Bringing My Life Into Perspective: What Matters Most.

Via Amy Ippoliti
on Feb 14, 2012
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For those new to this situation, we’re talking about this past week’s allegations concerning John Friend and Anusara Yoga.

Introductory questions for Amy. Her letter follows below.

Waylon Lewis: In lieu of an intro by myself, Amy, I thought I’d ask you a few questions to help provide context for our readers. First of all, thanks so much for being among the first senior teachers…I don’t know the proper term…who have resigned to come forward and share your story. What is your intent in sharing the details of your story and why you finally chose to resign?

Amy Ippoliti: Thanks, Waylon. I have actually been doing my best to write something for awhile since my departure from Anusara…but as you can imagine, things have been pretty full for me and my family. I’ve been on the phone non-stop answering calls from students and teachers ever since I left. My intent has always been to help people get a better idea of what is true for me so they can make informed decisions. People asked me for this information, you asked me, Waylon, and it’s overdue.

Waylon Lewis: Well, I appreciate that you’ve expressed concern that you don’t want to hurt anyone, but your letter below actually seems to clarify things. And ultimately what you and our readers care most about serving is the truth. So thanks for being brave and your leadership, and your upaya or skillful means in being the first to come forward in a detailed way, but doing so without hateful agenda.

Amy Ippoliti: I appreciate that, Way. I know it is long…

Waylon Lewis: It is long but in being detailed is actually helpful. It is hard of course but many like myself have (like you, earlier) wanted to wait to know what was going on in the Anusara community and with John specifically before knowing which way to go.

Amy Ippoliti: I get it. This has been such an intense 10 days—things are shattering, falling apart, people are melting down…it is stunning to see how deeply Anusara has been woven into people’s lives and to the point that some people are unraveling.

I just want to try and help. I know John must be in a lot of pain right now having in some way created this mess, but my heart is broken. I can only hope that as people process the impact of this event on their lives, they can put back the pieces in a new and fruitful way with lots of love. I wrote this with no intent to hurt John or anyone still choosing to stand with John in Anusara.

It is simply my truth.

Waylon Lewis: That’s beautiful. Thank you, Amy, for creating true peace—which can only exist with the basis of honesty and respect. Thanks for your letter.


Shedding Some Light.

“Taking back our light from those we’ve projected it onto opens the door to an unimaginable future.” – Debbie Ford

2012 has started out with a bang.

My partner and I began the year in Japan with some of the most memorable trainings of my life only to return to fly to Florida to be with a family member who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Disease has a way of bringing life into perspective, and this was an eye-opener for both of us on what matters most.

Please forgive me for not coming forward sooner with a more detailed narrative regarding my leaving Anusara Yoga.

I feel I owe those who have asked an explanation. Nothing here is meant to be derogatory or to further inflame the situation.  I’ve spent much of the past two weeks supporting Anusara teachers and my students who are freaked out, angry, confused, and disconsolate.

This post is long, but I was in Anusara Yoga a long time, and I have a lot to say.

Given the complexity of my issues with John Friend and Anusara Yoga, it’s difficult to point at one particular incident or moment that triggered my awareness that it would be helpful to make my struggle public. I left as late as I did because I clung to hope for change. We had a long history with John, and respected him as much as we had learned to defer to him.

Given the hurt, an initial absence of facts, anger over the unavailability of information, and confusion in the Anusara community at this time, I want the important portions of my story to be shared. Why are so many teachers leaving and what has caused these rifts?

Most people look at Anusara as a yoga school. Then on a bit closer examination it appears as either a cult–that being the negative perception from afar, or as a way of life–casting it in an affirming light. Those who practice with varying commitments often admire their teachers, and so Anusara becomes part of their relationship to a larger yoga lifestyle. In the trenches, others, especially teachers, have wrapped their socio-spiritual identities into Anusara and made it a central force in their lives as well as a method for making a living.

Those that are the closest and been there longest have many more things to say…

In a nutshell, Anusara is comprised of a collective of teachers, but only one man takes credit.  The school did not develop in a vacuum, and did not fully evolve through one person’s guidance. Like a living entity, Anusara has survived and flourished through the power of its community, and the ability of its many teachers to adapt in their respective settings. Did John Friend conceive Anusara? Yes. Did it evolve to its current state solely because of his guidance? No.

