A Response to John Friend’s Plans to Restructure Anusara Yoga.

Via Bernadette Birney
on Feb 25, 2012
get elephant's newsletter
The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

The thing about love is that it doesn’t just disappear overnight.

I may have resigned my license, but I haven’t stopped caring about what happens to my friends of over a decade, or about what happens to Anusara. Yes, I have freed myself, but just sailing away into the sunset without regard for the community feels…wrong.

I find myself in an awkward position. As much as I’d like to shift my conversation away from Anusara, Inc., new developments continue to require that I use my voice.

In that spirit, here are my thoughts on John Friend’s latest letter to the teachers about the future of Anusara yoga.

John Friend writes:

“Three weeks ago private information about me was posted on an illicit web site in order to harm me, Anusara yoga, and all those named on the site. Although there has been no investigation or verification of the claims, a wide range of intense reactions and judgments has divided our community.”

This paragraph–-in fact the entire letter–-is full of troubling passive language. For example, “private information about me was posted on an illicit web site in order to harm me…,” and “…a wide range of intense reactions and judgments has divided our community.” This passive language carefully creates the impression that the circumstances we find ourselves in have somehow just happened to us, rather than being the result of John’s misconduct.

The passivity of the language makes John appear to be the victim of a situation beyond his control. Let us remember that this is not the case. John is not the victim in this situation. Lest attention be diverted away from the actual victims here, we should remember the teachers and students who have invested years, effort, and lots of money in Anusara yoga. These teachers are the actual victims.

Should we be reflecting on the ways we may have given away power and conferred too much authority upon John Friend? Absolutely. Does that make John Friend the devil? No. Does it make him the victim? No.

The letter continues:

“During this month, many of our licensed teachers resigned (8% in total), including some of our leading teachers. I am very sorry and sad for the hurt that everyone has experienced during this scandal, and over time, I fully believe that truth, clarity, and great soul lessons will be revealed for all of us.”

Here we get more passive language, and a statistic. I would be interested in seeing exactly how that 8% percent is calculated. Given the lists tracking resignations that have been posted to Facebook and Bay Shakti—and given that there are currently 505 members in the Facebook group for teachers who have resigned—I find it hard to believe that the resignations amount to a mere 8%.

Actually, I find it impossible to believe. In fact, I don’t believe it at all. I wish I could say it’s the first time I have been suspicious about statistics John has cited, or claims that John has made, but it’s not. In this case, downplaying the number to 8% would certainly be some good damage control. It would also effectively—and conveniently—marginalize the number of teachers who have left.

“The first change is that I have joined in a business partnership with Michal Lichtman, who will now serve as CEO of Anusara, Inc. Michal is a successful business woman and a certified Anusara yoga teacher, and I am very confident that she will skillfully direct Anusara for the greater benefit of all. I am remaining as founder, student, and teacher of Anusara yoga. I am embracing this profound change in my life with bright openness to the next chapter for both Anusara yoga and me personally.”

I do not know Michel Lichtman at all. I have no reason to doubt her integrity. I’m sure she is a perfectly lovely human being. Here’s what I find questionable: the new CEO is a former student of John’s, was already in business negotiations to expand Anusara, and is appointed by John?

To avoid conflict of interest, I would have much preferred to see someone less close to John appointed as CEO. Also, all this appears to have been done without John having been subject to an ethical committee review.

“With significant counsel from teachers in the Kula, we will be transforming Anusara yoga into a teacher run non-profit organization (501C3), Anusara Yoga School, dedicated to serving the Anusara kula. Anusara Yoga School will direct certifications and curriculum and will serve as a central hub of information on Anusara yoga and its licensed teachers.”

A non-profit? That would be admirable. It would perhaps be just the thing an uneasy community would love to hear. Right now we are a long way from being a 501C3.

Assuming the claim of going non-profit is made in good faith—who is going to elect the board of directors? Am I correct in my understanding that it is the current organizational structure that would elect the officers of the non-profit? That doesn’t sit so well.

