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John Friend Returns to Teaching, Introduces New ‘Roots’ Asana Sequence, Book Plans

in YD News

 Ribbon Spiral Indeed

Ribbon spiral, as it were.

It’s been floating around the interwebs for the past week or so. Is ex-Anusara leader, infamous for open hearts and a very public scandal, John Friend back to teaching? We knew it would happen sooner or later. Just 7 months after everything broke, John Friend has quietly returned to, where else, johnfriend.com.

Besides a tipster, who sent us the link, feeling “physically ill” about it, the site hasn’t received too much attention yet, though he announces tour dates, a new teaching style called The Roots, a subsequent book in the works about it and a thank you for your dedication to excellence. And we’re pretty sure he’s still set on taking over the world.

The homepage reads:

Thank you for visiting my new website, which contains my teaching schedule through the end of 2012, and general information on my current teaching style and methodology.

In October I return to public teaching with a refreshed view and rededication to healing through disciplined practice. I have spent this year in deep, humbled self-reflection, which has led me to realigning with principles of inner harmony, individual accountability, and open-hearted service to the whole.

This Fall I return to teaching as an independent hatha yoga teacher presenting the fundamentals of my style of modern hatha yoga: positive mind-body discipline, cutting-edge postural alignment, and artistic exploration.

I am very fired up about sharing my new insights and practices for optimal asana alignment, which are both powerfully therapeutic and energetically transformative on every level of being. One of my new practices that I will be teaching in weekend workshops this Fall is an innovative practice sequence called, The Roots.’

I hope that I will get the opportunity to share with you directly in the near future. Thank you for your support, compassion, and dedication to excellence.

– John

Perhaps the most interesting part? A 60 pose set asana sequence called The Roots, which, according to the website, was originally developed by Desi and Micah Springer in 2004 and was “modified by John Friend in 2012.” For our information:

‘The Roots’ is a hatha yoga asana practice sequence, which consists of approximately 60 base poses with 25 advanced variations. Almost half of the poses are standing poses, which helps make the routine suitable for any level of student.

“The Roots” is a well-rounded practice that includes some hand-balances, fundamental thigh stretches, backbends, some basic abdominal exercises, sitting forward bends, hip-openers, and twists.

A set routine provides the students with something that they can take home and practice each day. The Roots routine is exceptionally detoxifying and transformative for any level of practitioner. When practiced as intended, ‘The Roots’ helps to cultivate focus, stamina, determination, and self-forgiveness, along with many other desirable life qualities. With a set of asana sequences, students will be able to clearly gauge their progress as they practice it on a regular basis.

Wow, we sure hope it’s not in a heated room. Bikram has enough lawsuits.

But there’s more. We can all look forward to a video of Desi performing the sequence this fall, as well as a book co-written by John and the Springers which will “help to bring a lot of attention to this routine within the global yoga community.”

There is no mention of Anusara anywhere in his Teaching Style or Methodology pages, though he is still committed to open hearts and asking students to keep an open mind.

A key to effective learning is for a student to cultivate independent thinking so that they may truly know something through their own direct experience. My teaching style facilitates innovative and lateral thinking to break patterns of limiting beliefs. I encourage students to stay open in mind and body to all potentials (paths or methods) to grow and expand their heart.

And there is a “Teacher Student Relationship” section should we doubt his intentions, or ask about his personal life (or past?):

I fully commit to serving each student in the highest way and to the best of my ability in every class. I welcome individual relationship with each student that is born out of mutual respect and positive well wishes for each other.

I respect students’ private lives, and so I do not engage in a student’s personal business or issues. The same respect from the student is also expected by me.

Students are asked to accept responsibility and be accountable for their own feelings and experiences.

I will communicate openly and honestly any issues or concerns with a student, and I wish the same direct and honest communication be sought for by any student having issues with me.

