Finally: Elena Brower speaks out re John Friend & Anusara Yoga on Huffington Post.

Via elephant journal
on Feb 20, 2012
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Elena was one of the most senior Anusara teachers, and one of the first to resign from Anusara Yoga and her association with John Friend—if not the first, my chronology is undercaffeinated.

She’s also an old soul—grounded, wise—and I’ve been personally missing her view and guidance on this painful, confusing situation. But she’s been silent. Until now. ~ ed.


…Since then, John Friend created for himself an interestingly powerful seat, and amidst his stellar teaching, made some unfortunately destructive choices over the years. After his disgruntled I.T. guy recently posted his salacious electronic interactions for all the world to see, everything in the Anusara community began to crumble. Within the context of that disintegration, it’s become apparent that within the community of teachers, there were two discernible camps. As you’ll see, one of the “camps” knew less and were definitely more “in the dark” about the “real” John than others of us. Together, we were a dedicated group of assiduously studious teachers who chose to be there and truly did make an impact in the world of yoga. We received an incredibly rich and precise education, and in the language of the heart, we all found our voices and made real careers out of our work, and that felt so true for a long time.

The Two “Camps” Within Anusara

There were the ones in John’s closer circle who “knew” of his penchant for women, partying and fun; I’m from that camp. None of us were shocked to see that evidence, although admittedly it was disturbingly graphic and veered from embarrassing to awful to deeply sad. I’ll offer some thoughts from that perspective in just a moment.

Then there were the ones

…read the rest at Huffington Post—so good to hear her words and hear her view of the situation, and how we all might work with it and proceed.


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147 Responses to “Finally: Elena Brower speaks out re John Friend & Anusara Yoga on Huffington Post.”

  1. elephantjournal says:

    Comments on FB:

    Finally, a relief to hear her voice.

    Jane Rubinstein Perhaps our gurus fall so far because we hold them up so high.
    40 minutes ago · UnlikeLike · 3
    Waylon Lewis Yes! Not an excuse, but truetrue!
    38 minutes ago · LikeUnlike · 1
    Cosmos Spark o my god omy god omygod
    34 minutes ago · LikeUnlike
    Jennifer Bowen Yoga She wrote the best piece on this whole ordeal that I have read. Yoga involves people, and people are not perfect. Sometimes the best or most important people in our lives have committed the biggest crimes. It's just a fact. Anyway, the yoga image can be as irritatingly self-rightous as the evangelical bible thumpers. Time for yogis to humble up!
    32 minutes ago · LikeUnlike · 2
    Genei Baker Yes. I agree with the irritatingly self-righteous part. Not you, Jennifer, but I have met some real pieces of pretentious nonsense in Yoga-Land!!!!
    30 minutes ago · LikeUnlike · 1
    Waylon Lewis Yah, Jennifer, I loved it. Nuanced, and straight up. And tons of transparency and blame-accepting.

    Just saddened, after all this, elephant making the tough choices and giving up traffic breaking this, interviewing folks in different camps, going after sourced non-anonymous facts and hosting dozens now of mostly critical but thoughtful perspectives…that our friend didn't choose to post this on elephant, instead giving it to our (cough: corporate) friends over at Huff. We could at this point get it just as much if not more reach.

    • SQR says:

      Agree with that- Elephant certainly has had a more constructive comment section following these stories. Also have to say, if Elena is unhappy with Yogadork, well, mentioning them at the end of her Huffpost article probably just sent a large number of potential new readers over there…

    • Susan says:

      I can understand being sad, but hopefully, not surprised. Follow the money.

  2. Jimmy says:

    Waylon, I shared a lot of info with you regarding my employment and resignation from Anusara… even going as far as sending you my employment review from December 2011. I think it's very sad that being labeled as disgruntled because of my unwillingness to perpetuate his lifestyle like Elena was.

    • elephantjournal says:

      Jimmy, and as you know I summarized your info, sharing what I felt I could back up publicly.

      But without your willingness to go on the record, I wasn't going to share your assertions and documents. Why put my neck out there for you, someone who I don't know enough to trust, if you weren't willing to do it for yourself? I also invited you to find another anonymous corroborating source with the same info and I'd go forward with two anonymous sources. I didn't hear back from you after that.

      LIke NPR etc, we don't share anonymously-information unless we have to. In this case we didn't have to—plenty of facts from non-anonymous sources quickly came forward, in a matter of days.

      We've already discussed this at length.

      Fact of the matter is we were, through a little patience, able to find more facts as John, Amy, Douglas and many others offered their perspective, and details–as I said continually, it's not our job to hang someone, it's our job to show if there's enough rope for them to hang themselves, so to speak.

      I would think readers would support our fact-seeking in this serious controversy and conversation.



  3. Shelley says:

    Great article by Elena. Bravo for her candor.

    Still, I'm very sorry, but from the outside looking in, after JF's fall from grace, and the ensuing sadness and bewilderment of the vast majority of his followers, Anusara yoga seems more like a benign cult than a yoga style. I know, this is incendiary, what I am saying. I do not mean to offend, but these folks need to take a step back and think for themselves! We can all be open minded, but don't be so open minded that your brains fall out, people.

    This is from the wiki on cults and how they influence and create members:

    1)Their problems are reduced to one simple explanation, which is repeatedly emphasized;
    2)They receive what seems to be unconditional love, acceptance, and attention from a charismatic leader or group;
    3)They get a new identity based on the group

    Below is from the Anusara website page describing the "Shiva-Shakti-Tantra" philosophy:

    "The Anusara yoga community (kula) is inclusive, life-affirming, and evolving. Individuality and creative self-expression, which glorify the greatness of the kula, are encouraged and celebrated. Anusara yoga welcomes all forms of cultural and ethnic diversity. Furthermore, Anusara Yoga encourages a wide variety of spiritual and religious self-expressions, which are heart-centered and foster love and happiness. We acknowledge, respect, and invite a diversity of experience both within our own community and among those outside the community who are seeking to align with the Divine. Our experience of diversity and difference is an affirmation of the Divine’s own experience of inclusiveness, non-prejudice, and celebration of plurality. We lead by the example of our own lives, while respecting others’ choices to express their own views and values. With deep respect we warmly invite everyone to join the grand celebration of life through Anusara yoga."

    "…glorify the greatness of the kula" and "we warmly invite everyone to joing the grand celebration of life through Anusara yoga." Cult-like. And, all this repeated emphasis on life-affirmation and "heart-centered happiness and love."

    I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with this. What I am saying is that John Friend ultimately knew what buttons to push for most folks so that they would follow him.

    His hubris gave him the gumption to create the Anusara method – an amalgamation of his Iyengar training, his exposure to different yoga styles, his meditation training, Tantra philosophy, and Dale Carnegie. In other words, he took what appealed most to him and made Anusara out of it and sold it as life-affirming, heart opening, feel-good yoga for "everyone."

    Anyone who creates a signature brand of yoga has to have a bit of an ego to begin with, don't you think?

    Take this following quote from the 2010 NY Times Article on him: "….he talked about the freedom of Anusara; it’s nothing like the more rigid schools that demand students repeat the same poses in the same way at every single class, nor is it the kind of practice in which teachers withhold praise, lest students become too egocentric. “Anusara is positive,” Friend said,….“It’s accessible. Easily applicable. And yet it has depth and sophistication.” Consider those religions that focus on sin and damnation, on discipline instead of joy. “Fundamentally they say no,” he told me. “While Anusara is a yes.” "


    I think you did the right thing, Elena, by parting ways with the Anusara organization. Always follow your intution, it will guide you better than anyone or anything.

