A Letter to the Yoga Community about The “Anusara Situation.” ~ Amy Ippoliti

Via elephant journal
on Nov 2, 2011
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Update: here’s John Friend’s first response, an interview with Waylon Lewis of Walk the Talk Show.

Some general background to the below, here.

Dear Ones,

This is a letter to those of you in the Anusara community and to those from other schools or traditions of yoga who are wondering.

Three of my talented, loving colleagues and dearest of friends: Darren Rhodes, Christina Sell and Elena Brower, resigned their formal certification with Anusara Yoga, all in a seven day period this past week.

My iPhone has been inundated with texts, emails and voicemails from students and teachers asking, “What is the real scoop”? “You’re not leaving next, are you”?

YogaDork posed similar questions in their article titled “Anusara Exodus”, posted November 1st.

Both gorgeous resignation statements from Elena and Christina are not easy to grasp.  They are filled with gratitude for Anusara yoga, for John as a phenomenal teacher and founder, and love for the lifelong friends they’ve made along the way.

Having been certified in Anusara since 2000, I too share in the feeling of this kind of love fest for how John and my relationships with in Anusara have deeply shifted and enriched my life.

Christina and Elena both cite ideological differences as their main purpose for leaving—yet that has not stopped many from asking the question: “Why the exodus now?”

Christina said it well when she posted, “…while, of course, there were reasons, the deepest truth of my decision is simply that I came to recognize that my dharma could be best and most respectfully fulfilled outside the boundaries of Anusara Yoga”.

In short none of these leaders need to share the nitty-gritty details or differences they might have had with John. That would just create gossip, which is unhelpful, unattractive and unfair.

So my advice would be to let go of getting “the scoop” for now, and allow time to reveal what is true for you.

To all my Anusara sisters and brothers who feel abandoned, crushed or concerned about losing these teachers, as advocates, as leaders for you…

They are still alive!  They still teach yoga! They are still working on all the cool initiatives and projects they promised to create and offer. You still have access to them!  They have simply renounced a piece of paper. They have not turned away from you.

If you are pursuing teacher training, Darren and Christina are still two of the top teacher trainers in the country, and your teaching will grow and refine under their guidance.

If you want to go deep into the honest truth of who you are, and make profound changes in your life, Elena is still your girl!

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, Yoga in the West is so very new.  And this yoga is ever evolving and transforming. In the last two years, I have seen a remarkable shift in this yoga, in particular a new cross-pollination between styles, more harmony and curiosity emerging between yoga communities and more of a celebration of differences rather than a kind of “old school” separation or distain between styles.

The upshot?  Having Darren, Christina and Elena on the other side will be a great big boon for this new emerging collective that is yoga in the West.

And another upshot: In the same way a forest fire burns the older trees leaving behind more light for the underbrush to grow up,  newer Anusara teachers will begin to emerge and offer their gifts.

As we all co-mingle and get to know one another, yoga is only going to continue to evolve.

What can we learn from the events of the last week in Anusara?

> Let the change unfold. 
> Let it be a mystery for now. 
> Stay connected to your own dharma (truth of how you want to be in the world).
> And as always, let the change surprise and open you.


About Amy Ippoliti:

New York City transplant, Amy travels the globe extensively helping people bridge the gap between ancient yoga wisdom and modern day life. Amy believes everyone has the capacity to “turn up their own volume.” She has appeared on the covers of Yoga Journal and Fit Yoga Magazine, as well as inside numerous publications including Yoga International, Yoga Journal, Self, New York Magazine, Yogini Magazine (Japan), Allure (Korea), and Elephant Journal. Amy is a faculty member at the Omega Institute and Kripalu. Since the age of 14 Amy has championed all forms of eco-consciousness, rainforest and marine conservation, and animals everywhere.

Website: amyippoliti.com
Hang with Amy on Facebook: AmyIppolitiPage
Talk to Amy on Twitter: @Amy_Ippoliti


About elephant journal

elephant journal is dedicated to "bringing together those working (and playing) to create enlightened society." We're about anything that helps us to live a good life that's also good for others, and our planet. >>> Founded as a print magazine in 2002, we went national in 2005 and then (because mainstream magazine distribution is wildly inefficient from an eco-responsible point of view) transitioned online in 2009. >>> elephant's been named to 30 top new media lists, and was voted #1 in the US on twitter's Shorty Awards for #green content...two years running. >>> Get involved: > Subscribe to our free Best of the Week e-newsletter. > Follow us on Twitter. Fan us on Facebook. > Write: send article or query. > Advertise. > Pay for what you read, help indie journalism survive and thrive—and get your name/business/fave non-profit on every page of elephantjournal.com. Questions? Send to [email protected]


73 Responses to “A Letter to the Yoga Community about The “Anusara Situation.” ~ Amy Ippoliti”

  1. elephantjournal says:

    "It is kind of fun to watch the sheep being bamboozled." Your conspiracy theory is entertainment. The reality is, in my limited experience, more boring, and also less aggressive or mean that you seem to suspect. For our part, we love John but aren't "loyal" to him or anything—we're loyal to truth and compassion. That's why we like him, so far—he's full of both truth and compassion, and is willing to put himself on the chopping block to get insulted by people such as yourself. That said, if you have anything to back up your charges, please share. Otherwise all you're sharing is your insults, not your knowledge.



