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Future of Anusara Still a Confusing Hot Mess

in YD News

While some of you would rather vinyasa over hot coals than hear more Anusara beeswax, there are still many practitioners, teachers and bystanders left in limbo, feeling frustrated and utterly perplexed, especially after the latest missives transmitted from Anusara HQ. Facebook has become the message vehicle of choice, for Anusara, Inc. though the copy edit team looks to be on sabbatical as well, so it seems.

A confusing letter dispatched by John Friend on Thursday was met with much objection, and was followed by this statement posted Friday:

The letter posted here on 5/17 was posted prematurely and was inaccurate. It has now been removed. An explanation and further information will be posted shortly.

Following that was a letter from The Leadership Committee posted at 10pm eastern in an interesting ‘the people have spoken’ so nevermind about that other silly letter you read earlier, about face.

Dear Anusara Community,

Yesterday was a watershed day for our community. Your voices have been heard, and the path has been cleared for Anusara to become a truly independent, teacher-run yoga school.

Following the stalemate in talks on Thursday and John Friend’s subsequent announcement to move forward with his new plan, there was another wave of teacher resignations. Recognizing that in order to preserve the value of Anusara yoga he needed to cede full controlto the teachers, John agreed to wholly transfer the school and the Anusara trademarks to a new entity in service of the teachers.

The LC has begun the necessary steps related to due diligence and legal negotiations to effect a transfer to a teacher-run school. Our present verbal agreement with John is that he will play no part in the new Anusara yoga school unless invited by the community to do so in the future and this invitation could occur only if John were “cleared” to teach by an independent, transparent ethics review process. An LC sub-committee has been working diligently these last few weeks on establishing guidelines and determining the independent professionals needed for an unbiased ethics review so that the process could be initiated as soon as practicable.

Whether you have been contemplating in quietude or making your voices heard in the past few months, we would like to acknowledge that everyone in the community contributed to getting us to this point.

As we work through the necessary legal and administrative steps, we will also be releasing a survey to hear your input in a more formal manner. Our plan is to involve the community further, including reorganizing the LC to incorporate new members and re-establishing the Teacher’s committees, as we together begin the process of revitalizing Anusara.

We ask you for your continued patience as things take shape. Everyone wishing to be a part of the new school is welcome. We hope you will join us and be an active participant in this process.

Thank you again for your support and patience.

Sincerely,
The Leadership Committee

Witnessed and Acknowledged,
John Friend and Anusara, Inc.

Earlier in the day, a letter from Wendy Wiltrout posted at 8:25pm where she addresses the “debacle” and her mistake of prematurely posting the letter that launched a flurry of fury from Anusara community, sort of clarifies the latest puzzling move, but not really.

Dear Anusara Yoga Teaching Community,

I am writing to you today directly, from my heart, and in my own words. I am not writing to try to change your mind, but to explain the letter that was posted on Facebook yesterday and to add clarity to the present situation.

As you know, John stepped aside from running the company 2 months ago. When he did this, myself and the 2 other staff told him that we would be following suit, like many of the teachers who were resigning, if he did not take time and go on sabbatical and hand the reigns of the company over. While I have worked for him for many years, and admire his vision very much, there have been times where I have strongly disagreed with his decisions. Over the last 2 years in particular, John’s focus turned more towards fundraising for the center he wanted to create. While ultimately The Center was to be a support for teachers and the community, the decisions that took place over the last 2 years in order to make it a reality took the focus of the company slightly away from its mission statement because of the many business decisions that had to take place. The mission statement of the company has always been to support the Anusara yoga school. And of course that was still happening, but I did feel that it was starting to take a back seat because of the focus that needed to be placed on the business venture of The Center.

When the debacle in the community happened, John, along with many others, realized that things had to change. He immediately started working with the teachers’ committees and also thankfully agreed with the staff’s request to let us run the company’s daily operations. So for the last 2 months I have been running all of the day-to-day operations of Anusara, Inc. and John has been happy to relinquish control. Recently, he came back from his sabbatical in order to move into negotiations with the current teacher representative body, the Leadership Committee. I was not part of those negotiations, because I am not the owner of Anusara, Inc.

