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Elena Brower on Expanding Her Yoga, Her New Book and Having No Regrets

in Business of Yoga, YD News

Deemed by YD as the maven of mass yoga, Elena Brower is a busy lady. Increasingly popular in the NY yoga world and beyond, Elena, who resigned her Anusara certificate last fall (pre-scandal break) has only been growing and expanding more in her yogipreneurship through various avenues of media, teaching events, a life coaching program and now a bigger studio and new book, all of which she talks about in this candid interview. Thanks to YogaCityNYC for the republish. Read on.

Virayoga owner Elena Brower is arguably New York’s biggest yoga celebrity. Two years ago, she brought nearly 10,000 New Yorkers to Central Park to “Om” before the rains set in to hamper what was billed as the World’s Biggest Yoga Class. In October, she got 3,000 Parisians to wear white as they did their poses in front of the Eiffel Tower.

She frequently travels to Los Angeles to film her popular YogaGlo sessions, and is a regular on the Wanderlust and Yoga Journal Conference circuit. She also writes for the Huffington Post and PositivelyPositive, and pens her own blog, The Art of Attention.

Recently she’s expanded her studio – though it is no longer an Anusara shop. She publically left the Anusara lineage and distanced herself from her long-time teacher John Friend. She’s forged an important partnership with the Handel Group, a life coaching company, whom she credits with recharging her life, her integrity and teachings.

YogaCity NYC Publisher and Founder Brette Popper caught up with this multi-tasking powerhouse at her apartment after she’d just returned from a weekend of teaching at Kripalu.

Brette PopperWith everything else going on, I hear you are also writing a book.

Elena Brower: Yes, it’s called the ‘Art of Attention.’ We’ve transcribed my YogaGlo classes, photographing my co-author and book designer Erica Jago and me in various settings: Burning Man, Parrot Cay, New York rooftops.

Each chapter has a theme with a title like Reduce Tension, Find Forgiveness, Exploring Your Highest Possibilities, Let Go of Blame. We’ve done it all ourselves: found our printer, picked our paper, a non-fibrous paper made of minerals called Terraskin. We’re financing it on Kickstarter and we’ll get community support in order to donate thousands of copies to women’s shelters and schools globally, where women might not otherwise be able to see or learn about the practice.

BP: How will you sell it and when will it be available?

EB: We’ll sell it online and in studios globally, and it will be available later this year. German publisher Kamphausen has opted to translate too, and I’m exploring other languages to translate as well. Yogaglo is so global now so it will be relevant in many places. The world is getting smaller…

BP: I am amazed at how you are able to adapt to new technologies and opportunities, whether it’s the way you’re doing this book, YogaGlo, or the blog. Why is it so easy for you to do this?

EB: My practice allows me to back away and listen. So I can take time to investigate and work with the people and causes that catch my attention. Travel often lets me slow down enough to do this, to really consider how I want to work, to write about what’s current and true for me.

BP: You’ve just expanded Virayoga…

EB: The street space became available just as the landscape was shifting in the Anusara community. This gives us another space to invite other traditions. Friends like Leslie Kaminoff and Jane Fryer andRodney and Colleen will be visiting to teach. The space is facing Broadway with two sunny windows, and it enables us to have more teachings and give more people the chance to work.

BP: You’ve very publically left the Anusara fold. Do you think you handled that well?

EB: I have no regrets. Given the tools that I had at each interval, I feel fine about how everything landed.

BP: You still have Anusara teachers on your schedule?

EB: Yes, we support everybody. This new multi-traditional approach feels like what I’ve always wanted to do.

BP: Who’s inspiring you right now?

EB: I’m following so many teachers right now. Rodney and Colleen, Saul David Raye, Seane Corn,Erich SchiffmanRavi Ravindra… A long list!

BP: Very California.

EB: I learned how to teach in California. I love it there. Lots of soul family. I like to go away and come back; everyone gets a recharge. I learn when I leave and everything shifts.

BP: Is there an Elena Brower yoga style coming?

EB: I’m most interested in getting people to simply tell the truth. That is what we need most of all. I have no interest in starting my own “style;” I am interested in combining my work with the Handel Group and creating new context versus a new style.

