John Friend: “I Will Be Stepping Down” From Anusara.

Via on Feb 16, 2012

Update: my first conversation with John Friend (Video).

Many thanks to YogaDork for sharing this letter from John Friend to the community earlier today:

Dear Friends,

The last two weeks have been intensely heartbreaking for me.

I am deeply sorry for choices I made, which have caused such a firestorm of pain and suffering in our community.

I have profound grief for the damage done to our Anusara yoga community: teachers, students, and friends.

Presently, I am completing my current event in Miami, which I felt too irresponsible to cancel.

On Monday, I will be stepping down and taking a leave of absence for self-reflection, therapy, and personal retreat in order to take care of myself, and consider the next best step for myself and Anusara. Professional counselors and advisors will help me to determine the duration of my sabbatical.

Within the next 10 days, I will make a full public statement that will transparently address the entirety of this situation, and present a detailed outline of the reorganization of Anusara yoga. Also, I will be able to finally write and call individually so many friends who have been reaching out to me.

This devastating experience has profoundly impacted my heart and soul, and will serve to guide all my future actions with integrity.

Humbly,

 

For elephant journal’s coverage on the Anusara going’s on please click here.

About Jennifer Cusano

Jennifer Cusano, social media aficionado, research connoisseur, and writer du jour, is a Yogi on a path of personal exploration and long overdue healing. Managing Editor for YOGANONYMOUS, Producer for Where Is My Guru, Director of Social Media for YOGASCAPES and TumericALIVE, wife and mother of three, Jenn is really a superhero in disguise—or so she likes to think. In her spare time Jenn likes to read about and search for vampires, so if you happen to know or come across one, please do send them her way. Hit her up on Facebook or Twitter to discuss the various methods of tracking down said vampires. Also she is more than a little uncomfortable writing about herself in the third person, it may just be the hardest thing she's had to do, and that's saying something...

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30 Responses to “John Friend: “I Will Be Stepping Down” From Anusara.”

  1. Chris says:

    I'm sorry but just because he writes "I will be stepping down.." does not mean that is what he is saying. He follows it with "… taking a leave of absence…" This "stepping down" is not permanent.

  2. mehere says:

    "This devastating experience has profoundly impacted my heart and soul, and will serve to guide all my future actions with integrity". Deciding and at this early juncture declaring that this experience will guide all future actions with integrity is out of integrity and formulaic. They come not from honest reflection and transformation but from the frenzy of the unraveling.

  3. Harlan says:

    Exactly what does this mean? How can you step down – even for a short while – from an organization you are the owner of.

    I'll believe it when you transfer ownership and agree to answer to a board chosen by Anusara teachers.

    If there are any left…

    • maurice says:

      Precisely Correct. That is the only credible solution here. John has lost all meaningful authority by going into hiding and the erosion will continue as long as this is left in limbo. It shouldn't take 10 days to resolve this. Most companies this size have already planned for a scenario like this. The Anusara website doesn't seem to acknowledge that anything out of the ordinary is going on.

  4. Tanya Lee Markul Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Thank you, Jenn!

    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

  5. Genn says:

    Sounds insincere. I’m sure he is just in hiding until the heat dies down. You really can’t trust someone who was so dishonest about so many things.

  6. Heather Dawn heather says:

    Glad that this letter arrived, albeit it should have been the FIRST apology he made. At least he's making progress…

  7. Pure-ist says:

    Yoga is beautiful and right. The practice is very important to me. I love the teachers who guide me through class and show me new things. However, it doesn't take long to notice that yogaland is rife with charlatanism and bizarreness large and small relative to other avocations. The language and 'vibe' is fluffy enlightenment happytime but that's not how the world really unfolds. A sizable slip between cup and lip. This is fine. Take what you need and leave what you don't.

    We're talking about a yoga guy who was smoking / dealing weed and trying to get laid. This is in no way shocking. One of the least scandalous scandals you could muster. He tried to sticky finger the coffers? So what. You gave your money to a yoga instructor… What could you have possibly been thinking?! Really. Own it. The righteous indignation thing is easy.

  8. lynne says:

    ohhhhhhhhhhh the DRAMA….. from all sides!!!