After the negotiations that occurred on Monday, May 14th, John communicated to me that he and the LC had come to an impasse. While he had agreed that it was a good idea that the teachers take over the leadership and direction of the school, there was one central point where no agreement could be reached between the LC and John. Because of this, he assumed that we would be moving forward without the LC, since an agreement had not been reached. He sent a letter to me to read that he was starting to prepare which he eventually wanted to put out to the community, upon hearing final word from the LC. When the LC’s statement came out yesterday, we started receiving calls from people wanting to know what Anusara was doing. At the time, I felt it was necessary to put a letter out as soon as possible, and our FB page seemed to be the best way to do that.

I cut and pasted his letter into the Facebook posting box and began to write my own letter around some of the points of his letter. I did this because I wanted to include some of his points, which I thought were very good, for how we could move forward with the teachers in a leadership role in the school. In my haste to get this letter out, I forgot to remove his name and actually sign it from me. As you can imagine, I am deeply embarrassed and disappointed in myself for the hasty action that I took. It was an unfortunate mistake, one that I am so sorry to have made, especially because of the turmoil, shock, and confusion that it caused in the community. I quickly realized that posting the letter like that was premature, and more time should have been taken to better articulate what I really wanted to say and how it was said.

So, this is why the letter is confusing many people, and why it seemed that John was talking in the 3rd person. As you can imagine, he is pretty upset. I understand how this makes me look, and I take full responsibility for my choice to post the letter yesterday. I am sure that many of you will not believe that this is the case, since I know some in the community feel that I am just a puppet for John. However, this is the truth. Say what you will about me. I made this mistake, and I own that. I apologize to you all from the bottom of my heart.

I want to thank the Leadership Committee for stepping forward through of all the challenges of the last month. They have put in countless hours of blood, sweat, and tears, to try to come up with a solution for the benefit of the Anusara yoga community. I sympathize with how hard they have worked to save something that they and many of you are truly dedicated to and have invested in, in so many ways. I honor each one of them for their dedication and for their love of the Anusara yoga methodology that has helped so many people around the world.

I recognize that there are many licensed teachers who have been on the fence and who are not necessarily “with us” just because they have paid their 2012 dues. I honor their commitment to stay with Anusara and teach their Anusara yoga classes, workshops, Immersions, and trainings for the remainder of the year. I realize that so many were hoping for true change, and I honestly thought that a proposal being put forth by John where the teachers run the school was in fact the change that people were looking for. I am so saddened to think that my mistake in posting the letter on Facebook was the reason that so many people are disappointed, confused, and heartbroken today.

Since the latest letter from the Leadership Committee indicates that they have not fully given up, Anusara, Inc. is continuing its negotiations with them so that a true resolution can be found. Everyone at Anusara, Inc. wants to support what is best for the teaching community. Since I am not taking part in these negotiations, I will wait, along with those in the community, until a final decision has been reached, and we will move forward from there.

In closing, I just want to thank you for taking the time to read this letter. I know that it is lengthy, but I felt that sharing my viewpoint in a forthcoming and detailed way was most appropriate.

In Service,
Wendy

So Wendy is the fall girl, or it’s not her fault. John will stay sole owner or he will transfer everything to the teachers. Negotiations are ongoing. Translation: We have no idea what’s going on and what’s going to happen because it is one big ball of melted heart mess. Perhaps there are no mistakes.

——

Earlier

51 comments… add one

  • simply yoga

    Poor Wendy.

    No matter who signed what and when, the woman needs to earn her living elsewhere. I mean, FGS. Is it really worth it? I guess if she’s an anusari she can still practice her hoops… er, loops, whether she works for the org or not.

    Why kill yourself for something so silly?

  • simply yoga

    And I can’t stomach John Friend (don’t know him, don’t like him) but still I don’t understand why anyone, savory or unsavory, would hand over their business, lock, stock and barrel to other people. Why would he do that anyway?

    This whole thing makes no sense to me. Whatev.

  • Jeri

    Really…do we need any comments from someone who admits: John Friend “don’t know him, don’t like him” ?

  • simply yoga

    Hi Jeri! Mwah!

  • simply yoga

    And, oh, Jeri. Take it up with management. Until I’m voted off the island you’ll have to put up with me. Hugs.