  2. elephantjournal says:

    Ah! Fair criticism that's put openly and respectfully! Thank you.

  3. Sarah says:

    Leslie, in 4 years I have put over $10,000 into this system. These teachers can fill a classroom with 75 students and charge $150 per person for 2 or 3 days of work, and do it week after week, day after day. These trainings can cost upward to $1500 for 5 days with them and 50 of your fellow students. Then there's merchandising, then there's online classes, books, mentoring. Darren alone has made a truckload of his famous posters, downloads, book, seen at every single Anusara studio. Christina has written 2 books and sell them on Anusara.com and were promoted by Anusara. I have been in one of their homes, a multi-million dollar estate just outside of the city of Tucson.

  4. Anjali Cates says:

    The more I hear from Anusara insiders about this whole situation, the more it seems that the heart in the middle of their logo needs to be replaced with a dollar sign!

    So sad, so very sad.

  5. elephantjournal says:

    There's some detail in my interview with John, published last night: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2011/11/walk-the-t

  6. TPatrick says:

    Sarah, please don't make assumptions. Wealth can come from many forms (inheritance, previous career, lottery, etc)…that being said unless a book is the NYT bestseller list for an extended period of time it is highly doubtful that a book is profitable as it costs money to write, publish, edit and distribute. Books of this distribution don't get advances of much help from publishers to circulate and are more of a work of art than a money generator.
    Knowing from experience and given the duration of their training I would say it will be years before they break even from their education (not unlike any other educational investment and in this case no student loans are offered)….which I am sure you can do the math and project over the years with your own training and investment.

  7. […] A Letter to the Yoga Community about The “Anusara Situation … 2 days ago … Three of my talented, loving colleagues and dearest of friends: Darren Rhodes, Christina Sell and Elena Brower, resigned… http://www.elephantjournal.com […]

  8. HJCotton says:

    It is not surprising to me. It is possible that those teachers have outgrown their Anusara training. I was puzzled how heterodox Christina Sell was in her teaching and how much she deviated from the Anusara script when I took a workshop with her recently. It was a hybrid between Iyengar and Anusara. Most of the US yoga teachers were former Iyengar teachers who branched to another discipline as most chafe at the strictness of Iyengar yoga. John friend did the same when he left Iyengar yoga.

  9. HJcotton says:

    I have taken lots of Anusara and Iyengar yoga. in my opinion, Anusara yoga is a jazzed up variation of Iyengar that makes you feel good about yourself.

  10. […] A Letter to the Yoga Community about The “Anusara Situation.” ~ Amy Ippoliti […]

  11. […] > Article regarding this “situation” via Amy Ippoliti. […]

  12. […] the public resignation story, elephant ran an open letter from another top Anusara teacher, a type of statement that people in the PR world might call “damage control.” With a lot of […]

  13. John says:

    Yes. No other style of yoga has different levels of certification. Not Iyengar. Not Ashtanga. Oh, and other styles certainly don't have a script. Not Bikram. Anusara is so different….

    By the way. John doesn't consider himself a guru. He says it publicly all the time.

    Do you homework on other styles before bashing them.

  14. […] A Letter to the Yoga Community about The “Anusara Situation.” By Amy Ippoliti […]

  15. […] me to remember, but these are the ones that stand out: First there was the so-called scandal about teachers leaving the Anusara community, then there was the subsequent interview of John Friend by Waylon Lewis, where John dispelled all […]

  16. Amy Whelan says:

    Change, though very difficult, is often necessary. Sometimes one outgrows a certain way of doing things, and in order to expand, one has to break free of the constraints…whatever they may be. Good for you, Amy, to be able to may a decision that will benefit you and many others.

  17. […] articles on this topic: Amy Ippoliti, This is not Goodbye, A Letter to the Yoga Community about the Anusara Situation, Amy Ippoliti: Indepth Interview for Reflections […]

  18. […] a letter for review that would strip Darren of his affiliation ASAP with Anusara. The next day Darren resigned due to the irreconcilable differences between him and […]

  19. […] was no question. In this case, it was really the same. When I looked at the facts, and I do mean the undisputed facts in the matter when you clear away the “kulaid” and the craziness, Anusara, INC. no longer made sense to […]

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