≡ Menu

John Friend Returns to Declare His Own ‘Epic Comeback Story’ – To Be Bigger Than Anusara Ever Was

in YD News


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



49 comments… add one
  • S.

    This guy is like my toenail fungus I caught doing years of Bikram. Just when I thought I was rid of it, it shows up an another toe.

  • Yvonne

    According to yoga scriptures, the ego is an obstacle to achieving Yoga.

  • Anusour

    The “new merry band of devoted disciples” is the same as the old merry band, only fewer.

  • OhWhy?

    “It’s an epic comeback story”, shouldn’t that be said after a comeback has occurred? Not before?
    Add a long tail and horns and the red photo will be complete 🙂 Said with loving jest and eye roll.

    • VQ2

      Well, this comeback DOES prove “The Long Tail” theory by marketing guru Chris Anderson … for all Friend’s grandiose megalomaniacal pomp, he is actually narrowcasting rather than broadcasting and will attract many little clumps of followers of an involved, neo-arcane system–however new it is, but allll around the world and perhaps on colonized planets …

  • Chris

    Stop making superfluous people famous. This guy is yoga equivalent of a Kardashian.

    Yogis are like bloody goldfish, “look there’s a castle…(swim, swim)…look there’s a castle”. Positively reinforcing his “celebrity” is what makes yogis easily mocked. Demand better. Follow teachers who are there for their students, not those there to exploit them.

  • Kathy O'Rourke

    This guy owes me about $5000 in Anusara Yoga workshop training fees since he utterly disgraced the whole paradigm. He is the most manipulative person I have ever encountered and he should be pulled down by the larger yoga community (Yoga Journal, for instance) for all he has done to betray students. I cannot support him in any way after what he did. He is totally toxic.

  • Jessica

    Blah blah blah…I couldn’t care less what John Friend is up. I would never allow myself to be taught by the likes of him and would be wonderfully grateful if he just disappeared!!!

  • Jemill

    At least now he can buy his own pot if he stays in CO.

  • PS in NY

    NOOOOOOOOOO! Someone make him go away! Make him go away!

  • https://www.facebook.com/pages/Boycott-John-Friends-Sridaiva-Yoga/321660381267230


  • Daren

    Many years before his scandal and downfall, I inquired as to why Mr. Friend would rent hotels or conference spaces for his workshops instead of having a studio sponsor. I was told, “why waste a portion of my profits for nothing?” I find it ironic that he is now running to yoga studios across the country to support his reinvention. Moksha Yoga in Chicago will certainly not be a part of it.

    • Vision_Quest2

      That’s good 2 know …

    • Linda-Sama

      but Yogaview is.

    • REALLY

      REALLY? I could not care less about JF. Never have; never will.

      But Darren F subtly chastising someone for chasing after money? WOW.

  • Daren

    The so called new and original system based on tensegrity is lifted right out of Carlos Castenada’s writings (remember his teachings from Don Juan?). Attribute them to the source? Oh by no means – such an ego takes credit for oneself.

    • Anusour

      He is a clever one. Presumably, all of his “innovations” past and present are borrowed. In this case, he sounds so magnanimous by crediting Desi Springer for the insights. However, he has a direct relationship with her, so it’s all in the family.

    • Vision_Quest2

      Castaneda?? Sounds like a peyote-induced vision …

      • Vision_Quest2

        In addition, it is okay for the body to “banana” into (and stay banana’ed in) all your headstands, handstands, etc.

        This new “system” says so!

        Man, these guys must have some stroooong sacrums that do not pain them the next day and for up to a day thereafter …

        YMMV, FTW … !

    • Semper Fi

      As you recall, Carlos Castaneda was also a sham mired in sexual misconduct. Birds of a feather…

    • ComeOffIt

      About right. Though Castaneda was as a far more despicable and dishonest scam artist than Friend could ever hope to be…

  • avant-garde biomechanical technology FTW!

    • Vision_Quest2

      That’s exactly what’s wrong with it. We are functioning ORGANISMS, NOT LEGO BLOCKS!!!
      There was only one Bucky Fuller http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tensegrity , and he did not teach “yoga” to anything but steel (and other building materials).


      Lover of Architecture, and of Those Inanimate Objects Which Architecture Produces

  • John Friend exemplifies all that is wrong in Western yoga today. I don’t wish any harm come to him, but I am not rooting for his success either.

  • jim

    Truly amusing take on it YD! Love the toenail fungus comment too. I think he might have missed the train though on taking over the planet. Yogaglo (his former kula!) is working on that one (taking a page from his old modus operandi).

