Bringing My Life Into Perspective: What Matters Most.

Via on Feb 14, 2012

For those new to this situation, we’re talking about this past week’s allegations concerning John Friend and Anusara Yoga.

Introductory questions for Amy. Her letter follows below.

Waylon Lewis: In lieu of an intro by myself, Amy, I thought I’d ask you a few questions to help provide context for our readers. First of all, thanks so much for being among the first senior teachers…I don’t know the proper term…who have resigned to come forward and share your story. What is your intent in sharing the details of your story and why you finally chose to resign?

Amy Ippoliti: Thanks, Waylon. I have actually been doing my best to write something for awhile since my departure from Anusara…but as you can imagine, things have been pretty full for me and my family. I’ve been on the phone non-stop answering calls from students and teachers ever since I left. My intent has always been to help people get a better idea of what is true for me so they can make informed decisions. People asked me for this information, you asked me, Waylon, and it’s overdue.

Waylon Lewis: Well, I appreciate that you’ve expressed concern that you don’t want to hurt anyone, but your letter below actually seems to clarify things. And ultimately what you and our readers care most about serving is the truth. So thanks for being brave and your leadership, and your upaya or skillful means in being the first to come forward in a detailed way, but doing so without hateful agenda.

Amy Ippoliti: I appreciate that, Way. I know it is long…

Waylon Lewis: It is long but in being detailed is actually helpful. It is hard of course but many like myself have (like you, earlier) wanted to wait to know what was going on in the Anusara community and with John specifically before knowing which way to go.

Amy Ippoliti: I get it. This has been such an intense 10 days—things are shattering, falling apart, people are melting down…it is stunning to see how deeply Anusara has been woven into people’s lives and to the point that some people are unraveling.

I just want to try and help. I know John must be in a lot of pain right now having in some way created this mess, but my heart is broken. I can only hope that as people process the impact of this event on their lives, they can put back the pieces in a new and fruitful way with lots of love. I wrote this with no intent to hurt John or anyone still choosing to stand with John in Anusara.

It is simply my truth.

Waylon Lewis: That’s beautiful. Thank you, Amy, for creating true peace—which can only exist with the basis of honesty and respect. Thanks for your letter.

~

Shedding Some Light.

“Taking back our light from those we’ve projected it onto opens the door to an unimaginable future.” – Debbie Ford

2012 has started out with a bang.

My partner and I began the year in Japan with some of the most memorable trainings of my life only to return to fly to Florida to be with a family member who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Disease has a way of bringing life into perspective, and this was an eye-opener for both of us on what matters most.

Please forgive me for not coming forward sooner with a more detailed narrative regarding my leaving Anusara Yoga.

I feel I owe those who have asked an explanation. Nothing here is meant to be derogatory or to further inflame the situation.  I’ve spent much of the past two weeks supporting Anusara teachers and my students who are freaked out, angry, confused, and disconsolate.

This post is long, but I was in Anusara Yoga a long time, and I have a lot to say.

Given the complexity of my issues with John Friend and Anusara Yoga, it’s difficult to point at one particular incident or moment that triggered my awareness that it would be helpful to make my struggle public. I left as late as I did because I clung to hope for change. We had a long history with John, and respected him as much as we had learned to defer to him.

Given the hurt, an initial absence of facts, anger over the unavailability of information, and confusion in the Anusara community at this time, I want the important portions of my story to be shared. Why are so many teachers leaving and what has caused these rifts?

Most people look at Anusara as a yoga school. Then on a bit closer examination it appears as either a cult–that being the negative perception from afar, or as a way of life–casting it in an affirming light. Those who practice with varying commitments often admire their teachers, and so Anusara becomes part of their relationship to a larger yoga lifestyle. In the trenches, others, especially teachers, have wrapped their socio-spiritual identities into Anusara and made it a central force in their lives as well as a method for making a living.

Those that are the closest and been there longest have many more things to say…

In a nutshell, Anusara is comprised of a collective of teachers, but only one man takes credit.  The school did not develop in a vacuum, and did not fully evolve through one person’s guidance. Like a living entity, Anusara has survived and flourished through the power of its community, and the ability of its many teachers to adapt in their respective settings. Did John Friend conceive Anusara? Yes. Did it evolve to its current state solely because of his guidance? No.

Some assume that John was my only teacher. That’s not the case. I have studied and collaborated with many teachers, and their teaching also flows in my veins. My students have always received a synthesis of what I know.

I will never regret my education in hatha yoga from John. If I teach asana well today, much of that can be attributed to the process I went through with him to earn the Anusara certificate that hangs on my wall. Being connected to John Friend and his magnetic personality introduced me to great beings and teachers I am proud to know, and so fortunate to have in my life.

John created a revolutionary hatha yoga system.

I have put the majority of my adult years into Anusara, sacrificed financially, sacrificed time away from my family, volunteered time serving on committees, and enthusiastically brought many, many students and teachers into the organization. In short, I’m not unlike dozens of other teachers who have made their own contributions. Those who know my work can attest to the endurance of my commitment.

Why did I leave?

Each individual reaches her or his tipping point—mine occurred on January 24th.

I have been struggling for a while, and almost left with Elena Brower. I just wanted to give John one more chance. I spoke to him directly for hours in meetings and on calls this past December. I worked tirelessly with Anusara to come to a workable resolution, and as I shared with John directly, I was appreciative of his efforts to try to make things work.

I’m stubborn when it comes to close relationships—I will stick around ’til the last shard of hope shatters. I did not leave earlier because I remained hopeful. Then I realized:

Sometimes the way to hold someone accountable is by not enabling their behavior any longer. Sometimes the kindest thing to do is to walk away.

Even though they might plead, cry, promise to change, pretend to listen or be convinced that all is well, I have lived long enough to know not to listen to words but to hold people accountable for their actions.

The past two years have been my most challenging.

Christina Sell and I were chosen to convey feedback to John that we had gathered at a dinner during the 2010 certified teachers gathering. John’s personal party habits were interfering with his teaching, his teaching was erratic, his behavior suggested he was using drugs, and concerns were expressed about his dating women who were students and employees.

John asked me privately to offer my opinion about his teaching at the gathering.

I told him in candor that I’d seen him teach better. Boom. He disagreed, and told me that I was alone in my opinion: that his teaching was better than ever. John started a crusade to prove me wrong. He portrayed my actions to others in ways to discredit me. I felt compelled to ask Christina and other colleagues to vouch for me in emails to John, so that I might regain his “good graces.” This was hurtful, and like any family member, I coped and longed still to love.

The politics of jockeying for favor became irrelevant when his assistant, Wendy, told me that production on products I had started with the Anusara team had been pulled because John was upset with me for a failure to align with his teaching.

Japan.

My experience of teaching in Japan shifted in 2007.