    And, beware of false gurus.

    • Ozz says:

      "Anusara yoga seems more like a benign cult than a yoga style"

      Seems likely it has been both. The cult aspect seems pretty much done now – with any luck, Anusara as yoga style will come to the fore and make the cult just one more interesting bit of yogic history. I think this is what Elena was saying.

  4. yogi says:

    John Friend was never a "guru". He was a teacher.

  5. professor c says:

    Elana sounds like she has spent to many years in an unhealthy relationship. Will she be taking some time off of teaching yoga to get a grip on her part of the scandal? This letter reads like John's first letter.

  6. Jenifer says:

    First, I applaud Elena's honesty regarding why she remained complicit: "I was afraid of loosing my place in the yoga community."

    Second, I frown at the 'shooting the messenger' of YogaDork. Why? Because it is scape-goating.

    First, John Friend is responsible for his actions. Those who were complicit, we were responsible for being complicit.

    Being complicit doesn't stop just because you walk away. If you walk away and don't speak up — and you know it's continuing — you are still complicit. When you speak up, you are no longer complicit.

    Second, those who were complicit have the greater duty to John Friend and Anusara Inc and the Anusara kula than anyone else. It is, in fact, their duty to speak up. But, they skirked that duty — both actively (when part of the organization) and passively (when leaving and not speaking honestly about why they left — obfuscating instead).

    Third, the primary (and usually last complaint) of scape-goaters is "i don't mind that you said it, but I don't like the way that you said it." The reality is, Elena and others who were complicit had every opportunity over the years to speak up and speak clearly about what was going on. If they wanted this information "out in the open" but in a way that they preferred, then at any time they could have had the courage to speak up and express it in the way that they thought and felt was best.

    Instead, they want to blame the messenger for the pain that JF and *they* created. The Anusara community is in pain. I acknowledge that. I've been in similar situations over the years, and I know the pain of it — truly. And I feel for them.

    But, it is not appropriate to "shoot the messenger." It is not appropriate to use them as a "scape-goat" for the reality of your own discomforts for not having had the courage to speak up yourself, first and foremost among those "in the know."

    At the end of the day, whether or not you like the way that jfexposed (which was, to me, salacious) expressed the information or YogaDork reported on it, the information is now finally out there.

    Because of this, Elena can speak openly about her experience. Other teachers are reevaluating their relationship with the organization, some choosing to stay and some choosing to go. What is happening is something healing, vibrant and creative.

    And the real healing that I'm experiencing with all of this — I get my friends back. The Yoga Community — in all it's diversity — has always existed. We have always been here — hanging out and having smoothies and talking about different methods of yoga and styles and the many benefits and drawbacks.

    The Anusara community segregated itself from us. They have a kula — the rest of us aren't as cool. They have the most intelligent method of yoga in existence (the rest of us are less intelligent, practicing and teaching less intelligent yoga). It was frustrating and, quite frankly, hurtful.

    Now, our Anusara friends are starting to see that there is life outside of anusara. A vibrant, creative, fun, experimental life. A life of collaboration and friendly debate/discussion and lots of smoothies.

    To me, this is healing. I'm glad to see our community reforming again. The Prodigal Yogi returns. I will slice open the fattened Watermelon!

    • Michael says:

      Salacious perhaps, but these things were "rumored" around before the site and the lack of damning evidence(photos and specifics) allowed John and the enablers to dismiss everything as a rumor or lie created by a betrayer. John's first response was to try to downplay everything as a malicious inaccurate attack. It was only after his own teachers turned on him that he decided to do the "right" thing and admit to what was out there but still conceal some more.

      • elephantjournal says:

        Righto. He admitted in my interview with him that he'd had affairs, as Carol and others have noted that was his first public admission of such.

      • Jenifer says:

        I don't normally run in "Anusara circles" so I wouldn't have heard the rumors. I had no idea, to be honest — just as I had no idea who Elena Brower was/is.

        And, true, salacious is in the eyes of the beholder. I was also not trying to discredit anyone with this statement. It is more of an observation than anything.

        I think it was brave (whether disgruntled or not) to bring this information to light, on the part of the person who spoke up as well as the web sites that reported it.

        If anyone wanted it done differently, then they could have spoken up before. If this was happening in 2002, and it's now 2012, that's plenty of time to speak up, right?

    • Michelle says:

      "The Anusara community segregated itself from us. They have a kula — the rest of us aren't as cool. They have the most intelligent method of yoga in existence (the rest of us are less intelligent, practicing and teaching less intelligent yoga). It was frustrating and, quite frankly, hurtful."

      Right on target. I went to a workshop last year at Wanderlust VT with Desiree Rumbagh. She had the most beautiful way about her – I really enjoyed her teaching and her personality. I watched her help a woman go correctly into salabasana (locust) pose – someone who looked absolutely miserable in the pose two minutes earlier. It was a beautiful moment, illustrating the simplicity and beauty of someone finding the posture for the first time, through just some simple anatomical fixes (that any well trained teacher of any yoga lineage worth their salt would have been able to show her, imho). Still, she was in it and truly loving it, and Desiree had brought her there with compassion and joy. The whole audience applauded.

      And, then, Desiree said, as the applause died down, "Now, you can take another class, like a vinyasa class, but you just don't learn how to do postures that way; you're not given the time to learn how to REALLY do yoga. You need to take an Anusara class to really learn how to do yoga, because WE who teach Anusara are TRAINED in anatomy – we're TRAINED to teach this way."

      Now, I am not a Vinyasa teacher, but still, all my respect for her was lost in that moment. It was a shame, really, because she had us at "hello" and she blew it. I almost rolled up my mat and left the workshop, I was so disappointed that she was blind enough to actually believe such a sweeping generalization, and foolish enough to repeat it to a tent filled with about 200 people, many of whom did not practice Anusara.

      But, JF must have fostered this sense of superiority. "We're #1!" Well, pride cometh before the fall, I guess.

      • chris says:

        Actually, John Friend does like it when anusara teachers put down other styles.

        • chris says:

          Oops I mean he does not like it. LOL

          • Jimmy says:

            I watched him tell us how, "people come to Anusara for the quality… they could have the 'McDonald's of Yoga', but they want the 'Harvard of Yoga' so they choose Anusara".

      • Kristinn says:

        This is just my two cents as somebody who did Ashtanga and Vinyasa for years before discovering Anusara. Nobody EVER tought me alignment before Anusara. It was all about practice, practice practice. It will come to you. If you have ever studied with Phattabi Jois for example ( I have ) he did not teach you how to get into a pose, you were to practice until you got there. My Ashtanga teacher recited how he had blown his knees twice before he was able to do full Lotus and how his teacher had litteraly put his entire body weight on his knees to force them to the floor. So, when Desiree says that you don't learn the kind of alignment principles in a vinyasa class as you would in an Anusara class, she is right. It is the nature of a vinyasa practice.
        In my first Anusara class, the teacher walked over to me as we were doing a pose and asked if it was hurting and I replied yeas it is, It is not supposed to hurt she told me. That was the beginning of my love for Anusara. We tend to only half jokingly say that Anusara is littered with former Ashtangis who were hurt but were healed through the Anusara principle. The principles work. No matter what John may be guilty of, the method is exquisite and it has helped thousands upon thousands of people. Also, just to be clear. John has ALWAYS made it a point that Anusara teachers should NEVER put down another method. Finally, I know Desiree and she is probably one of the finest human beings walking the earth who has practiced Yoga for decades and has studied various methods. She knows what she is talking about and she truly believes that Anusara as a method of Yoga can change your life. it changed hers. She never blows it!