    • Vision_Quest2

      Yeah, but … Yoga Journal is located now in what has become the new Shridaiva’s backyard … !
      Surely they will combine forces with the branding and the streaming–and of course they shoot yoga side-view … they wouldn’t get sued by the Glo …

      • jim

        wouldn’t surprise me VQ2. Yoga journal was JF’s biggest supporter/promoter prior to him being exposed for the douche-bag that he is. YJ is rife with similar minded people. It will be a race to bankruptcy for the two of them. Watch.

  • Wow

    Wow — no one is rushing to his defense against the ‘haters’ this time. Things must be getting a lot clearer as this thing plays out.

    First time tragedy, second time farce.

    • Vision_Quest2

      No, it’s just that … many yoga teachers are scrambling to consolidate their positions, defin their terms … and, just … survive …

      The Long Tail Theory in action/practice….

      Also, possibly, yoga is not the red-hot-trendy thing it had been just 3 years ago …

      Sridaiva will probably go all mass-media on those Yoga Teacher Trainings at the low-end; and exotic retreats at the high-end …

      Also, possibly, people took a hit with too many “non-marketable” teacher trainings …

    • Wow

      Actually this case shows that Marx had it backwards: it’s ‘First time farce, second time tragedy.’ Because this second go-round, if it attempts the same trajectory of swinging for epic comebacks and world domination, will not end well. It will be lonely and sad.

      If he were to focus on being a good and unpretentious yoga teacher, it might end differently. Sometimes ‘good’ is good enough.

  • jim

    Do you know if his new system is also “elegant”?

  • jim

    Only Bucky actually was elegant.
    Not so sure about the hollywood celeb makin’ this happen. Different world out there now.
    Besides, the gushing author out in Denver notwithstanding, Friend exudes slime…

  • Sounds kinda…Narcissistic.

    Rare behavior…coming from a Yoga Teacher.

    Or…not. At all.

  • Dunja Marcum

    Well, sorry, and go ahead and slam me, but the Sridaiva has completely changed my body, my outlook, and allowed me to open up those places in my body (hips, mid-back) that about 15 years of a pretty solid yoga practice couldn’t do. I believe in 2nd chances, I’ve spent a lot of hours with this guy, Desi too, (wait, does that make us romantically involved?) and if he wants to recreate himself, that’s the chance he gets. I’ve probably spent 30 hours in direct training with the Roots/Sridaiva practice, the studio I belong to is incorporating it well, my teacher with 20 years of teaching experience has healed old injuries with it, and he was a JF follower from back in the day. Slam JF as long as you want, it’s totally cool and I’m sure it fits right in with practicing the eight limbs of yoga and all, but unless you’re practicing Sridaiva, best not to knock it.

    • Anusour

      Thanks for the testimonial. Perhaps you can enlighten us how 30 hours of practice has completely changed your body and outlook where your 15 year practice fell short.

    • Wow

      OK, since we’re doing the 8 limbs thing to deflect criticism, which of the 8 Limbs has Mr. Friend exemplified?

      Redemption and forgiveness are available when a person has learned from experience and credibly resolved to — and moved in the direction of — reforming previous behavior. How much learning is evident in Mr. Friend, judging from his statements in the article? (Apart from realizing that he needs to keep his private behavior more secret so his words won’t be measured against his actions quite so much.)

      Keep in mind that A) ‘Sridaiva’ is a name that Mr. Friend gave to something that is not even his — he is just polishing the PR for it and further jingoizing the language (this time borrowing from Buckminster Fuller and people on the fields of Rolfing and bodywork); and B) you’re confusing your experience of doing yoga (with an added placebo effect of experiencing the mysterious and magickal benefits of his totally revolutionary (again, not his) series of postures — the issue is whether he has learned anything as a person, because the downfall of Anusara — and the harm it brought to many — lay in his personal shortcomings and temper; and C) if your 20 year teacher friend with the injuries was a JF follower ‘back in the day,’ where did those injuries come from (from Anusara practice?) and why weren’t they healed ‘back in the day’ under JF’s guidance?

      Like Mr. Friend, you just don’t get it. You can ‘Sridaiva’ all you want — take a good look at who you’re doing it with. I personally wish Mr. Friend would just ‘get it’ and cut the world domination BS. It doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen in this life, and it is no violation of the ‘8 Limbs’ to speak out to save the unsuspecting from harm at the hands of this character. Drop the passive aggressive ‘you’re not a yogi because you don’t follow my interpretation of the 8 Limbs and you don’t know what I know, but go ahead, it’s totally cool’ crap.