Also, don’t non-profits require donations? Business wizard, Taro Smith, points out, “Given that the non-profit will require staff (executive director and development director as well as administrative support, office, ability to publish materials, website, directory, e-newsletters, training manuals, etc)…I am estimating that is will need roughly $1,000,000/year to meet operating expenses to stay competitive with the current landscape of certification options. This means if there are 1,000 remaining certified and inspired teachers then that is likely average donation annually they will need to keep this afloat…”

Who is going to donate this money?

“Details of the next steps for the establishment of Anusara Yoga School and the election of its Board of Directors will be communicated to everyone next week by a Steering Committee composed of Ross Rayburn, Todd Norian, Ellen Saltonstall, Deb Neubauer, and Jimmy Bernaert.”

This Steering Committee is made of upstanding members of the Anusara community. I have nothing but respect for these fine yogis and humans. That said, I would feel a lot more comfortable if the Steering Committee included more teachers who have publicly asked challenging questions, and pushed back on a single tiered power structure.

“I would like to personally thank every one of you who have stepped forward to support Anusara and myself during this tumultuous time.”

I fear that I am not one who would be counted among the supporters. I feel, sadly, that support in the form of disagreement has had no place here. It appears to me that “supporters” will be appointed to committees. It strikes me that the promise of being given a voice will be a balm to anyone who has ever felt unheard, unseen or overlooked by John.

That makes me nervous!

“May this new era of Anusara yoga continue to expand Light throughout the world.”

I hope so, but I can’t say that I think it’s looking good.

As my friend Natalie Miller explains, “For me, it’s not an ‘era of Anusara yoga’ that will expand light throughout the world. It’s you, and me, and our teachers and students. One by one, community by community. We deserve—no, we require—direct, truthful, authentic communication to be able to do that. This is not a good start.”


Editor: Brianna Bemel


About Bernadette Birney

Bernadette Birney is a dyed-in-the-wool, freedom-loving tantrika. When she’s not busy conquering the world, taking hostages, feverishly freelancing, working on her book, and posting on-line essays, you can find her practicing the art of life-on-purpose, and teaching in Connecticut. / Bernadette has had the good fortune of studying with the great ones: she’s a certified Anusara yoga instructor, and has long pestered her Rajanaka Yoga mentor, Douglas Brooks. Known for her poetic and precise articulation, she insists that you can maintain a hard-core yoga practice and a sense of humor, too. Her classes, immersions and trainings are steeped in a life affirming philosophy that will invite you into the exploration of your own potential. / Bernadette was one of the earliest Certified Anusara yoga instructors in CT, and continues to mentor the local teaching community, leading trainings and retreats. She has contributed to Yoga Journal, Fit Yoga, Elephant Journal and Srividyalaya Amrta. She is also a Lululemon ambassador, and the author of the quirky, award-winning blog berniebirney.com .


58 Responses to “A Response to John Friend’s Plans to Restructure Anusara Yoga.”

  1. eatingasapathtoyoga says:

    It is not fun to fall from so high, but I don't think the falling, the falling that bottoms you out, has taken place yet.

  2. Devin says:

    Just go… And go with grace..quietly.

  3. bernadette says:

    Thanks for your comment, Devin. The thing is–I don't believe that it serves the greater community to go quietly. There has been too much kept quiet in the Anusara community for too long. So, as much as it makes me the target for disapproval, I can't just keep quiet.

  4. Guest says:

    I took Devin's comment to apply to John, not you, Bernadette. I hope I'm right.

  5. bernadette says:

    Ah! That didn't even occur to me. (:

  6. Craig says:

    I got tripped up when I read John saying that there had been no investigation. I’m much more interested in hearing from John what really happened, rather than hearing from an investigation committee. Is he really going to wait for an investigation before explaining himself? Why not come forward now?

    And to the members of the Steering Committee, please expect questions from the rest of us about what you knew about John’s behavior before this all broke, and what you did or tried to do about it. I’m going to be wary of bestowing my trust again until I hear the answers from you.