During one of my workshops my then-husband started an affair with my host, the studio owner of Studio Yoggy. Our personal estrangement became professional, since this studio was the main source for Anusara in Japan. Four years later, after my students encouraged me to return, I returned to a different studio. I agreed to use this venue as an anchor for a group of trainings in other parts of Asia.

What I didn’t know was that John was involved in an exclusive agreement for Anusara with Studio Yoggy for any and all Anusara trainings in Japan. (He also dissimulated on three occasions to me directly about the nature of this agreement.)

This proved problematic for a number of reasons:

1. Teachers can teach anytime and anywhere they choose, they are not employees of Anusara (i.e., the organization does not have a right to enter an agreement on the behalf of independent yoga teachers);

2. Anusara opted to intervene to cancel my training in Japan since I failed to follow “protocol” that restricts teaching.  The organization, however, has no legal right to control or restrict business.

3. Anusara would not “approve” my training because of their exclusive relationship with Studio Yoggy. This impacted not only me professionally but punished the students eager to study yoga.

4. John declined to consider the fact that the owner of Studio Yoggy’s refusal to allow my training was personal.

5. In conclusion: Anusara cannot control when and where a teacher works; its agreement with Studio Yoggy was rendered unenforceable.

6. Having canceled my August training, along with the rest of my Asia trip, Anusara’s influence placed my staff’s resources in a bind, and once again some 30 students were impacted since they blocked out time to attend this training.

7. Because Studio Yoggy had placed so many restrictions on progress for training in Japan, and students were so tired of being charged upwards of $7,000 for 100-hour trainings at Studio Yoggy, the Japan teachers came forward to John and spoke out. He finally acquiesced and opened the doors for our teacher training. Despite abandoning our family, we did make up the training over Thanksgiving, but had to teach one week at a time instead of the two initial weeks in a row we had planned resulting in not two but three trainings in Japan in a six-month period that created inconvenience for everyone (students and hosts).

8. It took way too much energy and effort throughout this episode to be able to simply teach yoga and serve students hungry for training. I suffered, my students suffered, and my staff suffered…seems like teaching yoga should be a lot easier..!

9. Where was my teacher in all this? John did not stand up for me, though I was loyal to him for 14 years. He knew that my teaching in Japan was an uphill battle, given my history with the owner of Studio Yoggy.

10. Not only was I blamed for not following “protocol” in Japan, my media products that had been waiting at Anusara for the past four years were intentionally delayed further since I was not being “cooperative.”

From John Friend: “However, when I felt that you were not being cooperative about the Japan situation I did not want to move ahead with your products.”

John heard me out and apologized for some of the restrictions in Japan after being told that it was improper for him to restrict when/where a person could do business. But this was the second time the products I had conceived (meant to be of service to the yoga community) were withheld from production intentionally as admonishment.

Products.

Much ado has been made about doing products with Anusara and how the 10% royalty is not a big deal. Actually—I really don’t mind that Anusara wants money. I told John that raising dues would be a great alternative way to raise capital for the organization instantly rather than wasting time and money on policing Anusara teachers for 10% on their books or DVDs sales.

John claims that because of the distribution Anusara offers, that the 10% more than covers the added promotion. There are some problems with this:

  1. As you can see from above…my products have sat in limbo for four years at Anusara and have been punitively restricted based on John’s view of my lack of cooperation.
  2. Delays on approval on products from John have resulted in the materials getting ‘dated’ and prevented access for the students for whom the materials were designed to benefit.
  3. John Friend attempted to force Darren Rhodes out of Anusara Yoga for making the book Yoga Resource independently. For months John and several others pressured Darren to make Yoga Resource an Anusara Yoga product. Darren refused because he no longer trusted John. John then forwarded the Anusara ethics committee a letter for review that would strip Darren of his affiliation ASAP with Anusara. The next day Darren resigned due to the irreconcilable differences between him and John.
  4. The organization benefits from the Anusara name being propagated in media products. Most companies pay teachers or sponsor them to spread their name, but Anusara is taxing their teachers.
  5. According to the legal advice I received, the organization can’t and should not unilaterally change the terms of any agreement after the fact…none of this was disclosed to me 12 years ago when I got my certification. A lot is invested in becoming a certified teacher. Harvard or any other institution of higher learning does not tell its graduates what they can or can’t do…and they don’t demand a cut of the earnings you gain from written/media materials. You already paid for your education. We are yoga teachers with a certification…we are not employees, robots, or franchisees of an organization.

Licensing agreement.

I did my due diligence by consulting with different attorneys on the Anusara Licensing agreement. I know of very few certified Anusara teachers who have actually read the agreement or had it reviewed by attorneys before signing. All I can say is: read it if you have not, understand it, and know what you’re getting into.

When I pointed these concerns out to John, Anusara offered to enter into negotiation for a special contract exempting me from the “one size fits all contract.” This was thoughtful; however, it came with certain terms of sharing some of my assets for Anusara (e.g. contact list and exclusivity to Anusara, etc.) More importantly, I could not in good conscience sign something that my peers or students would not be privy too, nor could I stand by while other colleagues would be treated differently.

The Brand.

We were programmed to protect the Anusara ‘brand’ and ‘technology.’  We were also held to a high ethical standard. So I challenged John in December regarding the brand secondary to many rumors and allegations regarding his personal conduct. These rumors increased in frequency to such a degree that it was disrupting my trainings. Students were coming to me with concerns about his conduct. I had no firsthand or direct knowledge of his behavior, so I found myself apologizing for John.

Once again, I asked John directly about the rumors, and he denied them all. He lied to me. I told him that if I continued to hear these reports, it would only detract from the brand he holds so highly. I stressed that I have no interest in staying or apologizing for him if these ‘rumors’ were to persist. They continued, and this time broke his own ethical standards – standards that the rest of us are held to so highly by him. Clearly, these rumors proved to be true—and more.

We all knew John was dating his employees and students. I called him out on that only when I saw it becoming a pattern in which the dynamics of power brought into question issues of consensuality. In fact, at one point, he changed the ethics code in the teacher training manual to make it more permissible for teacher-student romantic relationships.

Business Controls.

I am all for alignment and cooperation. However, Anusara never disclosed in our agreements that we had to follow certain protocols, always agree with John, or conduct business a certain way prior to any training to be certified in the method. When challenged on rules or protocols, John would call us “uncooperative”.

There was a blurring between best business practices and the teacher-student relationship. On the one hand we were held to business controls and standards when convenient, and then those rules would change and be broken which John seemed to justify by being the leader of the kula. So I asked to keep communications regarding business separate from our student-teacher relationship in order to keep the two clear.

However, John replied:

 “To be very clear, I hold the position that a teacher can not be disrespectful to me or not aligned with me and still be licensed to do business as an Anusara yoga teacher. I am both the CEO of Anusara and the leader of the kula, and my ethics in both arenas are the same.” 