BP: Let’s talk about the Handel Group.

EB: Handel work felt like turning on a light in some of my darkest ways of relating to people closest to me. My family, my teaching, my relationships have all blossomed with this work.

BP: It is coaching, right.  Isn’t it like therapy?

EB: Handel work is distinctly about action. It helps you make your dreams come true, stop talking bad about yourself and others, and gets you proud of who you are. We can all be making our dreams come true instead of spending so much time doubting ourselves. Now I get to have a real relationship and dialogue with my parents that I never had before, which has profoundly shifted my relationship with my son and his Dad. My boyfriend and I get to create our love every single day, consciously. It feels like a big honor to be close to this work.

BP: How long have you been working with them?

EB: 2 ½ years. And I’m just starting to scratch the surface with myself and my family. I’m telling the truth about everything.

BP: How does it work with your yoga and your teaching?

EB: In yoga I saw aspects of myself that were not working. On the mat by ourselves we become more aware of the darkness. But there was no way to mitigate what I was seeing, and the yoga became problematic. How do we stay in the face of a deep internal divide with no tools for how to have a more nurturing conversation with ourselves? Coaching brought those tools.

In my teaching for the past couple of weeks I have been trying to find equanimity in the body. I talk to my students about cultivating equanimity. That’s a muscle we need to exercise.

How to confront a family member when the relationship has not been working. How do we get through that? How do we stay in our hearts when talking to our family instead of going to angry or resentful? That’s what I am exploring and teaching as I go. This way our bodies and minds can enjoy more space and less contraction.

BP: You spend a lot of time doing charity work and events. How does that fit into your life?

EB: With the Handel Group I’m working on my relationship to money. Ascertaining the healthy balance between giving of my time, and making sure I have enough earning time to feel comfortable and abundant. I’m working on having the confidence to ask for what I’m worth and what I need, being aware of what is there and how much I have, and comfortable – or not being afraid – to spend money to make it.

BP: What else are you working on?

EB: GIVE scent – a delicious blend of oils. A percentage of each bottle sold goes to Women for Women International. We’re selling it online, yoga studios, spas and shops nationwide. (Click here for more info) I’m also working on a film series entitled On Meditation to demystify meditation and bring a more global consciousness to the necessity and healing of the practice. And one other book with Dana Ravich entitled Aspire: To Be which offers a real look at food choices, practices and lifestyle for a conscious world.

BP: What is your meditation practice like?

EB: I meditate at least 11 minutes a day. I find the time. Anywhere. It makes me a much better person – especially how I’m being with my kid.

BP: What do think draws people to you?

EB: I have a deep interest in serving as many people as I can. Most people are uncomfortable with honesty and I want to get them comfortable with it. I want as many people as possible to pay attention to small details and to increase the level of attention they pay to their family, food, home, connectivity. Attention really helps and heals. I think it also relates to the fact that I’m happy, and I like my work. I sleep 6 hours and wake up excited to work more. I love my job and maybe that’s what people are drawn to. I hear the most incredible feedback about healing families and friendships – what I’m doing seems to be helping.

Elena then picks up a deck of Spirit Animal cards that belong to her 5 ½ year old son Jonah.

BP: What animal are you?

EB: I want to be like the honeybee: “Let compassion and forgiveness be your top priority in this situation.”

I find her choice entirely appropriate.  She has flown about during our entire interview, picking up toys, taking vitamins, giving me gifts, showing me layouts for the new book. She is, indeed, a busy pollinator.



49 comments… add one
  • Connie

    Yuck, this enabler again?

  • you're kidding

    So Brower feels entitled to more money for her “services”. As well as to free advertising for her next product lines…

  • I though Elena wasn’t going to do any posts on this blog unless you apologized to John Friend for your Feb. 3 blog post. The reason I am so aware of this is that I wrote about my disagreement with her position on Bay Shakti “Asana for Emotional Healing”. Have yo apologized and I just never read it? Has Elena relented on this position? Has she written about that change of heart somewhere?

