There I said it. I never cared about John Friend and I still don’t.
Prior to the JF exposed, and by default Anusara Yoga™, scandal I’m not sure how boldly I would have declared such a statement. Now I know I’m not the only one.
Not that I don’t like him, I just never got the hype. I never understood the fascination my teachers and peers had with the man. I recognize his genius, respect his creativity and am grateful to him for birthing the method of yoga that serves as a vehicle for my offering. But John Friend was never my teacher. He was always my teachers’ teacher. Not mine.
And so I want to offer a different perspective on the very painful, very public unraveling of Anusara Yoga™. We’ve heard from those Anusara Certified teacher who were closest to John (in the past and as of late), we’ve read their letters to the community and their reasons for parting ways with him and Anusara, Inc., but what about the rest of us?
I don’t know John Friend personally and I wasn’t privy to the inner workings of the organization or what took place on committees. I’ve never really studied with John Friend (with the exception of a couple weekend workshops), nor have I received much recognition within the kula. I don’t have a worldwide following or my own studio, and I’m happy to fly under the radar.
In short: My love and involvement in Anusara Yoga™ had nothing to do with the man who, in one massive blow, shattered the integrity of the method that I teach.
While many (and I’m willing to bet it’s far more than the eight percent John Friend claimed) certified and inspired teachers have publicly declared their de-affiliation with the Anusara Yoga™ organization, there are a number of teachers who still remain licensed. Some are trying to rally the troops; some are spending tireless hours working to restructure the organization; some are chanting healing mantras and claiming love will save all; some are hanging on for dear life; and some are waiting on the proverbial fence.
I fall into the last category. I’m waiting because I can. I’m waiting because I have the freedom to make choices outside those of my teachers (whom I respect and admire, and plan to keep studying with regardless). I’m watching and waiting because I love teaching Anusara Yoga™—it’s what I do and will continue to teach even if I chose to relinquish my right to title my class as such. Really, I’m waiting because I just don’t feel like doing anything about my license one way or the other right now.
Had I been closer to John Friend I might feel differently. If my reputation were at stake, I might feel the need to set clearer boundaries with where I stand. But as it is for me, for now, I have the liberty to wait.
My action in taking no action does not mean that I align with John Friend, or forgive him, or trust him, or that I’m sticking around in hopes that he miraculously recovers from a deep-seeded sickness that has manifested in hurtful and harmful ways and I would gain from this.
Am I outraged? Yes. As a yoga teacher and as a woman, but my personal judgments of John Friend haven’t persuaded the way I feel about Anusara Yoga™.
Apparently I missed the memo though: John Friend is Anusara Yoga™. You could love the man, hate the man, have never spent a single dollar to study with the man, but he is still The Man and if he falls the whole collapses. (I feel like a fool for having not understood that before now.)
So while I struggle with a decision that doesn’t need to be made at this exact moment, I remind myself at the end of the day, my students don’t care if I call myself an Anusara Yoga™ teacher or not. My clients won’t suddenly stop trusting their healing processes because John Friend made some very poor personal decisions. My service is in no way dependent on the survival of a style of yoga. And I’m pretty sure no one is waiting for my letter of resignation.
So I wait, and, in the words of one of my teachers, continue doing what I’ve always done. I teach good yoga.
Meagan McCrary is a L.A.-based yoga teacher, freelance writer and lifestyles expert. She is the co-author of The Little Black Book of Big Red Flags, and the co-founder of BigRedFlags.com. While she is working on her latest book, Pick Your Practice: A Closer Look at Modern Yoga Styles, Meagan currently pens Glo.com’s monthly horoscope column, “Live by the Stars,” which makes appearances on MSN.com’s home page.
Prepared by Aminda R. Courtwright/Editor: Tanya L. Markul
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