It’s been a rough year for Anusara Yoga. From the exodus of high-profile teachers to the public fall and disgrace of its leader John Friend to the splintered organization, continued unrest and resignations and desperate move to restructure. Through it all, Anusara Inc. still exists, as does this new incarnation, the Anusara® School of Hatha Yoga™ (ASHY) fully registered and trademarked and ready to rebuild where John Friend left off.
Since founder John friend jumped ship (or involuntarily walked the plank) amidst allegations of abuse of power and sexual misconduct early this year, the future of Anusara looked to be hanging in limbo. Initially a group of teachers banned together to ride out the storm, and while some eventually abandoned the mission, others clung to the foundation to create ASHY as announced in a newsletter released earlier this week. (Thanks to It’s All Yoga, Baby for reporting on this while we were hiding under our bolsters from Hurricane Sandy.)
News about Anusara had been silent for months while John Friend resurfaced in early September to announce his new website, a new teaching schedule and a new style of 60 poses with no mention of Anusara. So where does Anusara School of Hatha Yoga stand, what’s different and is JF involved?
A new website with a vibrant new purple and orange logo with the same old font is now live offering information on the “teacher-run and student-centered” rebirth, how to get your license back and who owns the exclusive worldwide right to all Anusara intellectual property and trademarks (they do). The ASHY declares its independence:
Anusara is now an officially independent and teacher-led hatha yoga school, very much alive and committed to moving to new levels of growth and refinement.
The school will not be a non-profit as once envisioned, and is not connected to Anusara, Inc. That is if you don’t count the percentage of teacher licensing fees they will pay to Anusara, Inc. Via the FAQ‘s:
John Friend is the the owner of Anusara Inc. and holder of all the intellectual property created since Anusara’s inception in 1997 like the trademarks, licenses, logos, and domain registrations. He has granted a free, universal license to the ASHY’s holding company, First Principle, Inc. to run the school. In exchange for the use of the trademarks, the ASHY will forward a small percentage of teacher licensing fees to Anusara, Inc. to help cover the costs for legal and administrative work needed to maintain the trademark’s integrity. The ASHY will be operating completely independent of Anusara, Inc. and its’ office in The Woodlands, TX. During the school’s formative first months, John Friend and Anusara, Inc. have pledged to help the school with any administrative assistance they can. The stated desire of both John Friend and Wendy Wiltrout that they have no interest in managing or influencing the new ASHY. Wendy and her staff have been very helpful to those involved in this transition to date. The ASHY expects to run the school without any interference from John Friend or his staff
Will ASHY take further ethical review of John Friend? Short answer: no, because JF is no longer teaching Anusara yoga.
Our efforts at this time are focused on establishing the school and assisting the teachers of Anusara yoga in their professional development.
Don’t worry, they do have ethical guidelines “adapted from what was envisioned by Anusara Yoga founder John Friend.”
Addressing teacher-student relationships, restraint and a few weeks should clear it up.
Avoid sexual relationships with students. When a sexual attraction occurs between you and a student, wait some weeks before acting on the attraction. If the student-teacher relationship is about to be compromised by any intimate relationship, it is advisable for the teacher to assist the student in finding another qualified yoga teacher.
And the ever important:
Do not be disturbed by the students who are dull or unresponsive.
(We just like that line.)
The philosophy and methodology will also remain mostly intact.
The mission of the Anusara School of Hatha Yoga is to uphold and promote the philosophy and methodology of Anusara yoga, maintain the integrity of the method and to include the leadership, talents and voices fromcommunities at regional and local levels in creating a globally sustainable school of Anusara yoga.
And if you’re curious how they formed the Anusara School of Hatha Yoga and who owns it here’s their answer:
The ASHY started as an informal group of interested teachers called the Teacher Advisory Committee in August 2012 working under the auspices of Anusara, Inc. The original group included Doc Savage, Christy Nones McKenzie, BJ Galvan, Bill Dorigan, and Jane Norton. After a number of discussions with Wendy Wiltrout of Anusara, Inc., and amongst themselves, the TAC opted to step out from under the corporate ownership of Anusara, Inc. and pursue the creation of an independent legal entity that would be able to license the Anusara trademarks and become a school led and managed only by its members, licensed Anusara yoga teachers. Bill Dorigan recused himself at that time due to professional conflicts with his law practice and Charly Pivert of Texas joined the TAC. Jackie Prete of New York City accepted the task of coordinating the teacher certification committee and Charly Pivert has assisted her with this work and crystallized our mission statement. Christie Nones McKenzie agreed to head up the Curriculum Committee. Members of the TAC presented John Friend with our plan in September of 2012, and agreed that the ASHY was a viable option.
At that time, the TAC was made aware that our colleagues in Europe were creating a similar plan. We reached out to them to see how we might grow together and since that time, the ASHY evolved into an entirely new school of yoga. With the help of Kai Hill of Germany and Andrea Boni of Italy, we were able to design a global school with regional representation and participation at every level. First Principle, Inc., is the corporate entity that has been granted the license from Anusara, Inc. It’s principals are Certified teacher BJ Galvan of Arizona, and Anusara-inspired teachers Doc Savage of South Dakota and Jane Norton of Massachusetts. The corporation will be involved with day-to-day administration of business issues for the school – trademark issues, managing the website, communication with the kula via email and social media, collecting license and certification fees, paying assessors, and forwarding a portion of licensing fees to Anusara, Inc. for the use of the trademark. First Principle, Inc.‘s only purpose is to support the Anusara School of Hatha Yoga.
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