        • Actually, says:

          Sweetie, no human being "never blows it." You're only continuing the idealization of teachers — not wise.
          For every anecdote like this, there's a contasrting anecdote.
          So my first teacher taught Iyengar-influenced aligned-oriented basics. THEN we could go into the larger vinyasa-flow, Anusara, and/or ashtanga classes.
          John Friend drew alignment principles from iyengar.
          Then he developed them into a flow practice overlaid with vaguely tantric prettiness.
          I think it's all about WHERE you practice.
          Desiree is not the issue.
          The problem is the claim of some yoga BRANS to have the one Way.
          Wrong. Wrong Wrong. Wrong. Wrong

          • Kristinn says:

            Your first teacher, in my humble opinion, sounds amazing! But as you point out by the time the students got to the vinyasa practice they had already learned alignment. Unfortunately that is not always the norm.
            Everybody has their own story and experience and this is not about idealization but pointing to something that actually works. The sad thing is that John's actions are over shadowing his contributions to the teachings of yoga. To say that he just knocked off Iyengar yoga and wrapped it up in some feel good tantric philosophy is just not true. It is a very popular narrative amongst those who don't like Anusara. It is so OK to not like Anusara. Not all yoga methods agree with everyone. I used to love Ashatanga until I didn't. That type of practice just stopped working for me. I practiced Iyengar Yoga along with Anusara but I moved away from it because it stopped resonating with me. I don't care for Bikram yoga, it just doesn't work for me, but I am not going to say that it sucks and that I wished it would go away. I frankly don't understand the vitriol towards Anusara or this idea that we ( those who practice it ) somehow are all goggly eyed over John Friend. Have you ever seen an Iyengar yogi in the presence of Mr. iyengar? I will however tell you that as somebody who had a severe shoulder injury from repeated chaturangas and was healed by using the Anusara principles and someone who after a wrist surgery was doing hand stand after 6 weeks of Anusara therapy, this stuff works. It really works! I am sorry if it didn't work for you.

          • Actually, says:

            If you don't understand the "vitriol," read around. Listen The claims you make about your own experience can be and have been reported by students of MANY different traditions NOT limited to Anusara.
            Jesus CHRIST, people, give it a rest. The boy does NOT SHIT GOLD.
            And yet STILL this brainless hero-worship continues.
            Utter LUNACY!
            How nice for you that you found a good teacher. However. the teacher's work was to the credit of the teacher, NOT THE BRAND.
            There are serious and deep and long-standing disagreements about what Friend approrpiated from others. Whether from Iyengar or others, he DID in fact draw from and take from other teachers and then claim the "wisdom" as original to himself.
            Yet it was not.
            In my view, he could give BACK the money and the patents and the copyrights.
            That is the yogic thing to do. Especially in light of his transgressions.

          • Kristinn says:

            Here is the thing. Eddie Van Halen didn't invent the guitar but he invented a new way of playing it. The same applies to John Friend. He didn't invent the actions or the yoga but he developed a way of teaching them in a way that had not been done before. It is easy to say this 15 years later, but at the time when Anusara started to develop, Yoga was not taught the way John taught it and he deserves credit for that regardless of what he has done.

          • Actually, says:

            prove it.

          • eh? says:

            Oh no oh no! And so the rock star syndrome completes itself. But teenaged silliness aside, HERE'S the thing, Kristen:
            Eddie Van Halen did not then turn around say say he was better than David Gilmour or Eric Clapton.
            Van Halen did not then turn around and say they were better than Pink Floyd or Cream.. Nor did their fans.
            And though ALL those bands now are broken up and fallen away, so one could ever claim they they are evn comparable. Simply different.
            So go listen to some guitar solos and bang your head against a wall some more. Just don;t get any more injuries.

          • HJcotton says:

            There are things that work better for me in Iyengar than Anusara. They are Uttanasana and Urdva dhanurasana.

          • Jenifer says:

            Hiya Kristinn,

            How do I explain?

            Just because a statement mirrors your experience doesn't make it absolutely true.

            In the story recounted by Michelle — and I have many, many of my own versions and I know many others who also do — an Anusara teacher stated that all other forms of yoga, teachers, methods, and trainings are less than Anusara.

            This statement is derisive of all other forms of yoga, and divisive toward the community (creating the us/them dichotomy).

            So, what is being criticized here? Anusara?

            No. Anusara method is not being criticized.

            What is being criticized is the derisive and divisive actions of specific people. I "called out" Elena on her treatment of YD (scape goating). Michelle called out Desiree for her divisive and derisive statement in a large classroom of people.

            This is not criticism of a style or even a person born of out bitterness or cruelty. It is simply pointing out that the statements are or were inappropriate.

            The problem that I keep running up against is that this very simple criticism of a person's statement — their own statements — is taken as an attack against the individual (I must hate her!) and the style (I must hate anusara!) coming from an emotionally unbalanced place (bitterness! cruelty!).

            This is simply not the truth.

            The truth is that I like Anusara method and think it is good. The truth is that I do not practice or teach that method. And the truth is that it is appropriate to call someone out for inappropriate behavior.

            But it is not true that I am criticizing a method, every teacher, being derisive or divisive, or even these teachers are decent human beings (i believe they are decent human beings) out of a sense of bitterness.

            Simply, "this is a wrong action." That is all. And, Elena agreed. She apologized to YD, apparently, and I assume we have moved onwards?

        • HJcotton says:

          Most of Anusara alignment principles has been appropriated from Iyengar yoga, but hell no, you can't say this in an Anusara class or you will be excommunicated. I took classes from senior teachers of both styles, and I know the similaritites. Good Ashtanga teachers knowsgood alignment. Unfortunately, the Anusaris have sold the yoga masses the idea that their alignment principles are unique and superior to other schools of yoga. The bottom line is that to prevent injury, you have to take yoga from well trained teachers regarless of style. My experience that in Ashtanga-vinyasa style yogas, in order to minimize injury, one should have a stronger body in addition to flexibility to withstand injury due to repetitive movements . Chaturanga done wrongly can wreck your shoulders if done poorly. I am fed up of hearing that Anusara yoga is unique and is the best.

    • yogastudent says:

      I found this article very interesting. Elena a beautiful strong teacher?? But still afraid to do what is right if someone is complicit to bad behaviour it is almost like they are condoning that behaviour. I don’t think anyone is going condone JF behaviour! His behaviour will damage all western yoga it shows yoga to be a big business with few ethics or standards. Teachers are more interested in keeping their jobs, selling their merchandise and completing their teacher trainings than doing what is right!__No one needs to apologise its important the truth is finally out however it found its way it needs to be out. Thankfully others are stronger than Elena who knows what JF would have done next? The truth is often ugly people in yoga say “we should not judge” so continue to allow poor behaviour this is weakness! The light always shines brighter after a dark time this is a great shake up wake up for the whole yoga community. More Inquiry, more discussion stop hiding from the TRUTH___

    • shannon says:

      I really like and appreciate your points. . .there was a cult in Austin years ago and I think it was hurtful to the community overall. Your point about the effects of an 'elite" kula on the community at large. . .is appreciated.

