure he is a protector of anusara and john friend and therefore onside but this paragraph is quite amusing , im sure waylon serves some function and anusara /friend have no doubt contributed with dollars over the years , conflicts of interest maybe ? but ej actually lowers the vista of yoga and the like , if you cant see this , some education and sadhana might be in order , its only my opinion , and if you can explain exactly how waylon heightens any vista im all ears , you are not serious are you penny ?
The third paragraph is pure anusara speak , again the speaking down to people who are not in your group , us the dirty little people spoiling your delusion , what you had going , how you were going to run the yoga show , self entitlement and this manic need to help and show others , the ones that dont know or understand your teachings , scary stuff penny and as you know nothing to do with liberation and everything to do with power and subjugation , and we know who uses these methods. The stepping up and into where did you learn to speak like that ? are you just copying someones elses words how about stepping into your own truth rather than parrotting jfs anusaraspeak , just a suggestion from one being to another , and we know who likes these high sounding empty blandishments dont we Penny ?
Then finally the coup de grace , the passive aggresive , the knowing whats best for others , the oh so kind offering of advice , from the one who knows , so anusaran and i speak of the cult like behaviour i, I do realise that lots of people in the Group did not have these traits and were caught up in some thing that was pernicious , nasty , made up and the vehicle for one mans ego , It is these people that my heart goes out to , the disinformation and false promises that were handed out so easily, it is because of them and the ones that are still being indoctrinated and indeed the ones about to be indoctrinated that a need to commentate on this sordid tale needs to continue. You seem angry that people are shining a light into some dark corners , do you wish to stifle and control the discussion because we know who liked to that dont we penny ?
Hey Penny John Friend needs to quit eating so much Cheese Quesadillas. Penny he is getting FAT? Stop trying to talk so big. I have a head injury and I do not care.
How can you look up to a leader who made everything up? How long did John Friend spend in India? 2 months? What is he real life training? Hanging out with other yoga teachers?
I questioned the REAL WORLD knowledged and the certified knowledge.
The people are fake, totally obvious JOHN FRIEND is fake.
A true leader would have been super nice. Someone super nice does not LIE.
Remember I have the Audio For the Texas Work Force Commision. I cross examined JOHN FRIEND and he Flat OUT LIES UNDER OATH.
YOU REALLY THINK I WOULD HAVE RELOCATED TO THE WOODLANDS TEXAS FOR PART TIME WORK?
JOHN FRIEND IS A SCUMBAG AND KARMA KARMA KARMA
JOHN FRIEND YOU LOSER KARMA IS GOING TO GET YOU!
THE HUSBANDS SHOULD ALSO GET JOHN FRIEND.
ALL THE WOMEN THAT JOHN FRIEND ABUSED SHOULD GET JOHN FRIEND
JOHN FRIEND IS A SCUMBAG AND SHOULD PAY FOR HIS CRIMES.
DOWN WITH JOHN FRIEND AND THE WHOLE ORGANIZATION OF ANUSARA INC.
EVERYTHING ABOUT IT STINKS LIKE DISHONESTY!!!!!
I’ll make this short because I just think I don’t have the strength today to answer all of those insults one by one.
Why is Waylon’s a clarion voice? Because mean diatribes like yours are recognized for what they are over at EJ. Heard of ‘Walk the Talk’? I have feelings to, you know. Waylon has the wisdom to know that and keeps people from getting hurt over at his site. And so what’s wrong if he wants to gift John with protection from cruelty too?
I’m glad I gave you a good laugh. Not. You won’t be bothered by me again. I can tell when I’m not welcomed or appreciated.
Hey Penny! Thanks for giving me a laugh this morning as I surf the net during coffee. You’re a brainless ass! HA HA HA! You should have been born 300 years ago, so you coulda colonized the Native Americans “for their own good!” Same filthy superior mentality! Holier than thou Waylon Lewis temple ho! Tell your master to get off the pipe — he’s losing it.
Awww, listen, Penny/Waylon, whomever,
You really shouldn’t try to write er, “articles” on EJ or “comments” on ED when you’re toked, dude. or “grrrrrl”
I don’t think you’re serious, but even so, you’re pathetic. Your articles have a tone of hysteria to them even worse than the most badly-spelled online jerkoff sessions over there or here. Take your little lectures — you, Kate, and all your writers — and shove them.
Just as I let no one tell me what to do with my body, I don’t let anyone tell me what/how to think.
Nobody can say anything critical over on Wailin’s site w/o one of these pissant lectures from these arrogant twits, or a snotty bitchy comment from Wailin’ himself.
Yeah, Pennywise, tell us once again how showing whitegirls showin’ tits and pussy on EJ is liberating and “womaning up.” Tell us how if we raise an eyebrow as smart women and men about that, we must be”scared of sex.”
Listen, pissant, you didn’t invent sex. Or spirituality. Or social consciousness. Or ANYTHING. Your site is shite, Wailin.
Yeah, tell us once again, Wailin’, how you’re trying to do journalism. Uh huh — you and Geraldo Rivera. He’s an “equalist” too.
All I can think about EJ is, look at that fucking hipster!
My experience doing yoga with john friend in the woodland tx:
JF is always on the cell phone.
JF is always answering the cell phone.
JF is not even paying attention to my poses.
JF is interested in the old women they are interested in him ( a handful)
JF is trying to talk about religion and the women who are older than him are not even questioning him.
I am there thinking “WTF” is this a dream. Are these people that stupid?????? Its the year 2005)
JF answer his phone a few more times.
The worst yoga I have ever done in my life!
All the Yoga Classes with JF were lame because he thought I was his slave. Have you ever been a slave. Its not very fun.
I traded half my salary to learn yoga from that idiot.
All I found out is John Friend only cares about John Friend
I do not know Mr. Friend, nor have I ever met him. I don’t wish to justify all of his actions. In fact, I must admit that in my mind, I have focused primarily on the methods of his practice and the related spirituality. My view is that practitioners should not lie to their clients or associates. It is being made clear that lies were propagated there, and this is not appropriate in my mind. It appears though that his lies were for the purposes of appeasing people with different moral views as much as possible. I am referring to the sexual things. I am not really very focused on the business, as it should be clear that money complicates things. How many practitioners are open with their clients about the sexual nature of yoga? Also, one should not expect instructors to be gods. Even the gods of the religion were never expected to adhere to the moral codes that Western practitioners expect of each other.
Regarding marital fidelity in India, what are you referring to as a traditional family? And what do you know of these religious practices, particularly regarding yoga and the tantric? It is clear that you are superimposing your Western ideals upon those of a different culture. India is not all Bollywood. Hindu is not Western Christianity. The Hindu gods did not act like your Jesus. I can only imagine how little you would understand Kali or other deeper beliefs of the region. When you want to understand this religion, study its source. This is why I say that Mr. Friend’s practice of Wicca/Satanism is more true to the ideal. Study it and the historical Hindu beliefs and you will understand. This is the problem with watering down yoga, many are only “dabblers”, very disconnected indeed from the root.
Rama, I think all experience is valid, even if not at the root. If one is unable to see, some vision gained is better than none. I think that anger is an appropriate response when lied to and not all western women are jealous. JF was selfish, not honoring an ancient tradition. We agree that there is only one yoga, but I see many paths to it, all are valid.
Why are you lumping Wicca and Satanism together? It is my understanding that Wicca is not, and has never been, a Satanic faith. Please fact check the Christian propaganda machine.
Dear SRJB, I am sorry if I have offended you. I must admit that I am far from an expert on Satanism or Wicca. I have just been studying them lately, particularly Satanism, as its methods and practices are so close to the non-Westernized Hindu. I had found it interesting that according to joyofsatan.com, yoga is required in order to get in touch with their god. So I assume that Brahma and their god are one. Also, don’t certain Wicca practitioners feel the same way? I assume that you are one? When doing research, I see that Wicca and Satanism are often linked on the same page and parts of the same discussion. Both also bear similarities, like the use of the pentagram. It also seems that many Satanists feel that Wicca is watered down satanism, kind of like Westernized yoga, and that the Satanists have the true witchcraft. Do not believe that I am trying to be critical or offend, I am just explaining what I have seen. I am curious, will you let me see a website with your branch of Wicca on it?
Ramakrishna — I appreciate your willingness to undertake religious research. But I’d be a little more careful about some of your parallels.
One of the most interesting points of similarity, to me, between Wicca and Satanism as we know and define them today is that they are both 20th century amalgamations of, and in some ways reinterpretations of, more ancient beliefs and practices. In that way — as 20th century, mostly Western expansions of older beliefs — they did influence each other’s development, but it’s inaccurate to call them the same religion. It’s also important in your analysis to take into consideration that even if the genesis of their beliefs is ancient, in their current, organized, state-recognized form, they’re incredibly young. They were also profoundly influenced by the personalities and personal beliefs of the handful of people who were responsible for their rise to prominence in the early part of the last century. So I’d be very, very careful before you conclusively compare anything you find in either set of beliefs to the Hindu Godhead. I’m not saying don’t make the comparison. Just … vet your sources a little more clearly, before you do.
If you haven’t already, do a little research into Aleister Crowley, and see what you come up with. He’s a foundational influence on all modern occultists and, even if indirectly, all modern pagans. His proponents included Anton LaVey, the guy who founded the Church of Satan, and Gerald Gardner, who was largely responsible for the development of Wicca into a recognized religion in Britain.
The Scholars and the Goddess
Historically speaking, the “ancient” rituals of the Goddess movement are almost certainly bunk
By CHARLOTTE ALLEN
I would like to see some more support for what you are saying and the reason is that I just don’t believe it. I really don’t know that much about Wicca, but I’m pretty sure it involves living in balance with the 5 elements of nature. And I thought that was the main thing, right there. Nothing about enlightement or samdhi. Wiccans, correct me if I’m off, please.
There are elements to yoga that involve the balance of pranas or elements, but that is not the end, it is just one means to the end of either enlightenment or of attainment of siddhis.
You are quite correct in pointing out that sexual rites had a place in Tantra and that it’s important to look at this honestly and not pretend. Yogis were not well looked upon across the board in India. They were sometimes considered spell casters and masters of curses and also of possession, as well as saints. But, from my reading of several of the recent books about the history of yoga, one thing that is certain is that there were many yogas. Much has been obscured since yoga was rather crushed by the British. (Yogi ascetic clans were in competition with British companies for trade lines.) What we have now is a fitness/health revival that was meant for consumption in the West.
And what I’m getting to is that, while yoga’s history would definitely make some Christians squirm, it is not remotely Satanism or even Wicca. That a modern Wiccan would say you need yoga to “do” Wicca actually proves my point. Where is the European pagan historical equivalent of yoga asana or pranayama? There isn’t one. Surely exercises such as these would have carried on or been co-opted to some degree by Rome, just as some elements of pagan celebrations were absorbed.
Add to that, that Christianity as first practiced might not be what some people nowadays think it is, and there opens the possibility that Christianity isn’t what it “says” it is, either. I love that you are educating people about the side of yoga that is not compatible with Western Christian mores, but this whole Brahma is Satan thing seems way off base.
Dearest Horst, it is clear that I have unintentionally offended some of the readers here. You must understand that I know very little of Satanism or Wicca, as I mentioned above. To be more precise, my little knowledge of the two is mostly in Satanism. And even that knowledge was acquired primarily over just the last two weeks. I will admit that it is they who had given me essentially all of my assumptions regarding Wicca, at least until another poster was kind enough to provide a link for me. They are the ones who gave me the word “dabble” to describe those who do not go all of the way into their religion. I will stop for a moment to say that it is curious how Wicca and Satanism are so very wary and competitive of each other. (Not to mention how Luciferianism and Satanism are at odds.) And that there almost appears to be a palpable contempt on the part of the Satanists for those who will not go all of the way into their religion. I just imagine that they feel frustrated in their apparently large efforts. And it is also strange how others feel about Satanism, particularly from a tolerant community. It is understandable how such a community would feel about Christianity, which is intolerant, but why is Satanism ostracized? Also, Brooke has said that Satanism is a modern invention. Perhaps formally so, but many of its practices are rather old indeed. Such as yoga. Also it seems that Demonology, which has similar practices, was around as early as the sixteenth century. I found a book about it online. I have heard that there are other books from the fifth century or earlier.
There is a religion here called Unitarianism. This looks like an attempt to bring somewhat divergent religions together. You cannot be surprised to find that there are Hindu Unitarians and those who wish to go farther. I see that there is more in common between the religions of which we speak than the differences. In my mind, they are one. Why do we need to draw sharp lines between the various sects of Hindu? Haven’t we had too much of that already? Why must we see Hindu as fundamentally different from Satanism and both different from Wicca? Why cannot we look more for what these religions have in common rather than what minor differences kept them “at each other’s throats” in the past? This is my interest. To find the root of things, to clear away the minutia. Let us find the core and expose it to all. When I read of the requirements of Satanists to study yoga, this is what brought my interest. And then when I heard about Mr. Friend religious tendencies, I was drawn to investigate further. I know he is not liked here, but he is well known and influential.
As my interests are more religious than exercise-related, perhaps I am forcing myself into the wrong forum. Please provide links to places you think are more specific to my interests and I will not further cloud this specific topic.
Ramakrishnan, forgot to mention:
I just keep getting the impression you are a Christian that is trying to feed the notion that Eastern beliefs are a trick, a tool, of Satan. That is such a common belief among some Christians. Even the use of your word “dabble”. That word is so connected to the American idiom, “dabble in witchcraft”.
And I just find it impossible to believe that a Hindu would minimize the rich heritage of that religion by collapsing it down to an equivalent of Satanism, which is, as Brooke says, a modern invention.
How would you say Hinduism is diverse from Satanism? Any ideas there?
The use of the word darlin threw me…sounds southern usa….not italian
Sorry, I confused which blogger you were referring to. Its just crazy how many bloggers have multiple names they post under, hard to separate out the bs. My bad.
wouldn’t you say, ramakrishnan? maybe friend shouldn’t have been dabbling in those things…know what I’m sayin???
Frankly speaking, that is. cuz this is only just starting…
I like the sound of it, cuz this is only just starting… That could be the standard response to any more posts commanding for voices to die down & for the remaining mess & open questions to be swept back neatly under that big rug.
Congrats! I have to say I’m quite enjoying this kind of “online response team”, or the cold court. Not much gets by here that sounds preachy & stifling, in the vein of telling everyone to go back to their hidey-holes.
Maybe we’ll go a little overboard at times, and yes, maybe we can be a little paranoid … having heard and experienced too much from the lines of the indoctrination police & overly faithful followers.
And maybe it is alright to err little on the other side of the scale, being overly vigilant. That might be the balance that is needed now, after so many years of this particular reign having gone on unchecked.
Too many people for too long had left their discrimination & previous ethics behind.
Someone just posted a short eye witness account of their experience with Patabi Jois on an EJ comment thread under John’s March 20 letter
JF is not the only yoga method founder known for transgressions. But at least his will be well-documented for any future researcher.
I do agree that Mr. Friend should not have been -dabbling- in those things. He should have gone fully into whatever path he chose. If he wanted Western religion, he should have stayed away from yoga. If he wanted the other path, he should have fully and clearly expressed that to everyone so that no one would have been surprised. But instead, I daresay he was not at all explicit with his clients. If he had been fully open about his religious beliefs, no one would have been shocked or upset.
It did “blow up in his face”, as you put it. But others should learn from this mistake, which is my point. Hiding the truth about our religions and their true practices is also likely to blow up in one’s face.
I just think it is time to quit putting a Western spin on yoga. Let the people choose, without varnish, whether or not they want Western religion or if they want this. Watering it down and easing them into it is just as dishonest as Mr. Friend. Find its root, do not hide it like a skeleton in the closet, and then expose your beliefs bare to the eyes of all. If you truly care about yoga, this will not be a problem. You do not need the world’s approval. Some will eagerly rush into your embrace, while the judgmental will do what they have always done. And it is clear that the old Western religion is on its way out for the majority in America anyway. Mr. Friend should have simply said, “Students, choose! Do you want Brahma (or one of his many names) or the Western Jesus?” It is not honest to act as though they are the same and gloss over the heart of the matter. But the Western method makes the water cloudy and says that the religions are similar, or that it is up to you. That is where
it turns into trouble.
friend may be getting an education on the meaning of that word…
Ladies please get a clue! Do not give this creep your hard earned money. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SxfJLk8ptNM&feature=related
That was a disturbing video. That woman was so determined to please — nothing, no pain, would have stopped her, short of her passing out. I was expecting to hear a loud “crack” at any moment.
Very difficult to watch on so many levels. Extremely irresponsible, negligent, careless, unthinking, ignorant, egoistic display, on both the teacher’s and the student’s part.
@Simply: Yes, she looked frightened to death. She was in no state emotionally to be pushed into that pose. Of course, she may have been more scared by the camera and the presence of the yoga god more than the pose itself. But there was JF yammering on, oblivious. If I had to help someone balance I’d use both hands along outer lower ribs or up at shoulders, not with one flat palm just above her mons venerus. One way seems more stabilizing, and the other way seems more pervy. Also, good idea to not pat someone near the rump afterward. It’s saying “good doggy” and “thanks for being a chump” and “thanks for letting me put my hands on that hot belly of yours” all at once.
don’t forget the “grooming” taking place, little touch here, little one there, ur doin’ great honey, maybe swing by the hotel room a bit later to work on that pose…btw: luv the pic of friend that YD used for this article…mmmmm gooooood!
This is getting highly entertaining!! I regret that I will be AWK (video gamers term for Away from Keyboard, I learned) for a few hours. Keep up the good work, please !
“Gavin March 20, 2012 at 6:01 pm
……It really is time to resign this tidious case to the trash cans of our periphery and just get on with it. In Johns defense, I’d like to know how many of you out there can honestly say that you have never or never will fuck up at some stage of your lives, even whilst persuing a yogic life style? Lets admit it now- Is what we practise these days really Yoga or just some kind of Yoga Journal fashion trend/ego boost/personal therapy/callithenics Frankenstein mish mash? Why get so upset about the hypochrisy of it all?”
Gavin, I think it will actually be forgotten much too soon. How many people burned by John Friend and Anusara would have been better forewarned by knowledge and ongoing discussion of all of the other fake gurus? I say, let’s look at it exhaustively from all angles so some of us have a good chance of not getting suckered in again. After all, Anusara had a culture, and an influential one at that. And it’s proponents are still out in the world, “taking the seat of the teacher”, continuing to spread the culture.