  7. myriamsofialluria says:

    Nothing as powerful as a woman with convictions! Good for you Bernadette!!

  8. bernadette says:

    Thanks for clarifying, Devin. It sounds like you have a really compassionate heart. For me–and I think for many of the teachers who resigned–this is not about making a moral judgement on John's private life. I agree with you–John has the right to a private life, and that private life is not of interest to me. "Sex therapy" is a different story, though. "Sex therapy" with a student falls outside the realm of John's private life. "Healing" a migraine by massaging a student's urethra–which John confided to a close friend of mine that he DID, is not the same as sex between consensual adults. It should not be granted the same benefit of the doubt that is granted to his private life. All that said, as inappropriate as the "sex therapy" was, my resignation was based on what happened AFTER all this stuff came up. John never really came clean. He lied in Miami when he said that the worst of it was sex with married women. When confronted with his lie by a member of the Interim Committee, I have on good word that he flat out refused to address the sex therapy for fear of lawsuits. He also (privately–not publicly) admitted to a friend of mine that he manipulated the Interim Committee to split their vote. These are the kinds of things that the "Teachers Who Know" know about. The crux is his conduct after the revelation of his misconduct. While there is still denial on his part, the community cannot heal. Please understand that I am very grateful for what John created, and for what I learned as a result. I wish John well. I actually do feel quite compassionate toward him. I just won't be complicit in covering up. I understand that many will not like me better for it. It's a bitter pill.

  9. Jennifer says:

    you are a badass, ms. bierney. your good sense, levelheadedness, and decency come through loud and clear. your voice/perspective is such an essential one in this debate–please keep talking.

  10. Devin says:

    Navarre…I have worked in Corporate America for over 20 years and there are many C-Level Executies that sexually harass and never get fired- I know, because I have been a victim. I am very knowledgeable about this subject, and was in Miami which I don't feel that many people who are speaking harshly on this were. I am not looking to debate about this, I just feel that there could be more healing with compassion and love. Once again, I am not condoning it at all-just sharing my view and one that was there to hear him speak all week long in Miami.

  11. Devin says:

    Bernadette- thank you for sharing that as well.

  12. yogijulian says:

    "do not go gently into that good night – rage, rage against the dying of the light…." says dylan thomas

    i support you 100% bernadette and think you are demonstrating the responsibility to not just wash your hands of something that actually has hurt and can continue hurting people.

    as you point out this is not just about his private life, but about a host of interwoven issues regarding power, manipulation, money and betrayal that has powerful psychological consequences and stands in a relationship of direct and ironic dishonest hypocrisy to the product and persona being sold….

    many people will be picking up the pieces of their lives for a long time after the smoke clears directly because of john's acting out.

    he obviously needs a lot of help and none of us is perfect but the answer here is not to slink or silently in the name of non-judgment.

  13. Chris says:

    Compassion & love are wonderful concepts & should be practiced. They should go hand & hand with truth & taking responsibility. JF news to step forward are a leader & teacher, take ownership of his actions. If he had done this when the scandal first broke he would have been showered with compassion & love. The cover-up is always worse.

  14. Chris says:

    Oops. I need to proof read my comments: "Compassion & love are wonderful concepts & should be practiced. They should go hand & hand with truth & taking responsibility. If JF had stepped forward are a leader & teacher & take ownership of his actions, if he had done this when the scandal first broke he would have been showered with compassion & love. The cover-up is always worse."

  15. Larry says:

    Well done Bernadette. To question is healthy. The culture of Anusara up to now does not permit it at all- align with John or off you go. It is still happening people!! It is all damage control, it is business as usual. There is no accountability, no transparency……wait, there is some transparency and that is the real John Friend is revealing itself……
    Take all you have learned with gratitude and know that your heart is moving elsewhere. It is heartbreaking on one level, but honor the possibility that none of this serves you anymore.