  7. Sam says:

    Disappointed that after years of turning the other eye waiting for her meal ticket to be punched, she felt a need to bitch slap yogadork.. Elena was in the perfect position to try and bring the community together but felt the need to spread more discord by dissing the messenger. Sad.

    • Livia says:

      i disagree. very few have questioned why yogadork felt the need to report this whithout accuratley checking all facts first. it wasnt a shining moment in their reporting.

      • Susan says:

        Livia. How do you know YD did not fact-check before publishing the emails?

        • Livia says:

          i dont. how do you know they did. if we are debating and discussing truth and integrity why should we believe the messenger is always honest. that kind of blind faith is part of the problem being discussed.

  8. Scott Newsom says:

    I'm glad some of the inner circle in this Kula are coming clean about their complicity. What I haven't seen yet from them are any public comments about what has to happen to stop it from happening again. In fact, Brower's complaints about those who finally exposed the situation mean she doesn't really get it yet either. They do have a lot of work to do to clean up their mess – and that does include those who left too. This isn't just John Friend's doing. Anusara is bigger than John Friend and so is this problem. They will not nbe trustworthy until we see a lot more awareness, less denial and many more steps in the right direction.

  9. elephantjournal says:

    Jeffrey Kuhn
    Elena. Thanks for sharing your somewhat unique perspective on these matters with us and for continuing to teach through your personal experience. Very well done.

  10. I just hope that those that continue to embrace anusara can respect those that have chosen to disconnect from it. That has been the most disheartening part of this whole matter for me…

    I heard one anusarian say "more people are leaving it's terrible group think" … that makes me sad 🙁

    May we all be able to practice YOGA without labels without judgement without prejudice… please

  11. Nikki says:

    I have followed Elephant for awhile…more for Eco news and general spirituality. And even though I've practiced (many different kinds of) yoga for about 10 years, I always felt uneasy with this whole yogi-celebrity/ clicky/culty vibe that has grown. It's very much what happened in the green movement. Eco-Celebrities. In my previous life in advertising, this posturing to be a celebrity in one's industry is totally common and very accepted. But the difference is, this is yoga, and all of these leaders (John, Elena and many others) are both TEACHING us to check our ego, and then are out there doing very ego-centric things. (I could write a whole article on that alone. ahem, why do you think Elena wrote her POV for the Huffington Post, instead of for her community – Elephant?)

    And yes, we are ALL human, I try not to judge, just observe. (and how interesting to observe this has been!.) It would be wonderful if something really great transpired from this big, fascinating mess.

    Thanks for all the coverage, Elephant, and YogaDork. We do need different perspectives, that's what media is all about. And there's room for everyone.

  12. Falling from grace says:

    So Elena knew and lied about it. Yogadork found out and told the truth( but Elena didn't like the tone).
    Elena feels Yogadork should apologize.
    I guess in those lovely early days of Anusara there were no classes in logic or in ethics.
    But thanks for speaking out after the truth is out, It's good to know where a teacher stands.

  13. yoginijvp says:

    Unless we have walked in someone’s shoes i hesitate to make any judgement. There is an abundance of judgement and emotion flying about as it is. I can only say I have met Elena and find her to live and speak from a place of immense integrity. I can only imagine what it must be like to have been asked (required) to keep the secrets, watched this and be a part of the unraveling. I have much respect for Elena stepping down when she did, and much compassion for what a both difficult and freeing choice that must have been.

    Also, coming from a non-Anusara (and non-dogmatic) background, yet being a student and teacher of yoga for over 15 years, I too have felt “The Anusara community segregated itself from us”. And i would personally like you all to know that we are your community too. I personally hope very much that you will reach beyond the Anusara community to find healing. We are one.

    Namaste, Jane

  14. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Thanks for sharing!! I do think the word 'guru' is interesting – perhaps it's very individual. I'm not an anusara teacher, but but I hope that all the positivity of ansuara will continue – I've done this practice many times and with many wonderful, wonderful anusara teachers.

    Just posted to "Popular Lately" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
    Join us! Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook
    Follow on Twitter

  15. Meg says:

    She had me until she trashed the messenger.

    • AnotherYogi says:

      She had me until: "Even for us, the ones who knew some (but none of us really knew all of it)…" — way to 'take responsibility' without really taking responsibility.

  16. Jane says:

    I am bitterly disappointed in the actions of Elena. As a mother, I was taken aback about the message she is sending her daughter regarding her post; If you see something bad, don't say anything. If someone else tells, call them a snitch and don't play with them. Very sad as someone who once respected Elena.

  17. Different perspectives are great. Publishing unsubstantiated rumors is a bad idea. There is room for everyone and I thoroughly enjoy reading Yoga Dork–and have for a long time. Saying she made the wrong choice there doesn't negate that.

  18. Raised eyebrow says:

    This woman's commentary is mealy-mouthed and disingenuine. She needs a good de-programmer.
    As these people come forward, and you can see the way they think — or DON'T think. Their corruption is more and more clear. Instead of saying "I chose," she blames "family dynamics playing out." She excoriates Yogadork for its "salacious" coverage of "this man's LIFE." You can see where the brunt of her sympathies still are — she's still protecting the perp.
    Please. What about what "this man" did to OTHER people's lives?
    The AY seems to have NO tools for dealing with conflict productively. It collaspes into psychobabble about 'healing" instead of looking hard at accountability, law, and ethics.
    What did John Friend play to? People's vanity, greed, relentless appetite for self-promotion, desire for shortcuts into "bliss," whitegirl preciousness & snowflakery, competitiveness, suppression of all criticism as "negativity," and lack of "compassion," supression of independent thought.
    Fuzzy, weird, narcississtic, intellectually flabbly, untrustworthy people.

  19. hya says:

    And if you see this strand in the comments, why don't you act on it journalistically, instead of trying to extinguish it?

    • Not trying to extinguish it–trying to participate mindfully. Which seems to be rare, especially when people choose anonymity when they comment.

      ~ Yours,
      Kate Bartolotta

      • Etienne says:

        Coasting around on these replies — gotta disagree here. I stay anonymous to protect myself from the crazies in the AY crowd. Also — so — I looked you up — you're some kind of "consultant?" So why not get your name our here, huh? Maybe you can attract clients?
        This whole scene just seems to be a big-tent fair for people trying to be visible, get their names and faces out, perform their pieties in order to attract business, students, followers. So if you didn't possibly have a BUSINESS moitivation for putting your name out there, maybe I'd believe you. But as with so many others on these sites, the "Spiritual stands" people take seems twisted by professional and monetary ambitions.

  20. Savvy says:

    Elena – don't shoot the messenger – Yogadork only shed light on a situation that many did not have the courage to face…

  21. yech says:

    I'd like to remind readers that Elena gave only positive "growth-oriented" reasons for resigning when she very publicly resigned in November. As others have pointed out else where, that means, she lied. She lied by omission. She lied by omission in a self-promoting, gloss-everything-over-and-pretend-everything's-great way.
    Why then should she have any credibility now? Why should any of them?
    Why should be not believe that these people were just insider rats who started deserting the sinking ship when they felt the stinking bilge-water rise to their knees?
    This whole thing is disgusting.
    And yet on their FB group pages, they just continue to stroke and back-pat one another, love love love, stroke stroke stroke.