In other words, if he opted to unilaterally install a rule (even if it ran afoul of his own licensing agreement) you would be considered disrespectful if you pointed out this fact. This lack of disclosure and subsequent expectation for compliance to ‘protocol’ was not only restrictive, but set the stage for many disappointments and ‘in fighting’ in the community.

The organization’s solution in response to these grievances (from me and others) was to form a business committee. I was not encouraged.

Committees, etc.

It was an honor (at first) to be asked to chair committees and serve the organization. I spent countless hours to help move the brand forward, only to have our recommendations and comments fall on deaf ears. It’s not surprising that new committees were formed with the idea that they might have power.

Here is the vicious cycle of being on a committee in the Anusara organization.

  1. John forms a committee.
  2. The committee may or not have the expertise to handle the task.
  3. The committee member works tirelessly for free, creates a body of work or gives a recommendation.
  4. John does what he wants anyway.
  5. The committee member gets exhausted and gives up.
  6. John claims he had committee support or that he gave members a chance to contribute.

Insular Behavior.

The yoga world is advancing at a rapid pace. When John “invented” Shiva-Shakti tantra, the implications were apparent. Instead of holding an open forum of yoga where diverse spiritualities were welcomed, John began to insist on further “alignment,” meaning we had to buy into his philosophy. The Anusara community became increasingly insular and isolated. 

This is not how we began.

The Anusara agenda has changed, and is now in my estimation informed by the following points:

  1. Self-rationalization of behaviors toward the world
  2. Unresponsive to the world as a whole
  3. Establishing its owns rules, standards, and patterns
  4. Disconnection from society
  5. Required submission to the group versus truly welcoming input
  6. Belief in a healthy self-awareness when isolation is self-confirmation
  7. Unquestioning acquiescence: following blindly
  8. Submission and unconditional loyalty under the guise of gratitude, grace, and “studentship”
  9. People unwilling to be in “alignment” are marginalized within the organization and eventually excluded.

So there comes a point where you have to say “no,” both inwardly and with all the consequences that will follow from a public disavowal.

I can hardly be a role model for students, teachers, or the yoga world if I compromise my values and fail to convey my honest experience.

This is a sad, tragic story. But my choice to leave was a refusal to enable John to continue operating in unhealthy ways. One’s conscience demands that we recognize when complicity compromises our simple sense of decency.

Yoga teaches us to forgive, but it also teaches us to discern.

I’ve learned that to forgive too soon is to exacerbate the problem.

I will be part of the larger yoga community that includes the teachers and students of Anusara. We are members of the same family. If you’re feeling confused or concerned, reach out! Talk to your friends and do the work that you need to empower your understanding.

With love,

Amy

About Amy Ippoliti

Amy is a yoga teacher, writer, and philanthropist. She is known for her innovative methods to bridge the gap between ancient yoga wisdom and modern day life. Amy is a pioneer for advanced yoga education serving both students as well as fellow yoga teachers. She co-founded 90Monkeys.com, an online professional development school that has enhanced the skills of yoga teachers and studios in 43 countries around the globe. She has graced the covers of Yoga Journal and Fit Yoga Magazine and has been featured in Yoga International, Self, Origin Magazine, New York Magazine, Yogini Magazine (Japan), Allure (Korea), Elephant Journal, intent.com, and many more. Amy is a faculty member at the Omega Institute, Esalen and Kripalu. She is a regular presenter at the Yoga Journal Conferences, Omega Institute Conference, Wanderlust Festivals, and The Hanuman Festival. Since the age of 14 Amy has been a champion of all forms of eco-consciousness, animal conservation and more recent forays into marine conservation. Website: amyippoliti.com . Hang with Amy on Facebook: AmyIppolitiPage Talk to Amy on Twitter: @Amy-Ippoliti Pin with Amy on Pinterest and share your pics with her on Instagram.

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168 Responses to “Bringing My Life Into Perspective: What Matters Most.”

  1. Hell yea, sister! This isn't a sad, tragic story to me, it's a story of victory for discernment. Good on you for standing up and speaking out.

    • Anne says:

      Victory of discernment just about nails it. Culture of Personality vs.Culture of Character (old fashioned, insightfully described by,e.g,, Jane Austen). Hooray for Amy and Stacey and all others who insist on integrity of character!

      • Ragaman Das says:

        Ja wohl, aber…there's a cautionary tale for children and infants here:
        Anusara: “To Follow Your Heart”—Lead Teachers Follow Theirs once they begin to feel the impact on their personal business. Cha Ching!!!!! The truth was always out there, evident to everyone, including those who conveniently turned a blind eye. There are no saints, angels or martyrs in this yoga story. Only a long, solid line of sycophantic enablers and petty yoga merchants. Watch how the rodents scurry off the sinking ship…the last dribbles of the name Anusara will soon evaporate from all their fine whiskers.

  2. Johanna says:

    Wow. Amy, thank you so much for your honesty and discernment. It was very eye opening for me to read your perspective as an insider. My perspective has always been as a student, and I’ve always 1) loved the method and the philosophy and 2) noticed that some of the teachers appeared to have drunk too much Kool-Aid (although none of my direct teachers have been like that!)

    JF’s ego ran beyond what I’d imagined (and I figured it was running rampant). I do hope that the powerfully healing system can move beyond the flawed man.

    With humility, I believe that the most powerful message you’ve shared is this: “Taking back our light from those we’ve projected it onto opens the door to an unimaginable future.” – Debbie Ford. It goes back to my point that the guru is inside.

    Thank you for following your inner guru.

    Much love to you <3

    • Kate L. says:

      Johanna, I completely agree with you – I feel the same way about the philosophy and teaching as well as the sense that too much kool-aid was being consumed by some.

  3. Julian Walker yogijulian says:

    this is breathtakingly detailed, insightful heart-rending and substantive – thank you amy for being so honest, specific and filled with integrity.

  4. baffled says:

    however, it's really difficult to see how one could wait so very long to come to these conclusions and make this discernment and move on. I think perhaps the glow of "fame" from the name and the organization and the promise of what it will bring is the blinding light that keeps one going under such circumstances that are so far beyond anything to do with yoga or integrity (of leadership) or spiritual teachings. It baffles a bit. I think it's not just for John that this shines a light into the dark corners of the true motives of the ego but also those that enabled it for so long. I am not of the opinion that this waiting so long was in hope of change but hope for the fantasy of what was promised through the "brand" as badly conceived as it was for a spiritual teaching. I don't know you and I have nothing against you and am certain that there is a solid amount of integrity in your aim as a teacher however it appears that there is a dark shiny carrot that also needs to be addressed here that kept the lie going for so long even under such obvious duress of purity of motive.

    • Jenifer says:

      This is just my own experience, and not with anusara, but with manipulative relationships in my past (both within and without the yoga world).