    • Yoga Mama

      Michele – I’m sure Elena immediately forgot her indignation when she got a chance for free PR. Ambition just oozes from this woman. The “deep interest in serving as many people as I can” sounds so insincere, like her publicist told her to say it. It’s that melty, dream world Anusara speak that has sucked people in (and, sadly, still works) for years. The whole thing, very off putting. All the folks who enabled John Friend – -for years- -in order to be in the “inner circle” and then fled Anusara to save their own skin should be on a sabbatical of penance and humility.
      I’m also kind of put off that YD gave this shallow infomercial space.
      By the way, I’ve enjoyed your refreshing articles on Bay Shakti. Very clear headed.

      • @yoga mama Thanks for the complement Yoga Mama. I was hoping YD or EB would respond and explain their rationale. Oh well…

        • YD posted this on her own, guys. I was just notified that it was up. She and I have had our own reparations. Letting the world turn…


    • according to some comments on the ej coverage, she and YD had a private email conversation wherein everything was apparently resolved.

      of course, she never did publicly state that she was in the wrong and publicly apologize — even though she should have since she publicly made the statement to call YD out.

      but hey, most manners are lost these days.

      • actually i did state that i was enabling and in the wrong. and did apologize. and appreciate your attention 🙂

  • wary
  • you're kidding

    Before all this shit broke in the news, I had no idea how disgusting and Hollywood yoga had gotten. I’m from Youngstown, Ohio, a decidedly unglamorous place. Now I feel like this whole thing is a big-tent evangelical festival of con-artists and public jack-off artists. John Friend was Jim Bakker, Elena was his Tammy Faye. I’ve seen the “yoga press” go from critical to fawning and fawning to critical, apparently based more upon personal friendships and interactions with the yoga rock stars than anything else. This seems to be no exception. I’m glad if Brower worked it out with Yogadork, but she should work it out with the public if she expects to be taken seriously.
    Over on EJ, the circle-jerk continues. Snark, smugness, hypocrisy, ambition, and half-hysterical babblings of yoga-speak. . And they’re all buddies: Waylon, Kate, Elena, all of ’em. It ain’t “journalism” any more than rock “journalists” who do coke with and have sex with the rock stars they write about. It’s an insular, fetid, sleazy, incestuous world.

    • charlie

      I feel you are right , it is alarming to watch , In Uk there are definitely people /teachers who try this method of rock star yoga fame but it doesnt seem to work so well for them , For example the happy clappy Anusara has not really taken off here as it did in USA, Americans definitely seem at least on the surface more positive than europeans, sceptism is more normal here in uk at least in my opinion , but anusara certainly was helped by blind positivity at all costs . . I have always been sceptical of Anusaras claim to have 600,000 students around the world ,a figure oft repeated , if it is true i have not really heard the Grand Magus address them , john seems more interested in some kind of self pity fest , poor me ! where is the shree in that ? The idea of standing around watching some bendy fragrant beauty doing kapotasana and the clapping and cheering is not going to go down too well here , nor is the being told what to do or how to lead ones life going to be popular , especially when espoused by some 30 something year old with too much vanity and very litle life experience , perhaps we are not so evangelical , im sure that will change but humility in the yoga world at least still has currency . , But we have plenty of self proclaimed masters who give teacher trainings at the drop of a hat . Think £££ .
      I would think perhaps the wonderfully fragrant Elena may do well to let go of wanting to help all of us poor saps and perhaps attend to her inner world that must be in some turmoil after recent events , not that I would dream of telling her how to live her obviously amazing life .
      Gone off the point of the original post a little but it all seems rather cosy and self congratulatory feeding off each others egos and the purchase of yoga by the rich . Yoga of course cant be bought ha ha . Yogi preunership oh dear , Is that a sanskrit word ?
      om shanti.

      • Very American

        Yes, it’s very American. Very bright-eyed, smiley, nicey-nice, pious and arrogant. Very much about spouting pseudo-spiritual bullbshit while raking in the $$$. I think the disgust and furious excoriations shocked the Anusaris. They had somehow been told they had some direct channel to divinity and wisdom that the rest of us don’t have. Wrong. Brower is still speaking as if she assumes she’s the first one to discover that dysfunctional childhood patterns can inform adult interactions. Duh. The rest of us “worked on it” that way back in the 90s. I this she was still fucked up on eating disorders then. A LOT of yogis are actually pretty seasoned self-helpers. She’s the newbie to that.
        It’s not just a matter of “what tools we have to work with at the time,” however. It’s about character and ethics. That stll seems lacking, though I guess honesty is a good beginning.
        The slime goes on. How do they think they can pair “spiritual growth” with greed?Lust for status? All these little queens still want a piece of the action — Brower, Ippoliti, and the Cali-forn-I-A crowd like April Ritchey, who’s just a psycho. They’ve all kind their eyes on the main chance. VERY American.
        A little humility, ladies.