  22. Terry Post says:

    The enablers of JF did not practice Right Speech by concealing what they knew from the community (after JF dismissed their warnings). If they had spoken up, the revelations that came to light might have broken with less trauma.

  23. Integrity says:

    Maybe sometimes we have to walked in someone's shoes to makes sound judgement, BUT, not on this one !
    If you have seen something unethical, dishonest happened to someone close to you, in your company, in your home ,in your community, over and over again for many years, would you ignore it ? Not only ignore it , would you continue helping this person to expend his business, sugar-coated your world, pretching all the false goodness to the students who spent lots of money, time on your classes/workshops, who trusted your good heart and admired you integrity.?
    As a yoga teacher , how would you teach the yoga philosophy to your students every class when you know it's all lies ?
    NO ! I think we have a pretty good idea what kind a person Ms. Elena is !

  24. Jenna says:

    I think what is most galling here, is in latest post she is asking for forgiveness, yet she can seem to bring herself to apologize to Yogadork. It's the hypocrisy of her actions that are causing the comments here, on Huffpost and Yogadork to run 95 percent negative. She really doesn't get it. My respect for her has really faltered.

  25. To all of you who have been commenting on this page:

    Hi. I'm Benjy Wertheimer. In the interest of disclosure, I have been connected to Anusara since 2000, and toured with John for years, playing live music for dozens of his events.

    Thus one might say I am a member of the group "THEY" or "THEM." I would probably fall somewhere between the cracks of the groups described by Elena – I had some of my own difficulties with John, concerns about the "detox/retox" phenomenon I saw (especially in recent years), yet was not close enough to see (and, in fairness, not open-eyed enough to discern) many of the highly questionable inner workings of John Friend and Anusara as they are now coming to light.

    I am not beholden to Anusara or any particular system of Hatha yoga practice. I do think, from watching thousands of practitioners experience a great deal of benefit over the years, that the fundamentals of the Hatha Yoga system of Anusara are really extraordinary and it would be extremely sad (and unnecessarily destructive) to "throw the baby out with the bath water" in the wake of this scandal.

    And I want to make clear that I do not say this to disparage any other system of Hatha yoga practice out there. I think it is great to be alive at a time (and in a culture) where people have a wide range of systems to choose from, and to find an approach that resonates with us the most deeply.

    As I said in my recent Elephant post

    “I do hope there will be a forum in the not-too-distant future where the allegations can publicly be put forward succinctly, clearly and in as unbiased a way as possible (understanding that the charges cover VERY difficult terrain, spiritually and emotionally), and that John would be given the opportunity to fully and honestly respond to each and every one of them. In the meantime it is not my place to stand in judgment. “

    All that said, it saddens me greatly to see the labeling, ad hominem attacks, and generally vitriolic tone emerging from much of this discussion (on Huffington Post as well as Elephant). I want to know the truth of the situation as much as anyone, yet it saddens me that many of the comments are feeding what I feel is one of the greatest enemies humans face: polarization.

    As an example, these excerpted comments disturbed me greatly:

    "emotionally retarded, over-priveledged (sic) white women who also happen to be "life-coaches" who teach "yoga"."

    "…these people were just insider rats who started deserting the sinking ship when they felt the stinking bilge-water rise to their knees?
    This whole thing is disgusting.
    And yet on their FB group pages, they just continue to stroke and back-pat one another, love love love, stroke stroke stroke.
    (A note here: I would encourage thinking about the people on the FB group pages as humanly fallible, complex, and often confused people reaching out to one another in a very painful time – can’t we grant that much to each other?)

    "mealy-mouthed and disingenuine (sic). She needs a good de-programmer."

    "Fuzzy, weird, narcississtic, intellectually flabbly (sic), untrustworthy people."

    "I think we have a pretty good idea what kind a person Ms. Elena is !"

    "I don't think it's "we." It's THEY. I had know (sic) part in this, and many many did not. THEY put Anusara and JF up on a pedestal and demonized anyone who dare criticize. Now, When people rightfully criticize people's ACTIONS, we're accused of demonizing them, b/c that's the long-standing black-and-white thinking within the culture."
    (Another note here: I agree that there has been – and likely still is – a LOT of black-and-white thinking in Anusara, and I will be overjoyed to see that change.)

    "What a spoiled brat sense of entitlement.
    The AY folks need to grow and and (sic) learn to face the fires they've started."

    Please, folks. It's not "us" and "them." A lot of people – inside and outside of any particular connection to Anusara – are hurting a lot. We aren't going to bring this to a more satisfying conclusion by labeling or demonizing one another. Yes, I think it's CRITICAL to rethink the black-and-white model that was fostered in Anusara. Yes, it's VERY important to get at the truth – leaving no stone unturned in the process,

    And healthy, honest disagreement will DEFINITELY play a huge role in facilitating this quest.

    But just as important – to me – is that we do so with balance, compassion and a recognition of our common membership in the larger human family. May we reach out to one another with a level of compassion that matches our intense desire to get at the truth.

    With love and respect to all of you in this discussion,
    Benjy Wertheimer

    • Thanks so much Benjy! I agree, the vitriolic attacks and anonymous hate should have no place in the yoga community period. They aren't constructive or helpful to anyone.

    • raised eyebrow says:

      Hi Benjy,
      Some of the comments you cited were mine. I stand by them.
      My recognition of common humanity is based on a demand for ethics and accountability. Without that, our common humanity is flushed down the toilet — along with all these other sewage these people created. THEY are the ones who did the flushing, not me. I'm just pointing out that the toilet stinks.
      And you're right, some of my responses were ad feminam. I STILL stand by them. Why? I'm responding to voice and actions. I'm reading claims, measuring timing, judging behaviors. I'm measuring credibility, actions, character and motivation when I read, which is what critical thinkers are SUPPOSED TO DO.
      Not used to it? Gee, why am I not surprised?
      I'm a longtime yogi way outside AY. I'm an outsider expressing an outsider's shock and disgust at the CULTURE of AY. It's a sensibility issue. Taken on balance, there IS an over-abundance of "white-people's problems" privileged insularity and preciousness in the AY CULTURE. It's repugnant to me. It messes up people's credibility when they do dishonest, self-serving things and then hide behind a mewling kind of squeamishness about the very conflicts in which they were complicit.
      Call that part of it a gut response. Maybe you don't like it — maybe it's shocking to YOU that not everyone is so impressed. Honest unvarnished responses seem in short damned supply around AY. But OTOH, one thing I can say for the willingness to call 'em and we see 'em is that none of us, presumably, being so openly disgusted about AY CULTURE are the ones who got sucked into the dishonesty and corruption. There is an us and them here. There are those who drank that AY kool-aid and those who didn't. You don't like to be reminded? Tough.
      My ideals about "compassion" are based in ETHICS first. Let these people clean up the messes they've made.

    • eh? says:

      It's not that I just disagree w/ aspects of Elena's stuff — the blaming others, the lying about her resignation —
      It's that I think she's totally full of it, in those regards.
      Why publish it in Huffpost? Why spread this stuff to millions of people? Why the obsessiveness about image and self-promotion?
      Think the Anusara core group maybe takes itself a little too seriously?
      Go look up the concept "bad faith" on Wikipedia — that about covers what I think of a lot of that core group's motivations.
      AY can come across as so pious and tiresome. I can understand why people would start wanting to throw around some good old YO' MAMA jokes. Except in the case of JF, it'd be, yo papa jokes.
      Or other things — when Monica Lewisnski joked about putting on her presidential kneepads for her internship, she at least had the semi-excuse of being 19 yrs old. Presumably, these women who slept with JF were old enough to know better.
      Should be create a whole new line of yogini knee pads?
      Get a sense of humor and get over yourselves, AY world.