      Whlle the situation is *really* complex and I do have my own role in the process (namely, often looking for an outside authority instead of becoming my own — which is a means of eschewing personal responsibility), I have often noted that when I have been in these relationships, there are a lot of elements that keep me "hanging in" until we literally cannot anymore.

      It has two components — my own desire to remain with that which I love or thought I loved and the other person's gas-lighting (feel free to look this up).

      In the first instance, you can look here and see that Amy and John have had a very long relationship. That relationship started in a student/teacher way, and he encouraged her and gave her many things — knowledge, opportunity, etc. She also worked hard and brought a lot to the table. But there it is. She has gratitude for her time with John — at least the early times — and "all that he has given her" (so to speak).

      In nearly any relationship, there is a measure of this. It needn't be absolute, and in healthy relationships, it's never considered a debt. It is never 'called in' or attempted to be collected.

      In an unhealthy relationship, it will be at some point. Words like "alignment" and "co-operative" were used in this instance, but in my relationships it was always "thankful" and "owe for all that I've given."

      The second aspect is gas lighting, which is a rather specific term, but it's how a person in power, who wants to remain in power in a relationship, warps the perspective of other individual to remain in power. Essentially, the process is to systematically break down the individual's trust in their own perception.

      Thus, what happens is that at every turn — which typically escalates over time — these two aspects are used "you owe me" and "you are not perceiving rightly." And at some point — and the point that I often come to (or have in the past, i haven't been in a situation like this in 5 years now) — is that I am either *right* or I am *crazy*.

      And the manipulator, wants me to be crazy. Wants me to consider myself crazy so I will turn over the last fighting thread of autonomy and "co-operate" and "be grateful" and "align" and "repay the debt" and so on.

      Usually, I decide that I am right. Because I take a step back and go "oh, look at that, I did it AGAIN. I tried to give away my authority AGAIN and then this person mucked up and manipulated me and I allowed it to happen too!"

      But it can take a lot to get to this point. It is a slow process, honestly, and the person always, always starts out looking great. And sometimes they are great people, but then something changes — a death in the family, a fear around the money/business side of things, a big break up, a drug problem. And then it starts. And trust has been built, so of course you want to trust this person, and trust that your perception is wrong.

      But ultimately, it isn't. And you have to walk away. And it's hard, and it's sad. And it hurts like hell. And it isn't an easy decision to come to.

      But there it is. You do it because it's either that, or yes, it is just one more step to the heartbreak that is Jonestown. I would never, ever make light of that. I've been way too close to that myself. Too damn close.

    • Baffled2 says:

      Baffled – you read my mind! Are you my guru. Seriously, John Friend was up front when he said his Guru was "Gurumayi" Chidvilasananda. That was my first clue. I liked the asana practice at the one anusara workshop I attended but the sycophantic atmosphere was too much to return to. I don't think this is about one man's abuse of power — it's about a community dynamic that a lot of people seeking tantric enlightenment involve themselves with.

  5. Leah says:

    Right on!!!!

  6. TaraFirma says:

    Very insightful Amy thank you. I had the opportunity ti sit with John this weekend in Miami, to hear from his mouth his side of the story and it's so refreshing to hear another point of view. I feel John is feeling a lot of remorse at the moment, and I stand by him, the way one might stand by a friend who has royally F-Ed up and is making moves to rectify. Let's hope his actions mirror this. I so appreciate your candidness. Blessings.

    • I hope you're right, TaraFirma. I hope he truly feels the depth of remorse appropriate for his actions. Energetically (and I can't help that, I read energy more than words, and it's not a slam against you in any way– just that your words helped me tune into what happened in Miami) it feels to me that he's more remorseful that he got caught than for what he actually did.
      Please know that I don't say that in any way to judge him– it is in no way my place to judge anyone.
      I stand by the brilliant system that is Anusara and I pray that it be allowed and enabled to expand into the shri that it represents beyond the vision and limitations of the man. And I pray (btw, not in a religious way, in case that triggers anyone) that JF is able to learn through the exposure of his shadow to genuinely, authentically, and humbly shine the brilliance of his light.

  7. Stacey DeGrasse says:

    Sad and tragic indeed! Grateful for your perspective and discernment and for sharing this with us. Love and respect to you!

  8. baffled says:

    "purity of motive"… of JF… to clarify… not your own. As said I am quite sure your motive as a teacher is/was pure however everything that is pure can be corrupted into blindness by promise of some glory. Act without thought for the fruits of our actions…. says the GIta. That is the way to God (Self). We cannot know ourselves as the Divine if we are pursuing goals. The purity delivers the goals. And in their own time and own way. Not by the contract of a shining charismatic leader or his brand. Perhaps the greatest gift of this situation. And it is a gift to the community at large. Because the falsehoods have to be weeded out for the truth of what the true path is to shine. And that is what we all lovingly and kindly are working towards. In Peace. And Love.

  9. Erin Hansbroughy says:

    Amy, all my tired mind and bruised soul can really articulate right now is a simple "thank you." This has been a hard time for those of us who have made Anusara Yoga our community, and in many cases, our livelihood. Honesty is the most healing quality of all right now. Thank you for offering that.
    Much love.

    • Mark Reilly says:

      maybe it is time to start looking at the world as your community and not one specific group of people. I don't underestimate your grievances right now, but as an outsider it feels like one great lesson in non-attachment.

  10. yogajenni says:

    Thank you for this post, Amy. Am very sad you had to write it, but am inspired by your brave words. Namaste, beautiful soul.

  11. Emily Perry Emily Perry says:

    thank you amy! big love to you! all i have to say is… wow! i had no idea…

  12. MaryEvelyn says:

    Thank you. <3

  13. Thank you so much, Amy, for your clear description of your experiences and the circumstances leading to your leaving Anusara. I too am sad that you had to write this, but even sadder that you went through what you did in trying to remain in authentic relationship with Anusara. In the many years I've known you, the clarity of your heart and your deep loyalty have consistently shown through, and I feel very honored by your friendship and support over the last decade and more …

    With much love and deep respect,
    Benjy

  14. Thank you for coming clean. I have had this kind of stuff with John on a much smaller scale. Lucky for me actually–I was in the process of taking a teacher training with Noah that got blocked with the same "Procedure" BS in favor of one of his COmven member's teacher trainings. I feel the universe worked perfectly and if I do a teacher training it will be outside of a cult!

  15. WOW! I am speechless. Amy, thank you so much for bringing all of this to light. Waylon, thank you for making it possible- Jeannie Page

  16. Clintmurphy says:

    <3. Truth. Integrity. Love.

  17. [...] Lewis: First of all, thanks, Dr. Brooks, for [the below] letter and further context into what’s been going on and where we’re going [re: John Friend and Anusara [...]

  18. Thank you, Amy, for your frankness, humility, and commitment to the entire (not just Anusara) yoga community. I've always admired you from afar, but after reading this I sincerely hope I get to meet you some day.

    love,
    Prajna

  19. Madelain Burgoyne says:

    Behind you all the way.