  16. Scott Newsom says:

    What is left of Anusara is scarier than it was before. Its even worse of an echo chamber full of sycophants. So, lets not go away quietly, with grace, lets RUN AWAY! NOW! AAAAHHH!

  17. sadieyoga says:

    Calling people, respectfully, on their bullshit is just another form of Grace. Thanks for your honesty, Bernadette. It was a pleasure to read. Sadie Nardini

  18. john says:

    I grew up in a family of right fighters and demanders of the truth. It never brought us closer. Just a little thought in this sea of drama.

  19. Jen W. says:

    I had the same reaction to the letter as you, even without havng all the information you do. Good for you for calling him out on all those points. I also like how he went from at least a year away to reflect and heal to a sabatical for four months, as if he is just taking time off to do research or rest. It all feels so smarmy.

  20. Sue says:

    What is needed now is more Kali energy– Bernie bring it on! Dissolution will actually bring great healing to John and the community. The Principles will survive along with all the sparkling teachers who truly own the teachings within themselves. Something extraordinary always comes from following the integrity of the heart. It may not be the easiest path, but who says doing yoga is easy?

  21. Rick says:

    "When confronted with his lie by a member of the Interim Committee, I have on good word that he flat out refused to address the sex therapy for fear of lawsuits. He also (privately–not publicly) admitted to a friend of mine that he manipulated the Interim Committee to split their vote. These are the kinds of things that the "Teachers Who Know" know about."

    This behavior troubles me , as it should. These are serious allegations to base on "good word" and "a friend of mine" . Why are these people not speaking for themselves ? I am not here to defend anything , but am asking …why are we not hearing directly from them in the name of transparency?

  22. amazed says:

    you really, really disturb me. if this is any representative of how anusara people think, I will never come around any of you again. no ethics. none. you sound like a scientologist taling about "this technology." why not just go get yourself "wiped" as they do — your brain — and your morality — are already gone.

  23. Brooks Hall says:

    Hi Daisy,
    It sounds as though you are firm in your viewpoint, but I want to point out that, as I see it, what Bernadette has offered here is just as much of a movement of spirit as anything else. You seem to point out that the universe is “at play” somewhere else, that somehow this post misses this insight you believe yourself to have had. I think that that separation seems arbitrary: this post is surely part of the play, if that’s what it is. I am grateful to have read the article and comments.

  24. Concerned With Cause says:

    People aren't on a "high horse," as was stated in another comment, when they ask that horrible things be recognized as horrible. No one is calling for JF to be thrown in a pit somewhere, but you cannot just condone actions by pretending they didn't happen because you like "the method." That is silly, childish behavior.

    I do hope that more people come forward to confirm what, exactly, did happen. But even if no one does, that still doesn't change that this letter was written in such a way, by John, to cast John as the victim. It is not "inappropriate" for someone to call attention to that fact.

  25. bernadette says:

    Rick, you raise an excellent point. It's been a serious problem throughout this situation. I think there are at least a couple of dynamics at play that make these people reluctant to speak up. In once case-and I can personally attest to her fear–this person fears that speaking up puts an enormous target on her back. I also believe that many of the teachers involved fear that speaking out would be "disloyal". In the Anusara culture, we have been conditioned to see the good and not necessarily to be critical. I'm still a believer in seeing the good, just not at the expense of the real.

  26. Lisa says:

    And it may never happen-the bottoming out. If this man is as full of ego separation as it seems his self absorbed behavior should come as no surprise. He probably cannot actually grasp that something he did may have hurt someone. In his mind he is a martyr, having done nothing but having everything done to him. The only thing he probably truly feels bad about is getting caught. Why then give power to this subject by putting so much continued attention on it. The dialogue and dissection on this it has been endless. I for one just get creeped out looking at photos of John Friend. Maybe it is a gut reaction, but even before this happened my own intuition told me to stay away. Hence my lack of knowledge of Anusara. Maybe it is time to look at ones self and see what created the pull to follow this man in the first place. And maybe now it is time to ignore him. Stop giving him power. He doesn't deserve it.