    • matt says:

      Benjy, I disagree about the tone. I think it's a healthy path for people to have a place to get it all out. To vent their emotions, frustrations and disappointments. This is the Arab Spring of our little world here, man. At least they're not chasing John or any of his insider cronies into a storm drain in the middle of the hot Libyan desert.

    • Jonagold says:

      " All that said, it saddens me greatly to see the labeling, ad hominem attacks, and generally vitriolic tone emerging from much of this discussion (on Huffington Post as well as Elephant). I want to know the truth of the situation as much as anyone, yet it saddens me that many of the comments are feeding what I feel is one of the greatest enemies humans face: polarization."
      Benjy , your words here describe the type of reaction anyone within or out of Anusara risked for saying anything at all negative about the method or John Friend before 3rd February. I don't excuse people for having bad manners, or for using language in a hurtful way, however, I do strongly feel that they have a right to be angry. For years, any and all criticism of JF and Anusara was met with considerable "labeling, ad hominem attacks, and general vitriolic tone". By simply having a difference of opinion with John or a criticism of his style of yoga, an individual risked a rapid response from John and his supporters (who were sometimes strongly urged to do so). Those who dared speak out in any way perceived to be negative risked character assassination, and were called everything from "un-cooperative" to "mentally ill."
      After being stifled for so long, I think we are seeing some honest, raw, emotional reactions. Combine this with the elitist way many Anusara yogis presented themselves and the method over the years, the very real human reaction of Schadenfreude can also, unfortunately , be expected. Humans being human, all around. To every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
      I have enjoyed your music over the years, btw, thanks.

  26. My apologies – the link to my earlier blog post was truncated: you can link to it via .

  27. ValCarruthers says:

    Like it or not, it takes an immense amount of soul searching and humility to admit complicity as Elena Brower has done in Huffpost. She also demonstrates compassion and forgiveness toward John Friend, qualities that apparently have gone down the tubes in this mess which has caused so much suffering. Perhaps one day Elena and Yogadork will reach detente (sometimes the French just sum it up perfectly).

    Seems to me there are two other camps besides the Aware and the Unaware, that Elena describes. There are two Anusara Yogas as well. One is Anusara the corporation with its fiduciary misdoings, closed-door hijinks and the megalomania of its ceo. That's the-absolute-power-corrupt-absolutely version. Or call it the Yang version. The other is the Anusara as the heart opening, do-what-you-never-dreamed-you-could-do version (the Yin version, right). Sadly this kind of politico-spiritual Jekyll-Hydism has run rampant through more spiritually based organizations than I have time to count.

    My prayer is that from the ashes of the Yang Anusara, the Yin Anusara will renew its original intentions to flow with grace and one day, like the phoenix, rise above all this passing phenomena.

    Keep the Metta flowing please.

  28. Scott Newsom says:


    I think a lot of us see the argument about the problem being us putting yoga teachers on a pedestal as misdirected and blaming the victim. I also do not see that as a cause of what happened. It may make the consequences worse for those who elevated the guru, but it doesn''t cause the behavior.

    I agree that bashing people and being mean spirited does no good. What I'm not clear about in your posts is who all that accusation covers. It seems to me that a lot of people want to see more light shed on this issue and for the people most intimately involved to take more responsibility for what has happened because that is one thing that needs to happen to keep it from happening again. When they rightfully criticise Ms. Brower for failing to this, they are not bashing her for human failures. They are pointing out a behavior that will shut down the process of healing if it is allowed to continue. I hope you see this distinction and don't lump these people in with those who are doing the mindless bashing (which I also see and dislike).

  29. Emily Perry says:

    Love to you Elena. This is a hard place to be in, I can only imagine. I have been re-reading Richard Freeman's chapter in Mirror of Yoga called "Cutting Through Fundamentalism". It is an amazing exploration of the nature of the teacher/student relationship, the paradox of the Guru model/energy, and how this plays out in our lives as westerners. He really talks about the process of creating/ dissolving boundaries over and over with our teachers as we evolve, and what this requires of us. In addition there is a lot about projection, and what happens when teachers take-on that projection as reality. namaste!

  30. Guest says:

    If you meet Kali on the road, try throwing glitter.

  31. Susan says:

    Really, I don't get the argument that YD didn't check her facts before publishing the link to the jfexposed page. After all, they have turned out to be true by JF and now Elena's own admission.

  32. yoginia says:

    I'm sorry, but it's the shameless self-promotion of the glittery Anusara-trained teachers, past and present, that really gets me. I wish that the Anusara community would stop believing that Anusara training is the ONE best way and simply embrace the teaching of yoga (with no TM). It's sad and divisive. And it's STILL happening even amongst the people who left. I don't get it.

    • Stewart j. Lawrence says:

      Some experts use the term "organizational narcissism" to refer to the behavior of mission-oriented institutions that suffer from extreme self-centeredness and develop exaggeratedly low or high opinions of themselves in relation to others – just like individuals might.

      Here's just one sample treatment of the subject.

      Using the criteria described by the authors, we might say Anusara has been suffering from an acute case of "grandiose" and "exhibitionist" narcissism.

      They're the "Enron" of Yoga

  33. Loretta says:

    I'm surprised at some of these negative comments. Having been through a similar situation with a spiritual teacher and sangha (though not quite as public), I know that it is a complicated and painful situation, for everyone. The entire practice comes into question and lives are shattered. I thought that Elena's comments were thoughtful and heartfelt. I believe she owned her piece of it, condemned Friend's behavior appropriately, but still remained compassionate towards him as a divine being and affirmed the incredible teachings that she has gotten from the Anusara tradition. Humans doing spiritual practice is always messy and sangha can be the messiest of all. By shedding light on dukkha, we learn and grow.

  34. kidding, right? says:

    She watched him

    “shift the landscape of yoga forever”?
    Dear gawd, what arrogance. ALL of them.
    Obviously it was this woman, and the other insiders, who put this sleazoid on a pedastal.
    Not me. I went to ONE workshop at a larger conference. A total turnoff. They DID claim superiority to other methods. His followers DID act like stoned fembots.
    Really, really a bad scene.
    I get it that now, some people don’t like to hear the visceral responses of those who didn’t buy the scene. Too bad. You need to really get it that this is how truly sicko your little world got. like, it was PLAIN and clear and present even to newcomers at massive conferences who were just SAMPLING, for god’s sake.
    Look at YD. Look at what they’re saying.
    You want to grow? Fine. prove it.

  35. Yoginijvp says:

    THANK YOU Benji! This was so very needed.

    Jane Verdurmen Peart

  36. Silvia says:

    Thank you Elena. Your YD comments were spot on and I commend your bravery in saying something in the face of public opinion. This situation with JF was coming out already but this didn't require that YD push the river of revealing and take such delight in the destruction of Anusara and the lives of so many involved directly and indirectly. YD talks about JF's misuse of power, but let us all be careful that YD not misuse their power either (even it is in the name of truth).