Some assume that John was my only teacher. That’s not the case. I have studied and collaborated with many teachers, and their teaching also flows in my veins. My students have always received a synthesis of what I know.

I will never regret my education in hatha yoga from John. If I teach asana well today, much of that can be attributed to the process I went through with him to earn the Anusara certificate that hangs on my wall. Being connected to John Friend and his magnetic personality introduced me to great beings and teachers I am proud to know, and so fortunate to have in my life.

John created a revolutionary hatha yoga system.

I have put the majority of my adult years into Anusara, sacrificed financially, sacrificed time away from my family, volunteered time serving on committees, and enthusiastically brought many, many students and teachers into the organization. In short, I’m not unlike dozens of other teachers who have made their own contributions. Those who know my work can attest to the endurance of my commitment.

Why did I leave?

Each individual reaches her or his tipping point—mine occurred on January 24th.

I have been struggling for a while, and almost left with Elena Brower. I just wanted to give John one more chance. I spoke to him directly for hours in meetings and on calls this past December. I worked tirelessly with Anusara to come to a workable resolution, and as I shared with John directly, I was appreciative of his efforts to try to make things work.

I’m stubborn when it comes to close relationships—I will stick around ’til the last shard of hope shatters. I did not leave earlier because I remained hopeful. Then I realized:

Sometimes the way to hold someone accountable is by not enabling their behavior any longer. Sometimes the kindest thing to do is to walk away.

Even though they might plead, cry, promise to change, pretend to listen or be convinced that all is well, I have lived long enough to know not to listen to words but to hold people accountable for their actions.

The past two years have been my most challenging.

Christina Sell and I were chosen to convey feedback to John that we had gathered at a dinner during the 2010 certified teachers gathering. John’s personal party habits were interfering with his teaching, his teaching was erratic, his behavior suggested he was using drugs, and concerns were expressed about his dating women who were students and employees.

John asked me privately to offer my opinion about his teaching at the gathering.

I told him in candor that I’d seen him teach better. Boom. He disagreed, and told me that I was alone in my opinion: that his teaching was better than ever. John started a crusade to prove me wrong. He portrayed my actions to others in ways to discredit me. I felt compelled to ask Christina and other colleagues to vouch for me in emails to John, so that I might regain his “good graces.” This was hurtful, and like any family member, I coped and longed still to love.

The politics of jockeying for favor became irrelevant when his assistant, Wendy, told me that production on products I had started with the Anusara team had been pulled because John was upset with me for a failure to align with his teaching.


My experience of teaching in Japan shifted in 2007.

During one of my workshops my then-husband started an affair with my host, the studio owner of Studio Yoggy. Our personal estrangement became professional, since this studio was the main source for Anusara in Japan. Four years later, after my students encouraged me to return, I returned to a different studio. I agreed to use this venue as an anchor for a group of trainings in other parts of Asia.

What I didn’t know was that John was involved in an exclusive agreement for Anusara with Studio Yoggy for any and all Anusara trainings in Japan. (He also dissimulated on three occasions to me directly about the nature of this agreement.)

This proved problematic for a number of reasons:

1. Teachers can teach anytime and anywhere they choose, they are not employees of Anusara (i.e., the organization does not have a right to enter an agreement on the behalf of independent yoga teachers);

2. Anusara opted to intervene to cancel my training in Japan since I failed to follow “protocol” that restricts teaching.  The organization, however, has no legal right to control or restrict business.

3. Anusara would not “approve” my training because of their exclusive relationship with Studio Yoggy. This impacted not only me professionally but punished the students eager to study yoga.

4. John declined to consider the fact that the owner of Studio Yoggy’s refusal to allow my training was personal.

5. In conclusion: Anusara cannot control when and where a teacher works; its agreement with Studio Yoggy was rendered unenforceable.

6. Having canceled my August training, along with the rest of my Asia trip, Anusara’s influence placed my staff’s resources in a bind, and once again some 30 students were impacted since they blocked out time to attend this training.

7. Because Studio Yoggy had placed so many restrictions on progress for training in Japan, and students were so tired of being charged upwards of $7,000 for 100-hour trainings at Studio Yoggy, the Japan teachers came forward to John and spoke out. He finally acquiesced and opened the doors for our teacher training. Despite abandoning our family, we did make up the training over Thanksgiving, but had to teach one week at a time instead of the two initial weeks in a row we had planned resulting in not two but three trainings in Japan in a six-month period that created inconvenience for everyone (students and hosts).