I do share your question about what yoga really is nowadays. There’s lots of research proving that what we’re doing is maybe 1/3 traditional asana, 1/3 British calisthenics and gymnastics, and 1/3 Indian wrestling exercises. Asana was already just small part of ‘traditional’ yoga anyway As you say, there’s also now this huge component of American-style self-improvement and lifestyle-expression thrown in.
It’s this self-improvement component, couched in all sorts of flowery verbiage, that I’m starting to think about. Anusara’s brand of self-improvement is similar to the corporate-friendly vision of Landmark Forum and other est-style techniques. It’s all about leading an extraordinary, kick-ass, committed life. And you don’t do that by being the rotten egg that points out what’s wrong. No. You’re “kick-ass” and “rock star” when you rah-rah-rah and show your teacher you are the most fucking amazing cheerleader ever. Complainers are losers.
So, Gavin, it’s not that people are unfairly singling JF out for “fucking up” or that none of us take responsibility for not being perfect. It’s that people that put on airs of having a better connection to the universe because they have perfect alignment need to be called on this shit. It’s not a “fuck up” to be a serial manipulator and liar. It’s a strategy.
What I hope people get out of this is to expect no better from any other brand of yoga. We need to learn to be okay being human so no one can try to sell us on being “extraordinary”. And we need to learn to be okay with being our own spiritual teachers so no one can sell us what we already own.
@NoLemonade and ThirdEye
I didn’t read your post regarding Landmark until I wrote mine already. That is very interesting information… I had already suspected there was some connection since there is similar vocab. like “authenticity”, but I didn’t realize the connections were so tight. “Mutual admiration network” is an excellent description.
I too followed Carol’s posts because it sounded eerily familiar. The longer my yoga teacher (I’m also a teacher) mentored under a top–you’d recognize the name–Anusara teacher, the more programatic she became and the freer she became with arbitrary praise and shunning. Not really arbitrary. Shunning or humiliation was a sure thing if you questioned her on anything or if you failed to read her mind as to what might irritate her at the moment. Her favored students learned to become an exact clone of her, all the way down to catch phrases and actual vocal tones and inflections. Creepy. And it happened so smoothly. It’s the “scandal’ that woke me up to what it was that was happening.
And then, I also know a fairly new Anusara teacher that is real and genuine and not out for glory, so I don’t want to suggest all Anusara teachers incorporate these cultish behaviors.
I love your questioning of what yoga is. I began in Ashtanga, but my teachers slowed it down and took us through a lot of ashtanga-based vinyasa. A core group of twenty students slowly built strength and flexibility together over the years. Then b/c of some longish guest-teacher workshops from a “hard-core” ashtangi, the studio became followers of a more “traditional” path, in which you practice Mysore every single day,a and when you get to the part in the “sequence” when you can’t go further, you just finish your practice with a few last poses and leave. That took my own practice down to about 45 mins. There was no way I could do it every day; I fucking work! Ironic, b/c Ashtanga was supposed to be the house-holder’s yoga. Yet when translated into something you pay to attend at a studio, it gets weird, even w/ a home practice. This may be the “more authentic” Indian way, but there was less instruction and inclusion. I didn’t get help with poses as much. It was more sink or swim. I got an injury at one point just b/c I was pushing it — b/c I loved my yoga community and didn’t want to get up and leave! After that, I had to decide to drop out of ashtanga. I missed it, but the hard-assedness was stupid.
The correspondences in Anusara are the moralistic idiocies attached to the notion of “open to grace.” John Friend drew loosely from tantra and just mostly made that shit up. Yet the way Anusaris try to use it to shut down critical thought is sickening and stupid.
Nothing, nothing, nothing in yoga sequencing, in any school,. is or should be treated as sacrosanct. Even this obsession with purity and authenticity is just cultural imperialism. Everything in the east/west is a mitigated translation. And when it all hits American profit-making, that’s a whole other game. It doesn’t mean we should stop asking about traditions and teachings, but it does mean that we should aviod becing rigid, macho and moralistic about their translations and applications.
Yeah, one thing I can appreciate about Ashtanga and Bikram TM (c) (R) is that you learn a set sequence to take home– so not completely dependent on studio with an overwhelming an ever-changing vinyasa or sequences. My only exposure to Ashtanga was too hard ass as you described. But I’m older so maybe that’s why. I was getting shoulder problems from all the chatturangas and knee problems from the way lotus is sequenced in, and it’s hard to just leave the room or look like a weenie in front of the teacher.
You are right about the cultural imperialism and the profit making. It’s food for thought I’m digesting right now.
It’s not that hard to deconstruct a vinyasa sequence and make it your own, for at home. The only help you really need (particularly if you can’t afford a private session) are semi-old-school DVDs that are repetitive in nature, some online research into asanas, and grokking the main rationale for your studio’s vinyasas. My studio had been backbend- and inversion-happy, so even at the beginner level you could tell the overemphasis on standing balancing poses (especially standing balancing backbends). Add in a couple sets of yoga flash cards. Voila, my own sequnce.
“And we need to learn to be okay with being our own spiritual teachers so no one can sell us what we already own.”
That’s the most well-put thought on the whole situation I’ve read in quite some time. Thanks for that, Horst.
Thank you, Brooke.
I like a lot of what I’m reading here, people thinking very carefully for themselves and developing opinions. This is what didn’t appear to be happening in the Anusara community.
I was shunned in that community for my inquaries. I was percieved as paranoid and suspicious when I enquired about who owns the brand name and some other issues. I was told that probably as an agnositc I wouldn’t be able to access the philosophy.
Anusara has many of the marks of a gang or click or cult. It’s a light duty one but the stuff is there.
It’s good that its impoloding and has given us all this stuff to think about. I also think Anusara folks made a tremendous effort to do something that is very challenging. They tried in a lot of ways to create a new ‘life affirming’ community. Since we’re all steeped in this American Puritainical culture that has some pretty rough and harsh judgmental edges to it I think it’s great that they wieghed in for a bried spell with another voice.
Too much too fast perhaps. I like the analogy with EST. A friend invited me to an EST meeting once. Very similar threads of behavior, positivity over openess.
Was your bullshit detector going off during this interview?
John Friend talks with Chelsea Roff, Managing Editor at YogaModern.com about the difference between cliques and kulas.
I can’t speak for Chelsea Roff, but she is the real thing. Kind of like YD. I’m sure she had a silencer on her BS-O-Meter. That young lady was much too gracious to let on that it was vibrating wildly ….
Glad to hear Chelsea is the “real thing”. Its good to see someone point a video camera at the warlock and ask some questions about his followers. Next maybe she should consider asking how one makes the transition from kula to coven?
Thanks for all the valuable input! Horst, what took you so long to join us with your pearls of wisdom? Glad you are writing now…
“The correspondences in Anusara are the moralistic idiocies attached to the notion of “open to grace.” John Friend drew loosely from tantra and just mostly made that shit up. Yet the way Anusaris try to use it to shut down critical thought is sickening and stupid. ”
It is fun to see the composite picture coming to light, from all the voices, Darren confirming first hand how any critical thought was seen as heresy & failing to “imbibe the teachings” (that used to be the party line in SY)
“I was shunned in that community for my inquires. I was percieved as paranoid and suspicious when I inquired about who owns the brand name and some other issues. I was told that probably as an agnostic I wouldn’t be able to access the philosophy.”
Really, there was a lot of divide & conquer going on, dismissing those who were too careful to join, heavy duty recruitment. That kind of holier-than-thou attitude rippled out, far from the inner circles. It hurts when people leave you behind as a person because you are not up for joining their rigid path to salvation, and their rise to yoga fame.
Darren, there is indeed lots to think about from your posts. It is a dilemma that probably over 80% or more of the AY devotees where young women, working hard at building a living on it. Hopefully, they will emerge like phoenix from the ashes, seeing all the possibilities beyond the rigid dogma that they were caught in. I’m glad you had the discrimination to look at the business plan & dare to ask questions.
That is the feeling I had after my transition out of SY, the exhilarating freedom to think for myself, and not to have to defend a set of beliefs any longer. Of course, for those young yoga teachers, there is the additional complication of their businesses & websites & marketing etc being entangled with a brand that can no longer be depended upon.
But then the careers of some of them were already stifled & thwarted by JF favoritism, depending on what mood the Wizard of Oz was in. A deer friend of mine is just short-selling her house, one important reason for that was that she lost all the teacher trainings that she had lined up in her previous yoga studio. The studio couldn’t renew their lease, partially because JF decided to open his megalomaniac Encinitas “Center” precisely across the street from their small AY studio.
That was the “Center” from where he was going to expand his dominance of the world of yoga, with live streaming teaching events to every corner of the globe. (From some other comments, it sounds like that Center is not really happening; the site is apparently still an old YMCA building with no signs of changes).
Thanks SRJB for the YouTube links – I have to say I can’t watch too much of it. It makes me seriously nauseated & queasy watching JF live, in his physically & psychologically inflated persona. It makes sense that some people have shared in other places that for them it took just one workshop, or 5 min. of his full-of-himself presence to make them realize that AY was not for them.
“A deer friend of mine is just short-selling her house, one important reason for that was that she lost all the teacher trainings that she had lined up in her previous yoga studio. The studio couldn’t renew their lease, partially because JF decided to open his megalomaniac Encinitas “Center” precisely across the street from their small AY studio.”
IRM — that’s heartbreaking. I’m really sorry to hear it.
Brooke, thanks for saying that – my friend was pretty calm & even-tempered when we talked about it, she is a strong person. Well, she had had enough time to cry about it & mourn it, when we talked she had already processed it. In all fairness, she said it wasn’t the only reason they didn’t renew their lease, but it sounded like a crucial one.
She said the owner of the AY studio & JF were in touch to some extent, talking about the coming of the “Center”. But she said it was basically all lip-service, and she herself couldn’t believe that JF would have the nerve to open his place right on top of the only AY-only studio in the area.
Not to mention many other smaller local yoga studios in Encinitas that he would have crushed, or taken lots of business away from. Those studios may be giving a sigh of relief to hear that the big dream of the AY Center is most likely not becoming reality. It seems kind of like another power trip of JF’s – reminiscent of him having affairs with married women, as someone mentioned here, why couldn’t he have just gone for single women, instead of ruining marriages left & right.
Encinitas has the highest concentration of yoga studios in the US, from what I have heard. It certainly didn’t need another huge chain moving in on top of them, just because the formerly most-powerful man in yoga decided he wanted a slice of that tasty pie. They just recently had to absorb the impact of the core-power yoga chain moving into town, with all their corporate power. BTW, makes me wonder what the scandals are like in that big yoga corporation…
Oh, really, higher than New York City? Maybe they mean per capita population.
Well, Ashtanga yoga has its own problems with encroaching mega-centers in Encinitas … but this is good news for the non-Anusara milder practices around Encinitas …
Many of the southern-CA-based AY teachers most defensive for AY were probably hoping for employment at the new AY super-center. Now, with the encroachment of ashtanga super centers there, they may “suddenly” get quite critical of AY and have a “conversion” to Ashtanga….Follow the money.
And Brian Smith, if what you say is true, man, draw it up into a fully developed, well-written, documented essay or article and submit it. Submit it it YD, Slate, Salon, NYT, Huffpost. Don’t quit until you get an in. Otherwise, you just keep coming out with these little pieces, and w/ a lot of mis-spellings and fragments and so on, and it comes across just really emotional and grudge-bearing. Not that you don’t have reason, but still. Really, man, pursue it seriously. Keep going. Good luck!
thanks. it is hard for me to write from my Craniotomy i had when I was 14 years old. I(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Craniotomy)
i am trying to have a voice. It really should not matter if I make mistakes writing. The scar on the back of my head goes from the top of my head all the way to the bottom of my neck. I had 186 stitches. hahahahahahaha i was also in a comma for two weeks.
one month after I got out of the hospital I was back surfing. since then Rode my bicycle across the usa. Hitchhiked all over the world.
I love life.
I started doing yoga at SFSU in 1989. I quit doing yoga in 2005 after dealing with John Friend.
I am still alive and the yoga world should know my story 😀
Well, I know your story now Brian and I wish I had known earlier on. It would have made me think twice.
Thanks to everyone for keeping on with the dialogue,
I think the impolosion of the Anusara thing is profound. I’m glad that the Anusaries have attempted to mix spirituality with corportation in such an intense way.
It has helped me to see more of how our culture is manifested. Anusara, like many business dealings is a business within a business, meaning a business that lives within our culture. Why it had such rapid success and now implosion have everything to do with the culture within which it was incubated.
A smaller example of charismatic male leadership within a country of male leadership. Power, money equals sex etc… As a man I’m constantly seduced by this idea. I’ve had multiple reactions to John Friend and Anusara. At some points feeling protective of the women involved and at other times that feeling being more of one of competition with the Anusara leadership for access to so many gorgeous young women. Let’s face it the list of teachers reads like a list of models. You should check it out.
My main thought though is this, How do I in my personal life affirme a natural tendancy to be competative for power and access to sex yet walk a healthy line that manifest a culture that I would want to live in. One that perhaps has more compassion.
I think that’s what some of the earlier debate about satanic stuff is about. How do we accept ourselves as whole and human and co-create a culture that’s going to work well for all of us?
The women involved played and continue to play a huge role in this. Thier adoration of John helps to create the cycle. Male power in this way derives from female power. So many gorgeous young women in a state of adoration. What male doesn’t on some level crave that?
Another big piece of this puzzle is the affirmation of female beauty. It’s impossible to miss that this is a huge part of yoga in the states. The advertizements, studios etc… all clearly selling beauty. Excuse me but I haven’t seen an ad for yoga in a long time that shows anything less than female beauty.
I’m all for affirming female beauty. I’m dubious about it’s prevalance in yoga in the US. It’s amazing that as a forty something man I end up in studios where twenty year old women are telling spiritual talks to enlighting me. I’m not against the idea. I think our gurus can be anywhere but it seems that presently somehow the best backbend is connected with the highest spiritual level. Hmmmm?
Not sure how to end this little rant but I think it’s just stuff to think about.
“How do I in my personal life affirm a natural tendancy to be competative for power and access to sex yet walk a healthy line that manifest a culture that I would want to live in. One that perhaps has more compassion.”
Darren, I read this, and the first thing I think is the word “consent.” Consent, consent, consent.
I don’t mean that as an answer to your question — as you said, this is all a lot to think about, and there aren’t easy answers. I just mean it as another set of thoughts. Sometimes I feel like that word’s gotten a little lost in some of the dialogue around this situation, or if it’s used, it’s used in reference *only* to the specific act in question — “Did she consent to have sex with him? Yes? Okay, then, what’s the problem?”
But consent is a little broader than that. It has to be, or situations like this are the result.
You put a series of very good questions and thoughts on the table, here. It *is* flattering to be adored. Women’s power, women’s agency to make their own decisions, *is* a huge part of this situation. It’s a tangled knot.
I feel like one way to start to untangle it in the future is about knowing that when we consent to sex, we must also consent to the situation into which that sex will enter us, emotionally, psychologically, physically, and professionally. If we say, “Will you have sex with me,” or “Yes, let’s have sex,” and we fail to take into account the fact that the act will occur within a context of particular power imbalances, or we fail to fully consider the potential repercussions, to ourselves *or* to our partners (or, as was pertinent in this case, to our partners’ partners) that we’re agreeing to once we consent to the act itself — it’s not a full enough consent. Harm will likely follow. As it has, here.
I don’t think it’s helpful to any of us to demonize desire. You’re right to point out that men practicing and teaching yoga are surrounded, constantly, by very attractive women. The corollary is that men in the yoga world are also likely to be very attractive to their female cohorts. (My apologies for speaking heteronormatively, here — obviously, the yoga world isn’t full of only straight people. Just trying to respond to the particular situation at hand.)
So what’s a healthy response, in that situation? As you say, how do we look frankly at the natural reactions people will naturally have to each other, and also co-create a healthy world, a world we all want to live in?
It’s a hard question. But I think consent is at its heart.
The other question to Brooke and Darren. What about those gorgeous women who were choosing to have sex with john Friend on order to promote themselves in the yoga world, to stay with his good graces and win teaching gigs all over the world. Those model-like yoga were willing to sacrifice their dignity and self esteeem to advance in life. They are no diffenent from the secretary who shags the boss for a pay-raise. The Anusara world apperars to be a throwback to Mad Men world.
What about teachers who have been “doing” JF all these years and he is getting sick of them because they are getting “old”????
IE> sianna sherman, amy ippoliti,
Those older teachers now are saying “Hey John listen to me”-“Hey John listen to me”-“Hey John listen to me”-
John Friend is looking at all the “G strings” when everyone is doing “the down dog position”. His eyes are on the younger fresher chicks. They are not “bitchy & uptight” He is “entitled” to get fresher meat right. The twenty somethings listen to him well because they need to be certified.
I would love to see porno company make a movie on the Ansuara Scandal. Ron Jeremy should be cast for the John Friend Role
The Anusara world, yes, but also the “yoga world” and the “spiritual materialism” as represented by Elephant Journal, Yoga Journal, and the entire festival/conference big-tent vendor product scene. Women — or men — who shag the boss or the teacher for attention or to get ahead simply whore themselves. That’s all it’s ever been. The rest of us are free to point it out and say, this is sleazy and disgusting. Get away from me. The thing is, beyond a couple of names associated with Friend’s “coven,” we don’t know (and never will) who screwed whom for what and/or under what kind of influence or duress. Amy? Elena? When, for how long? Who knows? Did John Friend have a stable of whores? Does Waylon Lewis? Do the editors of Yoga Journal? It’s easy to be cynical b/c of the smiling, duplicitous, bloodthirsty competitiveness of the women involved, and the megalomania of the biz tycoon men. Slather over that all the sticky-sweet sanctimony, and the whole thing smells like ass. The whole thing is gross. It seems all this is an inevitable consequence of the “selling” of yoga. Yoga for the masses, but at what cost?
I called the Yoga Alliance to report John Friend. They did not give a crap what he did. I called Yoga Journal everyone. In their eyes I was nothing. My voice did not matter.
