January 31, 2012

Much Ado About Nothing: A Response to Anusara Teachers Leaving. ~ Johanna Lyman

The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

*Other 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 2011


I’ve been practicing Anusara yoga for a decade. I went through the immersions and did my teacher trainings with two senior certified Anusara teachers. I’m not exaggerating when I say that Anusara yoga saved my life.

And I can’t for the life of me figure out why everyone is in such an uproar about Amy Ippoliti and other senior certified teachers leaving the fold.

Because if you really understand the teachings, you’d understand that the guru is inside. If you really understood the teachings, you’d remember that it’s all good, no matter what “it” looks like.

It is the sign of an independent thinker and a gifted student who can take the teachings of the outer guru (in this case, John Friend) and transmute those teachings through the alchemical fire of her heart’s knowing. That knowing then moves her from the outer guru to the inner guru, at which point she may break from her teacher and forge her own path.

That doesn’t mean that the teacher was wrong, or incomplete in his teachings. It only means that the student’s lens has a different focus than that of the teacher.

It is the sign of a gifted teacher who honors his students’ independent paths and encourages them on their way, blessing them and wanting for them to have great success and joy. Neither John Friend nor any of the departed teachers has had anything negative to say about each other.

People have speculated that these teachers leaving was in part because of a policy that gives the business of Anusara yoga 10 percent of all products sold by certified teachers.

I find it nearly impossible to believe that such gifted teachers would begrudge giving 10 percent of their income to the organization which made their income possible. Personally, I would consider the 10 percent to be a gratitude gift, especially since the channels of distribution through the Anusara system are greater than they would be for most independent teachers.

To me, all this uproar begs a bigger question: Why do we do such a terrible job with transitions in our culture?

Why does it have to be a tragedy, or a sign that something is terribly wrong, when relationships or lives end? Death, divorce, teachers leaving the fold— these are all natural and normal aspects of life.

If I were John Friend, I would be deeply honored and humbled to realize that my teachings had created such growth in some of my students that they moved beyond me. In fact, as a life coach, I am thrilled when my clients learn enough from me to move on. I’ve never wanted clients for life.

I’ve always had a strong resistance to teachers who promote themselves as gurus.

I understand that there’s a long tradition of that in Indian culture, but the true guru remembers that the real guru resides in the heart of each of us. It is the job of the outer guru to remove the veils cloaking the inner guru. It is not the job of the outer guru to collect disciples. The outer guru, if he (or she) in indeed a master, always points their students back to their own heart and the knowing that lies within.


Johanna Lyman is the JOY Professor. She teaches people how to create the relationships and experiences they really want so they can live the lives of their dreams. She can be reached at www.thejoyprofessor.com or [email protected]



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