  • Jeri

    Ok, Simply Yoga, now you’ve got me ticking off the names of people who you
    might be….as I’m sure you were hoping! I guess all I can say is Mwah back atcha…

  • DavidE

    - “After the negotiations that occurred on Monday, May 14th, John communicated to me that he and the LC had come to an impasse. While he had agreed that it was a good idea that the teachers take over the leadership and direction of the school, there was one central point where no agreement could be reached between the LC and John.”

    My guess is the impasse is the $ value the LC put on the brand and the value JF put on the brand. If LC saw “Anusara” as the brand and JF saw “John Friend” as the brand then it’s possible those amounts were too far apart to find an amount that the school could afford to pay and that JF saw as enough to “retire” on, possibly a retirement like Amrit Desai’s from Kripalu (snark).

    My decision to discontinue the path to full certification was based on many things but most importantly was the one that seems to be the sticking point between JF and the LC – What happens with the brand ownership? This wasn’t hard to foresee if one didn’t follow the man but the method.

  • JHL

    There’s a clearing price for every asset in the market and that value is usually a multiple and function of the free cash flow to equity that the asset will generate.

    John may have a view that he’s got a growing perpetuity as his Anusara empire expands and more cash comes in from certification fees, revenue-sharing, licensing, etc. after tthis “unpleasantness” is settled. I suspect that he has a pretty value in mind.

    However, if as a consequence of his “premature” 5.17 announcement, Anusara saw more resignations with more on the way, John has to take a different view of the value of Anusara. He probably has to conclude, that while there is a value to “Anusara” there is a negative value to “John Friend” that the passage of time won’t cure.

    Thus he risks being the captain of the Titanic if he doesn’t disassociate himself from the diminishing value of the Anusara asset.

    My advice to John: get what you can brother (maybe even an earn-out or other structured settlement to bridge the value gap between you and the LC) and move on. BTW: I hate earn-outs as they tend to blow up and are call options on litigation. Clean breaks are the way to go.

  • for anybody who might care, the big eclipse we had today was at 0 degrees Gemini. Very close to JF’s Mercury (communicative abilites) at 4 degrees Gemini and his Sun (identity) at 8 degrees Gemini.

    translation: solar eclipses signify *endings*. So his identity/ego-consciousness (Sun) as a teacher (Gemini) just got eclipsed (“put a fork in it”).

  • People sell businesses all the time, so it’s certainly fine for him to assert that he would.

    In fact, I believe that Lichtman (sp?) purchased the business, and then realized it was a mess and probably not the value she paid, was able to get out of the deal and walked away.

    As DavidE says, it is very likely that the “giving up of ownership” is over money, because it pretty well should be. The value of the business is questionable at this point, since the brand has had such bad press. But, there are ways around, as he mentioned.

    I think if it continues to be mismanaged this way, it’s unlikely to be able to continue under the brand. But who knows?

  • go away!

    Anus-ara and all its teachers/lineage/ and john friend sheep need to go away!!! permanently!!! and this is how it was before this whole scandal went down!!!…

  • I hope they get this together soon. The miscommunications and unclear messages are astounding. Get back on track and tech yoga.

  • The Outcome

    What happened is more simple than you think.

    In its intermediate stages, there had been discussions of raising money to buy John out, but as many alluded to, the value of the business was questionable since it will take a while to have this settle where it settles. There was a time when John faced a very difficult financial constraint on transferring the rights of the Anusara name out of Anusara Inc., but for reasons that aren’t worth getting into, that constraint went away.

    Emboldened by this new position of not having a financial sword over his head, John wouldn’t budge and whether Wendy sent that letter out too soon or not, the fact was the John refused to let go. Once that happened, essentially all of the remaining senior teachers called his bluff and walked away. When they say “wave of resignations”, that was a polite was of saying “hundreds of resignations”. Note Wendy’s letter said something about 900-some teachers still teaching Anusara. That number is down from almost 1,600 in the beginning of the year. So when hundreds more resigned on the same day….

    John’s bluff was called and he realized that without any teachers, Anusara meant nothing. And Anusara Inc. was also worth nothing. Facing the choice b/t 1. having Anusara die out completely (if he continued to insist he was a part of it and in control of it) or 2. having the possibility that the Anusara system of teaching, certification, etc. were to have a chance to continue (albeit without his involvement), John realized game over and he folded.