    It would be worse to follow someone else when it doesn’t feel right for you.

    ox Your honesty and bravery is inspiring! I hope I have the courage to do the same in my yoga career!

    Namaste

  20. sarah says:

    Wonderful honesty. They say yoga is a razors edge and he fell on the wrong side and let ego get in the way. Best for everyone to learn the lesson and turn back to their own path – not John’s.

  21. MLS says:

    Appreciative of the clarity and your personal objectivity in telling the old story of how power corrupts. Personally, I am one that knows and deeply cares for some A. teachers but was always put off by Mr. Friend. In fact, I walked out of the two of his workshops that I attended hoping to see what my dear friends saw so devotedly in this person. Does that make me more perceptive, just not hooked. I also saw first-hand how distraught a friend was that had written a book over a period of years. The book was her heart and soul. As with Amy, it was kept on hold and Mr. Friend insisted that she collaborate with another person's effort and not publish on her own. At events she courted for favor as is the case with people that are being emotionally abused. Yet in classes she held true to the mission to the point that it became redundant and overworked. Accordingly, I am happy that this situation has come to light and that teachers become awakened to their personal freedoms. The glitter may not be as bright but the integrity will feel a lot better. My hopes for healthy transitions. As for Mr. Friend, maybe he needs to wander in that wasteful mansion on the California coast for a while and then after a period of reflection and extended therapeutic intervention perhaps donate to groups that serve and illuminate the human spirit.

  22. Amy,
    I have long suspected that business practices were at least part of why teachers were leaving Anusara, as you confirm. I also attended John's workshops in Cincinnati in the fall and in Denver in December. I have to say that I had the most powerful experience as his student that I have ever had in Cincinnati. In Denver I sensed that he was under a lot of pressure to perform for reasons I did not then fully understand but certainly do now. So while I also acknowledge that he has messed up in his personal relationships (with women), I cannot agree with your comment about his teaching, based on my experience of it. I am also just back from Miami so have heard directly John's perspective on what is going on. Again, speaking from my experience, he is suffering greatly, and I hold compassion for him as well as for others who are suffering.

    In addition, speaking as a student, I would have been very upset had John cancelled his intensive in Miami, as would have many others who came from all over the world. Most of those plane tickets were non-refundable, for starters.

    I stand by you and by John both. You have both been wonderful and inspiring yoga teachers for me, and for that I am most grateful. Brand names don't matter to me.

    As for the yoga community as a whole, I do not find a great deal of kindness and compassion in it, and I sincerely hope that can change.

    • Jerry says:

      Compassion always. Discernment always. Balanced companions along the path. Judgement – never.
      Thank you Amy and thank you Ellen for holding us to the kindness.

    • Katie says:

      Ellen,
      I wondered if you would comment here as well. I so glad to see that you did. I feel the insights of long time students are an important part of this conversation. Especially your recent perspective after the Miami workshop. I agree with you that canceling the Miami event was not ultimately the reasonable response to what is obviously a complex problem that can only be sorted out step by step.
      I think your comment about compassion is also apt. We can be compassionate about others without risk to ourselves and without compromising our own integrity. As in Compassionately moving away from Anusara if that's what some need to do.
      Right now there seems a rush to choose sides that feels ungrounded. I'll post more about that in a bit.

  23. [...] A hard look into the reasons that Amy Ippoliti left Anusara, Inc. [...]

  24. Vesna Petrovich says:

    Thank you Amy for sharing your experience and opening your heart to us! Thank you for trusting us!

  25. and now yoga says:

    Dear Amy,
    It is very humbling to read your post, thank you for sharing this as you are still processing it… as you feed the readers with your experience, it is indeed a teaching.
    John Friend, without taking the seat of the teacher, is teaching us a a lot about the pitfalls we might all encounter on the path. We can spend many lifetimes locked in the ego trap… calling ourselves spirituals persons while it is all about putting ourselves in the center of the universe. This ego thing can work in so many subtle ways ( when we are not the ones involved, it's easy to find it gross)… who knows how many lifetimes we can spend pretending we are teachers? yogis? spiritual beings? I am very grateful for this powerful teaching and more than ever grateful to have met, with gurus, teachers embracing fully their role as spiritual teachers and mirrors….embracing it all with great humility and immense love…. without the strength that arises from trustful and truthful teachers, and the spiritual support of our teachers' teachers.. what can we really do? nothing meaningful in the long run I think .Yoga is a spiritual practice.
    Amy I wish you to find a satsang, like minded people who will give you the support needed to go through all this and keep growing…after all 14yrs all of a lifetime is no that much time…
    OM Namah Shivaya!
    Jeanine

    • Ragaman Das says:

      Humbling? Perhaps, but there are a couple of points that trouble me deeply. Not because they are a shocking revelation to the eyes and minds of 2012, but because they have been par for the course within the Anusara community since I came in contact with them as far back as 1999. In addition to the Friendly arrogance I immediately encountered all those years ago, the following points have been at the surreptitious core of the Anusara world:

      7. Unquestioning acquiescence: following blindly
      8. Submission and unconditional loyalty under the guise of gratitude, grace, and “studentship”
      9. People unwilling to be in “alignment” are marginalized within the organization and eventually excluded.

      The final point is one that I take to heart because despite my Friendly warnings as far back as 1999, 2001 and 2003, every single Anusara yoga teacher, aficionado and associated sycophant denied my accusations about their founder. I was basically ostracized and perhaps viewed as a non-conformist. The so-called senior teachers within Anusara were the biggest culprits in protecting and cultivating the Friendly, loving myth. To their credit, their protection was mainly borne out of ignorance and infantile adulation. These two prepubescent virtues eventually sublimated into unbridled sycophancy one the Anusara name became a profitable brand. There are no heroes, martyrs and sacrifices in this story. Only willful blind eyes and violators of every yogic principle in the book. Not to be a party popper, but there are more, similar Friends (male and female) out there who warrant observation and, perhaps, observation.

  26. Yes! Finally. Thank you Amy. No more sugar coating.

    • Ragaman Das says:

      Yes. We'll take two Splenda instead. There are no innocents in this long, drawn-out story, my Friend. Amigos are hard to come by within the yoga world nowadays. What shocks the neophyte mind today has been common, albeit buried, knowledge within the Anusara community for at least 10 years. All senior teachers turned a blind eye once Anusara became a global brand. They are all scurrying now in order to save the sacred sound of the bells…Cha Ching!!!

      • dpstrxr says:

        there is nothing worse than the sanctimonious yogier-than-thou forum troll. Ragaman Das? LMFAO.

        • Ragama Das says:

          I agree. Therefore, I shall disengage your holy suppositions from my memory and point thy saintly nostrils toward the wind of change within the world of American Yoga which, by the way, is not yoga at all. dpstrxr? LMSAO.