  37. Ozz says:

    Gotta say, this is a very interesting debate in the comment section. I'm trying hard to find that fine line between judgment and discernment on this one for my part. Not finding it easy.

  38. Ozz says:

    Cut and paste from HuffPost comment section:

    "For a wrong done by others, [ordinary] men demand justice, while for that done by themselves they plead forgivenes­s. The yogi, on the other hand, believes that for a wrong done by himself there should be justice, while for that done by another there should be forgivenes­s." –Iyengar

  39. Jane C says:

    First, let me credit Ms. Brower's effort to take some responsibility for her complicity, halting and myopic as it might be.

    Having said that, a number of things about the post disturb me.

    First the litany of stars that litter the first paragraph. Why? How does that inform the discourse? Mitchel Blier? Seriously?

    Next, the lack of concern for how JF's behaviors, and EB's complicity hurt people – lower level teachers, students, and yoga in general.

    Then, of course, the trashing of Yoga Dork. Holy John Bradshaw – this "don't tell" above all else ethos screams dysfunctional family and a level of wounding that will take many years to heal. Talking about misconduct is not the misconduct – misconduct is the misconduct.

    But I gotta say, the thing that really pushed me over the edge was pointing the finger at Jimmy – the "IT guy", who, by the way, denies posting JFExposed, and who, by his posts, seems utterly reasonable. Why, Elena, was that little tidbit necessary? it raises the specter of JF foot-soldiers cracking the whip. It seems petulant, at best.

    So I guess I'm not giving it a very good review. I hope EJ will recognize that I'm stating a basis for these comments.

    This whole wacky mess, combined with the William Broad book, might be a necessary correction to the crazed narcissistic culture that has enveloped the yoga world. The tropes, the tramp stamps, the lululemon nonsense – I can't abide it – I've taken refuge in my own mat, and some kind, quiet teachers who help me along the way.

    Good luck, kids.

  40. matt says:

    Elena, I like the "You still love me, don't you?" head shot for your article. Very clever.

    • matt says:

      OK, that was cynical, I admit it. It's a commentary on the public relations / damage control aspect of this whole thing. Maybe I'm wrong… Maybe not…

  41. SQR says:

    Having spent some time in the entertainment industry, I’ve been naturally wary of the "rock stars", and this situation where increasing numbers of trainees enter saturated markets for some time. I suspect that model will need to change for the Anusara community to continue in anything like it’s present form.
    If John Friend will always be the main (or only) representative of the Anusara system, then perhaps there's a problem. If, on the other hand, the numerous teachers who’ve invested so heavily in it can form something sustainable and move forward, that would be a pretty good outcome. The “product” would then be more about the stuff that’s helped so many people. Despite Mr Friend’s seeming intentions, the community that ensued has built up a lot more goodwill than one might think from reading blog comments online.

  42. Etienne says:

    Brower makes clear her values: she was afraid of "losing her place in the yoga world.". Losing a high-octane, probably very well-paying, high-visibilty, glamorous career as a top teacher/rep for a company. But covetousness over status, position, and career is a problem in itself she needs to examine.
    The head-shots, all the prettiness and preening in the yoga world are indeed nauseating. These are the "prom queens" of yoga, indeed. These girls need to retire their glittery pink tiaras
    She put herself and her decisions out there for display, and apparently expected to be petted and fawned over, especially since that what Anusara people do all the time. She got disgust, derision, and criticism instead. Rightfully so. The piece was poorly written, self-serving and ill-timed.
    If she's a good teacher, she'll just keep teaching.
    I'm new here, so I'm just given first impressions. The language is more rough over on Yogadork, but they come off better in all this b/c they haven't tried to stifle debate or lamely complained about the roughness of free debate as being "meany." The obvious petty rivalries between the sites just make both look stupid.

  43. Really? says:

    I'm glad your job is not investigating sexual assaults.

  44. Etienne says:

    Given the hair-raising tales of internet stalking, bullying, black-listing and other persecutions perpetrated by members of the AY camp, I'm sure you will understand why many people wish to remain anonymous.
    People SHOULD remain anonymous to protect themselves. That's wisdom, is a messed-up yoga culture.
    You undercut your own credibility with this pious attitude, man. And potentially put other people at risk

  45. Tam says:

    Lets face it folks, we all love a good train wreck. I am not here to comment on the events themselves or Elena's response but rather on the many comments on all the websites covering this story. Think of bottlenecking on the highway when all the cars slow down to see the pile up. We are all complicit here just by commenting and whether you are in the kumbaya comment section or the ugly, judgmental comment section or somewhere in between, dialogue and conversation are good. Exposing things to the light is good. That said, slandering other human beings is not. Many of the comments here are wildly defamatory, unproven, judgmental statements about an individual, Elena and the wider Anusara community in general. I see many examples of slander (pisunavācā) coming from the words of the indignant righteous on these pages. To you all I say pisunavācā virati or let he who has not sinned cast the first stone.

    Many commenters start with something like "i'm new here…" or "I don't know anything about anusara yoga.." who then go on to make sanctimonious statements sprinkling their prose with words like "disgusting", "nauseating", "narcissistic", "preening", "pathetic", "loser", and many others offer spiritual advice phrased with openers like " you need to.." or "you would be better off to.." and so on.

    To my own observation, the many negative, non constructive comments are not just defamatory and vitriolic but say much more about the level of anger that resides in the hearts of us all. Those of us throwing bombs, what did we do today to make the world a better place, what kind act did we perform, what kind words did we speak, who did we teach, how did we contribute?

    Ethics involves the judgement of behavior, which is everyone's duty in a society. However, we cannot look into a human being's soul, their uniqueness and emotional world without love and compassion even when that is difficult. Many of you don't realize how judgmental you seem to others like me. Nor perhaps, do I know how judgmental I seem to you?

    To quote William Butler Yeats, not once but twice:

    "Every conquering temptation represents a new fund of moral energy. Every trial endured and weathered in the right spirit makes a soul nobler and stronger than it was before."

    "The light of lights looks always on the motive, not the deed, the shadow of shadows on the deed alone."

    • eh? says:

      Pretty funny. The problem is you're just as sanctimonious about how everyone else should behave as you accuse other commentators of being. Dear god, but this is some kinda site for finger-shaking!
      If you think the harsh comments are "bombs," you need to go do some relief work in Syria, where the bombs are real.
      Internet "bombs?" First world problems again.
      Rough language is part of community crisis. The AY world needs to get how elitist and annoying it's been. If I have been one of the bringers of bad news, so be it. Whether you see it so or not, truth-speaking IS a form of yoga, EVEN when the truth is harsh.
      And I can understand people making fairly quick judgments as newbies or outsiders, b/c it's not like these problems don't exist in the world outside yoga. They do. We;ve seen it before, elsewhere. Yoga has a long rather sordid history of cultishness and sleaze in this country.

      • tam says:

        HI eh?

        I think if I read your words carefully, you and I agree. I admit I may seem judgmental myself. I do not say that we should not comment rather that we should not slander. There is a difference. I do say that ethics involves the judgement of behavior, which is everyone's duty in a society. This is truth speaking even when the truth is harsh.