Vicki Beilharz is one the the Ansuara Teachers who lied for him. She was the owner of The Woodlands Yoga Stuido. ( Now called The Woodlands Anusara Yoga Studio) That old lady saw everything. I trusted her since she was older. I told her I wanted to quit because I was not being paid for my time. I told her what a fucking prick JF was. She wrote a letter to the Texas Work Force Commission full of lies. She said I was doing yoga daily 4 hours a day. How the fuck would she know? She was never there! John had his own key. I did yoga with her one time and one time only. She is currently teaching at http://www.brightwateryoga.com
I wrote her a nice letter on their facebook page this morning.
I am not hiding and not anonymous.
Liars and Cheats are the worst humans!
HJ, Brian, and WINNING,
It’s not okay to talk about people this way, folks. It’s really not. You can’t call Mr. Friend a power-abuser out one side of your mouth and then talk about “whores” and women who “sacrifice their dignity and self esteem” with their sexual decisions out the other. That kind of language is exactly as abusive as the kind of sexual favoritism and manipulation you’re accusing Mr. Friend of.
This is complicated territory. We know relatively little about it. We don’t know who these women are — I don’t, at least — what their motives or desires were, what kind of consent anyone engaged in, anything. What we know about the sex in this situation is limited, and almost entirely second-hand, with the exception of the little to which Mr. Friend has publicly admitted.
Since all this is happening in the public forum and since Mr. Friend is a public figure, then sure, I think it’s okay to draw conclusions about how we, as members of the yoga community who are impacted by his decisions, feel about how he’s acted. I think it’s okay to assess the ethics and morality of his actions. But I don’t know his heart, and I don’t know the hearts of the women who were intimate with him. Neither do you. That’s territory we just can’t judge. We don’t have enough information, and even if we did, we don’t have the right.
If you want to know what a throwback to Mad Men world really looks like, sit around with a group of cronies and call women “whores” for their sexual decision-making. Like you just did, here.
I think we’re better than that. Let’s act like it.
Brooks, get over your Victorian school-marm self. your finger-shaking is ridiculous. No one needs a reminder from you or anyone about how complicated this territory is. John Friend is not a “Mr.” to me, and I don’t give a damn about his heart. I am responding to reports of people’s actions, and judging what can be known of their motivations and characters from their writings. And oh yes, that IS territory for judgment, especially for millionaire business tycoons. He’s an asshole. I do also believe that people who have sex for advancement are whoring themselves, and I believe in calling a spade a spade. This is not Sunday school, you are not our teacher, and I’ll thank not to cop such a patronizing attitude again. Jesus CHRIST, is there something about doing yoga thta teaches this kind of disgusting condescension?! Don’t ever, ever insult everyone by shaking your finger at us all again.
I’d like to start back from an earlier part of the thread. Brooke, I think consent is a good enough measure if we’re looking at only if the individuals themselves that are having sex are being abused. Even that limited measure falls apart here because these women had families that did not consent.
Even though we don’t know everything I start to try to put a picture together that is realistic. Seriously, why would so many women fall all over JF? It’s not because of his looks. Sure, there’s a small subset that love the pudgy, doughy, daddy bear type, but that’s a specialty market. Was it his charisma? I don’t know because I was never near him. I don’t see a lot of charisma in the interviews, but I also get annoyed by men that are clearly full of themselves and make it so obvious they are eating up adulation from females. And then I’ve seen these situations where it’s so obvious to me but women still eat it up like hummingbirds at a feeder. I have seen this where a male guest teacher comes in and is so clearly interested in getting some action or being flirtatious and some women just fawn all over his every word even he’s spewing vacuous nonsense. And not most women of course– I’ve shared plenty of eye rolls with women when we saw this going on. At any rate, I think there must be something biological going on, an alpha-male caveman thing.
Add to that that JF had real power based on his ability to validate someone in front of a huge crowd. “John Friend adjusted my pigeon! He touched me!” And also the power to make or break someone hungry for a career.
I think these would be the key motivators. In that last case, yes, someone would be whoring themselves by sleeping with him. Brooke, I don’t use that term to reflect on women’s sexuality, and I know that word has been misused plenty. I mean to say that these teachers were selling their sexuality for some other commodity. Maybe it was for a job, maybe it was for personal validation.
If it was purely consensual, fine. One person consented to be the disposable, sexual tool or receptacle of another. It won’t be the last time.
That doesn’t mean it’s not my business. If these people were trying to make it attractive to me to pay what could have amounted tens of thousands of dollars to reach upper level certification and to dedicate years of my life to this endeavor without telling me upfront that being a 50 year old man left me no chance of offering that specific commodity that JF was looking for in his inner circle, then they were also consenting to con me and others. And they were also asking me to be so inspired by them that I would change the way I look at the world in a fundamental way because they have latched on to this beautiful philosophy that always works.
Brooke, I’m sure you are correct that we can’t assume every teacher had had sex with John to get where they were and I admire your sense of fairness in wanting to protect a woman from that damaging label. But they did know what was going on. They had to have. Even the NY Times Yoga Mogul writer spoke of women and men pressing their hotel room keys into his hand. (You can see now why this article made JF so livid at the time.) Exiting teachers are saying they knew or knew of all the rumors.
So what I’m getting around to saying is I don’t think “consensus” is an adequate framework to look at sexual trades within the framework of something that could be a cult or a con-job operation. They were also consenting to misrepresent how someone was to rise to stardom in this organization.
Or maybe consensus just needs to be expanded to the decision of joining up in the first place. I felt I consented to being part of a group that sold being part of this cool “community”. I should have known better because I have a history of saying what I think and of disagreeing with b.s.. Someone that doesn’t go along is just not going to be one of the cool kids. My outrage on behalf of all these Anusarans I don’t know is partly very personal as I’m kicking myself for being conned and selling myself short.
Thanks for putting it that way. I’m a published creative writer now, but 20 years ago I dropped out of an MFA program b/c of the slimey climate created by a student sleeping w/ the profs. There was already a lot of competitive back-stabbing and misogyny among the students, and the fact that one blue eyed blonde woman student in particular was screwing around to get ahead — and it worked — gave all the guys in the program permission to be jerks to the rest of us women, a la “See? You talentless bitches can’t get ahead without screwing around anyway! You’re all sleazes!” One selfish young woman and the two profs who had sex with her ruined the working environment for the rest of us women. That woman, btw, has long since been tenured in a creative writer position of her own. The two profs are long retired. It is and was sickening.
Consent is beside the point. Selfish, unethical sexual behavior affects everyone in a workplace or school. It can poison environments, esp. in place where there is already competition between employees/students. And it has already been demonstrated, by Ippoliti, Brower, and others, that Anusara was a deadly poisonous competitive environment in which big-name teachers like themselves covered up sleazy behavior and aggressively, territorially tried to squeeze other teachers out.
“Don’t ever, ever insult everyone by shaking your finger at us all again.”
Okay. Then allow me to state my position more clearly:
Don’t ever, ever insult women with your misogynistic name-calling again. Stop using the word “whore.” It’s incredibly insulting, and illustrates the kind of last-century, backward, woman-hating condescension that I find repugnant in every possible way and am profoundly shocked to find as a part of this conversation. If you want to start calling women hateful names in response to how, where, when and with whom they choose to have sex, I can think of quite a few places in the world that would welcome you with open arms. This is not one of them.
Nope. I was not calling the open sexual behavior of adult women “whoring,” which is the misogynistic epithet use of the term. I am being literal. Whore. Prostitute. The actual thing. Having sex for advancement, money, favors, or material goods — on the part of females or males — is prostitution. It is whoring. It is acting the whore. That’s what it is. It’s not a likeable word because it’s not a likeable thing. There may have been men or women who did such things to get ahead in Anusara, and that’s what we were discussing. You cannot and will not ever be able to control the language opther people use, especially not adults. “Whore” is an obscenity to describe obscene behavior. Deal with it. Or leave.
Read the actual posts. Men as well as women can be “whores.” This isn’t about misogyny; it’s about workplace sleaze. Reminds me of Elizabeth Taylor’s character making fun of “Mike” in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” — “I’m just a gigolo, and everywhere I go…” Lol! I can’t believe people in the yoga world could be so stupid that they think just because they chant and study the Gita they’re immune to this crap. What a joke.
Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I think we’re mostly agreeing, actually. Let me explain what I mean by “consent” a little further.
You say this: “I think consent is a good enough measure if we’re looking at only if the individuals themselves that are having sex are being abused. Even that limited measure falls apart here because these women had families that did not consent.”
Bingo. You hit the nail on the head, and I very much agree. That’s what I was trying to get at in my response to Darren, when I said that consent has to involve everyone’s full consideration of the repercussions of the act to individuals, to partners, and to partners’ partners. If there are three people involved, directly or indirectly, in an intimate situation — in this case, for instance, a teacher, his student, and (indirectly) his student’s husband — then all of those people need to be in a position to give full consent to the intimacy. If they’re not in such a position, something unethical is happening.
You also mention Mr. Friend’s professional power, the “power to make or break someone hungry for a career,” and again, I agree with you — if I’m going to have sex with someone who can then advance me professionally in return, and all the other people who are in a position to be advanced professionally by this person haven’t consented to involve themselves in a professional situation in which means of advancement are imbalanced because of sexual favoritism, then, again, that’s unethical. I definitely don’t dispute that.
What I dispute is the notion that we all have enough information to be able to judge whether or not that happened. From what we know, it certainly seems likely. But to my knowledge — and I’ve read a lot over the last six weeks about this whole affair — no one has come out and said, “John Friend was sleeping with so-and-so, and that’s the only reason she got certified/hired to teach an immersion/whatever.” It’s been implied. The fact that he played favorites, professionally, has been stated by quite a few ex-teachers. But no one has directly said that someone bought her way to the top of anything with sex. And even if someone had, it would be hearsay.
I understand that this isn’t a court, and rules of evidence don’t apply. But I do think we have a responsibility to be clear about what we do and don’t know, here. We know enough to decide that John Friend acted unethically. Isn’t that plenty? Do we have to start calling people prostitutes, while we’re at it? Because, frankly, if we’re going to do that, we’re not much better than Rush Limbaugh. And I, for one, don’t want to look in the mirror and think, “Wow, I really pulled a Rush today.” You know?
So, when you say, “In that last case, yes, someone would be whoring themselves by sleeping with him […] I don’t use that term to reflect on women’s sexuality, and I know that word has been misused plenty. I mean to say that these teachers were selling their sexuality for some other commodity,” I still take some issue with the statement. I do understand the point you’re making. I just think you, and all of us, can make it without using a term that connotes many centuries’ worth of misogynistic hatred.
But, again, I do think we’re mostly agreeing. You say this: “That doesn’t mean it’s not my business. If these people were trying to make it attractive to me to pay what could have amounted tens of thousands of dollars to reach upper level certification and to dedicate years of my life to this endeavor without telling me upfront that being a 50 year old man left me no chance of offering that specific commodity that JF was looking for in his inner circle, then they were also consenting to con me and others.” And I very much agree.
Part of the trickiness of consent is that, to really apply the principle, you have to look at everyone who has a stake in whatever situations your intimacy with your partner or partners will produce. And those people have to have the knowledge to be able to openly consent to what they’re involving themselves in. If they don’t, the intimacy is likely unethical.
So, as you say — *if* (I’m still not willing to stipulate that we know this, but for the sake of the point) this was an organization in which sleeping with someone in a power position was going to help you professionally, then yes — you’re right. That’s not the professional situation that you, as a 50 year old guy, consented to. And that’s not okay.
So I hear you, when you say that you’re not sure the framework of consent is an adequate one, in this situation. I guess what I’m trying to get at is that if you really apply consent, as a principle, then it is adequate. Very much so. But from what we can tell, that’s not what happened here. It seems likely that some of the partners of some of the women involved didn’t consent to any of this. We’ve actually heard from a few ex-teachers who say that their consent to the leadership structure in Anusara — the favoritism, etc. — was certainly muddled by their deep desire to please Mr. Friend. Muddled consent is non-consent.
To me, that’s the real problem with situations in which deep power imbalances start impeding people’s judgment. If you can’t fairly, honestly, objectively assess the terms of whatever situation you’ve involved yourself in, whether it’s because the knowledge you need is withheld, or because someone is manipulating you, or simply because your own emotional entanglements have gotten in the way of your good sense … then you can’t fully consent to the situation. Whatever situation it is. Sexual, psychological, emotional, professional, interpersonal, or all of the above. And that’s really, really dangerous.
A delicate subject, indeed… As a forty-something woman, I appreciate Darren bringing up the point that there is that element of the biological & societal set up for men – craving to be in just the same kind of power position as JF, with seemingly endless supply of willing women.
He said: “The women involved played and continue to play a huge role in this. Their adoration of John helps to create the cycle. Male power in this way derives from female power. So many gorgeous young women in a state of adoration. What male doesn’t on some level crave that?”
To Brooke, I have to second Horst, that I didn’t read the word whore as so inappropriate and offensive in this context, there is a an element of that. I read an exploration of that somewhere (maybe by Michele Indianer on Bay Shakti?), stating that the women involved in it definitely received something in return, even though it wasn’t probably so reliable or quantified ahead of time.
Henry Kissinger coined the expression: “Power is teh ultimate aphrodisiac.” That is why womenoverlooked John Friend’s pudgy type (I agree that is more like a niche-market, haha). He didn’t have the look of a muscle-builder type like Rodney Lee, whose scandal 10 years basically reads like JF’s.
I found the articles on Time Magazine educational, explaining the caveman thing that must be going on with women flocking to men in power.
“Muddled consent is non-consent.”
No it isn’t. Consent is a legal term.
Muddle consent is muddled consent. Consent muddled by many things — fear, yes, but also these teachers’ own ambition, greed, and competetiveness. Go and watch Amy Ippoliti’s vid of taking some r&r in Tuscany. No shit. Listen to her talk about how yoga teachers “SHOULD” be able to take retreats and go to festivals and put their kids through college “without thinking about it.” Without THINKING about it? Obviously, she’s got a sense of enititlement to wealth most Americans can’t dream of. Muddled consent, yes — muddled by greed, a sense of entitlement, ambition, and bad faith. They’re responsible. Everyone single one of them.
I’ve read the posts. In their entirety. If you want to get technical about things, the word “whore,” as a noun, exclusively refers to women. “Whoring,” the gerund, can apply to both men and women. But going to the dictionary about this feels a little ridiculous to me. “Whore” is an insulting word. It carries with it many centuries’ worth of hatred, violence, and pain. I, personally, also find it outdated. Consenting adults have the right to have sex with whomever they please, for whatever reason they please. If people here think otherwise, then I really don’t think I’m the Victorian voice in the room.
Sex is not obscene behavior. Consenting adults have the right to have sex for whatever reason they so desire. Whether they’re having sex for pure pleasure, for power, as a game, as a means of advancement, or because the voices in their head told them to do on Fridays doesn’t matter. If everyone in the situation has consented, and if everyone is of an age to do so, then everyone has the right to have as much of whatever kind of sex with however many other people are there as they like. Period. If you’re under the impression that they don’t, I’m not the one spouting last-century prudishness all over the thread.
Here’s what people don’t have the right to do: involve each other in emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, or professionally damaging situations through their sex with each other. To the extent to which that happened here, it was unethical. As I said to Horst, above, *if* sex was a means of advancement in Anusara and other people trying to advance didn’t know about it, then yes, that was unethical. But you have no idea to what extent that happened here. Neither do I. Neither does anyone except the people directly involved in the sexual situations in question. And they’re not talking.
@Consent (the person who just posted under that name):
Where, in anything I’ve said, did you get the impression that I think the women involved in this situation aren’t responsible for their own decisions?
Actuallly, “whore” is now a euphemism for selling out, on the part of males or females. It’s got a lot of uses. What rock have you been living under.
Consenting adults have “rights” to do whatever they want, sexually, as long as they face the consequences — including the disgust and derision of others when they fuck their bosses or teachers. And it’s been said, over and over, by Friend himself, that there was plenty of that going on. AT MINIMUM, what those women got back in the equationwas attention and favoritism from John Friend. That’s whoring.
This is not about rights or consent. Those are legal terms.
And ha ha “muddled consent?” Muddled by what? What did Elena Brower say she was afraid of when she covered up for Friends screwing his students/employees and his drug use? Not that she would lose her job, any job, but that she would lose her “place in the yoga world.” Her STATUS.
These women’s complicity was generated by the own ambition and hunger for status. They’re free to do it, legally, whether they themselves had sex with him or not, but I’m also free to be disgusted, and to call them any name I please. I call it corruption. I call it whoring is ALL kinda ways. And I will continue to do so.
Consent is a legal term. Those who can consent are responsible. Those who can’t, sexually, are NOT responsible — the underaged, the drunk, the mentally impaired. They are not responsible. Consenting adults are. Arguing that muddle consent is non-consent IS, legally, arguing that the women who consented in a muddled non-consenting way are not responsbile.
You’re getting tangled up in your own language, because you’re trying to be so precious.
At the very least, people who sleep with their employers or tecachers are getting special attention and sexual favoritism. Yes,. that is whoring. John Friend has always said he slept with both students and teachers. Those women, while we don’t know whether they received pay raises, discounts, or extra opportunities for having sex with him, were at l;east getting favoriism, which is whoring. It is. And it’s disgusting.
LOL! Consent and I are arguing this from the same household, two diff. laptops, and ending up saying the same things simultaneously!
“Consent” is about rape and statutory laws. Go pick another term.
I’m tempted to let fly with harshness about this b/c I’m disgusted, as a woman, that other women could be so stupid and sleazy. I have also been in situations — office situations — where a co-worker screwed the boss, and though she didn’t get a raise or a promotion for it, she got plenty of nice stuff. And also, it cheapened the office environment to the point where later, when guy co-workers put up all kinds of sexually graphic calendars and shit up on their cubicle walls, it was more difficult for me to argue about “hostile or degreading environment,” because this one aomwn’s actions had given the message that every woman in the office was sexually unethical and wouldn’t care.
You think this shit doesn’;t have consequences, you’re wrong. I got tired of the sneers and snickers.
Also, I get angry at other women for being dopey-eyed slavish idiots who follow powerful men around like groupies. I hate it. These selfish women want to throw their stuff around like there’s no such thing as patriarchy. There is. They make it all the harder on the rest of us. If they want to consent to blowing the boss, that’s their business. But then the rest of us get painted with the same brush.