    This is why the letter came out the way it did on the Anusara Facebook page. Only Wendy and Anusara Inc. have access to it but that LC needed it to be a joint communication which John acknowledged.

  • wondering

    what, so now all those who resigned will return and those awaiting their “certification” because it’s such a beautiful open hearted club. one would think these people would be thrilled to escape the whole embarrasement of needing to be part of this giant insecure clique already. and just enjoy the freedom/independence of teaching yoga for the beauty of the practice itself.

  • The Outcome

    I don’t know the answer to that question. My understanding is that back in the day, Anusara was never intended to be a dogmatic clique and was intended to be an open and inclusive group which shared some fundamental beliefs. Some will probably come back, many won’t. Some are probably thrilled to be experiencing yoga and teaching in a new way.

    But I would hardly call it embarrassing to want to belong to a highly skilled and highly trained group of people who (John Friend aside) all seem to share a belief in the fundamental goodness of humans.

    Once you ditch John and all the Shiva Shakti Tantra stuff, there is a lot of freedom and independence going on in their teaching of yoga for the beauty of the practice itself. And my understanding is the intent it to take Anusara back to its inclusive, open roots.

  • wondering

    I’m not so sure about that, the phraseing has been canned for years, starting w/blossoming buttock s etc. any organization that charges tens of thousands of dollars is by nature not inclusive, and as I keep harping on “alignment” has been around and practiced for a long time…long before J.F had ever heard of yoga.

  • The Outcome

    You might be correct, I guess we will have to wait and see what happens and how it changes. I don’t think, for example, if you go back to the beginning of Anusara it cost these thousands and thousands to get certified. Also, as a practical matter they can’t require you to study 100 or 200 or whatever the number of hours was with John to get certified (because he’s gone), so that’s going to save people a lot of money in travel time and workshop fees. I agree that John did not invent alignment, but I think it is possible (to many) that he made the concept more accessible. I mean you can go to an Iyengar class (I’ve been to many of them) and it’s all alignment all the time but I never found it as accessible as Anusara classes. So maybe John McYoga-fied alignment somewhat but simple sometimes is better.

    Your critiques aren’t crazy though, definitely some validity to it all. I can’t say whether Anusara is too far gone at this point. But I’m happy that it now has a shot. Might be nice to have an example of an organization like this that finds a way to confront scandal honestly, reflect on what it has become and where it went wrong, and found a way to make it work and work better. Not a lot of examples of that ever happening.

  • Brooke

    Outcome,

    Is it now your understanding that the LC (or the Anusara Yoga School they eventually create) intends to buy the rights to the brand name “Anusara” from John and Anusara, Inc.? I took that from your letter, but I find it difficult to believe that he’d sell the copyright — where would that leave him, financially? If he can’t make any money from Anusara as a name brand, that puts him back where he started fourteen years ago — making money on his name as a high-level teacher, alone. That’s certainly possible, but it seems an arduous undertaking.

    Also, where in the world would a brand-new not-for-profit yoga school get enough money to buy out a valuable brand name? They still have to come up with the funds. How’s that going to happen?

    I just find all this highly improbably, from a business perspective. At the end of the day, no matter how gross we all think his behavior has been, John owns Anusara, and the only value it has left is in its name. Why would he sell it?

  • Brooke

    Sigh. Typo day. I meant “…get this from your reply,” of course, and “highly improbable.”

  • simply yoga

    Brooke, this is what I was clumsily trying to ask, earlier. I just don’t see why he’d walk away from his creation. It would take a real self-sacrificing individual to do that, simply for the purpose of preserving a tradition ( a new tradition, granted, but still…) That would take a whole lotta love. And like you said, what group of teachers has the kind of money to buy it outright? Whether people believe it has much worth or not, to Mr. Friend I’m sure it is worth a lot, and I mean, monetarily.

  • Brooke

    Yup. Totally agree with you. I mean, I know this whole mess has been one bit of insanity after another, but stepping back from yogic-love-fest-ness and into the stark reality of the numbers … I just don’t see how they can pull this off. If they can, awesome. That *could*, with a lot of work and even more luck, be an amazing outcome to all this. But I’m not seeing it.