      Look closely at the picture in the article — he looks startled, like someone slapped in the face by the universe/karma and can’t quite understand why. He’s staring into the camera with a mixture of defiance and anger, vague irritation and nagging confusion, only thinly veiled by his yoga ‘pose’ and new ‘look.’ Percolating through his features is his anger that everyone has been so mean to him, and that his wonderfulness is no longer praised and appreciated — except perhaps by a small group of enablers that seems to include yourself. He surely intends a comeback but is irritated by the absence of a red carpet.

      ‘Recreating’ oneself is for Madonna; learning, growing and letting go of old ways is what human beings are meant to do. It is quite clear that he has not; I wish he would, and he will not be let off the hook until such time that he starts to listen instead of blaming everyone else for trying to ‘bring him down.’

      PS: He drew the numbers last time because of the pyramid scheme he had set up with his certification system. Now that he is not doing that (because it got him into trouble last time, when he was held accountable for his behavior), he shouldn’t expect anywhere near the ‘comeback’ that he fantasizes will come to him. What he experienced as his fame and awesomeness last time was a bubble that he himself both inflated and burst. Deal with it, and don’t write off the criticism.

      And I guess I was wrong about the defenders shying away this time. Oops.

      • S.

        And he does not even have his arms straight and left foot tucked in properly in Siddhasana!

      • ernst stavros blofeld

        Thanks Wow. Wonder why he always feels he has to take over the world. Something a bit backward with that. Apparently has a sense of entitlement (to the world). Revealing, really. That was his attitude before too. Some deep seated pathology there. Freud would have a field day.

      • VQ2

        Because you’re talking retribution; and, like it or not, the market will be the market.

        Thankfully, I’m hardly in it. Commercialized yoga IS what THIS FARCE ACTUALLY IS …

  • Daren

    To Really:

    I wasn’t “subtly chastising” him for chasing money but instead the hypocrisy of it all. Really? Re-read the comment and post your real name if you want to make it personal.

  • Sally

    Much of this is true; however, he was not run out of San Diego.. there were plenty of students, and teachers that wanted him to still teach. He ran away. He asked his assistants to pack up his stuff and send/drive it to TX. He chose to run away, and now how he says it’s 2.0 vs. 7.0 -talk about going too far and hurting more people. So, once again JF has put his cosmic spin on what he thinks happened and playing the victim.
    ho hum, need a new story.

  • ED

    Amrit Desai did it, Rodney Yee did it, Osho did it, Friend’s in good company. Anusara is a third of what it once was thanks to him (still holds the Trademarks to that system). At his and its height he called it the PhD of yoga trainings now The Roots are the tune this Pied Piper of Denver is beguiling the gullible with. I know many he turned off of yoga from his interpretations of tantra, the Friend I knew would shrug and say that’s their stuff, pathetic him. As to great benefits from a system this guy practiced from a video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bIXOo8D9Qsc
    The body is a remarkable machine. With determination and given time running backwards while chewing on a carrot stick will change something.

    I say good luck to him but please just STFU.

    • VQ2

      I finally do see where the subject of that video is coming from … after years. But it took being physically diseased … not being considered disgraceful and being distanced-from by an entire community.

      I didn’t use just one video/class/workshop/book or system, in my case. Just one day recently – and after years of practicing yoga (mostly on my own) regularly (and before that, meditation), something clicked … I’d switched off the clattering background music (for several months’ standing), the monkey mind in my head, reminded myself for seemingly the zillionth time that the former Master Teacher of old was not in my apartment … in fact, was hundreds of miles away (and not haunting me via mass media transmission, either–not that he would ever do that, to date) … and I challenged myself, and got somewhere in my practice …

      Although, I have to admit, my space heater (adding heat) was in on the deal … I was doing flip dog over and over again, finally …

  • benicio dt

    well thank you, VQ2 for that very insightful comment…

  • ASHY

    “Anusara School of Hatha Yoga is Anusara 2.0 — and Sridaiva is Anusara 7.0″…… wonder what the ASHY people think about that, considering many of them still defend John Fiend(sic).

  • ST

    I just really wish he hadn’t done this in Denver, my beloved hometown and such an otherwise lovely yoga community. There is no humility or integrity in his words, except the standard acknowledgements he extends because he knows he has to. If he were really getting it, he would not be looking for followers, he would be quietly practicing, focusing on having more authentic relationships, and learning to make a basic living to sustain himself. As long as he is still trying to get people to believe that what he has and does is more special and revolutionary than any other yogi, it is clear that he is full of shit. If he is a smart teacher with a lot to offer, the practice will grow itself.

  • Pretty! This was an incredibly wonderful post. Thanks for supplying this

Leave a Comment