You, Rush Limbaugh,and anyone else who enjoys doing so are of course free to continue to pepper the word “whore” throughout whatever public discourse you’d like, this thread included. Freedom of speech does include pettiness. I’m also free to continue to respond in any way I like. Which I’ll do. Because who had sex for what kind of gain is not only an antiquated kind of discussion to be having, it actually obscures what, to me, is a much more salient problem.
If someone wanted to sleep with Mr. Friend out of desire and pleasure, she had the right. If someone wanted to sleep with him to advance her career, to curry favor, or because she really liked his sheets’ thread-count, she had the right to that, too. You can call this hypothetical woman a whore all you want, and say her behavior is ugly and that you therefore have the right to use an ugly word to describe it. But I absolutely do not agree with you. Her behavior is entirely her own business, *unless and until* it starts harming people who are affected by it but *didn’t consent to it*. Then, it’s a problem.
And that’s the problem that vitriolic name-calling obscures. Calling someone a whore is loud and flashy and attention-grabbing. People like to call each other names — it’s nice to feel superior. But it’s also lazy. It gets you out of analyzing a deeper problem, which is this: assuming that consenting adults do have the right to sleep with each other, which we do assume, then how do we, as Darren said above, co-create a set of ethics that takes this right into account and still makes sure that people don’t get hurt?
Consent is a legal term, yes. But it’s not only a legal term. If what we were discussing here was purely legal, there would be no discussion, because not one bit of the purported sex that these purported paramours of Mr. Friend purportedly had with him was illegal. *Legal* consent was not violated. I don’t think that’s even in dispute. So don’t tell me that consent is a legal term, as if that ends the discussion. Or, if you’re going to, then kindly exit the discussion entirely. Because the type of purely legal consent you apparently want to talk about hasn’t been broken. At all.
Consent, as a term, applies and should apply more broadly than the scope of its legal definition. It’s an ethical term as well as a legal one. As such, it extends to the partners of Mr. Friend’s partners. It extends to the the teachers who — IF it’s the case that sex bought power in this organization, which, again, I don’t think we know — didn’t know they were involving themselves in a power structure that was manipulable sexually, and wouldn’t have consented to do so, had they known. In general, in sexual ethics, consent is a pretty good measure by which to determine whether something unethical has happened. Did this person consent to the situation that this other person’s sex has placed him or her into? No? Then the sex is likely unethical.
Tossing the word “whore” around like a cocktail-party punchline may be immensely personally gratifying for you, in which case, I’m deeply grateful that I don’t know you in person. But it’s just not the point. While you’re busy being wrathful about whether so-and-so slept her way to the top and how many names you can call her because of it, you’re missing the rest of the story.
People have the right to sex. For whatever reason they want to have it. What they don’t have the right to do is to hurt other people. If we all sit around and shout about having sex, we miss a valuable opportunity to acknowledge that people are *going* to have sex, that sometimes the people they’re going to have sex with are people in powerful positions, and that, given that understandable and very human fact, we need to find ways to make sure it happens ethically.
That’s ridiculous. Rush Limbaugh called a woman a whore for wanting to be able to purchase birth control at a college campus. We’ve been discussing having sex with teachers or employers as a form of whoring. Two completely different things.And it’s whoring whether it’s men or women.
You just don’t like it. Just b/c you don’t like something doesn’t mean it’s misogynist.
No, you can’t appropriate legal terms like “consent’ and stretch them just because you want to.
Sleazy workplace behavior is not, in fact, simply about one’s “rights. One’s “rights” are not the only thing that matter. Work is about professionalism and maturity. Screwing the boss has consequences for other people. It poisons the environment.
Do you even work for a living? Oh, never mind.
Screwing your boss is whoring. Screwing your teacher is whoring. It is.
Fucking the boss or fucking the teacher is NOT only “just one’s own business.”
And Brooke. The way you try to rationalize your way through this makes my skin crawl. Women like you make my skin scrawl. You’d be exactly the one to do something like bthat and then claim it’s no one else’s business. Women like you don’t give a damn about anyone else but yourselves — esp. other women.
“they’re going to have sex with are people in powerful positions, and that, given that understandable and very human fact, we need to find ways to make sure it happens ethically.”
There IS no way to ethically have sex with some one in power if the person is YOUR boss or teacher.
The “understandable and human fact” argument universalizes the behavior of groupie-ism and having sex with bosses and teachers as if it’s inevitable that most people do that. Or that “people will.” That’s like saying that since SOME people will kill others, it’s understandable and human. No. It;s within the realm of human beahavior, it’s cognititively understable, but it’s UNACCEPTABLE! Most people don’t. They DON’T, Brooke. THEY DON’T. It’s not excusable. It’s disgusting. Most people don’t have sex with bosses or teachers. They just don’t.
You really, really give me the creeps! If you think the worst problem in all this is some one saying “whore” or not — you’ve got a really, really messed up set of priorities. Yech!
Oh, for the love of all that’s holy …. all this because I said I think it’s not nice to go around calling people whores? Seriously?
Okay. Point by point, from all of you:
“Rush Limbaugh called a woman a whore for wanting to be able to purchase birth control at a college campus. We’ve been discussing having sex with teachers or employers as a form of whoring. Two completely different things.”
It’s not different at all. In both cases, someone — in the case I mentioned, Rush Limbaugh, and in the case at hand at present, you — used the word “whore” as a rhetorical weapon. It’s an effective rhetorical weapon precisely because the word carries with it many hundreds of years’ worth of inherent, misogynistic violence. Which is why I don’t use it. And which is why I suggest that anyone who actually gives a rat’s about the way his or her language is contributing to the collective, ongoing effort to create a society in which all genders and sexualities can be free from the very real fear of violent reprisal for the ways in which they choose to live out those genders or sexualities should avoid it, as well. If that’s not something you care about, then please — by all means. Preach on with the whoring.
“And it’s whoring whether it’s men or women.”
Oh, please. Don’t ignore the historical weight of the word just because you feel like using it without subjecting yourself to the sneaking suspicion that the patriarchy’s talking through you every time you do. That’s like using the word “gay” to mean “stupid” and then claiming that it’s not homophobic because our lexicon has moved on. Wrong, on both counts.
“You just don’t like it. Just b/c you don’t like something doesn’t mean it’s misogynist.”
You’re right. Being misogynistic means it’s misogynistic.
“No, you can’t appropriate legal terms like “consent’ and stretch them just because you want to.”
Yes, I can. Many people have. Because, for the umpteenth time, it’s not just a legal term. Talk to anyone who’s ever studied ethics academically and ask them about consent. Better yet, just Google the subject. You’ll probably find something like Miller and Wertheimer’s The Ethics of Consent, chapter 8 of which is on sexual ethics. The abstract of the chapter includes this:
“..the criteria of moral transformative consent […] can take two forms: the criteria of morally transformative consent for the law (CMTL) and the criteria of morally transformative consent for morality (CMTM). Both versions […] are moral criteria, but the criteria that indicate when consent should—as a moral matter—be regarded as legally permissible are not identical to the criteria that indicate when a person’s consent renders another’s action morally permissible.”
As I think it’s clear that we’re talking about moralities, not just legalities, I think that ethical consent, not just legal consent, should be on the table. If you disagree, that’s fine, but then get out of the conversation entirely, please, because *no one* here violated legal consent.
“Sleazy workplace behavior is not, in fact, simply about one’s “rights.”
No. Obviously, it’s not. Which was my point entirely, when I said it was also about ethical consent. Which you then said wasn’t a consideration that should be on the table, as consent was, in your view, only a legal term. So, which is it? Is the sleaziness of workplace sex due to questionable ethical consent at issue here, or not? You’re the one claiming ethical consent doesn’t exist — or, more specifically, claiming that I’m making it up. If that’s true, then what’s so sleazy about workplace sex?
“Screwing the boss has consequences for other people. It poisons the environment.”
Perhaps because those people didn’t consent to work in an environment in which their talents weren’t the only consideration for their advancement?
Oh, no. That can’t be it. Because consent is only a legal term, right?
“Do you even work for a living?”
“And Brooke. The way you try to rationalize your way through this makes my skin crawl.”
Same to ya, Thanks.
“Women like you make my skin scrawl. You’d be exactly the one to do something like bthat and then claim it’s no one else’s business. Women like you don’t give a damn about anyone else but yourselves — esp. other women.”
You’re exactly right, you know. I hang around these threads telling people that I think it’s better to avoid loaded rhetoric like “whore,” a word that’s historically been used as an excuse for the patriarchal elite to *burn thousands of women at the stake,* among other atrocities, and therefore makes *my* skin crawl aplenty, because I don’t give a crap about women. That’s an astoundingly accurate observation. I appreciate your incisive analysis of my character, and I’ll be sure to shape up.
From now on, for instance, I’ll definitely put “whore” back on my list of words to use at least ten times a day. Also, I’ll make damn sure that all the women in my workplace know I’m cataloguing their every interaction with our male bosses, so that in case they step out of line and flirt with those bosses, or, God forbid, strike up a relationship with them, they’ll know that I stand at the ready to start calling them “whores” around the office coffee pot behind their backs. That way, I can ensure that every woman in my life knows that I care about her. Deeply.
“There IS no way to ethically have sex with some one in power if the person is YOUR boss or teacher.”
That may very well be true. I can think of precious few of them, anyway. I have a yoga teacher friend who’s married to a former student of his, and I don’t think that’s all that uncommon. I know them and trust them, and I bet if I quizzed them on how their relationship progressed, I’d find I agreed with their ethics. I do think it’s possible. But I agree with you that the situation has so many inherent power imbalances that it’s highly likely, almost always, to be ethically problematic.
“The “understandable and human fact” argument universalizes the behavior of groupie-ism and having sex with bosses and teachers as if it’s inevitable that most people do that. Or that “people will.” ”
No. It universalizes it as if it’s inevitable that *some* people do that. Which it is.
“That’s like saying that since SOME people will kill others, it’s understandable and human.”
No, it absofreakinglutely is not.
Sex is *not* comparable to murder. Sex is not a sin. Sex is not unhealthy. Sex is not unnatural. Sex is not disgusting. The rampant demonization of sex along those lines makes *my* skin crawl.
I have said, since the beginning of this conversation — since my reply to Darren, in which I said that I thought that establishing consent for all parties involved was one great big step in the right direction for a man who wanted to make sure that the sex he was having was ethical sex — that unethical or nonconsensual sex is a really big problem. I find it baffling that all of you are responding as if I’ve said otherwise. But *sex itself,* adult, consensual sex, is not the problem here. If someone thinks it is … then *that’s* what I find truly frightening.
“You really, really give me the creeps!”
You know … ditto. I’m pretty disturbed that someone who talks about fighting the patriarchy in her workplace would also fight me about whether women have the right to have sex with whom they choose; about all people’s — including women’s — responsibility to make sure they have the ethical and not just the legal consent of all the parties who will be affected by that sex before they have it; and about whether the word “whore” is an acceptable word.
I’m pretty baffled over here, Consent. I don’t know where your feminism and mine have parted ways, but it’s somewhere fundamental. And wherever yours is headed, I’m really glad I’m not going to that place with you.
Well, I dunno….maybe our feminism parted ways at your verbosity and condescension…..I can’t bother you with anymore girl. You’re too long-winded. And boring.
Okay, but you guys are arguing semantics, and pissed off and talking past one another, and would you all please just STFU for a while? They call names, you split hairs. They snap back, you go on and on and on. Leave it. You’re probably not as big of enemies as it seems. Leave it.
Wise words, fah. Good call.
You come across as incredibly sheltered and naive.
I agree. I’m outta here. I think I have to go throw up.
Seriously? “Sheltered?” That’s cute.
To be clear, once and for all: I’m NOT talking about legal consent. I never have been. There’s no such thing as a husband *legally* consenting or not consenting to his wife’s cheating on him, except in the rare state that still has alienation of affection laws on the books. Legal consent, in the context of sexual ethics, is a very limiting term. It’s certainly handy as a really, really obvious starting point, I’ll give you that. If people were saying that Mr. Friend had had legally non-consensual sex, we wouldn’t be having a conversation about ethics, we would be having a conversation about why he’s not in jail. But no one’s said that. It’s not what happened. So could we please, please move on from *legal* consent and talk more broadly about what kind of sexual ethics people should be practicing? Please? I mean — seriously, I find it shocking that someone who talks about having to fight for her right not to work in a hostile and degrading work environment is arguing *against* the point that broader ethical consent should be a consideration in this situation. Why in the world do you have a problem with this?
Given the deep ethical problems inherent in the Anusara situation, what I suggested, in my original reply to Darren, above, was that consent — NOT legal consent, just the plain old, “Hey, does so-and-so know his wife’s going to sleep with me, because if not, he hasn’t consented to it, and that sucks” kind — is a good measure by which to judge whether one is making sexually ethical decisions. It *appears,* from the little we know, that at the very least the partners of some of these women weren’t in a position to give that kind of consent. IF that happened, that’s a big friggin’ problem. Again — why in the world is someone who tosses around the word “patriarchy” like she’s taken a gender studies class or two fighting me on this point?
“Arguing that muddle consent is non-consent IS, legally, arguing that the women who consented in a muddled non-consenting way are not responsbile.
You’re getting tangled up in your own language, because you’re trying to be so precious.”
Again, and for the last time — I’m not arguing the legality of this situation. I’m arguing its ethics.
So, ethically, let’s talk about muddled consent.
If a woman’s boss says to her, “Do you want to have sex,” and she says, “Yes,” then she has legally consented. I don’t dispute that. And, as far as the ethics of consent go, if those two people lived on an isolated desert island somewhere with no other people, no ethical boundary has been breached, either.
But none of us lives on an isolated desert island somewhere. So if a woman’s boss says to her, “Do you want to have sex,” and she says “Yes,” but is so damn smitten with him, or whatever, that she doesn’t clearly think through questions like, “Will this put me on the tenure fast-track? Is that fair? Will it put my workplace behind ten years in the fight for equal rights for women? Is that fair? Should I tell my husband? Is it fair if I don’t,” etc. — then, sure, that’s consent, but it’s quite a bit on the muddled side. It means she hasn’t thought through the ramifications. It means that she didn’t, for instance, consent to the kind of workplace vitriol she might face when the news gets around, or to the potential dissolution of her marriage. She said yes to the sex, but not to the fullness of the consequences of it. That’s what I mean by muddled consent.
Was all of that her responsibility to think through? Yes. As it was his. Two people there had a responsibility to act ethically.
Again — we have no idea to what extent any of this did or didn’t happen in this situation. We can guess, but we just don’t know.
You can call me sheltered and naive all you want, but I find it a really, really strange response to my points, which are these:
Last I checked, many generations of women worked their asses off to secure my right to have sex with whomever I so desire without fear of harm; I, in turn, have a responsibility to use that right ethically; it’s inexcusable in 21st century America to keep calling women “whores” when we don’t like their sexual choices; and it’s also inexcusable to act like baseline, legal consent is the only sexual ethical guideline to which one should adhere.
Tell me which one of those you think is either sheltered or naive, if you’d like, and we can go from there.
Because, for the last time, we weren’t just talking about women. We were talking about workplace sleaze.
Because, for the last time, “concent” is a legal term whether you want it to be or not.
Because, for the last time, as we all said, people who have sex with their teachers at are the very least trading sex for extra attention, and with bosses trading for extra attention, so yes, we do that did happen, and yes that does qualify as whoring, whether or not they got promoptions or raises or student discounts out of the bargain too.
Because, for the last time, generations of women worked their asses off so they could enjoy the rights and privileges of being held accountable for their actions as adults, including getting called on sleazy behavior when they commit sleazy behavior, even when it comes in language they don’t like. You don’t always get to pick and choose. It sounds like the wolrd you want for women is a world in which women can fuck up, have it deeply affect others, and still get treated with kid gloves for it. THAT is a fantasy world. That is a contemptible precious princess fantasy world. yes, Brooke, naive.
And, ditto, we hope we never, ever, ever work with you, either. You want all your rights and freedoms but no consequences. That’s not adulthood.
What is that old saying….? You can choose their actions, but not their consequences….?
My dad left my mom (and us) for his secretary. This was just fifteen years ago . A very Mad Men world kind of thing, but it still happens. Was she — the secretary — a gold digger? Whore? Sure. She sure got a lot out of the bargain. But I have to deal with these people. I guess I can understand why the fury flies online, since the people caught in the middle of other people’s shitty choices — kids, adult offspring, coworkers, fellow students, friends, family members — are stuck cleaning up the messes in real-time so often. Neither “ethics” nor :consent” even begin to approach the problem, It’s a problem of values. “Morals” is an outdated term, but that’s really what is comes down to. They had rights, they consented, but they didn’t give a hit about anyone except themselves. And we all — and believe it or not, even their OFFICE — still deal w/ the fallout.
I think it’s actually Brook, here, who should show some respect to the people affected by such nasty mistakes.
Thanks for that. And I’m sorry that happened! But it gets to what I’ve been trying to get at: the fact that if women expect to be taken seriously, we have to get with the fact that yes, some times people just do shitty, selfish things. Sometimes people really are piss-poor excuses for human beings. Sometimes it really is a character issue.
WINNING, I just, right above your comment, here, in which you say that it sounds like the world I want is a world in which women get to fuck up and not have to own it, this:
“Last I checked, many generations of women worked their asses off to secure my right to have sex with whomever I so desire without fear of harm; I, in turn, have a responsibility to use that right ethically…”
Which part of “I, in turn, have a responsibility to use that right ethically” did you not understand?
I don’t think “morals” is an outdated term at all. It seems pretty synonymous with “ethics,” to me, though they’re discrete terms. Whichever one you call it, morality or ethics, you’re right that it’s still what’s at hand, here.
Whoa! What’s been happening?!! Can we leave it with what Winning (I think) said? That the whole thing smells like ass? I think we can agree with that, yeah?
As a student of yoga for the past 20 years I have had the opportunity to drop into studios while traveling and try various types of yoga. I had my first experience with an Anusara trained instructor while on a business trip in Manhattan many years ago. The class was held in a large loft space and it felt like a private session because only four students were in attendance. The teacher was singing the praises of Anusara during class and very warm with students. After class I went out to catch a cab and discovered that my cell phone was dead. After seeing no taxies on the street, and being in an unfamiliar warehouse area of the city, I went back to the studio to call a cab.