      • G.C. Aloha says:

        Just what is your agenda, Ragaman Das? Your rude comments sound to me like the attitudes of a person who believes himself to be speaking from on high. How could you possibly purport to know what "all senior teachers" know or knew or what their personal motives are? The senior teachers I know personally are upstanding human beings who live simply and are not out to make big bucks off Anusara but to live authentically, in alignment with what they teach. Your bitterness and readiness to pass judgment on a large number of people–many of whom I imagine you do not even know personally– seem to reveal that you've got some baggage of your own to unpack and dispose of. Just kindly stop dumping it on the rest of us, would you? We've been through enough these past ten days. Namaste.

        • Ragaman Das says:

          Yes. Agreed. There are many loving senior teachers. No doubt about that. I know a few of them myself. The only troubling thing all these years is their long-term innocence. So today they have either experienced a rude awakening, or a shock to their sensibilities. The premises of Anusara attracted many genuine and pure spirits, but even these gentle souls have to learn some hard lessons about life. Cautionary tale for kids: stay away from any organization that begins to smell like a cult; especially if they have a large following and pay homage to a single Fuhrer…sorry! I meant to say Friend.

          Oh, yes. I do have an agenda.
          Short term: To shed light on past, present and future foulups within the Friendly American Yoga, Inc. community and beyond. It is our collective hope that Yoga, Inc. will stop putting yoga in a box for sale at a premium. Remember: yoga was by voluntary donation in India, until we Western yogis came onto the scene.

          Long term: To encourage all Friendly gurus to cease and desist, don a loin cloth and move to a cave where they can't create mini-empires and effect spiritual hiccups throughout the spirit world.

          No rude comments. Only humor, albeit sardonic, and reflection for the sake of encouraging change. No speaking from "on high" as you so succinctly expressed the supposition. There is no bitterness here either. Only first-hand experience and direct observation. All senior Anusara teachers had a chance to bail out as far back as 2006/2007, if not as far back as 1999. So whatever defensive arguments can be presented in support of prolonging a departure, they must be weighed against whatever had been swept under the rug back in the good ole days of Friendship. JF rubbed many people the wrong way and they ended their association with him as soon as possible. Long-term teachers were unfortunately caught in a conundrum between ethics, devotion and practice.

          And to all the Friends out there in the yoga world: cease your nonsense! Ragaman Das is watching! It is my mission to expose and dissolve your nonsense as it exists and before you exist. Caveat!

      • Maurice says:

        Amy just blew the lid off this whole organization. Anyone who knows Amy knows she's a level headed person with tons of integrity. My sympathies go out to all those students and teachers who are struggling to come to terms with this betrayal. It may be easier to deny what has come out than to see the truth in it all.
        Anusara seems to have started out with vision of integrity and the technical principles remain solid. The leadership has unfortunately alowed it to devolve into a close minded organization incapable of accepting any alternative ideas and certainly incapable of reforming itself.
        Bravo for your efforts Amy! You did all you could before resigning.

  27. Doug Keller says:

    Thank you for your honesty, Amy. Your account matches my own experiences entirely, and it is clear that matters have only gotten worse in the decade since I myself 'left' Anusara.

    • Dan Clement says:

      Great to hear your voice, Doug!

    • Ragaman Das says:

      Amy's account matches my own experiences entirely, but exactly 12 years ago in 1999, and again in 2003. The Anusara world, and its modus operandi, have not changed since its Friendly, loving founder decided to make some wampum from the new shamanism. All..and I mean ALL…senior teachers had already been wise, or privy, to the Friendly shenanigans as far back as 2000. There are not innocents, or honest martyrs in this cautionary tale for yoga dictators and their sycophants.

  28. It is this well informed opinion, knowledge and honesty that makes me wish very much that Amy was on the panal of teachers meeting to review the organisation of Anusara and implement the changes suggested in this post. As you say the method has been influenced by many people who’s input is valuable and should be saved if we really are to separate the Man and the Method and give credit where its due.

    In the UK people are only just beginning to see Anusara as a school in its own right, and what that means in terms of what a class might be; not so far down the road, less affected by these allegations, and perhaps there is there for more distinction between the Man and the Method.

    The board’s actions could really positively change Anusara and I hope teachers as Informed and truthful as you, Elena Brower and Dharran Rhodes, who have left and who have already Influenced Anusara, could be acknowledged. I am very grateful still to my teachers staying to support me and my students through this time, their own light, just as yours, has never been eclipsed by another.

    • AnotherYogi says:

      I think what will happen in places like the UK where Anusara was just taking hold, is that it will be too scandal ridden for people to want to touch it.

      I understand how difficult it is to have spent all that money training and gotten your business set up with Anusara advertising and Anusara mission statements and maybe even pictures of John Friend on the wall. And now you face losing students who just don't want the ugly mess or who are suspicious of the name Anusara and wont come to you.

      My advise (not that you asked for it) is to just teach yoga. Forget the brand. Move on.

  29. Carol Horton Carol Horton says:

    It's vitally important for someone with your stature to share this information in such a clear and compelling way. Thank you!

    While it's sad to see this train wreck, it's even more liberating to hear people finally speaking their truth with such grace. Given the positive power that's being unleashed as more and more talented teachers and students break loose of this controlling, abusive, reality-denying organization, I have no doubt that many robustly beautiful flowers will soon be growing out of these ashes.

    • Ragaman Das says:

      The truth was out there as far back as 2000, or 2003. ALL senior teachers turned a convenient blind eye once Anusara became a global brand. There are no innocents in this ridiculous story about a Friendly ship of misguided, bubble gum minds.

      • Cameron says:

        You've hit the nail on the head over and over again. Yoga, and all religion for that matter, attracts those looking for guidance. By definition they are willing to submit all thinking to a leader, a guru. Add to that the promise of shared wealth and/or fame and/or an afterlife, and you have the makings of a cult. This is a story that has played out in all sorts of ways since man has existed. And it is bound to happen again and again.

        • elephantjournal says:

          There's plenty of good in religion, too. We have to do harder work than merely throwing out the baby with the bathwater, no?

          • Cameron says:

            Oh, I'm not saying religion isn't useful. It is, after all, the opiate of the masses. And the masses need an opiate. Otherwise the human species would be extinct by now (read The God Delusion to follow this chain of thought). There is also the basic wiring of the human brain that makes us susceptible to this sort of thing and overcoming that requires a lot more than hard work.

            But there will always be a side-effect to religion as an opiate. This is a fact that has repeated itself over and over again. See the recent article in the Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stewart-j-lawrence/

            Harder work will not help. It will only make the inevitable disappointment of being human even harder to deal with.

  30. Julissa says:

    Tremendous courage Amy. Way to own your experience. I bow to you.

  31. Atsuko says:

    Amy, Thank you for sharing your heart. I respect to your clarity and sincerity.