        • Janet

          I agree completely with you Very American. While this Anusara mess continues to confound the yoga community in the US/Canada, the rest of the planet could care less. Europeans, South Americans, Aussies, Kiwis and Asians have cultures and long-standing traditions in place which is why they cast a wary eye on “THE NEXT BEST THING”. I wouldn’t call it being jaded or cynical but because the vapidness of the American yoga culture and it’s “CAN DO” attitude and “LET’S ALL BE SMILEY AND PRETEND EVERYTHING IS OK AND WE ARE ALL GODS”-outlook is all too apparent and obvious to everyone else, while it thrives in places like Encinitas, California and then spreads outwards to the rest of the country, precisely because these places are empty and about as historically and culturally rich as a wafer. Compare that to places like China or India with over 5000 years of uninterrupted culture and you can’t even compare the mindset.

          Brower was one of John Friend’s enablers and is now off making money. No surprises. I wonder why she wasn’t life coaching him while he was going through his sex addiction or megalomania, when he needed it the most?
          Also Rodney Yee and Colleen? You’re kidding me, right?
          The dude who credited yoga for keeping his marriage and family together she so that he could cheat on his wife and take off with Colleen?
          What wonderful “life teachers” indeed….
          “And ye shall know a person by the company they keepeth…”

  • Babu

    Disturbing. Either Waylon wrote this or Yogadork just sold her soul to the devil. I do like the comment that the yoga world is “insular, fetid, sleazy, incestuous.” I refuse to support any of these clowns including those two adulterers Rodney and Colleen.

  • Elena is incredible. What an inspiration! Good luck with all the new projects.

    • you're kidding

      another plant. they’re rife on EJ, too. rah rah rah! these people are as adept as “swarming” as they were when they worked for John Friend. Whatta bunch of slime-balls!

  • linny144

    I agree a bit disappointed in yoga dork for what amounts to an informational.

    • Stewart J. Lawrence

      Totally agree, I would have thought it was beneath her – apparently not.

  • YD

    Thanks for all your comments. It’s humbling to know that so many are paying close attention to the blog and keeping everything in check. Honestly, there’s much to be learned from YD commenters, and all of your responses are much appreciated. To clarify a few things, this was absolutely YDs choice to repost this from YogaCityNYC and Elena actually had no idea until it went up. The intention for posting wasn’t to incite a riot but to provide a look into what another female yogipreneur (beyond Sadie Nardini, and beyond dudes, bikram, JF, etc) is doing with, in Elena’s case, her newfound freedom, and obviously from this interview, the  liberty to enterprise. With the ‘Hollywood’ of yoga as it were, this is absolutely part of the conversation.
    This was an interesting experiment, according to the comments. 

    To further clarify, there was no push from pr, no soul selling, though the jury’s still out on YD’s devilishness, depending on who you ask. Shilling for anyone, even yogis, for the sake of shilling isn’t part of our regular practice. And we’ve probably made a few unfriends along the way (see Wanderlust, John Friend, lulu, EJ etc) 

    Speaking of…

    It’s awfully frustrating to continue to be compared to Waylon of EJ as if we are somehow counterparts. Elephant Journal and YD are really nothing alike at all, though there may sometimes be similar subject matter (yoga!) Not sure why the comparisons are being made.

    Again, comments are appreciated and absolutely welcome. Just don’t pose as anyone and spew a string of ‘cunt’s ‘cock’s or ‘fuck’s that have nothing to do with anything besides turning us into begrudging comment police.

    Keep the conversation going.


    • Very American

      :). Thanks for your reply — I posted before reading this. I for one promise no cunts or fucks! Lol
      I don’t know that others are really comparing YD to EJ so closely — just taking the general temp of the internet sites. There are plenty out ther.