When I returned the teacher was talking on her cell phone at the front desk. I waited for her to finish the call and asked if I could use the studio phone to call a cab. She looked visibly annoyed. This was a shift from her earlier wind-chimes and rainbows persona. It was like a switch had been flipped. The teacher explained that the studio didn’t have a phone. She suggested I try the coffee shop down the street. The teacher was unwilling to call a cab on her cell. Fortunately the coffee shop staff was very helpful.
Teachers mouthing saccharine-sweet platitudes about yoga, spirituality, and love are not worthy of blind trust. Actions speak louder than words.
(But also, where do you think they’d learned it from?
Even as mercenary as the 5 (non-Anusara) studios I’d gone to in my short studio-going life, not one of them would have been so callous …)
What a terrible story. I’m really sorry to hear that. It’s a little on the shocking side, for me — it’s just very, very different than what I’ve come to expect and know from my yoga community — many members of whom are Anusarans, or formerly so.
You’re right — actions are, very truly, louder than words. I’m beginning to realize I’ve been really blessed in the community I’ve found.
I kept my sense of humor about the experience and made a mental note to ixnay the studio form my list of preferred yoga venues.
Thankfully we have two wonderful locally owned (corporate free) studios in my small coastal fishing and farming community. My favorite neighborhood studio is 100% schwag free. The studio and grounds function as community garden, cafe, art gallery, music hall, and yoga studio with a wood burning stove. On top of all that the studio is located on the Coastal Trail with an ocean view and amazing teachers. Who could ask for more?!! If Jois Inc. moved to town I would be out on the street protesting. As responsible students of yoga we must support and protect the small studios we love.
“As responsible students of yoga we must support and protect the small studios we love.”
If there’s any one lesson I hope to take from all this — it’s that one.
Good job hanging in there regarding the topic of use of the term whore. I think it’s interesting to note how quickly the term pops up when a dialogue about female power is taking place. Male sexual power is often connected with size and strength but our average 6′ plus CEOs aren’t often called whores.
More importantly wow how fast a dialogue about beautiful women having power degenerates into a dialogue with the term whore in it.
We all have power in so many ways. Most often I think people throw their power around while feeling powerless and not being tuned into their power. JF is obvious in this case but the women who have used beauty to sell yoga wield a power too
All this was and does take place before anyone actually has sex. Although the term ‘whore’ is fair game for anyone to use I does seem in this dialogue it distracted from something. I think a question I’m asking is how do we affirm, validate, notice and talk honestly about both male and female power.
It’s very difficult for us men to really deeply understand what it means for women to share the planet, country, street etc… With a phisically often more powerful counterpart.
By the same token I think it’s hard for women to fully grasp the power they have and how it influences the culture we live in
‘consent’ you say. Yes I agree that’s a huge piece of the puzzle.
In some ways it doesn’t make sense for anyone to be called whore. Everyone is using many types of power in order to survive, thrive and prosper.
For me the key is to get comfortable with the powers we have and use them as constructively as possible.
I don’t mean to ignore the consent thread I definetly think that’s a big part of it and way before anyone has sex or becomes a whore there is a whole lot of consensual cultural behavior that happens
Except that it isn’t everybody. ( sigh.) can we just acknowledge that not every woman is a groupie, not every woman has sex with the boss or teacher, that not every woman put her brain on the burner when she practices yoga? It was THOSE women who did that. The ones who did. And I’m sure, Darren, there are lots of women in your yoga classes who would seriously have to resist sucker-punching any male teacher who came on to the, who would march right out and never go back, who would report any such abuses of any such men to supervisors and unions, etc etfc. And no, not ALL WOMEN lust after rich tycoons and yoga rock stars. And the rest of us women, too, are disgusted because WE did not “consent” for this to happen in yoga culture, and WE are sickened and disgusted by other women and men acting like those Anusaris have. It’s not “men” and “women” — not ALL of us. It was those individuals. And they are goddamned accountable.
Plus, if any of you have your eyes on the bottom line. Some students can sense funny things going on, without putting their fingers on it. They overhear the teacher bragging about a student (stuff like that should be professional confidences), they see the same students pr students hanging around the teacher. Funny things. such as that student is a real close friend of yours and will get all your attention without direct knowledge of any hanky-panky going on.
And later proven right when you announce your engagement … or, in a worst-case scenario, when the shit hits the fan …
I meant to say student or students, not students pr students … where are my fingers flying to?
That kind of hanky-panky is bad for business.
Thanks for the reply. Yes I fully agree. There are so many awesome men and women not taking as big a part in this sort of power cycle.
I do think however that the tendency resides in all of us. I think a huge part of the anger coming out about this comes from the deceit. I think the anusaries were largely trying to sell the idea that their organization was about transcending these issues. The disappointment is all the more painful when the pretense was that the problem of sex and power had been transcended.
Redemption, comfort and peace for me personally comes not from pointing the finger at the guilty party so much as it cones from recognizing my own tendencies and humanity. Seeing that I’m part of the cycle and have behaviors that play into it brings me peace.
If we just point the finger at that group and say, ‘see they did it poorly’ then we lose the lesson more quickly. If we see that our anger at others is often rooted in our disappointment about our own humanity in general then we can grow spiritually.
I apologize that this sounds preachy but for me heightening my awareness of my response to these issues helps me more to recognize the experience I’m having in the moment. I have to finish this thought from my keyboard even though it’s past my bedtime.
Be right back
Sorry, I meant to say this sometime yesterday:
“They overhear the teacher bragging about a student (stuff like that should be professional confidences) … ”
That’s a really good point.
I’ve heard this happen. And hadn’t thought of it that way.
It’s part of the problem with the huge blurring of personal vs. professional boundaries, here.
Thank you, very much.
“I think a question I’m asking is how do we affirm, validate, notice and talk honestly about both male and female power.
It’s very difficult for us men to really deeply understand what it means for women to share the planet, country, street etc… With a phisically often more powerful counterpart.
By the same token I think it’s hard for women to fully grasp the power they have and how it influences the culture we live in”
Agreed, on all counts.
I think we most misuse power when we don’t fully grasp that we have it. When we’re not willing to own it. Because if you can’t do that — you can’t own your responsibility to use it wisely and well, either.
I think you’re asking really wise questions, here. And I’m glad to hear someone asking them. Thank you for that.
Thank you. You have a very encouraging and empowering tendancy. Much appreciated.
I hope you have an ear for this. I want to tell this from a story telling.
I took the first one hundred hour immersion course from the Anusara folks. I was encouraged by a yogi I’ve been learning from for years. He and I have learned a whole lot from this.
In any case the Anusara class I took was taught by a both gorgeous and very intellegent young women. To give a little more depth to the story I’ll add about me. I’m a bit over 6′ 2″. I was a star athlete in high school. I’m currently a successful building contractor and yogi, with degree in history. Ok stage set
I’ll tell you this, I was intimidated by my teacher. Not because she behaved poorly right away but because it’s intimidating to be around a young gorgeous intelligent women. I immediatly fell victim to some of the ways that I was socialized. In retrospect I would say that I immediately fell victim to my own dodo, the ways I was socialized. BTW I’m forty five years old and don’t for a second consider myself a lightwieght in the way of spirituality.
Non the less here I am intimidated by this young intellegent women. I wouldn’t want to be the one who has to call her out on something for fear that I could end up being thrown ‘out of the group.’ Plenty other feelings come up as well but that’s one of them that plays into the cycle of power and sex and wanting to feel a part of the group, to be affirmed etc…
I’m dissapointed in myself for losing my own sense of power in that social arrangment. I had choices. I could have requested a talk with her after class and so many other options. Instead I simply followed through with the course. I asked her about the issue of the brand name. She didn’t answer me and I let her get away with it. Frankly if I was at a business meeting with another business person, a setting I’m more accustomed to, I may have been fairly asertive about demanding answers. In this setting, however, I was more disempowered.
I for some reason didn’t have the follow through and I think its connected to my own inadiquacies arount the social setting and sexuality. It would have seemed very unsavory for me to be more assertive with this young women who was talking about stepping into grace and love and all.
Did they, the anusaries fail? Yes we can totally point the finger. They set up an environment that didn’t allow for dessention. I also failed though, and that’s where the real lesson is isn’t it?
The biggest failing of this Anusara thing is to think there is any easy way out of being human. We’re animals. We have all these tendancies to some degree. We’re all Johns and whores, manipulators etc. . . Seeing that and working with it is when humanity mingles with spirituality in a way that might one day produce results.
The more we distance ourselves from bad behaviour, the higher we hang our criminals, the further away we can keep them from our own identity the more comfort we derive in the very short run.
In the long run we deny our own humanity. Anusara was incubated in a culture rich with the right amounts of fertalizer. I am part of that. If anyone wants to hang them high, please hang me with them!
Earlier in this thread someone said it perfectly. Something about, ‘we need to be more comfortable with being our own spiritual guides.’ I would add that we need to get more comfortable with what a difficult job that is.
Human spirituality is beautiful to me when it’s most deeply rooted in our incredible inadiquacies. Our tendancies towards all that is challenging. I’m working toward the idea of looking my own incredible inadiquacies in the face, sharing them, and still having pride and trying to make the right choices. My strength and heavenliness lie at the center of my weakness.
What if I was able to stand up in front of my Anusara teacher at the right moment and announce that I felt intimidated? How powerful would that potentially have been? What if I stood up and said that and still demanded to know ‘who owns the brand name, Anusara?
All the anger throughout these Anusara threads are so much about blaming that group. We can’t just rest on the idea that we are now fortified and will be more likely to see ‘cult’ or bad behaviour when it comes again. We may, but we can also all leave our front doors tomorrow with the intent of taking a little less part in the cycles of sex, power, money and manipulation. We are without a doubt the culture that Anusara thrived in. There is a culture that it wouldn’t have grown in just like you can’t grow tomatoes in winter.
sorry for all my poor grammer and spelling.
Darren, again — thanks very much for such a thoughtful response. I’m fascinated by your story of your initial response to your Anusara instructor — fascinated because we’ve talked a lot in this situation about younger women and older, spiritually powerful men, and your observations about your very similar experience in the exact inverse situation are telling. They really reveal the humanness of the whole affair. Good for you, for so clearly acknowledging and examining an example in your own life of the kind of desire to be affirmed by a teacher, and responses that you regret because of it. I’ve been in a similar situation. Many people have. In my case, it ended quickly and decisively when I figured out I was letting someone step over a real line. It sounds like maybe that happened for you, as well.
But it’s real food for thought — looking at those times, however relatively inconsequential they may have been, in which you didn’t ask a question, or say what was on your mind, out of that desire. And then extrapolating from there. What could have happened? With more time, greater desire, a slightly differently constructed belief system? What else might we have agreed to? What further issues might we have overlooked? How much like the people in this situation might be have been, in different circumstances, with different histories or characters?
I love this:
“The biggest failing of this Anusara thing is to think there is any easy way out of being human […] The more we distance ourselves from bad behaviour, the higher we hang our criminals, the further away we can keep them from our own identity the more comfort we derive in the very short run.
In the long run we deny our own humanity. ”
Was this studio downtown? Is that teacher a part of the new AY coalition committee or whatever it’s called?
thanks for going back to Darren’s post, I also thought it was very powerful and telling. It kind of highlights the same issue, with the genders & ages being reversed. Still the strong desire to fit in. From an evolutionary point of view, that is our instinct to survive, to not stand out too much in a group. Very powerful influence, the Hypothalamus is involved somehow with guiding us to fit in, often at a high cost to our integrity & independent thinking.
I was thinking of Darren’s point on standing up & how powerful a sign that could be:
“What if I was able to stand up in front of my Anusara teacher at the right moment and announce that I felt intimidated? How powerful would that potentially have been? What if I stood up and said that and still demanded to know ‘who owns the brand name, Anusara?”
And Brooke’s question, visualizing how we really would have acted ourselves, in a maybe just slightly different set of circumstances.
“What could have happened? With more time, greater desire, a slightly differently constructed belief system? What else might we have agreed to? What further issues might we have overlooked? How much like the people in this situation might be have been, in different circumstances, with different histories or characters?”
I have heard unbelievable stories from people whom I highly respect & who were able to make an exit from an unhealthy power dynamic. They look back and can’t believe the things they did when they were acting “under the influence’ , of peer pressure, desire to fit in, devotion to teachings & a teacher that they felt grateful to. They can actually become the greatest teachers in that way, showing the way to never repeat the suppression of their ethics radar.
To DavidE: Thanks for all your comments, also on previous threads:
“And too, the Malti-Gurumayii-SYDA crap. Having been with a cult like group at one time and witnessed the deceit and unhealthy dysfunctional relationships that developed within the “elders of the collective” I decided that way wasn’t for me.”
It is soothing to me to see that Siddha Yoga in the wider world is recognized for its rampant abuse of power, and not for the sugar-coated glow & glitter of their own marketing, website & edited history telling. That is sometimes easy for me to forget, seeing my long-term friends who are still denying the shadow or doing mental gymnastics to make excuses for the gurus.
I was disappointed that almost none of them saw much importance in the facts I was trying to clue them into. Somehow the pull of the loving community & of habit, I guess, are too strong. The Nile is a river in Egypt.
Someone pointed out previously (was it DavidE?) that SY still has their Wikipedia site locked down & white-washed, except for a few links & allusions to the abuses. I was impressed (& a little envious) with how quickly the Anusara site was updated with the 2012 Scandal as they headed it. I would love to see some more real information being added to SY’s entry there, maybe I’ll work on that. Probably the powers to be at SYDA will answer with some serious push back, but it is a free world on Wikipedia & it would be worth trying. It would feel like some sort of justice in the public arena.
Like David said, once you have experienced the dysfunctional dependencies in a cult-like situation, you can spot them easily for the rest of your life. So I am hoping that many people are waking up now as the kula-aid effect from all the grace / bliss / heart-melty jargon is wearing off. Hopefully, from then on they will be “cult-proof”, vaccinated against future infections, and unwilling to ever fall for that kind of fog again. That is how I feel, personally.
I also strongly agree with “And we need to learn to be okay with being our own spiritual teachers so no one can sell us what we already own.”
It will make for less segregation & less arrogance in the yoga world, and more cross-pollination instead, as people learn to trust their own voices again.
One upshot about the Anusara Fiasco is that it is shedding light on what is wrong with other schools of yoga although the abuses are not as rampant as Anusara that have the great leader worship. In the Iyengar world, their own teachers are questioning the harshness, arrogance, and elitism of some of their senior teachers as very few young people are opting to study Iyengar yoga. In my opinion, this a a positive thing that is occuring in the yoga world. One can respect their teachers without losing their sense of discernment or critical thinking. Unfortunately, critical thinking and Anusara yoga are not compatible.
Urrgghh!!! Every time I try to post something this morning this stupid site it freezes my browser. 3rd time!!!!!!! Try stepping up your bandwidth, YD if you’re trying to join the big leagues. Maybe if you got more advertisers.
I don’t even know if my last response to all of your anonymous snipes posted. Try using a real name at least if you’re going to shoot at someone who stands out in the open.
I only got back on to say this to the anonymous person who made fun of my name calling me “Pennywise’: People used to make fun of my name in 5th grade. 5th grade. ‘Nuff said.
I’ll be over at EJ if anyone has it in their hearts to say something nice. I deserve to not be abused.
You deserved to be laughed at for your arrogance. And you got it. Stay over there. You deserve one another.
How do we get yoga students to make responsible choices?
Newbie students are often unaware that when they pay for classes, workshops or certification from Bikram Inc., Anusara Inc., and Jois Inc. they are not shopping locally. The choice to support the corporate yoga machine results in narrowing the yoga practice playing field. The choice to support yoga chains does significant damage to small business.
Supporting local/neighborhood yoga studios promotes diversity and leads to more consumer choices.
The best way to shop for yoga is try different studios and find one where you feel comfortable and at home. Instunct is a good guide. I am practicing at home mainly as I did not find a yoga studio I am comfortable with in the city I live in.
The sex thing bothers me but not as quite as much as the buying into the certification program and the abuse of financial power. I’m an AY outsider but I connect the dots back to the mothership of SY. People in many big cities donated to new centers that never materialized. Many people who did full time selfless service at the SYDA ashram for decades were let go without pensions or proper world skills in their retirement years. (my major wake up call). I never knew about Lululemon nor about it’s connections to Landmark or it’s corporate yoga structure, nor Friend’s to be honest. It makes sense and connects some missing dots for me. Corporate yoga is an oxymoron just like Friend’s yoga mat shill video. BTW, I remember taking a quick workshop with JF during an intensive at the SY ashram many years ago.
To third eye, thanks for that comment, I like the term “mothership” here, very appropriate. It is good to have a refresher on those aspects of the SYDA looming shadow side.
“I’m an AY outsider but I connect the dots back to the mothership of SY. People in many big cities donated to new centers that never materialized. Many people who did full time selfless service at the SYDA ashram for decades were let go without pensions or proper world skills in their retirement years. (my major wake up call). ”
Also interesting what particular thing broke the spell for different people & made them realize that it was better to leave, it seems to be very individual. All good points here, the donated money being directed into dubious channels, unaccounted for and not used locally as promised.
And the people who devoted sometimes decades of their energy working on staff 24/7, with a minimum stipend, and then suddenly being told to leave the ashram(s). Such a shocking transition, being thrown out by your spiritual teacher, and still having to tell yourself that “it is all for your own growth & sadhana”.
But somehow the sex scandals seem to be always what is most talked about in general. It is harder to really paint the picture of the other power abuses.
I thought my remarks got lost in the sea of comments last night. Glad you noticed. I think the money abuses are far worse than the sex abuse. After watching the jf videos I finally got what a phony creepy guy he is. The ladies seem to have low self-esteem. What disturbs me most is the interconnections to these corporate yogas, landmark, etc. They started in the US during the time of revolutionary activist shut downs , CIA infiltrations of political groups and I wonder if also the rise of phony yoga groups/est for mass brainwashing to destroy critical thinking and self determination.
you hit the nail on the head third eye…THAT is what this is about. Practicing the real art accesses higher consciousness (and I’m not talking yoga speak). Yoga has reached critical mass and they gotta do something to dumb it down. Can’t have that many people thinking critically. Timing of this is striking.