  32. Amy, thank you for the honesty and openness of this article. It says much about what needs to be addressed, cleared, and healed.

  33. Jane says:

    Thank you so much Amy. I appreciate your honesty and trust in us.

    I've finished my teacher training with a wonderful Anusara teacher, Chris Chavez. I'd follow him to the ends of the earth for his inspiration. However, thoughts of continuing on the Anusara path and committing myself to the 'brand' made my 'spidy senses' tingle. It's so reassuring that others have had the same questions and concerns.

    And when I boils right down to it, I'll always follow the teacher, not the organization.

  34. [...] now). Some of us are still waiting. But now we know things will never be as they once were. With Amy’s elegant articulation of her experience and with Douglas’ thoughtful and transparent arguments [...]

  35. pranam says:

    Thanks for coming forward Amy. I agree its time for you to leave, and have made an exit stating clear reasons for the turn. Not to make light of the current dismay amongst faithful members of the Anusara but, but. This situation is a classic example of big business and the power/ego struggles of those entrenched in it. That tainted with personal unresolved man issues.
    Those at the bottom rise up up challenge those at the top only to be turned away. They either become submissive or they leave start their own business, and the cycle begins again. Fast forward 10 years……..Ipoliti yoga or whatever brand that comes up………scandal…….misuse of power……mas exodus….etc. This has been going on since time immemorial. I am a huge supporter of it happening other than it has histiorically. I seek guidance to the waters beyond this trite cycle of life, but it is. The talk, the meditation on, and the beautiful words we use to describe that possibility don't make it so. Read up on Hegels dialectic, and his master-slave inquiry. Its a depressing contemplation of the struggles of people to keep each other in line, putting it very simply. My response is not meant to lash out. Somehow the yoga community believes they are, or should be, immune to the underpinnings of conventional society. My hope is that Amy, and other leavers of Anusara can do what they think John should of done. Unfortunately the cards, historically, karmically, and actually are stacked against them. I love Anusara, yoga, teaching, and learning. I do it with open eyes as well as heart. I do not expect or attach to idealism beyond faith that life will unfold thew way it should.

    • History has also shown that some people are able to throw off the cycles of karma, whether in abusive families or abusive spiritual communities. While many of the abused go on to become abusers themselves, some are able to break the pattern.

    • Cameron says:

      There is a BIG difference between the way Anusara was run and the way an efficient business would be run. Yoga Works is a business. Anusara is a cult.

  36. Landry Malick says:

    That's what I needed to hear from you, Amy. Thank you for sharing your story. I had no idea. I am so sorry for your suffering. I send you love and best wishes for your beautiful expansion.

  37. I am not a student of Anusara, yet I have been reading all of the posts regarding the recent events to try and understand what happened. I am still trying to sort it out to make sense of it all…but I have to say kudos to you Amy. Your courage and bravery to speak up is admirable. Truth always prevails…..

  38. Lawrence Lerner says:

    Amy, thank you.
    (your xbklyn friend)

  39. Felicia says:

    Thank you, Amy, for your honesty and humble sharing of your story. I am happy to see that there still are authentic teachers out there who seek Truth. It takes a brave soul to be heard against such controversy. You made a lot of very powerful statements that we can all learn from and grow. I have always felt that yoga is not a 'business' but rather an opportunity for personal transformation. Unfortunately, John allowed his ego to muddy up his original intentions with creating Anusara. Or the question may still remain as to what his 'real intentions' truly were and what they continue to honestly be? No one has this answer but him. From the layperson's standpoint, it appears to be "Big Business" and not Yoga…it took on the shape of Yoga,appeared to be Yoga, but wasn't. This is just my humble opinion. . Continue being the great teacher you are and allow your own identity to shine bright. Yoga is not about labels and 'branding' but about the teachings. Right? Much luv….Felicia

  40. Thank you for laying it on the line and giving a clear explanation.
    Much appreciation,

    Cate Stillman

  41. Dr. Katy Poole Katy Poole says:

    I congratulate you, Amy, on sharing an extremely insightful, articulate, and intelligent response to a situation that has affect so many people—including some of us "on the outer fringes" who strangely feel drawn into this drama. I always felt John Friend as an individual—like many of the "rock star" yoga teachers on the stage—held too much control over the dissemination of knowledge in the yoga marketplace. He's been promising me for years, for example, to endorse my work (which we all know meant A LOT in terms of exposure and even the simple fact of earning a living doing what you came here to do). I've truly resented having to wait for his "stamp of approval" before I can experience any success in what I've dedicated my entire life to achieving. But until now, that's how it's been in yoga. And until you wrote this beautiful piece, I didn't realize that loyal members of the Anusara brand like yourself were also "lying in wait" for your work to be shared. I am so happy that you all stood up and used your popularity to break this oppressive control. Not only have you taken control of your own destiny, but you've also made it possible for others to do the same. I think it's allowed the "consumers" of yoga to look elsewhere to find useful knowledge and products to help their yoga practice and teaching grow. Anusara no longer has the exclusive hold on anything "deep" or "authentic." So thanks again for your candor. I think this is what many of us who've been scratching our heads over the whole coven-thing, pension-thing, receiving-pot-in-the-mail-thing and wondering how these things could be such a big deal to inspire such loyal teachers to publicly denounce their affiliation. This is the first articulation that genuinely makes sense and I think we have a lot to learn from it. Beautiful!

  42. Sarah says:

    Amy, as one who was very critical of your decision to leave and thought you had negative motives,
    I want to express my most sincere apology for judging you before you shared your reasons for leaving.
    I was scared and really had a different perspective of John than the one I see here. I only wish you explained this further from the beginning because it left me confused and other emotions that accompany confusion.
    I respect you greatly and thank you for sharing. Good luck with what you do.

  43. Joung-ah says:

    Amy, I have never been more proud to be your student and friend.

    For the first time in these tumultuous days, I cried… for all the right reasons: gratitude to you for sharing so bravely and genuinely, for all the loss and sadness we are all sharing on all sides of this mess, and for the renewed hope in all my teachers I love and respect so much regardless of licensing or contracts. I have often said yoga saved me in so many ways and helped me find my true self, my better self. You have and continue to be a beacon of truth and integrity for me and countless others. I love you and so, sooo wish I could give you a HUGE hug right now (for all the crap you had to endure, for trying so damned hard and for having the courage to walk away and still remain a leader among us) xoxo

  44. Sandy says:

    Any person or organization that wants to restrict any being from shining their light, light is not acting in alignment with the light. Shine on Amy …you bright and couragous being!

  45. Katie says:

    I am so grateful to Amy for her very thoughtful breakdown about all of her concerns. Resignations mean so little. It's the reasons behind them that carry the weight of truth. It's the reasons behind the resignations that serve the community, and ultimately the one resigning. Amy did serve the community immensely today.

    I feel strongly that a resignation of the nature that the teachers are making should be given after deep contemplation, self reflection, and discussion with their students (of course) but also there should be no sense of haste or urgency about it.