    • Heather

      Thank you for clarifying the post YD. With the tone of this post, I think people were afraid that you were turning in the brown nosing, soft porn, ass wipers of famous yoga people like those over at EJ where it’s only about the traffic no matter what. I personally am so sick of the bloated egos of these ex-Anusara teachers and the whole AY mess including that Sadie person who is so full of herself with her rah-rah yammering and her yoga goddess power shtick that just seeing it here on this blog makes me want to puck. Does Elena or Sadie really need any more free advertising? Besides this, you are doing a great job of pissing off the yoga establishment.

    • Yeah, don’t hed the comparisons to EJ; they aren’t very accurate. I’ve sort of come to think of Elephant Journal as like a paper mache fascade over the reality of reality. It looks good all painted up pretty, but if you pick-it-up-and-shake-it you realize it’s actually hollow and empty of substance. The model of crowd-sourced articles is nice in theory, and there are some solid authors over there, but it’s mostly chaff.

      That said, perhaps YD could interview some of the smaller name yogis/yoginis who are a little less adept at self-promotion? The people who are too humble to tell you what they think unless you ask often have the most interesting opinions of all.

    • Stewart J. Lawrence

      With all do respect, YD, this reply of your seems disingenuous. This interview could easily have just been listed as something that is out in the yoga blogosphere. You not only chose to highlight it, you gave Brower a fawning Waylon Lewis style introduction, indeed exhortration:

      “Deemed by YD as the maven of mass yoga, Elena Brower is a busy lady. Increasingly popular in the NY yoga world and beyond, Elena, who resigned her Anusara certificate last fall (pre-scandal break) has only been growing and expanding more in her yogipreneurship through various avenues of media, teaching events, a life coaching program and now a bigger studio and new book, all of which she talks about in this candid interview. Thanks to Yoga City NYC for the republish. Read on.”

      At least stand up for what you did, and for your agenda – promoting female yoga leaders, even if they are really just John Friends with vaginas? Don’t try to sell it as news.


    • gratitude, YD. nice.

  • Thanks for posting the interview. We all know enough of the story by now to form our own opinions of EB and her practice. I wish her the very best – same as I wish for everyone.

    The happenings in contemporary yoga are of interest to me, and I appreciate being kept abreast of what’s going on by YD. I also appreciate the comments here; many of them are very good. Thanks, YD. You’re providing a real service.

  • Yoga?

    Anytime a yoga teacher says she wants to serve as many people as she can we all know what that means. How many clues you need?
    1. She meditates at least 11 minutes a day because it makes her a better person.
    2. She needs life coaching.
    3. She says she is telling the truth about everything.
    4. She can’t sit still while being interviewed.
    Why do I need her or her products? She is just as clueless as me except that she doesn’t know it. If she knew the truth the whole thing about having conversations with self and self building would collapse. In the meantime, enjoy making the movies!

    • believe me, i’m well aware of how clueless i am 🙂

      i’m a work in progress like all of us.

  • Telling it Like it is

    To be honest… EJ is the FOX NEWS of the yoga world. Agenda driven and general disinterest in the truth when it doesn’t align with their beliefs. They drum up views by posting all over other blogs, forums, twitter and then act indignant when those feelers bring in opposing views. So much so that they removed the ability to thumb down comments, patrol the comments like the Gestapo and trash anyone who dares post anything not in “Alignment” with them. If their is a yoga “Good Ol’ Boy” network…. EJ seems to be the mouth piece for it.

    Hey Waylon… remember when you were exposed as a racist twit… I bet you called some other Good Ol’ Boys didn’t you. Oh please back me up… they are so mean… they are judging me… sounds like someone else we all know doesn’t it.

    Here is to the end of Authoritarian Yoga Machine and the cronies that keep it oiled.

    • Shakti Lee

      It pretty funny that with the over million hits a day that Waylon claims he gets, there are so few comments. The most comments come from the moderators themselves which are like this:

      Posted to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.
      Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor

      I stopped reading anything that didn’t have at least 10 comments. The rest of the post there are pure drivel. I think of EJ as the Walmart of yoga blogs; everything is cheap and poor quality.

