Finally—Major Media covers John Friend scandal (and every other yoga scandal). By same author as Yoga will Wreck your Body!

Via Waylon Lewis
on Feb 27, 2012
get elephant's newsletter

NY Times breaks John Friend scandal—a month late. By same author as Yoga will Wreck your Body.

For reference: two key interviews/letters: Douglas Brooks, longtime colleague of John Friend’s, & Amy Ippoliti, senior Anusara teacher who recently resigned.

We’ve covered it for a month, since getting some facts, multiple firsthand interviews and sources to come forward. So has Yogadork, who took the first tip-off that we, and Recovering Yogi, had skipped.

Now…finally…at last…some non-blogging real media has tuned in—and the yoga world can count itself lucky (not) to have the coverage come from the Times writer behind the Yoga will Wreck your Body article. Even better, this article quotes neither Dork nor Elephant nor my Walk the 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 else.

As a former journalist, now blogger, I’m a NY Times fan of fans, and am disappointed not to see some real and original research and facts, here—but, since it all is a month late anyways, there’s very little news left to report, perhaps.

Click either image for the story.


About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. | | | | | Google+ For more: publisherelephantjournalcom


49 Responses to “Finally—Major Media covers John Friend scandal (and every other yoga scandal). By same author as Yoga will Wreck your Body!”

  1. elephantjournal says:

    Arianne Stiles ugh. stay classy, NYT!

    Jennifer Street Thomas I have to say that, while all of this is so disturbing and shocking to followers of Anusara, John Friend is a human being. We shouldn't place all of our faith, nor the validity and beauty of an entire discipline, in a single person. I for one will continue to honor the Anusara style and all it has given me.

    Michele Mathiesen Yoga I don't know who has more of an axe to grind, the NYT or William Brand…..disgusted by all as well as John Friend who turned the work I love into a cocktail party joke now. Unintended as it was, consequences it has.

  2. brad says:

    Mr. Broad should probably read… and maybe… before writing such disappointing articles on subject matter he has very little understanding on. So the New York Times is just another National Inquire.

  3. I have to confess I found the article entertaining.

    But factually it's exactly like taking a single strand of a complex tapestry and presenting it as the whole tapestry.

    It's not clear to me whether Broad does this out of intellectual ignorance or ratings-driven dishonesty. Either way, as history, it borders on the silly. But hey, silly can be entertaining, right?

    For the rest of the tapestry (and the sexual strand, too) read Georg Feuerstein's 550 page summary overview The Yoga Tradition: Its History, Literature, Philosophy and Practice.

    Bob W. Associate Publisher & Head Coach
    elephant journal
    facebook, twitter, linkedIn
    Yoga Demystified, Gita in a Nutshell

  4. kathik says:

    letters to the editor… WRITE

  5. elephantjournal says:

    I wouldn't go that far on the last line…one can't hold an entire publication responsible for one writer, and Mr. Broad is by no means on the level of the Enquirer, besides. But I get your gist. Just don't think hyperbole helps our case…when we're arguing for fair and precise reporting. ~ Waylon.

  6. Stewart J. Lawrence says:

    Look, there is A LOT of truth in what Broad is saying – more than American yoga enthusiasts really want to admit.

    He's zeroing in on the issue of the Tantra, and he's mainly talking about what happens to yoga — and Hatha specifically — in a materialistic, and sex-obsessed culture.

    There are non-Hatha, non-Tantric yoga traditions – Vedanta anyone? – and they are more strictly focused on meditation and spiritual goals.

    Many people claim that Tantric yoga – which Anusara proudly proclaims to derive from – is rooted in the Vedas and Patanjali's Yoga sutras. Well, not really. Tantra appears to have arrived in medieval times, and there has remained a serious tension and conflict between these approaches – and their goals.

    Many people in the US haven't read their history, either? They assume that what they know of yoga here, based largely on this received Hatha tradition, is THE yoga. They also don't realize how all this got started, even in India.

    Kudos to Broad, I say, for recognizing that wherever yoga goes, especially in the West, sex scandal naturally follows. If it's not sex, it's an obsession with glamor, fashion, and beauty – and the commercial exploitation of the erotic.

    Do you really think Kathryn Budig, for example, is an avatar of spiritual enlightenment?

    Now, all that said, it's possible to conceive of a Vedanta/Tantra synthesis, but only if the Hatha aspect is really placed on a deeper spiritual foundation – first. And that takes years, and requires enormous discipline, and usually, very strong spiritual guidance.

    It's not what's happening in the US of A.

    These are real issues here, guys. Every time someone tries to shed some critical light on yoga, every movement practitioner goes into defensive denial mode. Why not look at things more objectively?