  • The Outcome

    The crux of the issue is this. While John is important to Anusara Inc., without the teachers and the students, Anusara Inc. and the underlying brand is worthless. It looks at though what has happened is that John realized (finally) that his continued control over the corporation that owned the trademarks was the practical equivalent of killing the brand (and the school). Therefore, while there is value in the name, there is no value in the name with him in control. And the value of the brand/name without him there is undefinable. No one knows what this will look like in two years, so no one would pay for it. But a decision had to be made now b/c the hundreds of people who teach Anusara for a living were not going to wait around for him to rehab his image on their backs.

    So, in order to preserve whatever legacy John has, he seems to have agreed to let go and give his baby a shot at surviving. The mechanics are simple. Form a new organization, figure out governance, they can buy the trademarks from Anusara Inc. for $1, and on you go. Anusara Inc. and the financial implications of that corporation are for John to figure out. The new organization forms a mission statements, lays out its rules, and hopefully gets it right. It’s not a pretty outcome for John, but it preserves the chance that one day at some point in the future, Anusara as a school will survive and thrive, and people may forget John’s indiscretions/actions/whatever you choose to call them. And the reality is that the financial implications for John are probably there no matter what, so best to deal with them, and have the crux of your life’s work have a chance to survive.

    They just need to get this over with as soon as possible so the drama can end and the healing can begin.

  • Brooke

    Gotcha. Thanks for the outline of the process — it’s really helpful.

    If what you’ve outlined here happens, I’m all for it. I think it would be fantastic. I guess I just don’t believe that John would go for it, given the kind of debt he must be in — my understanding is that The Center was leveraged pretty heavily.

    But that’s very much conjecture on my part, and on anyone’s part who’s not one-on-one with the books, so … hey. I’m crossing my fingers that you’re exactly right. If what you lay out here is the way all this falls out, I think some truly beautiful things could be the result.

    We’ll see, I suppose.

  • wondering

    well said outcome, kind and thoughtful words

  • Spin Doctor

    An amazing mess…. to which, the fall-out still remains to be seen.

    It is shocking that people are still willing to refer to themselves as Anu$ara. All one can say is that it must be the money. Look where the money goes and you will find the answers.

    This DISGRACE of a system that is self-defined as “aligning with the Divine” is reprehensible. Rotten from the Core is what it stands for now as there are those who are still protecting John Friend with their silent approval. If you come right out and defend him and his corporate cash cow then you are actively creating karma that will tarnish your spirit.

    Those who vocally or silently align themselves with him and Anu$ara are giving him strength and condoning his behavior and giving him license to do more damage.

    There is no salvaging a system that has been revealed to be corrupt at its heart. Those who stay are showing tremendous fear and cowardice, not yogic bravery. They are not Hanuman taking the great leap, they are underlings who trying to hold the curtain in front of the “Great and Secret Oz” and make people believe that there is any kind of viability to the system.

    John Friend is Humpty Dumpty and all the Kings yogis and yoginis cannot put him back together again. No one pushed Humpty over his edge. He danced skillfully off the brink and I am grateful to YogaDork for being the one brave enough to publish this at its onset. Obviously it has been going on for a long time and for those who knew it and didn’t speak out, they are probably still loyal to their dysfunctional fame-addicted Father Figure. In other words, they cannot be trusted.

    Anyone who publicly supports Anu$ara is labeling themselves as a Self-Flagellate. Those who stay on the side-lines making quiet excuses for themselves as to why they are staying are showing colossal weakness, a lack of autonomy, an under-world darkness and THIS is what makes up the Anu$ara of today. Scared people with their heads in the sand saying “just shut up and do yoga” to those who are vocal.

    The revelations of John Friend’s mis-deeds have yet to completely surface. Rest assured there is more and there will be more and the unfathomable depths he will plummet is destined to take down any one who energetically supports him.

    Are you falling with Grace? Are you holding the hand of your Guru as he shows you what living two-faced (gemini) looks like? He is not holding yours. His hands are frantically clutching the hillside as he tumbles to down down down the Inner Spiral of the Black Hole that he has made for himself.

    No one did this to him. He dug the pit himself. Why protect that? Why diminish its significance? Why sugar-coat the reality that it is a snake eating its own tail and the time has come for it to spin itself to its resting place?