John Friend — the guy in the equation — is still setting the terms. It’s still his co, still his trademark. And he ain’t giving anything away.
In a country where women still only make 77 cents to the male dollar, where women still make up a minority of Congress but a majority of those living in poverty, in a larger world where women and girls are still at higher risk for sexual harassment, molestation, rape, and incest than boys and men, where the majority of people trafficked for sex are female, where the majority of johns are male — the notion that sex between male employers/teachers and femeale employees/students is “no big deal” or would not have serious reprecussions is pathetic and misguided. The women who co-created that situation by acting as Friend’s complictors, enablers and worshippers made work, teaching, and practicing yoga a bit uglier for ALL women. I hope they DO continue to come out and speak and do better. Screw “shri.” tough-mindedness is what’s needed here.
Bring on the feminist perspective! Please educate the Anusara Inc. yoga bimbos.
Sometimes, the “bimbo” could be a “himbo”, with a female or gay male teacher … btw
Rise up! Awake from your post-copulatory slumber, anusarans!
Terminate the colonel’s command.
with extreme prejudice…
“You understand, don’t you, that this mission does not exist … nor will it ever exist …”
Made my night!
He’s out there operating without any decent restraint, totally beyond the pale of any acceptable human conduct. And he is still in the field commanding yoginis.
Your mission is to proceed up the (Houston) River in a Yoga Journal patrol boat. Pick up the Colonel’s path at Wanderlust, follow it and learn what you can along the way. When you find the Colonel, infiltrate his team by whatever means available and terminate the Colonel’s command.
What we got here is a good old fashion AOL style comment show down.
I remember these well from my youth; There is definitely at least 1 teenager involved, perhaps posing as few people to support her/his own ludicrous arguments (‘WINNING’, ‘Consent’, and ‘fahfahfahfah’ are all the same person and they are probably some prankster who just took their first Anthropology course). Look, I used to do this all the time to mess with people in chat rooms.
Ah yes, Rio.
You make a good point. The negative side of this conversation all have a similar voice.
Speaking of similar voice read this trite and ridiculous crap on EJ: Yoginis: Time to Woman Up! ~ Toongi Dasi
Bio: ” Toongi is a third culture person who has lived most of her adult life in India studying the literature and lore of Bengali Vaishnavism under the guidance of her guru. She currently resides in the United States where she teaches meditation techniques and dishes out unsolicited advice to the lovelorn in the tradition of Vatsyayana, the celibate sex guru of Kama Sutra fame.”
SRJB, I did go read that. My first thought was that there really is some network of people running a carefully scripted damage-control campaign, circling the wagons around JF.
And then I read her Valentine’s Day entry, where she teaches us how to balance demands of love-life against dharmic devotion by learning to simplify:
“…Keeping things simple will look different to each of us.
For the polyamorous rotating a harem of 5 or 6 partners, simplifying might look like cutting down to just 2 or 3. On the other hand for the person in a (childless) relationship with just one other partner who is nevertheless averse to one’s goal of liberation, simplifying might look like saying your final salam to him/her and living a single life or finding a dharmically inclined partner.”
For the polyamorous rotating a harem of 5 or 6 partners? WTF!
With some trepidation, given last night’s comment thread, let me respectfully say … ethical polyamory does exist. People do consensually practice intimate non-monogamy.
I wasn’t particularly impressed with Toongi’s article, either. I tend not to be impressed with articles that begin with something along the lines of “I don’t know anything about this, but…”
Having said that — polyamory is an interesting point, here. It’s possible that the married people involved in this situation were polyamorous. It’s possible, then, that everyone involved gave consent for Mr. Friend to be this or that woman’s lover, including her husband. That would change the ethics of the situation, for me.
I find it … unlikely. But it’s possible. There’s not really any way to know for sure.
That’s FUNNY! Tricksters are the best. And the always manage to most rile up the biggest control freaks among us. They were great!
Oh, AOL …
They really were the days, weren’t they?
I don’t think my erstwhile friends on this thread were all the same person. But I’m definitely laughing at that picture. Thanks!
There are many negative traits that could be attributed to JF. That some care to mention his “pudginess” in that light is insightful as to the general aesthetic elitism that permeates the larger yoga community; something I have always suspected, lately confirmed.
Hey, that was me. Maybe someone else too, but I referred to his pudginess last page. I felt okay saying that because I like pudginess. I try to not objectify people, but when I’m in an objectifying mood, a little extra is what I look for. There’s something for everybody, you know. I’ve been pudgy on and off, too. So I was not judging him or ridiculing him based on his physical attributes, but making a statement that his attributes are not the most popular in our culture. My point was that our culture as a whole does tend to marginalize the voluptuous or pudgy so that the fact that he had this seemingly endless supply of willing partners had more to do with his position of power.
I think there is definitely some aesthetic elitism in yoga but it is part of our society in general. I’ve read one fairly old Indian yoga instruction manual from one of the “-anandas” and every pose had some little blurb about how “fat” people will elicit rounds of laughter when they try this pose, or will topple over to everyone’s delight in that pose. If that was representative, in the West we might be a little more kind.
Please take no offense at my comment. My assumption in making it was that some elitism does exist.
No offense taken, and your explanation makes perfect sense. I have just seen that reference numerous times from different sources, so I thought I would make my observation. It is just one of those things that I have always sensed, but of course no one would ever come out and say it.
Since I also commented Horst’s introduction
of the pudginess factor, here is why I thought it was interesting:
It just illustrated for me that in terms of all those affairs, the power element must have been much more important, versus all these women just falling hopelessly in love with a super-fit muscled beauty star, like Rodney Yee.
As an aside, this is what USA Today wrote about him pre-scandal: “Startlingly beautiful with his bronzed, supple body and pigtail, Rodney Yee, 45, a former philosophy major from the University of California-Berkeley, has become the “it” boy of American yoga.” He was sued by students in 2002 for sexual , don’t know too much about it, just that it supposedly was a mirror image of JF’s story, with less of the cult / community elements in AY. In 2002, he was sued by a fellow teacher for “inappropriate behavior” with students. In the suit, it says that it “represents an abuse of power and is unbecoming of a healer or a teacher….His refusal to accept that he needs help in this area and his attempts to blame the women involved puts more students at risk.”
The element of physical appearance was brought back for me by seeing JF live on the videos. I remember him more as a rather dorky, thin younger man in SY ashrams. (Even then he insisted on starting to wear tight shorts for his classes, which was unheard of in the ashram policies for “modest” personal attire.)
As I see him now, he looks more like a picture of debauchery – a roman emperor who ate quite a few cheese quesadillas, as Brian pointed out, and is showing the signs of having excessively indulged in a life style out of balance.
I do agree with the “general aesthetic elitism” in yoga & it is not my intention to add to that.
“Wow, that was a prolific Sunday here in terms of thinking & writing, lots to catch up with!
I’m just going to post this here at the end, even though it is referring to an earlier side thread. Would like to comment on many things, but it may be too much.
To Brooke, WINNING & Consent, Fahfahfahfah – thanks for battling it all out, it did help me clarify things, even though I’m sorry it got so heated. (I am still going with the assumption that you are different voices & people, even though two of you living in the same household). I felt Brooke was called some unfair names in the course of it. I appreciate her taking the time to respond again & again. I also still feel that beyond the oppositional feel of the back & forth, there is probably a lot of common ground here (maybe Fahfahfahfah said that).
I guess one problem is that we get our feelings hurt & egos offended and then want to dig in our heels to prove the other party right (also from my own experience of feeling attacked & undermined in comment sections on EJ). I still really appreciate the spirit of open debate here, but I’m also longing for us to not offend each other to the point that communication becomes impossible. If we did it in person, a skilled neutral facilitator could probably help with keeping things more even-keel and focused on what was really said & meant.
I do feel for Fahfahfahfah’s story, the family getting abandoned for the secretary. Also thanks to Consent for sharing the experience of how affairs with the boss “cheapen the office environment” and make it harder for the rest of the women who chose not to go that route. That also sounds like a very valid concern from the men in AY, like Horst, realizing that it is not a level playing field if women use this to advance.
A therapist friend of mine got a call a few years ago from a man whose wife was abandoning him & their children. She was going off with JF, living the high Shri life on tour, and it caused a lot of suffering. The therapist could see the cult elements in what the husband told him, the power abuse by a semi-spiritual teacher figure up who was up on a pedestal. It is obvious that this whole thing is worth discussing, because it is prevalent in our society, not just AY. It will continue to happen, in many cases unconsciously & not premeditated.
Brooks said: “But none of us lives on an isolated desert island somewhere. So if a woman’s boss says to her, “Do you want to have sex,” and she says “Yes,” but is so damn smitten with him, or whatever, that she doesn’t clearly think through questions like, “Will this put me on the tenure fast-track? Is that fair? Will it put my workplace behind ten years in the fight for equal rights for women? Is that fair? Should I tell my husband? Is it fair if I don’t,” etc. — then, sure, that’s consent, but it’s quite a bit on the muddled side. It means she hasn’t thought through the ramifications. It means that she didn’t, for instance, consent to the kind of workplace vitriol she might face when the news gets around, or to the potential dissolution of her marriage. She said yes to the sex, but not to the fullness of the consequences of it. That’s what I mean by muddled consent.” That summed up the ethical dilemma well for me.
I just feel like adding a little bit from an evolutionary point of view. This is how humanity survived & multiplied. Mother nature didn’t care which children came out of wedlock or from extramarital affairs. Genetically, we are set up to act on sexual attraction, without thinking much about the ramifications of our acts in the moment. For millenia, that is where our bodies & hormones have been steering us. Men’s bodies are designed to spread their genes as far and often as possible, especially with young fertile-looking women.
Some men have a harder time than others suppressing those instincts & get into trouble with society. When they are in powerful positions, their risk assessment changes & they get overly confident & greedy, until maybe at some point it reaches a tipping point. Then they get caught & society protests against it. Women gravitate towards powerful older men who look like good providers & protectors, to put it in simplistic terms.
As a passionate feminist & rebel I spent many years proving myself that these rules don’t apply to my life. At this point in time, I find it interesting to acknowledge that we are trying to reconcile our deep-seated instincts with our evolving consciousness, which is not a small task. As Horst said, there is still a cavemen thing going on. And even if we don’t act it out ourselves explicitely, we are affected by those around us who do.
I just read a few new books on that: “The Female Brain”, “The Male Brain” by Louanne Brizendine, “Sex at Dawn” is another one like that, which David E had quoted from earlier. I hope I’m not offending anyone with this. It has been good for me to read about it, the fact that our feminist advances are more like a flash in the pan in the context of evolution.
Now our job is to catch up in our consciousness, and define our new rules of consent, as Darren & Brooks were talking about. How can we do it, without pretending that humans have those ingrained tendencies? And without falling into something like Anusaraspeak, where there is no room for discussion & critical thought?
Thanks, Darren, for your last posts:
“In some ways it doesn’t make sense for anyone to be called whore. Everyone is using many types of power in order to survive, thrive and prosper.[…]
For me the key is to get comfortable with the powers we have and use them as constructively as possible.
I don’t mean to ignore the consent thread I definetly think that’s a big part of it and way before anyone has sex or becomes a whore there is a whole lot of consensual cultural behavior that happens. […]
I do think however that the tendency resides in all of us. I think a huge part of the anger coming out about this comes from the deceit. I think the anusaries were largely trying to sell the idea that their organization was about transcending these issues. The disappointment is all the more painful when the pretense was that the problem of sex and power had been transcended.”
Brooke, sorry the word whore is in there again a few times. I have come to understand your point better, arguing against the use of it.
Darren, thanks for directing it to a more subtle level, back to how we all are manipulators to some degree, selling our point of view in life. I have been thinking about that recently, as I ask myself why I am so touched by Anusaragate. Where am I lying, even just a little bit, to look better or have things my way?
Somewhere in Buddhism, there it that exercise to work on eliminating your gross lies. Once you get better at controlling your impulse to lie, you get to your more subtle lies. Then you try to live without those, too, or at least examine when & why you lie. I think I am ready for another round of that kind of exploration.
The world of glaze-eyed groupies following around any “powerful guy” — dorky or pudgy or not — is a world I just can’t and don’t want to relate to. This goes back to my own adolescence, which I spent as a punked out riot grrrl in full ownership of my own talents and capacities for resistance. These are choices and awarenesses many of us have been living for decades. The anusari women looked/look like milque-toast idiots to me, as all groupies always have. Judgmental? Fuck yes. And I don’t care. I will not be lumped in with them just because I have a vulva.
I also disagree with the socio-biological explanation/excuses that are in fashion from psych these days. It’s another spin on “Men are from Mars…” and it seeks to normalize irresponsible behavior on the part of all human beings.
I spent my college years volunteering at a rape crisis center and bringing that to campus during the worst of the date rape drug crisis. I’m not interested in the consent thread. These are arguments I have already had — over and over and over. Those are battles I’ve already fought. Different people on that thread were trying to stretch different terms, and those they chose to try to stretch were simply not to one another’s taste. Get over it.
I swear to god, with the yoga world, it’s like the last forty-five years of feminism never happened. It’s the same and worse over on EJ. That little prick Waylon has the gall to try to take the guts out of feminism and label it “equalism.” And all the little girls nod and smile, nod and smile, nod and smile and gush, trying oh so hard for male approval. It’s sick.
My patience is done.
Yes, it is shocking that feminism is under assault from all over (the Republican Party comes to mind) and that the progress made of many years is sliding.
And I agree about how unfortunate it is that JF’s lack of ethics has been excused because the women “consented”. I am sure that any therapist who has worked with abused women will confirm that few, if any, of these women would have consented had they not been groomed and mesmerized by a master manipulator. I have no doubt that many of JF’s victims feel violated and humiliated but are reluctant to come forward because they “consented” and they fear the fall out.
When Amrit Desai fell from grace at Kripalu the women accusing him of sexual impropriety were largely shunned and ridiculed by the members of the ashram. After all, these women were ruining the bubble they called home. The women courageously followed through and successfully sued Desai for damages.
I hope that if just one of JF’s victims can find the courage to hold him accountable and maybe others (including those who were not sexually harmed but were shunned and the victims of whisper campaigns) will follow. Otherwise, all in the yoga community lose credibility.
I have no idea what happened, except that Friend said he had sex w/ students and e,ployees and married women and “coven memebrs.”. I doubt those who had sexual relations w/ Friend will ever come forward. The women’s own yoga community made them look less than credible, because it was full of yognis who created an entire culture around kissing the rod. That vid w/ the woman sitting there in pigeon while Friend preached about discipleship as service makes me sick. But she just kept sitting there, and the other yoginis watched, smiling smiling smiling…..Yes, they were Stepford wives all right. It’s nauseating to waatch women give their power away.
I don’t think anybody here means to justify what went on based on the biological or instinctual component. To see a distinction between what is being written here and what an actual justification looks like, read Noongi’s piece (thanks SRJB) over at EJ:
It’s still important to acknowledge that the dynamic being discussed does exist. Just like how we should be aware that as humans we all have the capacity to enjoy cruelty if it is socially sanctioned, as proved over and over by history and psychological experimentation. Knowing this gives us a better chance at recognizing when someone seeks to take advantage of our nature.
We can be quite sure that JF was a master of psychology and used it for manipulation and for getting what he wanted.
Not getting lumped in with groupies is more about the choices we make and definitely not, as you say, not about if we have a vulva. I think for people who get pulled into trance mentality, maybe it is the biology that takes over.
This is why I never liked all the heart melty lingo and heart themed classes and “follow your heart’s deepest desire” crap. It seems counter to exercising critical thought.
“It’s still important to acknowledge that the dynamic being discussed does exist. Just like how we should be aware that as humans we all have the capacity to enjoy cruelty if it is socially sanctioned, as proved over and over by history and psychological experimentation.”
I agree. And that’s an parallel I hadn’t thought of … but yes. An apt one. Again, there, it’s about the things people will do for approval.
The image of the man on top of the woman in the article is hilarious. Toongi’s editor Hayley Samuelson must have picked it out to illustrate the positive aspects of the power inequity in teacher/student sexual relationships. Interesting choice…
I find this really interesting. I also spent my college years volunteering at a rape-crisis center. It’s actually why I feel the way I do about consent.
I knew a lot of women who hadn’t, by the legal definition of the term, been raped. But their consent had been violated in traumatizing ways, even if legally no charge would stand. And a lot of them ran into serious, ongoing issues because they didn’t feel like they could lay claim to the term “rape.” It was a problem of definitions. They felt like that if they couldn’t actually call themselves rape victims, they didn’t have the right to feel as violated as they felt.
So it was empowering for some of them to be able to pan out … to look at the broader situation. Did they feel manipulated? Did they feel that a person who had consented to take responsibility for their well-being then acted against that well-being in callous, even cruel, ways? If so, then the situation they’d been in was just not okay. Just not ethical. Even if it wasn’t technically illegal, it was unethical, coercive, abusive, unacceptable.
Sometimes, if I was able to tell someone, “Look, he may not have legally assaulted you, but what he did was way, way ethically out of bounds, and of *course* you feel violated,” … sometimes that made a big difference.
Brooke, I’m not sure when you did all that, and I’m not sure I believe you (though of course I can’t prove my claims here either about my own work in the past.) Though the Antioch sexual consent policy from the early nineties got a lot of shit from the media, it was an honest student attempt to change campus sexual culture. There have also been TONS of other kinds of work done on the issue — research, monographs, sexual consent policies for campuses, Men Against Rape groups on campuses, on and on. It’s very regional, and it’s patchy, but the change is real. Consent is in fact a legal term. That is a very serious matter. And no, I’m N OT debating that. You can pick around it ball you want, but really, why not just write your academic paper about it and be done? That’s all these abstractions matter for here.
This is part of my frustration — the ponderousness and nit-pickiness of this thread inidcates folks don’t understand just how much the world has moved on, politically, legally, and culturally, and certainly in terms of feminist legal theory. My point is that Anusara culture, and even the larger yoga culture, is and was BEHIND, lagging BEHIND the rest of the culture about these things. These Anusara women acted and still to some extent do behave like post-feminist sorority girls, which is of course all about white upper class young women competing with one another for the ill-gotten goods of the white male-dominated imperalist capitalist culture. This of course is well-represented by the little “woman-up” thingy on EJ, which I skimmed. She reads like Katie Roiphie on coke. It’s utterly contemptible. It’s backwards, ignorant, and stupid. But then, that is my view of Anusara culture and a LOT of yoga culture.