  9. Curious Yogi says:

    Do you good people censor posts? It seems mine went missing.

  10. Jean LeBlanc says:

    To be completely honest, I just can't trust him. I want to, but I can't.

    Au revoir, Ti-Jean.

  11. Louise Brooks says:

    JF still does not get it.

  12. maurice says:

    The effort to "control" the message has now unravelled for John. There have now been too many defections. The more he speaks now the smaller he seems as a credible person. His abuse of power is at the heart of this scandal.

  13. maurice says:

    Has anyone read the latest Anusara Inc. teaching contract? I heard it is full of regulations that don't make any sense.

  14. Bellur says:

    from the man that stole everything he claims as his owns – fraud

  15. [...] down, I felt that these grievous mistakes on John’s part rendered him unfit to lead and that he too should step down. This was my truth from the very [...]

  16. Anusara Victims says:

    For the people who have spent thousands and thousands of dollars, countless hours of devotion, made their life's-circles surounded by kula-people…. this is destroying their world.

    John Friend is personally responsible for flagrantly flushing the whole system down the toilet. He is the sole proprietorship of a corporation that has no accountability. No share holders, no one to keep his power in check (congress senate president).

    It is not surprising that he used his Merry Minstrel Mogul Mischief for his own personal Pan Bachanal. Pagans are a lusty raucus bunch. Not surprising that he weaved a spell of mystery (shri!) around him and garnered power, money and fame.

    I think everyone is shocked that the truth was so thoroughly revealed to render him powerless to the internet, which he used to create his empire. Live by the sword, die by the sword. You can't have it both ways. When you write your own ethics, and hold other people accountable to them, you had better be behaving by them or you will be accountable to a much greater source (in this case, the world at large).

    Anyone that represents Anusara is representing corrupt politics. Becaused of the two faced propaganda of the founder, Anusara is no longer a philosophy, instead it is a marketing tool designed to hook you in and make you feel part of a club. How can any student trust their teacher who labels themselves with a Scarlett A?

    I feel bad for all of the teachers who are staying because they are loyal to the system. If the teachings are so powerful, they will survive a great fall and be communicated in a way that is understood by the teachers and students; not creating a catchy-all method that is designed to create followers who brand themselves as special because "it works".

    They are not being loyal to anyone but John Friend. Was he loyal to you when he made you sign your license that limits your yoga and your teachings? Who did that serve? It created a house of cards that he personally has toppled with seemingly little or no remorse or accountability (as evidenced by him teaching his Tantra of relationships in Miami after his committee advised him not to, he still has to take the stage and see who his true followers really are).

    There is no doubt that there are awesome teachers in the aforementioned and soon to be a dirty word method. My wish is for each one of them to look inside themselves and be Dorothy at the end of the Wizard of Oz who has been listening to the tricks and illusions from the Man Behind the Curtain who turns out to not have any of the answers.

    The great teachers are still great teachers as evidenced by their integrity and willingness to walk away from a train wreck created by Chief Engineer John Friend. He did this to himself. This is not blame, this is fact.

    Dorothy looks inside of herself and found out it was she who had the power. Please teachers, students, and followers of JF, tear down the wall, look behind the curtain, check your 3rd eye and realize that you already have it all, and you don't need him or anyone else to label you fit enough to teach what you already know based upon your own exploration and passion for the beauty and wonderment of Yoga.

  17. Stephen says:

    I've been upset over this situation as much as anyone. I've been *more* upset over people's comments (and in some cases obsessions) with John's statements and how, no matter what, they are "not enough" or there "must be something else, something in between the lines." Is this what *your* yoga teaches you to do?

  18. Dee_Smith says:

    For the people who have spent thousands and thousands of dollars, countless hours of devotion, made their life’s-circles surrounded by kula-people…. this scandal is destroying their world.

    John Friend is personally responsible for flagrantly flushing the whole system down the toilet. He is the sole proprietorship of a corporation that has no accountability. No share holders, no one to keep his power in check (congress senate president).

    It is not surprising that he used his Merry Minstrel Mogul Mischief for his own personal Pan Bacchanal. Pagans are a lusty raucous bunch. Not surprising that he weaved a spell of mystery (shri!) around him and garnered power, money and fame.