John Friend

JF’s weekend workshop comeback tour is as follows, and does not (yet) carry a mind blowing title, though we could suggest one if he needs it:

Sept. 8 The Woodlands, TX
Oct. 5 – 7 Denver, CO
Oct. 12 – 14 Park City, UT
Oct. 26 – 28 Santa Fe
Nov. 2 – 4 Lake Tahoe, CA
Nov. 9 – 11 Winnipeg, CA
Nov. 16 – 18 Detroit, MI
Nov. 30 – Dec. 2 Phoenix, AZ
Dec. 7 – 9 Austin, TX
Dec. 14 – 16 Atlanta, GA





86 comments… add one
  • Spunky Turtle

    I live in Denver and have totally done the Roots series with Desi, Micah, and Patrick (apparently omitted as one of its inventors?) and it is SO much like Bikram. In fact, they totally taught Bikram till they changed it to the Roots, which I enjoyed, although they omitted some of the best Bikram poses. They basically stated that it is Bikram but with more longevity. It was clear they had given it a lot of thought and that it appeared to address some frequent yoga-related injuries, meaning the poses were adapted to be safer and less show-off-y. I am bummed to see that the Springers have teamed up with JF, that seems unfortunate as they were so legitimately loved and appreciated in the yoga community. I don’t see how this can be good for them. Practicing non-judgment… practicing non-judgment…

  • Laura

    It’s interesting that he’s teaching a workshop in Denver during the nearby Estes Park Yoga Journal Conference, after having held the Anusara Grand Gathering as part of that conference for several years (ending in 2010).

  • Garuda

    I just love that part about how the student needs to be responsible for their own feelings and experiences. I wonder if the teacher will hold himsef to that standard or will any transgression by a teacher be charachterized as the student’S MISPERCEPTION. This sounds like 10 pounds of crap in a 5 pound bag.

    • 3 As

      You’ll be lucky if “the teacher” keeps his hands off your body.

  • rbw

    a shadu in wolves cloth,
    innocent little lambs who faithfully follow,
    there but for the gift of knowledge go i….

    • rbw

      sorry, meant to say..
      a Wolf in sadhu cloth,
      innocent little lambs who faithfully follow,
      there but for the gift of knowledge go i….

  • Yogini

    YD, can I ask you a favor?

    Give Yoga Journal a call to see when they will be covering the John Friend story — and report back.

    • apav

      yes! somebody do this PLEASE!

  • Katie

    There are numerous delightful/disturbing portions of this website, but this one has to take the cake:


    Teacher Student Relationship

    I fully commit to serving each student in the highest way and to the best of my ability in every class. I welcome individual relationship with each student that is born out of mutual respect and positive well wishes for each other.

    I respect students’ private lives, and so I do not engage in a student’s personal business or issues. The same respect from the student is also expected by me.

    Students are asked to accept responsibility and be accountable for their own feelings and experiences.

    I will communicate openly and honestly any issues or concerns with a student, and I wish the same direct and honest communication be sought for by any student having issues with me.

    In what universe is a man who has slept with multiple students and employees — and cheated on his partners with other students and employees — in a position to school *anyone* about the teacher-student relationship?

    Unless he were actually remorseful and were teaching a lesson on what NOT to do — aw, who am I kidding. Clearly, the man is still defiantly maintaining that what he did was a-ok.

  • Erin

    Great job yogadork, thanks for illuminating the ridiculousness of JF stepping back into teaching now.

  • apav

    wow. I am at a loss for words. he has spent this year in deep, humbled self-reflection? Bro….it hasn’t been a year?! This website has to be one of the most ridiculous things I’ve seen…..well since the jfxposed website…… sigh……

  • magee

    From the Vital yoga facebook page(https://www.facebook.com/vital.yoga.1)…sounds like the UPA’s belong to John and not Anusara:
    Wow! Today marks the beginning of something extraordinary-the completion of one cycle, and the beginning of another. Years ago, Desi and I created a yoga series called Vital Roots, employing Bikram’s genius in consistency, and fortifying it with John Friend’s Universal Principles of Alignment. We basically tailored a yoga style that we would like to practice.Today John taught the series in Texas as part of his national tour. And as universal law would have it, there were Bikram instructors in attendance. At Vital Yoga, we have practiced this series for several years. The benefits to mind-body relationship are exceptional. Now, more people will have access to the inherent therapeutic, disciplined and confident nature of this practice. Congrats Desi! Congrats John! I’m honored to collaborate with you both, and honored to be a devoted practitioner of this ancient and essential art. Here’s to healing and evolving!