  27. Rick says:

    I am an anusara certified teacher , I was never subjected to such conditioning …..that I know of… And i am still quite critical…I can understand the fear of coming forward, but you are putting her/them in quite a forced position by having her/them as anonymous sources. Out with it already…that is my two cents worth anyway, otherwise, with no disrespect ,this is just here say .

  28. Chas says:

    Ross Rayburn in a note today thanked all the angry critical voices for offering up a view that many do not have. I for one am grateful that the anger is now accompanied by more specific ideas. It appears to me now, on reading John’s letter and a couple of critiques of the Inc/501c3 (Shakti/Shiva?), that John is completely off his rocker, or to put it in hermetic terms, John has now entered Chapel Perilous; when he will return is anyone’s guess.

    What I would love to see would be John offering a roomful of Johns exactly the class they need to take. Or better yet, I’d love to see him mentor himself through a certification process.

    John Friend: Great Teacher, Man in Trouble!

    (of course I love John and I’m not angry with him in the least, except that I fell for his Good Guy persona and thereby relegated my Bad Bad self off to the sidelines. )

  29. bernadette says:

    Yup, it is heresay, I know, but sometimes when one person speaks up, it emboldens other people to speak up too. Have to start somewhere.

  30. Siri says:

    Bern, you know at least half of the people on the KWB page HAVE NOT resigned. Come on…

  31. bernadette says:

    Siri, I actually do not know that. It sounds off to me though. Have you counted? If so, I'll take your word for it.

  32. Emma Magenta says:

    Siri, you know that a ton of people are resigning by letting their licenses lapse and thus aren't included in the "8%".

  33. bernadette says:

    Okay, whoa…I am not telling anyone what to do, so I take exception to that. Here's the thing, Siri–just because I've resigned my license doesn't mean that I've stopped caring about the community I've been a part of for over a decade. Love doesn't disappear with a resignation letter. I don't buy into the belief that I must agree to be marginalized simply because I made the least worst choice available in resigning my license. There are people who write to me every single day asking, "what the hell is going on?" So, I don't believe that it serves them to walk away without speaking up. My conscience doesn't allow me to simply forget about everybody else because "I'm out". I'm truly sorry that it makes you uncomfortable but quietly disappearing doesn't make anything better. It just makes it secret.

  34. Savvy yogi says:

    John Friend is a grifter. This is a scam. He's on to his next con. Now Watch how suckers think. They are naive. They have egos wrapped up in images of themselves as the compassionate loving forgiving ones, and they try to force that onto others. They think love will take care of everything. They are wrong.
    Saturated with vague forms of Eastern teachings, yogis ignore the most important lessons of Western Enlightenment thinking, Love does not flow "naturally" between human beings. Left to ourselves, as Hobbes said, we are "nature in red tooth and claw." Our entire social contract theory is based upon the idea that you have to give up doing whatever you want — screwing your students, etc — in order that people can move about in society with safety from violence and exploitation. Give up basic concepts of ethics, accountability, and justice, and you have what happened in AY — John Friend the con-man in red tooth and claw, within his enablers in eager attendance.
    WIthout ethics, there is NO foundation for any community or business. NONE.
    There's nothing we can do about what JF does except insist on truth-telling, and proper naming: con-man. Liar.

  35. Chris says:

    I’m just a student. I’ve done all the immersions and the teacher training with my local teachers in order to deepen my personal practice, but didn’t take it further because, well, I didn’t want to study with John.

    I love my local teachers – in the last 7 years this community has become family to me – but I have never liked John. I’m grateful he created Anusara, but it has always seemed odd to me that these beautiful, graceful people who are so close to him were influenced by him and continued to idolize him. To me he seemed so arrogant and I had no desire to study with him further after the two times I did (I did give it a second chance, to be fair).

    My anger for him now is that my beloved teachers and Anusara have so obviously been hurt by him. I see divisiveness among them and wonder if he is the cause. He created something beautiful, then let his ego destroy it when it became bigger than him.