In other words, why not just go and do the research and broaden your vocabulary, instead of treating these threads like an online class you’re facilitating? On and on and on and on.
Whatever. It’s a personal judgment call.
Personally, I am not interested in supporting a yoga culture in that centered on vanity, materialism, and individual greed. Not interested in supporting or helping to finance Amy Ippoliti’s next trip to Tuscany. If anything, in addition to John Friend doing some serious long-term work hauling trash and serving in soup kitchens, ALL Anusara women in that top tier should do some long-term work serving in battered women’s shelters and working as court advocates for rape victims themselves. Not b/c I think any AY women were raped by John Friend, but b/c their entire sicked-out, fucked up flyover high-octane-career culture should get brought down to earth. Augh!
Look at reality TV and the over sexualized media the young girls were raised in. That has a lot to do with why they might feel their behavior is normal. I’m not condoning the young girls but the outside influences are there in abundance. The EJ article could have been an Onion article it was so absurd. The harem mentality is in my business too, really grosses me out when women of all ages fawn over the men and give their power away. And the men run with the power instead of sharing it. I wonder why a culture that worships the goddess still treats women like crap in the 21 century.
I think you’re wasting your time and energy on your frustration. Yoga, as I said downthread (upthread?) is not feminist. Maybe the millenials got containerized by social media to the point that the gender-culture gains of the 2nd & 3rd waves of feminism were lost on them — (Brooke seems to certainly not be up to date, or maybe she is but just loves to watch herself post, like a lot of process-oriented women), but the head teachers of Anusara are boomers and gen-x. Old enough to have known and done better. Plus, there have always been feminist online sites and subcultures that women of all ages could turn to. The reality tv is not the only gender culture resource out there. There will always be women who want to live freely, and women who choose to be Stepford wives — just like with men. The Anusaris wanted to be followers. So they were.
Hi Thanks & Sari,
I appreciate getting some more education on current feminism & how AY has been lagging behind it for some time. It sounds like there is a lot to it.
“Maybe the millenials got containerized by social media to the point that the gender-culture gains of the 2nd & 3rd waves of feminism were lost on them.” Sari (& third eye), that is food for thought, looking at the sexualized media soup that those young women were immersed in during their formative years, and still are, for that matter.
This also made me laugh: “This of course is well-represented by the little “woman-up” thingy on EJ, which I skimmed. She reads like Katie Roiphie on coke.”
(I confess I had to look her up, too – she is described as a Big Immature Baby, N.Y.U. teacher & date rape apologist)
This also sounds like a great idea: “If anything, in addition to John Friend doing some serious long-term work hauling trash and serving in soup kitchens, ALL Anusara women in that top tier should do some long-term work serving in battered women’s shelters and working as court advocates for rape victims themselves.”
Matthew Remski, the ayurvedic-inspired writer brought up the soup kitchen & volunteering & gardening idea for JF, which I thought was brilliant. All that would be preferable to Amy insisting on her entitlement to retreats in Tuscany. (reminds me a little bit of Mitt Romney, out of touch with how most people make their living).
Sari, sex-negative feminism really isn’t my thing. If that puts me behind the times, I’m happy to be behind.
In the beginning of this kerfluffle, Darren threw some thoughts out there about how to act ethically within our desires; I responded that one important step in that direction was for everyone to own his or her responsibility for gaining the consent for his or her sexual intimacy from not just his or her sexual partners, but also from anyone directly affected emotionally, psychologically or professionally by that sexual intimacy. I stand by that statement.
If you’d care to offer me an analysis from the perspective of the third wave that posits something different — perhaps that ethical consent isn’t important, or that everyone in the situation wasn’t responsible for gaining it from the people in their lives (their husbands, for instance) affected by their sexual decisions — then please, feel free. I’ve never read a third-wave argument that posits either of those things. Go for it.
Katie Roiphi is number 5 on the 2011 Salon Hack List
That was perfect, loved it!
If you were part of the Antioch consent policy era, then good for you. It was a huge stride.
Of course consent is a legal term. As well it should be. That’s vital, and so is the ongoing fight for its legal expansion.
But legal consent doesn’t go far enough for me. I’ve encountered a lot of people dealing with trauma stemming from sexual situations in which, legally, technically, no consent was violated. I’m sure you have, as well. Did those women consent to being traumatized? No. They didn’t. And we need to hold each other ethically accountable for unethical actions, not just legally accountable for illegal ones. I can’t imagine that you’d disagree with that statement. If you do — truly, with no snarkiness intended — then why do you? Help me understand your point of view.
You don’t have to believe my statements about my history, just as I don’t have to believe yours. I do believe yours, for the record. And, given the context of this conversation, I find the statement “I’m not sure I believe you” really, really ironic, girl. How many times in your life have you fought for women whose statements about their own personal histories were disbelieved? How many? Because I can’t even count the number of times I have.
I’ve fought my whole life against people who want to call women whatever name they see fit, for whatever reason, with or without any actual, clear, firsthand knowledge about her life. And who think it’s okay to walk all over people’s ethical boundaries while just skirting the line of their legal ones. And who tell me I make them nauseous when I argue that those things are terrible.
I don’t like feeling like I’m fighting all those same battles from the inside, with my allies. That sucks.
This is the INTERNET. We all read women posters w the same skepticism as we read men.
Right. You’re totally right. Disbelieving each other’s stories about sexual violence is productive. After all, we all could be lying asshats, just trying to get a rise out of the feminists. Or making it up.
Next time someone posts a story about date rape on the intarwebz, I think I’ll use that line. “Hey, this is INTERNET. You totally could be making this up.”
Okay. Off elsewhere. We’ve clearly had quite enough of each other.
Oh, fuck off, Brooke. Any time people challenge you they are not Doubting All Women About All Things. You are not All Women or All Feminists. You’re a long-winded tiresome dullard. You’d be that way if you had a penis.
Internet civility reigns again. Awesome.
Thank you kindly, Sari. Dullard’s a new one. I do appreciate some variety, now and then.
Thanks very much for this — you have a thoughtful and clear voice, much like Darren, and I enjoy reading the points you raise. This one, in particular:
“As a passionate feminist & rebel I spent many years proving myself that these rules don’t apply to my life. At this point in time, I find it interesting to acknowledge that we are trying to reconcile our deep-seated instincts with our evolving consciousness, which is not a small task. ”
Nail, head, bam. That’s precisely it. No small task, indeed.
As a passionate feminist and rebel, I also spent many years trying to prove to myself that these rules didn’t apply to my life. But the older I get, the more nuanced the issue seems. I had a therapist a few years ago, for instance, who started telling me he loved me. This man was my father’s age. I fired him, obviously. But I didn’t do it the first time he told me he loved me. Or the second. Why? Because we had a relationship that was important to me. Because he was part of the support structure of my life. Because up until that point, he’d been a good therapist; his approval and care helped me care more about myself. So I let him cross a line, several times, before I remembered my sixteen-year-old, badass, much less nuanced self, and how furious she was about this breach of ethical boundaries. She didn’t give a crap about my instinctual desire for his approval. She was just pissed. I’m glad she’s in my head.
But she wasn’t my first reaction. My first reaction gives me an inkling, however small, however distantly related, of what it may have been like for the people in this situation who walked across ethical lines.
“Somewhere in Buddhism, there it that exercise to work on eliminating your gross lies. Once you get better at controlling your impulse to lie, you get to your more subtle lies. Then you try to live without those, too, or at least examine when & why you lie. I think I am ready for another round of that kind of exploration.”
I love it … I was just talking about this with a coworker today. Except we were calling it “the bullshit principle.” I said that part of what I loved in my yoga process was the ever-deepening exploration of my own bullshit.
Here’s to exploring!
Thanks for the story. I haven’t thought about it in years but you just reminded me of a personal life story similar to your therapist story. After a near failed high school education I went to community collage to make one last effort at education.
I was around twenty years old. My adviser took a liking to me. I didn’t understand for a while but he started to flirt. I always felt and percieved myself as hetero but for some reason didn’t really get bothered by male attraction. In any case he flirted more and more. One year when reviewing my grades he said “we should try to fix one of them.” Days later the grade was turned into an A. I guess he had some pull at the collage.
The following year he came out with this. “It’s simple Darren, I can get you into Yale.” Later he made it clear as day. He was offering sex in exchange for grades. He seemed to have the ability to get proffessors to change grades. Wow. I stopped using him as my counseler and advisor. He continued to act in a powerful arrogant way with me in the hallways or whenever I saw him until. One day in a public place I started to ask him about the details of his proposal. I did it on purpose. It worked. From then on he just about ran when he saw me in the hallways.
Still. Makes me think I was probably compelled to take a pretty big part in working on this Anusara thing for what it perhaps brought up for me. I still lost big time. I went on to get a degree elsewhere but still lost a lot from that. I think I lost some trust in ‘the system’ for a little while. I also lost a reputable source or person to vouch for me.
Remembering this makes me have so much more compassion for the Anusara women. Lets not forget how many of them are so young and impressionable. That period of time in our twenties we’re so wanting to ‘be on a mission’ and prove to the world and ourselves that we have a value, can contribute something, and are beautiful. Such an easy trap to fall into.
So incredibly ironic that one of the mantra’s of the Anusaries is, “you’re perfect and beautiful just as you are.” How it is that this co-mingles with the consept of the mission they were all on. I think the truth is that when we humans feel deeply ok/perfect and beautiful, we feel less of a need to be missionaries. Again that Idea that what we’re feeling on the inside is reflected in our attitude toward the outside. My lesson, “when someone’s on a mission to convince me to ‘fix the outside world’ something is perhaps not feeling ok for them on the inside world.”
Darren, thank you. It was a while ago. But it’s amazing how much that stuff lingers — like you said in your post, above. You lost access to legitimate advancement when you opted out of his illegitimate tactics. Even when you stand up in that situation, call it what it is, remove yourself from it — you’re still at a disadvantage, in a lasting way. I’m sorry that happened.
I’m really glad you shared it, though. Like your story about your first Anusara instructor, it’s a valuable corollary, and inverse, to the way these stories have happened to me, or to the women I know. Thanks very much.
I love this:
“Remembering this makes me have so much more compassion for the Anusara women. Lets not forget how many of them are so young and impressionable. That period of time in our twenties we’re so wanting to ‘be on a mission’ and prove to the world and ourselves that we have a value, can contribute something, and are beautiful. Such an easy trap to fall into.”
Being on the mission — yes, yes, yes. That’s what I saw in the Anusara instructors I know. That desire. It’s a lovely desire. Lovely enough to turn into a trap.
Most of the instructors I know have resigned. As for the ones who haven’t — I know this is all really complicated, for them. I’m glad to hear your compassion. It’s not easy to look behind that curtain and find a deeply fallible man instead of a wizard. It makes me grateful for the sort of knee-jerk cynicism I tend to feel about certain kinds of powerful men. If you’ve been disillusioned in that way once, you don’t tend to have to learn the lesson twice.
I’m wondering, now, what they’ll re-shape that disillusionment into. It’s a lot energy. IRM (I think) mentioned the Matthew Remski pieces on the situation, all of which I think are dead-on, and in which he talks about instructors needing to take that energy back into their local, small communities. Thanks mentioned something similar, above — turn more inward. Teach smaller classes. Go work at the soup kitchen. Get your hands dirty. I agree with her.
I like the thought of hundreds of people taking all the energy of this thing and using it to make their own communities more vibrant.
Here’s hoping, hmm?
Also, sorry for your loss regarding your therapist
Most of the Anusara head teachers are in their thirties and forties. Old enough to know better, and choose better. They didn’t.
Yoga is not feminist. Yoga is not Buddhist. Yoga, in America, is a lifestyle niche for upper middle class mostly white people. It isextremely expensive, insular, and vain.
The world of yoga teachers is rife with body dysmorphia, eating disorders and rx drug abuse, the same as the world of dance and other performing arts.
You people are as naive as you are long-winded. You have no idea, apparently, what goes on behind the scenes.
Thank goodness I never cared to know. I just got bad vibes from those teachers from my community who taught yoga but always seemed to have a stick up their bums and I ran far far away.
Interesting comment, I had to look up “dysmorphia” – a type of chronic mental illness in which you can’t stop thinking about a flaw with your appearance. Good word, sounds like the sign of the times. Many people here have pointed to that vain aspect of American yoga, as seen in the abundance of glossy yoga ads. They indeed show mostly white young women, culminating in the recent completely naked ad for those indispensable yoga socks .
I also agree that the senior teachers are mostly in their 30ies & forties, not too young to show discrimination. Bernadette Birney just celebrated her 40th birthday, as she writes on her blog about her experience of resigning from AY. http://bernadettebirney.com/blog By the way, her writing is one of the highlights for me in this debate & I have come to trust her voice quite a bit. Plus, she is funny. Today she posted “The Art of Melting Down”, I added a quote from it below.
Not that you have to read it, because you said we are being long-winded. Which brings me to my question – why do you have to label us as naive, and as having no idea about what goes on behind the scenes? I think this is a composite picture & we are all contributing. I find your reports of eating disorders etc interesting & believable; however it is probably not the whole picture of yoga.
One of my favorite yoga classes is in my dirt-cheap gym close by. The teacher is a gem, and admittedly, she is a white, probably middle class woman. People go to her 3 classes a week religiously, which comes down to less than a $1 a class or so per month. From what I hear, her classes have been filled for more than 9 years. There are usually about 40 people in the class, many of them retirement age, Vietnamese, Filipino, Chinese or White, “pudgy” or “not pudgy”, just a nice cross-section of the area we live in. Some of the Asian demographic may consider themselves Buddhists, some may like feminism (that would be true at least for me & the teacher).
It is not expensive, insular or vain, just very down-home & accessible & excellent yoga. Another friend of mine, a gifted teacher, loves teaching yoga in gyms because of the energy & diversity of many people doing it together. So how about the yoga world in gyms? Isn’t that a part of the equation, too?
Sorry, couldn’t resist being long-winded…
From Bernadette’s blog, exploring her life beyond Anusara Inc.:
“In Stage 1, we melt down. Whether our world comes to a screeching halt in an instant, or whether it slowly grinds to a halt, life as we have previously known it is over. Stage 1 is scary. It’s always scary. Most of us do not willingly enter the darkness of the cocoon. I know this is very true for me. I do not go willingly into that good night. I go kicking and screaming, holding onto familiarity with every last ounce of my strength.”
I was referrring to large-scale corporate yoga like AY.
Thanks for bringing up the the Kripalu tale, which had a happy ending in that way. It could be taken as an example of how a spiritual community kicked the cult leader out & went on to flourish as a path. That could only happen after the grievances were opened up & retributions were paid.
Kripalu is often taken as one of the few times that enough people got the message (see e.g. Jack Kornfield “Path with a Heart”, in the chapter on “The Emperor’s Clothes: Problems with Teachers”). Amrit Desai was never allowed to come back, and they were able to salvage some of the good parts of their teachings.
However, from Carol Horton’s blog it looks like Amrit is now again teaching at another yoga retreat of sorts in Florida, with no mention in his bio of his previous dark history. So people are still flocking to him under a new umbrella & brand, even though at least it is looks like it is happening on a smaller scale. And the original abuses are on record, for anyone bothering to look it up.
I believe Yoga Mama that at first the women who came forward ran into hostile & vicious resistance. But then I heard, they brought in counselors for the remaining people to help work with their feelings of betrayal & disillusionment. So I think it was done in sort of an exemplary way.
I agree that a law suit would be a very helpful element in clarifying what went on. One law suit would allow other women to come forward (see Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Herman Cain & so on & so forth). Once one woman goes on the record & speaks out publicly, others will come out of the shadows & substantiate her experience. But that woman has to have a lot of courage to stand up to a firestorm of insults trying to discredit her. It will change her life forever. She will be cross-examined by anybody from types like Rush L. to the still loyal followers, women & men alike, who don’t want their “bubble” to get ruined. I guess she will have to have thick skin to withstand the barrage.
Still, a successful law suit on the record would be something that couldn’t be so easily forgotten.
Horst & SQRB, I read Noongi’s piece over at EJ, which is not a pleasant read and indeed sounds like a justification. It doesn’t sound like she has done much research on what is really going on, or if she did, she managed to leave most of the important points untouched. A little shocking how many positive responses were written below.
Toongi says that women are “playing the victim card” and “by nature hypergamous”. She neglects to call out the swindler and makes no meaningful effort to educate the swindled. Her article points the finger of culpability at the followers and let’s JF off the hook.
I wish more yoga students would questioning authority and learn to follow the money.
Thanks for your recent post and for the many before it. Gotta love those Buddhism exercises. I’ve never really done any but read a bit of Buddhism and I think somehow integrated it into my thinking.
I don’t know if buddhism has an exercise for it or not but over the last several months I started to percieve most of what I said to others as deeply rooted in my own need to hear those things. The amplatude of my speaking seemed to always correspond to the amplatude of my need to hear it. Many thoughts come in riddles though. Like dealing with a teenager. “I don’t give a damn about you,” shouted out obviously meaning its opposite.
Anyway, it’s kind of another fun ride to take! As I continued to do it I swear my speach started to soften. It has been as if finally realizing I’m talking to myself I lowered the volumn as it became less important for me to reach the other person or persons. Believe me I’m not turning psychotic or narcissistic.
Thanks to everyone for thoughts and sharing about Anusara. I’ve gained a lot of perspective on it from everyone.
Please read Joel Kramer and Diana Alstad’s book The Guru Papers: Masks of Authoritarian Power.
Link to video: http://blip.tv/yogiviews/yogiviews-trailer-joel-kramer-and-diana-alstad-on-anusara-yoga-6043889
Link to website: http://www.joeldiana.com/guru_papers.html
@Brooke & Thanks,
I was truly amazed to read last night about both of your commitment to volunteer at a rape crisis center during college. I actually wanted to call out to you to say: “See, you have so much in common, I had a feeling!” It must take a very strong person to do that kind of work. I was grateful to know that there are such things as rape lines. I never had to call one personally, but I knew that they would be available to me.