    • VQ2

      Some of us don’t do Facebook anymore, so also:


    • Anonymous

      John = Anusara. He owns the trademarks and licenses. He owns the full company. This is why so many people resigned early on when he made it clear he wouldn’t listen to anyone’s counsel but his own.

      • Anon, the teachers now have rights to the Anusara name, etc.

        • Huh?

          ^ Elizabeth, please explain more. My understanding is that John refused to allow the teachers’ legal counsel to do “discovery”, refused to cooperate with a teacher-initiated ethics investigation, and that therefore the teachers were left with no other choice but to decline to take on the rights to the name. Where are you getting your information?

    • Yoga Mama

      The workshop blurbs say he’s “getting back to his foundations” but that doesn’t apply to the prices they’re charging. Who in their right mind would pay nearly $100 for a 2 hour class?

    • Been There

      Careful now. Give him a few years, and he’ll be claiming that he was the founder of the ‘Roots’ and will trademark it as his own genius. Ask any Iyengar teacher how that goes.

      He’s of course smart in a stupid way too, now going after appealing to the Bikram crowd, who obviously have no problem with any degree of outlandish behavior from their teachers — i.e. Bikram himself. Hopes for smooth sailing ahead.

      BTW he promised an ‘Anusara’ book for more than a decade and never delivered. How do you think it’s going to go this time around?

  • Scott

    Looks like John Friend found more chumps to let him put his name on their work, just like he did with Anusara. You can fool some of the people all the time.

  • yeah right

    What are the odds that the “Roots” book ever comes out? Hasn’t John had a book “in the works” for like 10 years with nothing to show for it. Besides, once this relationship ends at the traditional 2 or so year mark it will just be off to the next coven angel with another lame idea…

  • yeah right

    Strange that he isn’t returning to the “center of the yoga universe”.

  • I’m means seriously. The whole thing is beyond ridiculous. I don’t know weather to laugh or to cry for John, the people who would attend his class or the ones or are emotionally invested in this issue. Practice at home losers by yourself. from a book. from a video. you want the scene. you got it! enjoy (barff)

  • Yognjen

    From his bio: “John is also an avid student of anatomy and kinesiology, quantum physics, sacred geometry, and psychology.” At workshop in Athens he said he was an “ancient Greek philosophy scholar”. Its totally insane.

    • Anusour

      Soon he will be appearing on Jeopardy.

  • Leslie


    This time around, “N’om” means “N’om”!

  • West Anson

    “Exploring the Muladhara (Root) Chakra the old-fashioned way.” I’m not saying, I’m just saying,

    • ...

      Hilarious observation and so true at the same time!

    • Reclusive Fame Whore

      Perhaps the husbands of the families he hurt would like to help JF find his real Muladhara. The fear of death is an awesome thing to overcome and I think ol John hasnt quite figured out that his stay here can be very abbreviated should he decide to “heal” some more married women.

  • penny

    Bravo! Here’s to making a come back! I mean how else do you expect a man to recruit new coven members and rebuild his energy?

  • penny

    Let’s see how many committees he’ll have this time around to cushion his missteps.

  • Grace

    It is not really our place to judge, especially when none of us really know the story first hand. I was deeply affected by this whole drama and I respect the resentment, disappointment and anger that resulted from his actions. However, there is a respectful way to voice this hurt and I don’t think it is being well represented here. It is not very helpful to get caught up in yoga labels and bitter comments. Yoga asks us to be compassionate, not spiteful. If you don’t support John than don’t go to his workshops or support your disagreement of his choices by making better ones in your own life. Yoga is about upholding the highest values and integrity. Let’s make an effort to take the high road.

    • Spunky Turtle

      If yoga is about upholding the highest values and integrity, then people with documented behaviors such as John Friend (let’s just stick with those documented to avoid the we-don’t-really-know-what-happened argument) need to be held accountable so that they don’t defame an entire industry of lovely, compassionate, community-minded yogis. The label-naming was perhaps best embodied by people like Friend himself, who has sought to capitalize on his ever-reinvented “label.” To start that again, with merely months behind him and a lot of the same language he has always used, despite his behaviors, seems insensitive and seems to presume that us yogis are not just followers but idiots, which we are not.