    Bernadette, I don’t know you but I appreciate your candor, grace and light. Thank you for including in this dialog those of us who are not in the circle and never wanted to be, but would like to hear some truth about a system that is more important than the corporation and people that profit from it. I’m sure this has been a painful experience for you and that it’s not easy to relive it daily.

  36. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Just posted to "Popular Lately" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
    Join us! Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook
    Follow on Twitter

  37. nancy says:

    exactly. thank you Chris.

  38. HJCOTTON says:

    What about the senior teachers who knew what was going on and covered all JF's transgressions. The senior teachers are as complicit in the fiasco as JF. The whole Anusara system is rotten to the core. It is high time for the senior teachers to be forthcoming and tell the truth. They are too afraid to lose their prestige and checkbooks.
    The Anusara fiasco is a setback to the practice of yoga in this country and it is dragging other yoga styles with it.

  39. SVU says:

    Hi Bernadette,
    I don't know how the law works, but any chance the person he confessed the urethra/migraine incident to could report it to the police? I guess what I've been thinking all along is how can we get the law involved in this somehow? Surely there must be a way to get this man investigated by an outside source…

  40. SQR says:

    "… dragging other yoga styles with it."
    If you're referring to the general population, maybe, though we could all be flattering ourselves here that anyone else actually cares. There's just as good a chance that this will increase the turnout at studios offering other styles.

  41. From the sidelines says:

    The most painful has been watching not the despot — despots are a dime a dozen. It's his enablers. They are more numerous than one despot. They have influence, and they want to KEEP their influence and authority. So they have tried to stifle the groundswell of outrage and questioning. They have preached love, forgiveness, "compassion," and softness BEFORE the truths have really all come out and BEFORE justice is done. They try to sell a vision ofa primarily emotionaly boundl community possible without ethics, accountability, and justice. This is MORE corruption.

  42. History? says:

    We are to "forgive" a despot?
    Europe and America fought horrible bloody wars to get out from under despots. A civil war was fought on American soil to get black people out from under white despotism. A 164-year battle CONTINUES for women in the US so that women don't have to live with the tyanny of patriarchal control. We've had one of the bloodiest labor histories in the world so that people could work under fair and safe conditions.
    The Arab spring sought to remove a despot. People are being slaughtered in Syria NOW because of their efforts towards freedom.
    What a terrible disrespect to all that effort and all those who sacrificed, for the corrupted inner circle at AY to tell us now, that we should have "compassion" for a despot, "forgive and love" him instead of insisting on justice.

  43. BradYantzer says:

    Bernadette, My comment comes itn the light of being completely outside of this whole scandal. i knew John a bit before the Anusara "cult" happened. I knew him as a loving wonderful man. I do not know what dark side he hid from view.

    I have seen Anusara grow to its size over the years and John reach his fame and glory. I also saw a bunch of cult followers that didn't study or practice yoga but a method laid down by John. Anything he said was then parroted by his flock not understanding the very words they were saying most of the time. Anything from the heart opening, to the biomechanics of the spirals and loops, very grey and blurry and hidden within flowery language.

    Then there was the Certified Anusara teachers and the Anusara like teachers.

    Now trouble arises. John is caught with his pants down and from the outside i see him doing just as your article shows, no accountability.

    To me this is expected when someone never follows the yamas and niyamas as a foundational system. The flowery language hides the lack of any true knowledge in the biomechanics of the body and how it should be moving. The constant back bending to try to open the heart provokes vata, further sending a bliss bunny further upwards, ungrounded. This just further makes the mind unstable as John has proven.

    So from the outside, everything is exactly as it looks. I am not about to throw John under the bus. He has been there all along. Just to those who were sucked in and continue to be….. well, a system created by someone that is not living in integrity. Think about it. Although it might help someone get from step 1 to step 2, the foundational core of stabilizing the mind and creating an environment for a path of integrity with yamas and niyamas has been skipped over. This is exactly why it is a first step and the most important.