    I don't find haste to be very yogic. I find reactionary resignations actually serve to undermine a student's confidence. Afterall, these certified teachers who have resigned extolled the virtues of Anusara to their students one day and then the next day said "No, it's BS I'm doing my own thing now. But don't ask me why because I'm not sure myself yet."

    I don't know that I want to invest a whole lot more with a teacher who does that. The implication is "I was duped but now I'm not so keep studying with me while I figure it out."

    I may not be grounded myself but I do look for a sense of groundedness from my teachers especially when they need to redirect themselves professionally. We are all human with egos and we get scared and pissed off. What I am asking for takes a tremendous amount of maturity, along with a steady meditation practice, and an ability to take a very wide view point and a very long view point.

    Amy, I thought you left before for purely business reasons. I can see the depth of your intent now. Thanks for honoring everyone with the full story.

    • Ragaman Das says:

      History is written by the victors and the victorious…or Victorias. There's a lot more to reality than meets the eye when it comes to Friendly resignations and rhetorical "Apologias." Friendly warning had already been on the horizon as far back as 1999, again in 2005 with a consistent ebbing and flowing throughout the rest of the decade. No rat on the goodship Friendship remained ignorant of the rumors, inconsistencies and incongruities that had already surfaced. There are no shocks here in this little tale, my innocent amigos. Correction! The only shock is in the minds of those who can trulyl be deemed the innocent Anusara amigos, and that limits the list to just about everyone who jumped on board during the final leg of the voyage. Reactionary resignations do undermine a student's confidence…Cha Ching!!! There are no innocents here, my Friend. Only pockets riddled with small holes…

  46. Ragaman Das says:

    Kudos and wisdom don't always go hand in hand. So my personal misgivings about John Friend back in 1999 have finally been brought to light at the hands of the culprit himself. No one, including Amy, would listen to my misgivings about his arrogant and self-absorbed demeanor. When I made the bold attempt of summarizing my impression of him as an unabashed, infantile capitalist who was more interested in turning a quick buck at the expense of yoga, I was ridiculed and shunned by the Anusara community. Caveat to all teachers, students and yoga impresarios…there are many more male/female Friends out there in the yoga world than you might care to know about today. Hasn't anyone learned from the lessons of the past? Shy away from anything that resembles a cult, no matter how cloaked in modern business practices it may be. Yoga has attracted a barrage of mentally unsound, non-yogic personalities who easily spin spiritual practices into highly profitable enterprises. Within the last 15 years, every single John/Jane and their dogs have opened up a studio as soon as they negotiate their first Chaturanga Dandasana. Owning a yoga studio, or franchise, does not automatically qualify a person as an expert, much less a devout practitioner. It has become a standard brand in the yoga world to mark one's resume with a trip to India, or study with an 'authentic' guru. As if such things automatically legitimize any one specific teacher's ability to teach. Be wary of false prophets and Friends. Going to India, smearing yourself with henna, walking barefoot and painting a bindu on your forehead does not legitimize you in any way. Yoga studios seek this supposed legitimacy for one reason: profits. Spins and gimmicks have become a matter of survival; they have become a concern of marketing; they have become anti-yoga. As a final caveat, if you need to instruct yourselves, begin with the actual, direct works of legitimate teachers like Iyengar and Jois. However, beware that even their alleged proponents have a dollar to wrench out of you beyond comfortable earnings. Yoga should be about abandoning all desires for personal gain. Yoga should be about service, not about profit. Yoga should be about catering to all economic classes and not only those who can afford the latest expensive threads. Yoga should be about spiritual values and not about economic values. If you were to truly practice what you teach, you would survive on donations alone, if they are forthcoming without solicitation. A genuine teacher seeks only non-material gain. A sham of a teacher falls for the trappings of building and running a business, establishing a following and continuously packing their classes with beginners to keep the money flowing. All actions that are downplayed, swept under the rug and hidden behind the frontline veil of serving the community because love needs to be brought into the world. From that perspective, we are no different from the allopathic physician who cashes in on illness. Who wants to kill off the cash cow? Keep an eye on the other established yoga factories, projects and communities. It can be taken for granted that no one is perfect, but Yoga Inc. does seem to attract the rarest nuts and spoiled fruits. They come in all shapes, sizes and disguises. From milk, candy, cookies and bubble gum to profit-mongering spin doctors, the charlatans abound. Caveat! Caveat! Caveat!

  47. meliG says:

    Thank you for sharing your truth and shining your light on this horrible situation.
    May you be at peace!

    • Ragaman Das says:

      The situation is neither horrible, nor did it warrant any shedding of light. The truth was always apparent to those who walked far away from John Friend over the years. Horrible is what is happening in Syria. What is happening in the world arising out of human foibles is simply idiotic, infantile, irresponsible and enabled by blind, sycophantic supporters. Keep in mind that Friendly apostles who learned the truth later on were beholden to his 'spiritual franchise' because it buttressed their bottom lines. Once push came to shove and all the nonsense became public, these supposed Friendlies became shocked and appalled, but only out of economic convenience. They acquiesced over the years lest it affect their pockets.

  48. Ben says:

    Thank you Amy.

    Many of us still have doubts. Is John sorry for what he did? Or is he sorry for being caught?

    • Ragaman Das says:

      As much as one cannot resist loving Amy, she has learned a brutal lesson here about trust, denial and sycophancy. Why is it only now that everyone's yoga amigo has lost all his Friends? Answer: because all who were benefiting from his so-called 'franchise' were turning a blind eye as they professionally distanced themselves. Many of the so-called shocking departures should have happened at least 7 years ago when the doubts and misgivings had begun to trickle in, but since the truth was not public knowledge at the time and relegated to the pile heap of gossip and rumor, the rats kept scurrying throughout the ship collecting whatever cheese they could harvest before the iceberg hit. Brrrr! It sends a chill down one's spine to think that sacrosanct, Friendly yoga groupies could behave in such a self-preserving manner. I think I need a good kriya now.

  49. Larry says:

    Thanks for this clarity on issues I suspected were behind the resignations (ie: not just unethical personal behaviour).
    This pattern of power abuses is a familiar story in a few traditions. I experienced something similar with my own teacher (not to the business scale of yours!) and I recognised in your sharing similar themes, language use, and the use of punishment in various ways for ‘not being in alignment’ with the teacher. I left a small community and was on my own, except for a few patient souls who were waiting to congratulate me on leaving.
    I’m glad there is a spirit of support and community there for you and all the greatly talented teachers who are resigning. That said, it is still profoundly disappointing and heart-breaking. However,from what I can gather (and have experienced on the mat with some of these teachers), you all own your practice and your path and no longer need to be yoked to something that is no longer designed to serve your continual unfolding as a teacher and being. Great courage and blessings to you and your dear colleagues.

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