January 25, 2012

Amy Ippoliti, This Is Not Goodbye.

Amy Ippoliti resigned last night from Anusara Yoga, and I am sure I felt the Earth shake just a little bit beneath my feet.

Let me tell you about Amy Ippoliti, my teacher of the past five years. Grab a cup of coffee because even though I religiously keep my blogs to 500 words, this could take longer. First of all, I wrote a book which is dedicated to Amy. That took me 280 pages (I will stop myself before this blog gets that long). If I did a word count of “Amy” in the book, it would show a fairly serious case of co-dependency on my part.

So after you yoga-stalk your teacher for the better part of five years, and travel with her, and even buy her the kind of underwear that never shows through on Facebook, you cannot be completely shocked when she announces her resignation after 15 years with Anusara. Nevertheless, it was surprising. If John Friend started Anusara on a Monday, then she probably joined him on a Tuesday. Technically, John Friend formally created the school in 1997, and Amy was one of the first certified teachers the next year.

Like many of us, Amy originally found Anusara because she was injured and she was looking for something more on her mat (I might be projecting here). She will often speak candidly of the injuries she has healed throughout her career. Yoga injuries are very much in the news right now and I don’t want to get sidetracked. But let me say that many things in life will hurt you if done mindlessly including men and vodka, neither of which I’m giving up. And yoga, most of all, is about being present.

Amy has been an integral part of Anusara serving on various committees and because I’m not a detail person we’ll leave it at that. I’m sure she has both John Friend and Dr. Douglas Brooks, the architect of the Anusara Tantric Philosophy, on speed dial. In fact, disillusioned with the results of the Teacher Training system in 2002, she created the Anusara Immersion as a way to separate the art of teaching from the dedication of learning. Thousands of people today have taken the Anusara Immersion worldwide, and little do they realize, but they have Amy Ippoliti to thank for it.

This is starting to sound like an obituary, but it’s not meant to be that way at all. In Hinduism, the God Shiva is the God of Destruction, and of Creation. Most yogis realize that to change, you often have to end something else first. Before spring can erupt in new blossoms, the cold winter’s night has to cover the Earth, blah, blah, blah. Amy’s reasons for ending her relationship with Anusara are personal, and I truly don’t know and don’t care to know any details (I’m not a detail person, see above). And I won’t be able to get her drunk enough to tell me the details because she doesn’t drink. In fact, if she has any bad habits at all it may be that she is the hardest working yoga teacher I have ever known, PERIOD.

Most of all, I want to wish her all the best, and to reassure the yoga world that this doesn’t end anything for her, or for her thousands of students and followers. This is a beginning. At some point we all discover what our true purpose on Earth is, and for Amy it is to inspire others to find themselves on the mat, as I did with her in 2007. In my view, she is ultimately a teacher’s teacher, and according to her public letter, she wants to inspire teachers of all kinds of yoga and not be limited to one school.

If one door closes to open another, then I will be there to open the door for Amy Ippoliti on her new adventure. I’ll be her student, and her friend, and yes, if she forgets to pack her underwear I will run out to the store and get some immediately because it is in service that we find our true meaning. I learned that from my teacher, and above all, I am most grateful.

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