    This is also seen by the example of the "teachers that were in the know." How could someone possibly be being true or heart open and watch this stuff going on. Wake up people. Being spiritual is not a blissed out state of an ungrounded being high. Where is there integrity?

    And as for the branding. It is just capitalism of spirituality which is nothing more than victimization in its own.

    As this unfolds, i am sure we will see much more lack of integrity and dubious behavior as the "damage control" is done.

  44. randy boyd says:

    It is in accurate to state or imply that those appointed to the committee to transition Anusara have supported John . Several of them resigned and at least in private circles have expressed many of the same criticisms as Bernadette has. Also the estimate that running a nonprofit for 1000 teachers would cost a million dollars is I believe a gross miscalculation. First of all Anusara Inc. runs the teacher certification branch on the organization on the dues of its certified teachers (appx 350 x $90 = appx $30,000) plus it's inspired teachers (appx 1200 x $50 = $60,000). So if the dues bring in $100,000 I doubt that Anusara Inc. is picking up the other $900,000 to support the teacher branch of the organization .

  45. SQR says:

    Not saying you're wrong to fell the way you do, or about any of the examples you've mentioned, but it could also be said that comparing those examples to an internal scandal/dispute in a private organization (in a free country) is also a disrespect to all that effort and all those who sacrificed.

  46. Raven says:

    Thanks BB for so clearly articulating what I sensed when reading JF's letter… one more observation. The practice of avoiding the use of passive language is studied, discussed and practiced during AY teacher trainings. JF wrote the AY TT book that clearly delineates how and why to use active, not passive, language.

    This is more proof of JF's INTENTIONS (another concept from TT) and truly the heart of this controversy. Intention to harm, control, manipulate and misuse students, followers and employees for personal gratification has not changed since the actions were exposed.

    (In the interests of transparency, I practiced with and completed TT studies with JF and other AY teachers a decade ago and chose a different path. I felt an uneasiness and discomfort with JF, but have the greatest respect for the AY teachers with whom I studied, and still do. Some have resigned, and some are part of the rebuilding effort.)

    What we have seen from JF and AY Inc. is damage control with the implied intention of maintaining control and power and status and influence and income. JF has had many opportunities in the past years to acknowledge and transform his practices as other teachers tendered their resignations in private. The NYT magazine article was another example of an opportunity lost, and more of the same gratuitous devotion to a self-made and self-proclaimed rock star/guru.

    JF made a series of choices for which he is now being held accountable. For the newly created non-profit Anusara Yoga School to garner a whit of credibility, it will need to either make accountability a priority or divorce itself from the man and his injurious actions. If not, AYS runs the risk of being branded with the same iron.

    The Americanization of yoga brings many changes to this ancient eastern practice. Our fundamental right to speak openly and freely must be respected within every American enterprise, as well as protection for the disenfranchised within a hierarchical corporate structure.

  47. History? says:

    wrong. b/c they did not take stands that cost them their jobs or lives. The people being potenitally sacrificed are not the employees, who are making — and stand to continue to make — mega-bucks, but rather the students, and the smaller-studio yoga teachers. No. bring the bastard to justice. Dismantle the brand, and have done.

  48. History? says:

    Oh — sorry — I mis-read your post. Please disregard that below. Yes, maybea disrepsect. — My original point was more that the pressure that the AY inner circle wants to place on the larger yoga community is the disrespect. Also, that over and over, in history, enablers and those close to power has rallied those less privileged to go along and forgive out of love for the king or the master or whatever. It's a pattern.

  49. very well put, yogijulian. I would have written exactly this if you hadn't first. This is about a range of issues, all of which are about control and manipulation – financial, physical, spiritual. the sex therapy is just one thread of an unraveling mess.

  50. Thank you Sadie, for reminding people that Grace is not passivity, Grace is not acquiescence. Sometimes Grace is ferocious too, like when we defend someone we love or fight for what we care about. This is what Bernadette is doing. Keep it up.