      • News Flash

        Idiots exist even among yogis. Exhibit A: those planning to attend the tour.

      • Lotus

        Well said, Spunky Turtle! Well said.

    • Yoga Mama

      Why is it not our place to judge? Why should we not speak out about this man who abused his power in so many, well documented, ways. Those who take their yoga lifestyle seriously can look at his behavior and judge it, correctly, to be a profound insult to a conscious life. That he is now re-inventing himself is not surprising and many will follow no doubt. Nonetheless, there are more who see his behavior as so deplorable that they must speak out. Suggesting we don’t go to his workshops if we don’t “support” him is naive revisionism. The guy is everything yoga is not and serious yogis will continue to say, rightly, that he is opportunistic and a user. He is not a yogi. Buyer beware.

    • Huh?

      Why would you assume none of the posters here know the story first hand? For all you know, one of these people was one of John’s sex therapy clients.

    • penny

      Yes, let’s step back and watch gracefully as more innocent people get hurt and families get broken.

    • Can't bullsh!t a bullsh!tter

      If I see an alligator in my swimming pond, I sure as hell am going to clear that pond until it is safe to swim again. By the same token, asking me not to judge or name or label sounds really, really, really,,, well,,, “yogic” (like that is a word) and its an even greater ideal. The John Friend-gator invoked such a strategy to keep some swimming back into the pond. Lets please stop with all the nicey-ness and call an alligator out before it tries to re enter the pond. The same way that the rubberneck dudes who take my class get called out. Either way John Friend has a track record for being a predator in this pond and closing your eyes wont make that go away. There is a predator in our midst and his name shall be uttered.

    • Oh, enough already with the *we must be compassionate and non judgemental* bit. Everyone has been respectful here and has a right to have their voices heard. People have a right to be angry. JF did not uphold yoga to the highest values and integrity, remember that.

  • yeah right

    Yoga is bullshit invented by assholes like JF… Or at least that is what it has morphed into. The whole thing is nothing but judgement… Cloaked in a gleaming pile of shritardism. If people want to follow this self appointed hypocrite have at it. After he saps you of your own creative expression like the vampire he is he will probably attempt to heal you with his one eyed yoni packer. Good luck.

    • VQ

      @yeah right, people do have a choice to take what they want from his teachings and leave the rest.

      Don’t see a big problem with this, except perhaps some other yoga schools in the Denver area, for now, might …

    • hehehe

      yeahright justin is that you! hehehe

  • Janet

    It’s a bit soon for a “return”, no?
    And yeah, his whole thing on teacher-student relationship reeks of someone who still doesn’t get that what he did was wrong and remains unapologetic.
    Methinks, John was running low on cash after the scandal and has decided to go back into marketing his schtick again to fill up his coffers
    Buyer beware. (and please steer your wives, sisters and daughters in another direction)

    • yeah right

      Hide your kids, hide your wife…. And hide your husbands too. Cause john is back to teaching “yoga” up in here.

  • Stewart J. Lawrence

    Nobody held a gun to any of those Anusara women’s heads who betrayed their marriages. In the end, the onus is always on the party in the marriage, unless you’re assuming that most married yoga women are brain dead sheep?

    Come to think of it…

    Also, any of this stuff John is coming up now is surely better than the drivel pouring out of the mouths of the likes of Amy Pimp-a-Little and Elena Brower, to say nothing of the other senior Anusara women whom sold their sisters out with impunity for so many years – then resigned when they got what they needed.

    By the way, when are their reflective retreats? Let me know? I’ll be sure to cover them. Anything they do is big big news. Just ask them.


    • please.

      yoga whelp, enough please.

    • cue

      Right on cue with the misogynistic viciousness, Stew. Knew you’d show up.