      • Stewart J. Lawrence

        It’s mainly a public daily reflection diary for the staff and a cheap marketing platform for their friends. Where else will they promote themselves? It is what it is.

  • Stewart J. Lawrence

    King Lear (John Friend) is gone. Meet his darling daughter Cordelia (Elena).

    This was never really about sex, but about guru-envy and the survival of people’s yoga careers. Who would hire anyone with this on their resume? You either make this work or you go on welfare, unless your old dog-walking or waitressing job becomes available.

    Those with family cash might go back to school. Some who learned how to package sound-bytes in front of small audiences could do bus tours – or another form of corporate PR.

  • Stewart J. Lawrence

    I love how Nature came in to immediately – and I mean immediately – rain out Elena Brower’s Central Park “Om-Fest.” You’d think you could take a hint?

  • Emily

    Oh, lordy, this lady seems like she got lost on the way home from an EST meeting. Pseudo psychologists are the worst– maybe she’ll get a sweet gig at the Scientology Celebrity Centre sermonizing to TomKat…

  • The log in your own eye

    I have no love for hippy dippy, feel good, unicorn embracing silliness, particularly when spouted by someone trying to sell me something, but I suspect that most of you complaining the loudest, lack a certain amount of self-reflection.

    Lying, greed, and sexual indiscretions are problems for every culture. There’s a reason that almost every major religion has tenets addressing those issues: because they are almost universal problems. Indians, Americans, Europeans, South Americans, Asians, 99%ers, all have to learn to deal with these same temptations. But you enlightened, judgmental guys have it all figured out as problems confined to either American culture writ large or American yoga culture specifically. Grow up.

    You are headed for a fall or for severe disappointment if you do not have a certain amount of “there but for the grace of Shiva and Shakti go I.” These are timeless problems of the human condition that cannot be understood by deciding that “other” people are just bad actors. You guys would make wonderful religious fundamentalists, and not the kind that run soup kitchens, but the kind that tries to coopt government power to force their beliefs on the masses through coercion.

    I’m not suggesting that you have to approve of anything these people did. You don’t and probably shouldn’t. Neither am I saying that the truth shouldn’t come out. It should. But this finger-wagging, judgmental, “holier than thou” attitude is little more than an ego trip.

    At some point you need to let it go and focus on your own actions and decisions. Clean up your own corner of the world and be good to those you come into contact with. That’s really the whole point with yoga anyway. You make the world better by making yourself better, not by complaining about other people or by trying to force them to act in some way that you approve of.

    • Yoga?

      The holier than thou attitude can be applied to your comment as well. We are free here to say what our ego sees fits (why else would we say anything?). It is actually much safer than trying to use yoga as a self improvement tool (as JF has well demonstrated and EB is following the same model). You don’t make the world or yourself better than what it is. The world and yourself are already complete (namaste). The rest is craziness and it is fun to join in once in a while since I am not different from you.

      • Very American

        Hey Log,

        Universalizing about “these kinds of problems” only serves, once again, to obscure the issue of individual responsibility and consequences.
        Moralizing about how we should all be humble just makes you look arrogant.
        People like you, who repeatedly feel the need to weigh in and preach “Let it go” and “move on” only demonstrate that the problem of not being able to let things go and move on is your own problem — not being able to let it go that people are still speaking, writing and responding in ways that you don’t like. Well, no one died and left you Jesus Christ, or Krishna. Get over your control freak self-righteousness.
        I think YOU need to let it go. If you don’t like the continuation or the tone of the conversation, don’t look at the site.