    Epitaph:

    R.I.P. Anu$ara – You had a good run, you brought lots of amazing people together and you didn’t deserve to die this violent ugly horrific train crash of a death. Blessed be to all of those who try to resurrect you from the depths. The Monkey’s Paw is all you are now and BEWARE to anyone who tries to bring that thing into the sanctity of their lives.

  • T

    Thats a strong read, almost like reading a horror story. Well put.

  • YoginiD

    Loved it!
    Best line :
    Obviously it has been going on for a long time and for those who knew it and didn’t speak out, they are probably still loyal to their dysfunctional fame-addicted Father Figure. In other words, they cannot be trusted.

  • Jeri

    You are spouting “spin”, Mr./Ms. Spindoctor, and I hope to Goodness that you are not a yoga teacher, because the ugliness of your message is absolute proof that you have no place anywhere near a yoga studio.

    Each of the lovely teachers I know who are Anusara certified or inspired are no doubt torn and conflicted by all of this. Yet you choose this as an opportunity for you to show off your hatefulness and disdain for people who are even now, brokenhearted and confused. Shame on you.

  • you know little

    Jeri,

    You are a troll and anusara apologist. I don’t think you need worry about meeting spindoctor, with his/her succinct and accurate summary at a yoga school. I rather doubt you actually practice anything remotely like yoga. Now go get ur shine box!

  • Jeri

    You know nothing about me. I’ve never defended JF, in fact I couldn’t be more disappointed and appalled. But I am offended by the caustic hatefulness and denouncement of people I love and respect.

  • bloomin' buttocks, jeri!!

    Anusara set out to systematically exploit yoga. By their words ye shall know them (and you). nothing beautiful there babe..

  • Jeri

    Wow…bullies bullying anonymously. Who would have ever thought?

    I’m thankful for the thoughtful posters on here. And Brook, your image is especially beautiful. I hope this violent rebirth will happen and what emerges is as you envision.

  • Brooke

    :)

    Thank you, Jeri. I appreciate that very much.

  • Brooke

    I also wish YD’s smiley emoticon didn’t have quite such a wicked grin! Not quite in the right vein. But, in any case, thank you. I think it’s hard to have faith in that kind of transformation. But I also think that at the end of the day, faith’s all we’ve got.

    We’ll see, hmm?

  • wondering

    “please accept my resignation. I don’t want to belong to any club that would accept someone like me as a member.”

    Groucho Marx

  • The Outcome

    @Brooke – with respect to John going for it or not, I guess I should have been more direct. John is in significant debt and he may or may not have to file for bankruptcy to get himself out of this mess. While he certainly flew around a lot, he did not pay himself outrageous amounts of money and he is not a wealthy guy. But the reality is whether John wants to go for it or not going for it is beside the point. He has 2 options: 1. give away the trademarks, have financial issues but the possibility that redemption lies in the rebirth of Anusara (even if it does not directly benefit him personally or financially); or 2. don’t go for it, everyone leaves, and he still has financial problems and more than likely Anusara dies on the vine.

    John may be a lot of things and John may have lost his way, but it appears that he has chosen option 1. He will have financial troubles but the things about financial troubles is that they really are temporary. You deal with them, it’s unpleasant and humbling, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and this thing he created can live on and he can take pride in that happening. Whether John can experience personal redemption I have no opinion, but it certainly is question the answer to which needs not be rushed.

  • Brooke

    I see.

    Well, I think I’ll go ahead and choose to have faith in your certainty. You sound like you’re in a position to know, so … Hallelu. I look forward to seeing what lovely new things are born in the coming transformation. Sometimes, the more violent the unmaking — the more beautiful the butterfly. That’s what I’ll hope for.

  • I think it remains to be seen if he has chosen option 1.

    So far, I haven’t seen that option 1 has been chosen, though I do think it’s a viable option for him.

    I also hope that if it is the option that is chosen, that the school actually *grows*. By this I mean that they stop being bombastic about how awesome they are, how Anusara is the best training, and that it’s the best kind of yoga with the best alignment.

    Quite simply, it isn’t. It is good, and as good as many other systems, alignment practices, and trainings.

    I’d like them to acknowledge that — with or without JF. Assuming the school manages to continue.