    Broad isn't telling the whole story – it's a complex story – but since when has the yoga movement told the whole story.? In fact, since when has the yoga movement even KNOWN it's own story?

    You can ignore Broad, or write a letter to the editor. Go ahead, but before you do, why not embark on some critical inquiry of your own? Yoga's not just about looking and feeling good, and there's really no Fast Track to Nirvana at $20 a pop at your local studio.

    We might actually be getting somewhere.

  7. tanya lee markul says:

    Well done on all the fast and respectful reporting, Waylon! It's always, always easy to focus on the negative – for all of us. Misery loves friends and for most of us it's our best friend. It's also easy to clump everything together, make broad assumptions, so that we don't have to do the work to see or understand the truth or what is real. xoxo

    Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

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

  8. earth bunny says:

    Here is another way of looking at this whole mess… by looking within…. much love all…heart…earth bunny brian sun

  9. timful says:

    I heard once about some popular musicians who were taking advantage of fans for their own gratification. I still like music a lot. Power is attractive. Attraction is one of the joys in life. It often comes with a dose of pain. If a yoga mat now feels a little less like a badge of moral superiority, that is probably okay. If less than perfect beings are nevertheless able to inspire and move people to make positive change in their life I admire that and try to grasp its essence with my own imperfect grasp.

  10. elephantjournal says:

    Livia Shapiro this article on the nyt is trash

    Peter L. Sutphen I just found this in the NY Times. What a horrible, misinformed article.

    Bubba Seethos Take a look at the response in EJ from Ramesh Bjonnes. It is extremely informed by history(as opposed to imagination) and intelligently written.

    Rob Heyduck Yes, poor article NYT. bubba seethos, can't find Ramesh's response, can u link?


  11. jonathan says:

    The more I read about the "mainstream Yoga community", the more I just want to develop my home practice and avoid all of it. Isn't that kind of the point anyway?

  12. Locayoga says:

    William Broad might have a personal vendetta against yoga, but the general public, esp. the ones who are newbies to yoga, need to know what can go down when joining a studio that might have a sexual predator teaching who calls himself a guru.

    I worked as a yoga teacher with a studio owner who would go up to students while in Tadasana, press his entire body against theirs, full frontal, and kiss them passionately on the forehead (he did this to me while I took his class). People need to know that this behavior is not the norm and that yoga "masters" like this need to be called out.

  13. John says:

    Lying POS. Another one who doesn't practice what he preaches.

  14. Ramesh says:

    You may read my off Broadway Broadside criticism of the New York Times article about John Friend and mostly Tantra and others here:

  15. Sonam says:

    When Yoga arrived in the West only physical aspect was the focus . Back in time Patanjali designed a method to look at Yoga from the mind perspective. Hatha Yoga without Raja Yoga is handicap. There are many streams from which Yoga developed in India and Nepal . According to Buddhist teachings the same asanas are tough in Kalachakra Tantra and very similar system was tough by Shiva and Parvati . Buddhist teachings distinguish between Maha Shiva and Shiva as two different beings. Shiva supports disciplines like yoga and related , but his nature is very sexual . Practising Yoga as thought by Shiva will naturally have energy of sexuality , if one do not focus that ones mind need to be tamed as well .

  16. […] and a complete lack of depth in investigating the history of the practice of Hatha Yoga, as Broad has done repeatedly in the New York Times). Please take a look for […]

  17. Jacqui Hargreaves says:

    You may find the response by Jason Birch (a scholar from Oxford University) helpful and supportive in correcting the many historical inaccuracies in the NY Times article:

  18. […] psychotherapist’s views on the John Friend […]

  19. sadieyoga says:

    Jacqui–GREAT link! Really puts the NYT uninformed reporting into clear perspective. Gotta love those voices of reason.

  20. […] I first heard about the scandal concerning John Friend, I was completely stunned. It was hard for me to believe, at first. I had taken a weekend workshop […]

  21. Maurice says:

    I honestly have to admit that Waylon's interview with John Friend was a joke. I realizes the 5 questions he asked were not part of a normal "live" interview allowing no chance for any follow up. Given the severity of the charges Mr. friend offered very scripted vague responses not worthy of being quoted by the NYT. The article in general did not dwell on the Anusara anyway so don't but was trying to broaden the story beyond the limited scope that has been discussed ad nauseum on this website.

  22. Barrett Pleshe says:

    Spartacus IS Stewart Home. It’s like the Matrix virus. Soon you will be him too

  23. […] much long after, John Friend fell from grace and William Broad published the Science of […]

  24. […] Every goji berry snorting prAna fiend was happy and willing to be the first to hammer nails through his wrists in what was to be America’s finest public execution. All the while, rumors came fast and furious: “I heard John Friend has sex with dead people!” […]

Leave a Reply