  • charlie

    @log in your eye
    your post actually comes across as extremely judgemental and simplistic , devisive and arrogant in my view you have a dualistic vision of us the posters and you the knower . You sound like you would like to stifle discussion , well you wont even with your godlike judgements . I find it strange when people generally, on this site are trying to have clarity around this issue , you call them out and then proceed to tell people what to do in some messanaic i know fashion , who else does that ? oh yes I remember .
    By the way it is entirely so that yoga does not become a tool of coercion that it is important to have a forum for disussion . because as we are seeing the stifling of debate led to lies and the mess that Mr friend manifested or at least manifested through his dharma , I can assure you Im focussing on my actions and the focus at the moment is helping in reminding myself to be extremely aware of people who go round telling others what to do and how to think and preaching at people from a supposed position of higher authority , your views are most welcome , but your instructions i will give a miss . Are you an anusaran christian fundamentalist yourself ? I keep getting these images when i read your post which far from having the effect you would presumably like has the opposite and reminds me of the importance of at least keeping the information out there especially as the whitewash and transformation has started the rewriting of the story , Im sure johns pr was quite ok with the new article that came out especially the pictures of the new reformed john , all serious and reflective and not a little hurt , no more coco the clown . It is important for example that although JF and his merry band may have bought some short term high to his followers . his presentation of yoga was sadly limiting and lacking in real substance it doesnt work because he oversimplified it and pretedended that he had invented a new yoga for a modern age when he just cobbled together some random teachings and peddled through his accolytes a less than honest truth , It is because of the crushing of dialogue and critical thinking that a few are called to comment I assure you where i come from most in the yoga world have not the first idea who John FRiend is are what anusara yoga is i feel that it is important that they are at least are availed of some facts dont you ? you know , about the methods techniques and models that anusara yoga was built on , siddha yoga for example , The adverts that have always been less than truthful making self aggrandising claims and subtely putting other teachers and methods down , which then becomes a mantra like truth for the young and not so young zealots , of course watching his senior or ex teachers in many cases is like watching an iyengar class more smiles of course but its always backbend week and what is with all the handstands ? ah yes showing off and getting overexcited i remember . A new system that works, i dont think so, please tell me one thing that Mr friend bought to yoga just one thing that has added to this wonderful gift ? . Im pretty sure that why poeple love anusara is because when they got to do some yoga rather than sit around watching some super positive teacher ramble on about there lives or have to sit around while some performing monkey performed raj kapotasana again( or more likely was forced into it before they were ready ) and then joined in with some happy clappy fundamentalist cheering jingoism, they found that even the practise of some simple asanas brought some clarity , healing , awareness , this was true of yoga before John friend and it will be true after jf I suspect it was the yoga that was helping not the anusara as such .

  • Yoga Chick

    Charlie, you’re wrong about why people love Anusara. Having trained in it early on and then walking away from it, and hearing for years why so many just had to study Anusara and Anusara alone, it WAS all of that clappiness and cheering and those crazy poses demo’d by super bendy teachers and all of that Kula-ness and auspicious John Friend-ness. I can’t count how many times my Anusara friends came to me starry eyed and told me about how close they’d sat to John at yet another workshop and how super fabulous he was. The more I heard the less I wanted any part of it. I did it for the yoga and the focus on alignment which was really nothing more than Iyengar with a twist, and while the positive spin on it all was quite sweet in its own right, the rest of it just left me with a funky feeling so I chose to move on and study many other schools of yoga that felt more authentic and less cliquey.

    I’ve witnessed more fellow teachers have meltdowns after this all broke and I believe in large part this is because they lost themselves in all that is John Friend and have been left to figure who they are as people and yoga teachers ~without all of that super- sparkly- glitter- glow- huginess that hooked them in to begin with.

  • charlie

    yogachick thankyou for your perspective , It is more experiential than mine I look at this from a distance , Im probably reacting to people saying that anusara cured my broken body , when i feel they could say Yoga healed my body . As a teacher people occasionally project on to me how I have helped/cured them , I have to of course gently remind them that it was through their own efforts and the system of yoga that helped , im just passing on some stuff ive learnt and felt along the way , but it could be easy to accept it was me me me that helped them ha ha , the beginnings of a cult following . I hear you on why people can get caught up in the specialness and worshipping of false prophets.

    • Yoga Chick

      Charlie, in the end it’s all yoga, right? The rest of it is just fluff. And I’m sure you have helped your students and they hold you in high esteem. Nothing wrong with owning that! There is healing in yoga. A good teacher creates space for healing with all of their knowledge, practice and years of study (one of the reasons I do not study with newbie yoga teachers who have very little to pool from as their wisdom tanks are still quite empty) and witnesses students healing themselves without any desire to take credit for it. John Friend? Not so much.

      False Prophet indeed, my friend.

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