  • Interesting

    Thanks for this, Outcome.
    However, I disagree that Anusara is or ever was that highly regarded. Even before its “fall from grace,” many of us outside the “AY community” would shake our heads and roll our eyes at it, for reasons that have been cited ad infinitum — the sticky-sweet falseness of the rhetoric, the filching from other traditions, etc. Anusara simply was never, in fact, as highly regarded or respected outside its own insular universe as it imagined.
    It is not and never was singular or special. Many, many yoga teachers begin their training with Iyengar-based alignment principles and move forward — into all kinds of vinyasa practices, into ashtanga, etc. The scene has always been enormous.
    My hope for the Anusara teachers-in-training is that they can find ways to make their experiences, time, and money worth their own while. However, I would not continue to look to Anusara Inc or Anusara “school” to make that happen for them. They will have to do that for themselves. Anusara school should at the very least suspend all these stupid fees. It’s a racket.
    The best teachers, I have found, have a variety of approaches, years of experience, the ability to listen, and the understanding that learning is life-long.

  • Yoga Mama

    Well said.

  • This is quite insightful.

    I’ve been asking myself, what is my deal with this? Why am I so interested?

    Other than just being naturally curious about business in general, I have to say that the bombast is what really bothered me, which is what you address here: “Anusara simply was never, in fact, as highly regarded or respected outside its own insular universe as it imagined.”

  • Stewart J. Lawrence

    I grew up in Washington, DC in the 1960s in a politically-connected family, and from an early age I was told:

    “There’s nothing wrong with writing your own press releases, but when you start believing them, you’re doomed.”

  • Great quote. LOL!

    But it has me wondering about marketing in general. I strive to be clear and honest, and for my marketing to be an extension of my values.

    I want to market on what I believe to be true, not make false claims or promises.

    Which means of course, writing press releases that I believe.

    Conundrum. :D

  • wondering

    legends in their own minds

  • Peter

    Peter Pan needs his Wendy…

  • What the?

    Kula Evolution Released an update yesterday and wait again today.
    The new and improved version can be read here http://kulaevolution.com/
    One of the changes is in the section”Isn’t the Anusara brand irreversibly tarnished? How can we recover from the reputational damage?…………………………………………….The uproar is coming primarily from a core group of teachers who were once very close to John, and who seem dedicated to unraveling Anusara. Their voices are drowning out all other sounds and the vehemence of their arguments are silencing more moderate voices who would otherwise stand up and speak in favor of an on-going organization.
    They dropped that part.
    Really?? Can they not make a statement and standby it?
    To me it translates as “we can fix this send$$$$$$$”

  • nope.

    no, many of those has very officially resigned. The remainder — yoga kula, the lc, etc, — are those among a very small faction who wish to salvage the brand in order to save their own careers.

  • DavidE

    From the link:

    What will happen to Anusara, Inc, the Texas based company?

    If a deal is consummated then John Friend will move towards closing Anusara, Inc, but if a deal does not occur then John Friend will keep Anusara, Inc. open at least through the end of 2012 in order to maintain the current active teachers’ licenses and will continue to monitor and uphold the trademarks.

    What could derail the process such that the transfer does not take place?

    The main impediment to success would be if we do not have enough Anusara community support. … This is a major business and legal transaction that will involve a significant investment of time and money. It is not worth continuing if we do not have the support of at least a core group of committed teachers and students.

    Other possible impediments are …(2) failure to agree on which assets should be transferred, and 3) lack of funds to cover the related expenses, including legal and due diligence, and the seed money needed to start and run an entirely new organization.

    How will the new school be funded?

    Generating “seed” money to fund operational costs is among our biggest hurdles.

    …Stay tuned. Again it’s about the dollars – who names the price, who has the money to pay and who gets the product.

  • JHL

    Jeez, nothing but love of course, but Wendy comes off as a real Tool with a level of cluelessness which is almost comedic if it wasn’t so heartbreaking.

  • truth seeker

    Just a few simple business questions for anyone in the know:

    What is the actual value of Anusara Inc? In recent weeks and months, during this meltdown, has any reliable entity ever assessed the company’s value? If so, what is it?

    It seems like a perfectly innocent question but vital one to have answered, especially if the future of “Anusara Inc.” will be run by a group of certified teachers. For all we know all the assets may now be in an offshore account by now.