I actually felt like I was proud of both of you for walking the talk of feminism & making yourselves available that way!
Thanks, you said: “Brooke, I’m not sure when you did all that, and I’m not sure I believe you (though of course I can’t prove my claims here either about my own work in the past.)” What would be her reason to make such a thing up? Does is just not fit your image of Brooke, or are you surprised that you have such common history? I think a certain amount of trust is helpful at some point.
Thanks pointed out that we are not talking about rape per se in JF’s case, but obviously it is such a big topic in a woman’s life. Always hanging over you, as the sword of Damokles, keeping women in fear & from going for their heart’s desire. My in-suppressible desire was traveling & hitchhiking for some years. I felt somewhat impervious to the rape threat, but I knew I was pushing the envelope. If something of that sort would happen to me, everybody would come running to tell me that I was “asking for it” etc. What were you thinking hitchhiking & walking around in Africa, women should never travel alone!
So I did feel that isolation of going against the stream, and felt I that I had to shoulder the risk by myself. Even some girl-friends kept trying to dissuade me. Anyway, just wanted to share my gratitude for women backing each other up. (Not to exclude the men here, but they are probably not supposed to answer a rape line.)
There’s plenty of reason. People claim experience like that all the time in political debates to up their own credibility. I’ve looked back through these threads, and Brooke does seem to work from a desire to control other people’s language and dominate discussions. You may not feel the same — okay. But I’m tired of this now. I’m getting to be one of the people thinking, shut up already about this, but not from a repressive pr-John Friend vantage point. It’s just….on and on and on and on.
Thanks for those thoughts. I appreciate it.
It’s not the first time someone’s disagreed with me stringently online. Or distrusted what I say. It’s likely not to be the last. I *am* longwinded, frankly, and it gets under people’s skin. Chalk it up to the perils of writing for a living — concision isn’t my strong suit.
I’m also grateful when women back each other up. Thanks for doing so.
Also, for the record — hitchhking through Africa? Oh, wow — what awesome stories you must have. Good for you!
If you wrote well, Brooke, you’d’ve learned to be conicse a long time ago. Your writing is awful.
….about as well as I type, ha ha!
YAWN. List your publications and we’ll believe you. Beyond that, go live your life. The rest of us got on with ours a LONG time ago.
I’m a copywriter, Thanks, not a novelist, creative writing minor aside. My list of publications is a list of marketing websites that would bore you to tears. It’s boring writing, frankly. But it pays.
I’m not sure who “the rest of us” is, but if you’re among them, and hanging out on the internet insulting people’s writing when you get tired of insulting their arguments is your version of getting on with your life, then I’ll respectfully decline.
Well, maybe people were being obnoxious. But OTOH, when other women roll their eyes and tell you to fuck off, maybe that should be a clue about how you come across. Good writing considers audience. Anything else is online masturbation. Maybe whatever good ideas were being exchanged, and whatever spirit of honest discourse was there, got undercut by the LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG posts, plus the repressiveness of trying to control other people’s language. Maybe that stuff puts people off as much as saying fuck or whore or whatever. Even terms like “courtesy” and “insults” are relative. But go on, go on, you 3 — sure, enjoy. Long-post away.
Good point, Hmm. Thanks.
Write on Brooke !
I can only say the same, Darren. Anyone who gets tired of it, why couldn’t you just drift away, without having to tell one person that her writing is “awful” & that she should “go live her life”? It kind of sets up an intense atmosphere, beyond of productive discussion.
I’m all for voicing different opinions. But if it gets that rough who is going to be next to be told to stay silent? What is the difference, since you are saying it “not from a repressive pr-John Friend vantage” point? It still feels repressive to me.
Wow, that was well done, looks like you are a tough sparring partner, Brooke!
I was wondering the same thing, about the “we” angle, like in “we’ll believe you”. Made me feel like pointing out that I can’t be automatically included in that “we” perspective, since it made a lot of sense to me hearing that you have write for a living.
I don’t know if I am now just pouring more oil on the fire which is not my intention. I tend to me the harmony-seeking type, like Rodney King who said: “Can’t we just all get along?”
Or maybe I just had that idea that since we are discussing this with quite a few grown women who seem to have an interest in seeing feminism take roots & create more equality, then we should have enough common ground to be able to talk to each other, without resulting to use insults. Maybe that WAS naive, and Sari was right… but I don’t want to believe that.
How would this play out in person, better – or worse? Would Sari still use words like that? And what actually caused & justified this intense emotion? Well, as Thanks told me, maybe I just have to get over it… but I would prefer a more peaceful tone. I’m tired of standing by & seeing insults being hurled at Brooke.
@ IRM — my point was/is only that feminism HAS taken root — elsewhere. This thread is now just too insular
Just for clarity’s sake: this is a reply to IRM. It may be on the long side. I gladly invite anyone who may take offense to its length to skip it.
@IRM (and Darren, also):
Thank you for your kindness. Truly. It means a lot to me.
I think part of what caused the intensity was my tone, way back (two whole days!) ago, when I replied collectively to some people about the word “whore.” I just despise that word and its usage in this context, and I let my temper get the best of me. That last line about “we’re all better than this, so let’s act like it,” was definitely condescending. I think it was accurate. But I easily could have skipped it, and ruffled fewer feathers.
On the internet you tend to get back what you put out, multiplied. I was snippy, I got back outright aggression. If I didn’t want the aggression, I should have watched my tone.
Having said that — I find people’s reactions to the suggestion that we use more civilized language really interesting. It inflames people, no matter how you phrase it. I’ve made that request before, much less condescendingly than I did this time, and gotten the same reaction. I’m not entirely sure why. You’re right — it doesn’t happen that way in person. People feel more free to be cruel or reactionary or vindictive with each other anonymously than they do in person. They feel more free to use disrespectful language.
That’s not something I fully understand, and I think it’s part of what I like about these threads — trying to figure out why certain ideas really pour oil on the fire, to use your phrase.
I think this is dead-on:
“Or maybe I just had that idea that since we are discussing this with quite a few grown women who seem to have an interest in seeing feminism take roots & create more equality, then we should have enough common ground to be able to talk to each other, without resulting to use insults.”
I very much agree. And I don’t think it’s a naive hope. Not at all.
But Thanks’ critique of the insularity, here, is probably accurate, so let me round this out by trying to get back in some way to the wider point at hand. I’ve been reading back through this thread, and thinking a lot — obviously, I suppose — about consent, and what about my use of the idea has been so objectionable to people who, as you say, are grown women with whom I share a lot of common ground.
Thanks hasn’t been very clear with me about her specific objections, and I don’t want to put words in her mouth, but I think I understand what the issue is, and I still think it relates pretty fundamentally to some of Darren’s questions from way, way up the thread — questions about how we navigate desire ethically in the kind of context that bred the Anusara scandal. Those are still really pertinent and really important questions. So … at the risk of going on and on, again, I’m going to take one more stab at this whole “consent” business.
I think that for someone like Thanks, who, along with her generation of feminists, spent tremendous time and effort trying to even get the law to recognize things we take for granted now — that drunk people can’t give legal consent, for instance, or that silence is *not* legal consent — my suggestion that consent should be considered in a broader ethical context threatens all the work they did to get it recognized in a legal one. Specifically, I think my phrase about “muddled consent” was really problematic for her.
Thanks brought up the Antioch consent policy, which got a huge amount of negative press in the early nineties for defining consent as *only* verbal and needing to be *explicitly* received for every single step in the progression of sexual intimacy. (Consent to kiss me, in other words, is *not* consent to have sex with me.) The people who fought for that policy and for laws like it did us all a huge service, and they did it in the face of enormous cultural and legal resistance.
So I imagine that when I say that, hypothetically, that some of the women who had sex with Mr. Friend may not have given full enough consent to the whole situation, even if they did give explicit legal consent to the sex, Thanks hears a threat to all that work. It may seem, to her, that it’s too easy to flip that argument around, like so: if a woman gives legal consent, but that’s not good enough, then legal consent is invalid, which means that the question of whether a woman gave it in the first place is meaningless, which undoes all the work people did to *make* legal consent meaningful. My guess is that something along those lines is the problem, here.
I come from the generation of women who have benefited greatly from the work of Thanks’ generation. We have a very clear understanding that legal consent is a vital policy that must be defended. But I also come from a social group in which nontraditional relationships are more the rule than the exception — a community in which many people practice, ethically, polyamorous or open partnerships or relationships. In that community, ethical consent is absolutely vital. You have to obtain your partner’s consent for your intimate activity with other people. Otherwise, you’re just on more person who’s screwing around with people’s hearts.
So consent, for me, has two discrete contexts. But for the sake of clear and productive conversation, let me try to rework my language a little with regard to a broader point — Darren’s question about ethics and desire, one that I find vital, still.
Say you have a man who’s the head of an organization. He has desire for a woman. She has desire for him. That woman is his employee, but a powerful one — let’s say this was my marketing company, for instance, and we were talking about my CEO and his executive vice president. Let’s say this company focused on hiring young, high-energy people — work hard, play hard types. Let’s say it was a culture in which most employees had friendship relationships with each other, too, because everyone worked all the time. (To be clear, though that does describe my workplace, this is an entirely fictional example — my CEO is quite happily married and an exemplary guy.)
So, these two people, who desire each other — what should they do? Whose rights do they need to consider before having sex with each other? To what conditions do they both need to *agree, * ethically, before and while they engage in a legally consensual intimacy?
There. Let’s try that word on for size, and see if it works any better.
Is Diane Barth’s sage advice the equivalent of turing shit into shit salad?
The Sudden Fall From Grace of John Friend
I hope so, At any rate, I applaud a healthy cynicism.
Please read Joel Kramer and Diana Alstad’s book The Guru Papers: Masks of Authoritarian Power.
Link to video: http://blip.tv/yogiviews/yogiviews-trailer-joel-kramer-and-diana-alstad-on-anusara-yoga-6043889
Link to website: http://www.joeldiana.com/guru_papers.html
Barth’s article is the obvious first step in ay’s (and Friend’s) attempt to resuscitate ay. This was a multilevel marketing scheme from the first. Like other such businesses, they had to act like they had something special, sort of like amway says their shampoo is “higher quality”. This is an essential ingredient to any MLM scheme. For ay it is the supposed “principles of alignment”. These don’t actually work very well and students are often injured in anusara classes from teachers trying to impose movement that is inappropriate, but supposedly in line with these “principles”. Even a superficial look at the UPA shows that it is made up by Friend, and heavily “promoted” just as Barth tries to do. She tries to make it appear that because of these supposed principles, ay is “safer”, and links to the article by Broad.
The ay teachers desperately want to continue their scheme and now they will try to base it on this horseshit. What matters about this is they continue to lie. This tells me that they have learned little from this affair and will continue with the same activities that they were doing before. They were wrong then, still wrong now. They will continue lying about the “benefits”, covering up injuries, falsely promoting ay and denigrating others who teach the art. Barth’s article is an example of this.
One of my teachers occasionally has a fresh faced, newly certified Anusara sub cover classes. To my absolute horror I recently learned that the sub it taking over the Friday morning class so my teacher can have the day off. I’m now back at my former studio on Fridays to avoid the sub and get my weekend going in the manor I have grown accustom. I think my issues stem from a personality conflict with the sub and a distrust for Anusara.
The sub gets bent out of shape when I don’t comply with every command. If she instructs the class to do something that doesn’t jive with my laundry list of sports injuries I take the opportunity to modify. This has been a problem for the sub on
several occasions over the past few months. Apparently she takes offense or perhaps she see it as an opportunity to come over and insist that I do things her way. I don’t take kindly to the attention and have to resist the temptation to tell her to back off. After trying a couple different ways of dealing with the annoyance I have found that ignoring the sub works best. After class she wants to process “issues”. On one such occasion the sub informed me that she is an expert at alignment becuse of her extensive training in Anusara. I explained Anusara is not my preferred practice. I tried my best to make the point that my independence was not intended to be disrespectful however I got the feeling it was a useless effort. Taking a diffrent approach I pointed out that throwing overweight, middle aged, moms and grandmas into handstands and inverted partner poses at the start of class was perhaps not putting safety first. I also reminded her that two students had recently suffered injuries during demos she was “assisting” them with. Nothing like having the whole class watch while the teacher does damage to an inexperienced student. I explained that trust had not been established. I clarified that I would not require ajustments of any kind, partner poses we’re out, and my modifications would continue uninterrupted on an as needed basis. Thanks but no thanks to the out of control partner inversions with people who have no idea what the heck they are doing.
Back at my old studio on Friday mornings partner poses are faboulous, inversions are a joy and my allignment is all mine.
Pardon the typos I’m on my phone.
The issues surrounding why I had to take a break from my old studio and put myself in path of an inexperienced Anusara sub is coming soon…
“If she instructs the class to do something that doesn’t jive with my laundry list of sports injuries I take the opportunity to modify. This has been a problem for the sub on
several occasions over the past few months. Apparently she takes offense or perhaps she see it as an opportunity to come over and insist that I do things her way.”
Wow, SRJB. I’m sorry to hear that. That’s really, really not good teaching.
What does she do when you explain that her modifications are painful for you because of injuries? Does she just straight-up ignore your feedback about your body?
To honor a foremother
“When a woman tells the truth she is creating the possibility for more truth around her.” Adrienne Rich
Oh … oh, no.
Thank you for this. I hadn’t heard.
“I know you are reading this poem listening for something, torn
between bitterness and hope
turning back once again to the task you cannot refuse.”
Diving Into the Wreck
First having read the book of myths,
and loaded the camera,
and checked the edge of the knife-blade,
I put on
the body-armor of black rubber
the absurd flippers
the grave and awkward mask.
I am having to do this
not like Cousteau with his
aboard the sun-flooded schooner
but here alone.
There is a ladder.
The ladder is always there
close to the side of the schooner.
We know what it is for,
we who have used it.
it is a piece of maritime floss
some sundry equipment.
I go down.
Rung after rung and still
the oxygen immerses me
the blue light
the clear atoms
of our human air.
I go down.
My flippers cripple me,
I crawl like an insect down the ladder
and there is no one
to tell me when the ocean
First the air is blue and then
it is bluer and then green and then
black I am blacking out and yet
my mask is powerful
it pumps my blood with power
the sea is another story
the sea is not a question of power
I have to learn alone
to turn my body without force
in the deep element.
And now: it is easy to forget
what I came for
among so many who have always
swaying their crenellated fans
between the reefs
you breathe differently down here.
I came to explore the wreck.
The words are purposes.
The words are maps.
I came to see the damage that was done
and the treasures that prevail.
I stroke the beam of my lamp
slowly along the flank
of something more permanent
than fish or weed
the thing I came for:
the wreck and not the story of the wreck
the thing itself and not the myth
the drowned face always staring
toward the sun
the evidence of damage
worn by salt and away into this threadbare beauty
the ribs of the disaster
curving their assertion
among the tentative haunters.
This is the place.
And I am here, the mermaid whose dark hair
streams black, the merman in his armored body.
We circle silently
about the wreck
we dive into the hold.
I am she: I am he
whose drowned face sleeps with open eyes
whose breasts still bear the stress
whose silver, copper, vermeil cargo lies
obscurely inside barrels
half-wedged and left to rot
we are the half-destroyed instruments
that once held to a course
the water-eaten log
the fouled compass
We are, I am, you are
by cowardice or courage
the one who find our way
back to this scene
carrying a knife, a camera
a book of myths
our names do not appear.
Read all about the John Friend 2012 scandal.
wondering if John Friend was hitting the bong when he made this shit up.
“Friend states that the term “Anusara (a-nu-sar-a), means ‘flowing with Grace,’ ‘flowing with Nature’ and ‘following your heart,'” as interpreted from the Sanskrit anusāra, meaning “custom, usage, natural state or condition”.
I didn’t know where to put all this — but it’s not so inappropro to the thread above. She struggled mightily with rheumatoid arthritis for decades, to the point of having had to have double hip surgeries that made she substantially shorter. She was 82. The thought of anyone treating this extraordinary, brilliant revolutionary with disrespect (as in the anecdotes re: students above) is bone-chilling. I can only wonder what she would have thought…and hope that we continue to work to make forms of healing available to ALL bodies.
A strong woman made history today.
Violence against women is as American as apple pie. —Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.)
What strength that took …
Thanks for posting that, SRJB.
Thanks, SRJB. I just saw that yesterday the Washington Post picked up the Anusara Controversy, in a 5-page article with 122 comments below. I haven’t read it yet, wanted to post it here first, so you can give me your opinions on it, too.
I don’t know what took them so long to take it up, but better late than never! Since the Washington Post was so instrumental in Watergate, it is only appropriate that they would at least report on Anugate.
Also, I have to sign off here, for about 2 weeks – I will be travelling to the old country, to see my parents & family. The blogosphere & the internet will be beyond my reach there most of the time. I have thoroughly enjoyed the discussions here, thank you all!
Wow, this article is amazing, lots of powerful facts & new information!
Brian, if you’re still around here, I think you are going to love this! It quotes Jeff Barrett, former personal assistant of JF’s. He reports on how JF ordered him to assist with juggling his sexual pursuits, & “stashing” girl-friends in different locations at the same time, like a hotel and his own house etc.
Jeff was fired because he voiced concern about JF putting him in the position of receiving a large container of marijuana for him. Jeff actually was driving around with it, unknowingly, since he was in charge of JF’s personal mail. He was fired for “disloyalty”.
I’m really glad so many people went on the record for this article. I think this is indisputable. The way it is put together … this is just what was needed to convince anyone who might still be on the fence. It covers the business aspects that were getting more and more fishy.
And it comes from the reputable source that brought us Watergate many decades ago. Nobody will be able to say anymore this is all just rumors. Oh well, and if they do, they will be in the minority of really stubborn followers.
The comment section underneath the article is going wild, I’m sorry that I will really have to go packing right now ….
Brooke, thanks for the good wishes!
Hey IRM sounds FAB! Thank you for the shout out. I made john friend fire me because i thought he was a fraud and i would not put up with his bullshit behavior anymore.
You Rock Brian!
Hey SRJB, Thank you 😀
Have a beautiful 1st week of April 2012.
One more thing: It is really today’s edition of the Washington Post (3-29), and it made the front page, online & in paper:
So we are still alive, despite the 6:1 odds people were giving us for surviving our first day.
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