  • Can't bullsh!t a bullsh!tter

    I fully commit to serving each student in the highest way and to the best of my ability in every class. I welcome individual relationship with each student that is born out of mutual respect and positive well wishes for each other.
    I respect students’ private lives, and so I do not engage in a student’s personal business or issues. The same respect from the student is also expected by me.
    Students are asked to accept responsibility and be accountable for their own feelings and experiences.
    I will communicate openly and honestly any issues or concerns with a student, and I wish the same direct and honest communication be sought for by any student having issues with me.
    John Friend

  • I too live in Denver and as a recent arrival have been checking out the yoga scene here. I went to class called “kinda hot yoga” the other day which I described to a friend as a cross between anusara and bikram, neither of which ever did much for me, though I’ve always said that the Bikram sequence was solid – just had no use for the heat and the barking. The roots thing seems to the extended version for more advanced gymnasts — er, yogi/nis

    I also noted that this combo was better than either of them alone; not that I’m gonna take it up; it’s just less obnoxious with less potential for harm than the other two styles.

    • Spunky Turtle

      yes, this was at the studio that Patrick owns; he co-created the roots series with the Springers but lost the rights to it when their studios parted

  • FREE

    I am one of the certified teachers he “kicked” out years ago for having the balls to question him about some of his behavior and teachings. After reading his incantations on his new site all I can say is “OMG, please have mercy.” He still has absolutely NO clue. Nothing has changed. Nothing is EVER going to change. It is hard to imagine that something even worse is going to have to happed to John to truly bring him to his knees before he gets it. Hopefully whatever has to happen for him to get the Universal message does not hurt so many people. It is very very sad….

    • I would be interested to hear more specifically what you questioned about his teachings and why he kicked you out. This is important information for all of us yogis to hear.

      • FREE

        I have written about this before on this website back when all the s*%t hit the fan. Basically, several years ago, when I began having doubts about some of John’s teachings regarding alignment, I sent an e-mail link of Paul Grilley’a theory and pictures of differences in bones, etc, to the senior certified teacher in my town saying to her that I was interested in learning more about Paul’s theory of alignment. I WAS JUST INTERESTED! At one of John’s workshops a few weeks later, in John’s words, she “reported” this directly to him. He pretty much abused me verbally, emotionally and physically, in the words of one of my girlfriends who witnessed it, at that workshop and said I was going to have to take a year off and come back to him at that time and he would judge whether I was worthy to be recertified. Well, this was all just too bazaar to me and I RAN, not walked, away from Anusara and the insanity. It was like a very dysfunctional family. I could never understand why everyone kept hanging on. And I have to say everything has been GREAT since I left. I also feel that if John had really done his “work” while on sabbatical, I would have gotten a call or letter of apology from him. This is how I know he has not evolved from what has happend. It could be compared to the 12 steps in AA where you have to make amends to all the people you have hurt in order to truly heal and move forward, but more like the 12 steps of a psychopath. John should still be in full time mode of making amends to all he has hurt. There are a LOT.

        • Perhaps the gift of this is that people will begin to use more discernment and connect to their inner wisdom before they blindly follow a guru or teacher.
          Years ago when I was fondled by Jois in a yoga class while in a forward bend, I refused to do the asana. He called me a BAD LADY and I said you are a BAD teacher. The other students were upset that I spoke to their guru in that manner but I stood up for myself and what I felt was abusive treatment by him. He sat on one of my students when she was in plow pose and she was in pain for months. It was hard for me to watch people lining up to kiss his feet. Time to stop worshiping teachers and gurus. Nobody is closer to god than anyone else.

          • steve

            Thank you Michaelle. That is one of the best and wise comments I have ever seen on this blog. Good on you for standing up to Jois. That kind of courage (and common sense) has no doubt benefited you in life more than any asana. Totally agree with you. Brilliantly spoken and absolutely right.

  • Lili

    Please JF stay gone. You are not necessary in the yoga world.


  • If there is no mention of Anusara in his teaching methodology pages or whatnot, there is more than enough of it on the The Roots page. And, like it or not, his Universal Principles of Alignment have gone nowhere, and I personally found them to be the most Anusara of Anusara teaching.

    What I continue to find most intriguing from all this is the cry that JFs fiasco hurt people’s faith in his philosophy. On his Yoga Education page you can see the list of what he is drawing from. That means that students could explore for themselves and build up their own basis, rather than just take in JFs filtered jumble of wicca, daoism, etc. I think lots of folks have, and that makes me happy. What makes me less happy is that he is trying to teach yoga when obviously he really wants to be the spiritual leader of a cult commune.