    Forgive me for asking but is this question not of any interest? We assume the company is sitting on millions of $ based upon the image we see in pictures. But what are it’s current assets? I assume any and all certified teacher contemplating running this company would want to know this. In contemplating wehat the future of Anusara Inc “should be”, no one is really interested in looking at things objectively. In all these discussions there seems to be a lack of disclosure of some basic fundamental facts of this company that a shareholder would want to know.

    Maybe in the end all we are talking about is trying to save the name and not the company.

    Can anyone out there enlighten me on this? PLEASE?????

  • Sympathy for the Employees

    Fool Me Once May 31, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    Once upon a time, some many years before this scandal surfaced, I was employed by none other than Mr. Friend. All I have been saying in recent months is… “I KNEW it!!!”. Perhaps I’m a little more karmically tapped into the universe and all its rainbows and red leaves, but bad vibes are bad vibes and I got them from him the moment I finally met him, which was a week or more after I was hired.

    JF is no stranger to double talk. On more than one occasion I was an unwitting receptacle for some of his rants on those employees who were expendable and those folks who weren’t even called “employees”, but “artists” or whatever crap came out of this guys mouth. No one was spared. I knew without a doubt that, in other instances in front of other people, *I* was one of the people he spoke negatively about. I could feel it in his energy. In my time there, I watched two excellent employees resign due to his brazen and unrelenting criticism and demands. I also felt intrinsically that, because it was made VERY clear I was not, nor would I ever be interested in him, he disliked me a bit because he knew he couldn’t have me. This began to show every time we spoke, whether in person or via technology. Now I assume it must have eaten at him a bit because by societal standards, I am what is considered… Well, let’s just say I fit his criteria for attractive, but I am WAY out of HIS league. (Sorry John :p )

    He is selfish, self-righteous, self-centered, narcissistic and heartless, YES I said “HEART-LESS” (Anusara = flowing with heart or grace, neither of which he has) when it comes to giving people NOT in his special behind the veil kula second chances OR compassion.

    His mouth spouts what he reads and what he knows to be information that folks on spiritual paths want and/or NEED to hear. If anything, he’s very well-read and highly skilled in the art of manipulation.

    And he really takes advantage of this sort of malicious activity in the most foul of ways, at the expense of people who believe in all that Yoga and its teachings has to offer and who, yes in some cases, began to believe in him as a human. NOT a teacher, not a scholar, not a wise man, NOT a guru… JUST A MAN.

    I was one of those people. I thought perhaps I was wrong about him, maybe I was judgmental, “look at all his hard work” I would say to myself, and so I opened my heart each and everyday I worked for him. I truly enjoyed working with the rest of the Anusara staff and for a minute, it was a pretty cool place to be. Did I mention I spoke with him in person a total of 7 times during my employment there? More often, he was soaking up the Shri in some luxury situation in whatever exotic country he chose, rarely USA. And believe me (if you choose), reconciling those finances was a JOKE. Even as his employee, I could NEVER afford what he charged for his sessions, and only once was I ever “permitted” to attend a workshop for free. The rest of the time it would come out of my check. (That’s what I got for not sleeping with him I suppose. Oh well…)

    In moments I am shocked that others were not more in tune with his energy. I hear payoffs do that to some folks… Money, for some, causes blindness and ignorance. Then there were those of us who worked DAMN HARD trying to make ANY kind of sense out of the mountains of paperwork left behind as he sauntered off to the East with his harem in tow.

    But I digress…

    If Mr. Friend were truly anyone’s friend, he would remove himself entirely from the world of Yoga teaching. He has more to learn than ANY student who’s ever had the misfortune to practice with him.

    Wickedness. I suppose he believes karma is selective, because he certainly doesn’t seem to understand the universal law of “You get back what you put out”.

    Good luck Mr. Friend. You sucked as a boss and you were no friend. You also suck(ed) at being genuine and honest. I feel truly sad for you, those who were your unknowing victims, and those who believe they are special because you, someone who USED to be respectful, “chose” them to be special based on superficial criteria.

    I leave you with a bit of Mr. Friend’s “wisdom”:

    “From every nut, grows a tree.”

    That is all.

    FMO

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