        It is how you do that that I offer my own personal response to. For instance you make a statement: "The AY world needs to get how elitist and annoying it's been". To me a better way for you to say that might be "The AY world needs to get how elitist and annoying it's been to me". Another person's truth might be "The AY world needs to get how beneficial and helpful it's been to me but I am very disappointed with the action's of some in the community" or someone else might say "The AY world would benefit from understanding how it is viewed by others as elitist and self correct by embracing the larger community". And so on. There are many truths and a good conversation might lead to some positive changes.

        All of these comments are helpful and shine a light. Calling someone an "elitist, narcissistic, yoga queen loser" is not.

        It does nothing to further the conversation. It merely judges and judges unkindly.

        • Eh? says:

          Actually, it's done plenty to further the conversation.
          You just don't like it. It's not to your taste. That is all.
          And again, how arrogant for you to correct me. or anyone. You are no one's mommy, or daddy, here. You think you need to go back and re-phrase each of my own sentences FOR me, and TEACH me how to speak prooperly?
          No wonder people in the yoga world — esp the women — are so silenced. if this is the routine response to a critical voice.
          Nurse Rachet descending.
          Maybe some of the AY paternalism has rubbed off on you.
          Dear god. You people. But thanks for sharing. The more you fools exhibit your arrogance and colassal concerit, I say, the better.
          Wing it out for all to see.

          • tam says:

            I do apologize. I was not trying to correct your sentences per se. I was just trying to point out that in a dialogue it's better if we speak with out own voice and express our own opinions, rather than generalizing, hence my addendum of "to me" to your sentence. There is more than one voice and more than one opinion. I respect your voice and welcome it and I assure you as woman myself, I am far from paternalistic. I just happen to have a different opinion. You are correct when you say that I don't like many of the comments made on various websites. They are not to my taste. To state my opinion does not make me arrogant or conceited or foolish, but I may have over stepped the line putting words in your sentence and for that, I am sorry.

          • Eh? says:

            No worries. As has been said repeatedly, internet communication is weird.

    • Guest says:

      From the start of all this (whenever that was) kindness and compassion did not seem to have sufficient force to bring the truth to light. I don't blame anyone for being angry and not speaking in sweet tones. Being nice to a liar or a cheater is not healthy. Being really pissed off is a really legit response to all this.

      Ahimsa includes not doing violence to oneself. One does violence to oneself by stuffing anger, stuffing the truth, staying in unhealthy relationships and situations. Enabling bad behavior = violence. Sweetening the truth may appear to be kind at first but it is not. Being sweet to another when you don't feel sweet is not ahimsa. There is nothing wrong with feeling bitter. There is nothing wrong with being angry. (But stay in it too long and you will get burned.)

      Maybe teachers can help with this by acknowledging their students' anger rather than trying to make it go away. Students should be angry. Perhaps someone wiser could make suggestions for working with anger in healthy and appropriate ways before we ask everyone to "move on."

      I have faith in kindness and compassion but after so much violence has been done by Anusara (where was the ahimsa there?) promoting sweetness at this point, in these circumstances, may come across as false to some. After so much falseness has been revealed — calling for kindness is enough to make anyone even more angry. As we saw, kindness did not bring the truth to light.

      False ahimsa (loving inappropriate people at inappropriate times, supporting inappropriate behavior) has done more harm than good — more harm than some fiery and pissed off words after the fact.

      • tam says:

        Once again I say, there is a difference between commenting and bringing a situation to light and slander. A healthy anger expresses your feelings. Betrayal is about learning not to idealize external sources. Slandering someone is defamatory and does not address either the betrayal or the anger.

      • Susan says:

        "False ahimsa (loving inappropriate people at inappropriate times, supporting inappropriate behavior) has done more harm than good — more harm than some fiery and pissed off words after the fact."

        In a nutshell.

      • Ozz says:

        This is fallacious reasoning – specifically, the fallacy here is the 'false dichotomy' or 'false choice' – you posit righteous anger on one hand, and artificial sweetness on the other, prefer the former, declaim the latter. Yet, this isn't at all what tam has suggested. Which makes your comment fallacious in another way: the straw man fallacy.

        You also do not seem to grasp the distinction between feeling anger and expressing it. One can feel extremely angry – and yet express it in constructive ways. Your reasoning, on the other hand, could easily be read as a justification for expressing anger childishly, in ways that do harm. And that's in fact exactly how this comment reads.

        In other words, there is a third option aside from the two you have falsely presented, and that is to feel the anger, and express it in ways that are non-harming, without layering on any artificial sweetener.

        Further, your rationalization of ahimsa notwithstanding, you do NOT do violence to yourself when you feel your anger fully – and choose to express it wisely. You DO harm to yourself and to others when you allow your anger to control your thoughts, words and behavior, and to express itself.

        • SQR says:

          Well said. I've never understood what drives folks to make those crazy, inflammatory comments on blog sites- stuff most would never say in person. Who cares if it's anonymous? It still perpetuates illness, especially for the person who said it. Sort of like that wonderful feeling you get after the 3rd cup of Flying J coffee… if more people realized this, we'd not only have more productive discourse but a healthier population as well.

        • Eh? says:

          Tam, tam, tam. Tch tch. That arrogance. What a stink.

        • Guest says:

          Thank you, Ozz.

          I think you are right that I contributed to a false binary. I think this is because of the timing of my entry into the conversation; but I do not believe I created the polarization. Polarities seem to be at the heart of the events; polarities were created at the top and they have trickled down to this and other discussions. How can anybody get around the binaries when the language used to discuss much of this has been totally polarizing?

          Polarizing language includes: inner/outer circle; two camps in Anusara: those who knew/those who didn't; the man v. the method; ahimsa v. satya; those who speak up/those who don't; resign/don't resign; with JF or against; inside/outside view; the best v. all the rest, etc.

          I think complete non-violence is the only ethically supportable position to take. But in reality, how things happened, how things played out, with so much imbalance of power, it is so hard to see the third way. I hope you and others will offer more examples of how to think, speak, and act in ways that are both sugar free and cause no harm to oneself or others. What a challenge!

        • tam says:

          This response is beautifully expressed with wisdom and authority by someone recognizably wiser than myself. Your response gave guest pause and had him/her reflect and rethink.

    • paul says:

      piśunavācā 😉

  46. bhagat_singh says:

    I don't find this beautiful, or inspiring or enlightening… I think there is actually a clear admission of culpability and that there is possible criminal acts that Elena was 'complicit' – her word – in…

    In her post, Elena suggests two camps of teachers, those who knew and those who didn’t. In her own words:
    Even for us, the ones who knew some (but none of us really knew all of it), it felt terrible to see, from both sides: How could he? But then we realized, (sic) how could we? We were oftentimes complicit — some of us enabled the liar to lie by lying for him ourselves (itals are my emphasis). There were these strangely uncomfortable, spooky moments in the past few years, to be sure… read the rest at

  47. […] of the first, and quite understandable, responses we’ve seen from Anusara practitioners is the desire to separate the man from the method. This may well be possible, and I hope that the […]

  48. […] expansión hace de Anusara un blanco fácil y apetecido para los escándalos, oportunidad que rápidamente ha sido aprovechada y ha recibido un fuerte y malicioso eco en todo […]

  49. […] Talk Show interviews with John Friend or three of his colleagues, but a single recent article by Elena Brower in the Huff Post, and reads like a casual mishmash of yoga scandals put together while he was doing something […]

  50. earth bunny says:

    For a whole different perspective on all the Anusara fallout check this out… have a wonderful fabulous day….

    heart… earth bunny brian sun

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