  • mela

    I’m facsinated by the judgements here. The chatter here is more telling about the speakers than about John. Let it go people. Silence alone can be constructive.

    I believe forgiveness is an important part of practice . I would take his class if he came to my city. Only then would I decide if it was for me.

    • FREE

      I totally agree with you about the judgments. You obviously have not had the same experiences as some of us on this site and have your own judgments about us! Ha! However there is a time and place for judgment. I was asked about my experience and I shared it honestly. I let Anusara go 4 years ago but a that time I had no idea how many others he was treating badly. It really saddens me and it brought up a lot of the pain I went through after working so hard for 10 years and spending thousands and thousands in workshops and travel. Knock yourself out with John!

    • Been There

      Silence can also be a form of enabling, especially in cases of abuse. The practice of ahimsa includes truth-telling, particularly when it protects others from harm.

      Of course you’re free to try it out for yourself, and find out for yourself. And if you get sucked in, it may take you years to figure out what’s going on, especially with your yoga-goggles on.

  • Yoga is evolving and what we are doing now in terms of asana will be very different in the years to come. The actions of John Friend are very unfortunate for not just him but all of the yoga community at large. Yoga is losing creditability for many reasons and the sex scandals of most of the top yoga teachers is a huge factor.
    There are other reasons too that yoga is losing creditability and one that is coming up more and more are the increasing numbers of injuries and repetitive strain cases affecting wrists, knees, hips and shoulders.
    Yoga poses need a bio-mechanical wake up call because many asanas use right angle templates and straight lines that do not simulate our natural curving design and structures. There are no straight lines in nature and man is part of the natural world.
    check out http://www.yogalign.com to see how and why we need to move towards anatomically functional asana positions that strengthen our joints and do not cause ligaments to become over-stretched.

  • aj walker

    I never understood the harsh judgements of the yoga communities re: John Friend. He is Human. And like all humans…weak, we all have dirty secrets, weird ways and we fail. But through those failings we hope to learn and grow, to blossom and become a little more authentic.

    • oh, fuck you

      Oh, fuck you, idiot. Blossom and grow and be more authentic? Human? some old new age horse shit. Not everything is about Your Personal Growth and Development Trajectory. Why are so many yoga students so vapid?

    • Been There

      If you had ever been personally subjected to the kind of abuse he meted out, you might understand just a little bit better. And ‘ahimsa’ includes ensuring that others are not subjected to the same.

  • Snowy

    First off, are you people practicing yoga? Does not sound like it to me. Secondly, has anyone tried The Roots or seen John since the scandal?
    The yoga I practice is non-judgemental. I learn that things happen for a reason. I learn that in order to be birthed into the light, you have to drop down into the darkness.
    I’ve never studied with John in the past, but was really digging Anusara. I attended a weekend Roots workshop and witnessed a beautiful transformation or not just a human being, but yoga itself. And for all you JF ‘haters’, Desi lead most of the class, and Jonh eloquently stood as the student learning The Roots.
    And nowhere during the whole weekend did I feel like I was in a Bikram class.

    • Viveka is Yoga

      You seem to be confusing the behavior of the man with the attractiveness of the practice. Moreover you have defined your concept of the ‘nonjudgemental’ nature of yoga in a way that allows you to pass judgement on others who have spoken out on his behavior, defining them as ‘haters’ — and all the while have apparently bought his redemption story without questioning for yourself whether there is any evidence that his inner nature or tendencies have changed in the least, his ability to somehow stand ‘eloquently’ (meaning temporarily silent?) notwithstanding.

      While you advocate being ‘nonjudgemental’ as almost synonymous with ‘practicing’ yoga, much of the blame for the scandal surrounding his previous behavior has fallen on those who somehow abdicated their faculty of judgement (viveka, discrimination) in the name of following and enabling him.

      Be careful whom you call ‘haters’ — somewhere down the road you may find yourself to be a ‘hater’ too, if you don’t exercise a healthy amount of good judgement.

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