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John Friend

So you may have heard about this John Friend/Anusara scandal. Continuing the recent resurgence of media coverage comes an article from The Daily Beast, this time getting down to the nitty gritty on the now infamous Blazing Solar Flames, the alleged Wicca coven that went beyond the axioms of paganism and into the realm of sex cult and abuse of power according to an ex-member.


The Anusara yoga community has gone through hell since accusations about their grand leader John Friend surfaced online in early February of this year. Sexual escapades, pot smoking, the use of employees as pot goafers, Wicca covens, pension freezing issues have plagued the grand master, and thus the Anusara empire that was fast on the rise, but has since fractured. Vanessa Grigoriadis, a praised writer and NYC yogi, took on the task of covering the latest and biggest yoga scandal in the past decade, and her article for New York Magazine provides extraordinary insight into the mind of the accused and ostracized John Friend on his home turf, in his blue shirt and jeans and his Bill Clinton looks in Woodlands, Texas.


In this latest letter, John Friend states his resignation as director and officer of Anusara, Inc. and mentions a third party to transfer ownership of the trademark. He acknowledges the allegations and takes “full responsibility for being out of integrity in my intimate relationships.” He thanks us all for our patience.


More senior Anusara teachers are coming out of the spiraled woodwork to air their grievances. Suzie Hurley and Betsey Downey, the “grandmothers of Anusara” who have known John Friend for almost two decades and were both part of the first dozen teachers to be certified under Anusara in 1999, have taken it upon themselves to speak up because they “know too much to keep silent.”


An official announcement from Wanderlust HQ (represented by Saeger Media, also Anusara’s and JF’s PR) comes after a long and grueling 6 weeks of accusations, revelations, confusion and acts of union. (see the Running Timeline of Anusara Controversy)


Post-scandal, Anusara, the corporation and the community, has been scrambling to recover and salvage the company/school/method by forming committees, groups, and for some completely detached coalitions.


With official correspondence silenced and the Anusara news front eerily quiet the past week or so, murmurs are still being heard from corners of the interwebs where pockets of yoga teachers (some still Anusara-licensed, some not) are gathering to talk next steps, as well as sharing true confessions of their experiences, whether or good or bad.


Douglas Brooks known to some as the ‘Godfather of Anusara’ took to facebook to present an open letter to new CEO Michal Lichtman, and his “common sense solution,” which in short, is for Anusara, Inc. not to reorganize, but to completely dissolve and die (in order to live).


After the ‘How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body’ debacle we cut author William J. Broad a break. Heck it wasn’t his fault the New York Times went for the shock value, and some reviews of his book actually made it sound worth reading. But this latest article on yoga and sex scandals, basically Broad’s response to the latest John Friend/Anusaragate, confirms that WJB is just as annoying in his delivery about sexifying yoga as he is about it wrecking your body. In fact, it’s idiotic.