    I think everyone is shocked that the truth was so thoroughly revealed to render him powerless to the internet, which he used to create his empire. Live by the sword, die by the sword. You can’t have it both ways. When you write your own ethics, and hold other people accountable to them, you had better be behaving by them or you will be accountable to a much greater source (in this case, the world at large).

    Anyone that represents Anusara is representing corrupt politics. Because of the two faced propaganda of the founder, Anusara is no longer a philosophy, instead it is a marketing tool designed to hook you in and make you feel part of a club. How can any student trust their teacher who labels themselves with a Scarlett A?

    I feel bad for all of the teachers who are staying because they are loyal to the system. If the teachings are so powerful, they will survive a great fall and be communicated in a way that is understood by the teachers and students; not creating a catchy-all method that is designed to create followers who brand themselves as special because “it works”.

    They are not being loyal to anyone but John Friend. Was he loyal to you when you signed a license agreement that limits your yoga and your teachings? Who did that serve? It created a house of cards that he personally has toppled with seemingly little or no remorse or accountability (as evidenced by him teaching his Tantra of relationships in Miami after his committee advised him not to, he still has to take the stage and see who his true followers really are).

    There is no doubt that there are awesome teachers in the aforementioned and soon to be a dirty word method. My wish is for each one of them to look inside themselves and be Dorothy at the end of the Wizard of Oz who has been listening to the tricks and illusions from the Man Behind the Curtain who turns out to not have any of the answers.

    The great teachers are still great teachers as evidenced by their integrity and willingness to walk away from a train wreck created by Chief Engineer John Friend. He did this to himself. This is not blame, this is fact.

    Dorothy looks inside of herself and found out it was she who had the power. Please teachers, students, and followers of JF, tear down the wall, look behind the curtain, check your 3rd eye and realize that you already have it all, and you don’t need him or anyone else to label you fit enough to teach what you already know based upon your own exploration and passion for the beauty and wonderment of Yoga.

  19. [...] the report yesterday of John Friend, founder of Anusara Yoga, stepping down due to accusations of alleged sexual misconduct with students and financial [questions], I am [...]

  20. [...] brilliant story from my teacher, Leslie Kaminoff, on the unsurprising fall of John Friend and the example of Leslie’s teacher, T.K.V. [...]

  21. gaby says:

    Many say JF has fallen but the method is great. I would argue great for what?
    Could a method that leave its forefront runner forget all ethical base be qualified as good? Or may be it is just a physical method, in which case it is not yoga.

  22. lucie says:

    Wow, what an interesting process. Of course what John did was wrong. And I can imagine that lots of people feel totally upset and kind of destroyed. BUT its sooooo easy to piont out for someone, to blame someone. John created something and got sick by power. AND we created this system as well – the beauty and the failing! All the heros whom become enemies are actually always a reflection of ourself. YES, sure he did wrong. And what are we doing? It was always our choice to project Yoga on a brand. Yoga is a path. Very simply and not buyable. But we all spent money with it, earning money with it.. And when someone is "out" its just toooo easy to put all the bad to this person. Yoga should make us that flexible that we can reach our own nose ***

  23. susi says:

    I'm just relieved JF was 'outed' when he was. I live in the Asia/Pacific region and was only days from handing over substantial funds to attend the beginnings of an Anusara Teacher Training! (pulled the plug on that!!) I do sincerely feel sad for the many teachers and students who have made this 'brand' of yoga their life or business model… However yoga is not about 'branding' or any individual. As a 30+ year practitioner … my yoga will not miss a beat. I was attracted to Anusara because it included more of the 'spiritual' side of yoga… but in the current light that now seems a little funny. I am reminded once again that 'spirituality' is more a private/personal practice… a relationship with our own essence, our own heart …

    • mehere says:

      Beautifully said. It is an individual practice and when done with integrity over time the depth that is carved out will make it impossible to try and herd everyone into your own carving. We teach what we are. That is always free. God Bless.

  24. [...] responsibility, and it behooves us to proceed carefully. The present article, though triggered by the recent events within the Anusara community, stems out of my long-standing concern with a trend that I have seen emerging and evolving in the [...]

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