Even though we haven’t heard about him in a while, it still seems like any John Friend news is too soon. And yet, JF has never really slowed down for a breather post-scandal, despite better judgement and our maxed out scandal-o-meter. His comeback, if you can call it that, since he never really went away, has been a relatively quiet one, holed up in Colorado with mini teaching tours thrown in for good measure.
Now he’s back, with a new thinner physique, a new yoga style and the same old JF desire to take over the world.
We were introduced to JF’s new style Shri Daiva Yoga around this time last year after he stepped away from Anusara and found his ticket to divine destiny. Embraced by Desi Springer (sources say they are romantically involved) and her sister Micah, co-owners of Vital Yoga in Denver, JF has been incubating his new yoga style (and lifestyle, hopefully?) in an environment that gave him “a chance to begin a whole new professional presentation of myself and my teachings” allowing him “to rebirth myself into a higher form on all levels of my being.” No doubt he is a wordsmith that JFri.
Shri Daiva Yoga (which is NOT Anusara, ok? geez) goes deep into alignment and the “healing and energetic expansion of the mind-body and the heart.” Repeat: it is not Anusara. SDY also involves some jazzy bio-tensegrity, The Roots (a 108-pose sequenced routine – 54 base poses, 54 advanced poses) as the foundation for the asana portion and is intended to encompass an entire lifestyle with meditation/mind-body practices and healthy eating. He essentially wants to become the Oprah+Martha Stewart+Tony Robbins magnate of the yoga world, and we’d expect nothing less from a man who built a worldwide empire upon powder kegs and then sparked them himself by sleeping with married students, hiding questionable financial practices, sending goafers for his pot and abusing his power to intimidate anyone who tried to step outside the circle only to watch the whole thing burn from a safe distance and blame it all on everyone else.
However, for your first big comeback article, which came out today in a local Denver newspaper, this is probably not the opening sentence one might have hoped to lead with:
As roughly twenty yoga students contort themselves into various poses in the spacious, purple-walled “Sky Room” at the Vital Yoga studio in Highland, their teacher for this session, John Friend, pads about the wooden floor, adjusting spandexed hips and poking at protruding butts while talking about opening the belly and raising the solar plexus.
Weird choice of words, no? Nevertheless, it’s nice to know that JF still has his “feel-good evangelist” charm and is still playing the victim card fairly well, referring to everything that happened as “a 21st-century Internet witch trial.”
The fawning over John Friend has become an expected consequence of his easy-going, southern-lovey, cult of personality persona, and this newest article echoes and magnifies this to the point of nausea.
But here in this Denver yoga studio, the now-54-year-old Friend doesn’t look like a fallen guru. His aqua-blue eyes flash with enthusiasm, his short gray hair is gelled upward in a jaunty fashion, and when he takes off his shirt near the end of the session, he reveals a well-toned midsection that’s dropped forty pounds of fat since his 2012 fall from grace.
This is where we had to stop.
The rest of the article can be summed up with these short JF quotes in this next paragraph, broken up for full effect:
“I get to start over with something better than I had before,” Friend says.
Collaborating with sisters Desi and Micah Springer, co-owners of Vital Yoga, Friend is developing a new yoga postural system called Sridaiva, one that he says he expects “to be more impactful than Anusara ever was” — a system not just for yoga practitioners, but for everyone around the world.
Sridaiva is going to be big, Friend predicts; it will eclipse everything he did with Anusara — the good and the bad. “It’s an epic comeback story,” he declares.
As he says to his students at the end of the class: “2014 — it’s gonna be a good one!”
So ambitious and positive that guy. We’ll watch from the sidelines as John Friend aims to take over the world, once again. Book plans are already in the works. We can see the made-for-TV movie now.
Feel free to continue reading the entire piece at the Westword where you can catch up on John’s new toned-down, modest life in Denver without flocks of aggrandizing students or assistants, his response to the haters (aka former Anusara teachers, students and studio owners who are still upset) and how he’s ready to take on the future with what the article’s author observes as “the beginnings of a new kula, a new merry band of devoted disciples.”
image Anthony Camera / Westword