8. It took way too much energy and effort throughout this episode to be able to simply teach yoga and serve students hungry for training. I suffered, my students suffered, and my staff suffered…seems like teaching yoga should be a lot easier..!

9. Where was my teacher in all this? John did not stand up for me, though I was loyal to him for 14 years. He knew that my teaching in Japan was an uphill battle, given my history with the owner of Studio Yoggy.

10. Not only was I blamed for not following “protocol” in Japan, my media products that had been waiting at Anusara for the past four years were intentionally delayed further since I was not being “cooperative.”

From John Friend: “However, when I felt that you were not being cooperative about the Japan situation I did not want to move ahead with your products.”

John heard me out and apologized for some of the restrictions in Japan after being told that it was improper for him to restrict when/where a person could do business. But this was the second time the products I had conceived (meant to be of service to the yoga community) were withheld from production intentionally as admonishment.


Much ado has been made about doing products with Anusara and how the 10% royalty is not a big deal. Actually—I really don’t mind that Anusara wants money. I told John that raising dues would be a great alternative way to raise capital for the organization instantly rather than wasting time and money on policing Anusara teachers for 10% on their books or DVDs sales.

John claims that because of the distribution Anusara offers, that the 10% more than covers the added promotion. There are some problems with this:

  1. As you can see from above…my products have sat in limbo for four years at Anusara and have been punitively restricted based on John’s view of my lack of cooperation.
  2. Delays on approval on products from John have resulted in the materials getting ‘dated’ and prevented access for the students for whom the materials were designed to benefit.
  3. John Friend attempted to force Darren Rhodes out of Anusara Yoga for making the book Yoga Resource independently. For months John and several others pressured Darren to make Yoga Resource an Anusara Yoga product. Darren refused because he no longer trusted John. John then forwarded the Anusara ethics committee 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 John.
  4. The organization benefits from the Anusara name being propagated in media products. Most companies pay teachers or sponsor them to spread their name, but Anusara is taxing their teachers.
  5. According to the legal advice I received, the organization can’t and should not unilaterally change the terms of any agreement after the fact…none of this was disclosed to me 12 years ago when I got my certification. A lot is invested in becoming a certified teacher. Harvard or any other institution of higher learning does not tell its graduates what they can or can’t do…and they don’t demand a cut of the earnings you gain from written/media materials. You already paid for your education. We are yoga teachers with a certification…we are not employees, robots, or franchisees of an organization.

Licensing agreement.

I did my due diligence by consulting with different attorneys on the Anusara Licensing agreement. I know of very few certified Anusara teachers who have actually read the agreement or had it reviewed by attorneys before signing. All I can say is: read it if you have not, understand it, and know what you’re getting into.

When I pointed these concerns out to John, Anusara offered to enter into negotiation for a special contract exempting me from the “one size fits all contract.” This was thoughtful; however, it came with certain terms of sharing some of my assets for Anusara (e.g. contact list and exclusivity to Anusara, etc.) More importantly, I could not in good conscience sign something that my peers or students would not be privy too, nor could I stand by while other colleagues would be treated differently.

The Brand.

We were programmed to protect the Anusara ‘brand’ and ‘technology.’  We were also held to a high ethical standard. So I challenged John in December regarding the brand secondary to many rumors and allegations regarding his personal conduct. These rumors increased in frequency to such a degree that it was disrupting my trainings. Students were coming to me with concerns about his conduct. I had no firsthand or direct knowledge of his behavior, so I found myself apologizing for John.

Once again, I asked John directly about the rumors, and he denied them all. He lied to me. I told him that if I continued to hear these reports, it would only detract from the brand he holds so highly. I stressed that I have no interest in staying or apologizing for him if these ‘rumors’ were to persist. They continued, and this time broke his own ethical standards – standards that the rest of us are held to so highly by him. Clearly, these rumors proved to be true—and more.

We all knew John was dating his employees and students. I called him out on that only when I saw it becoming a pattern in which the dynamics of power brought into question issues of consensuality. In fact, at one point, he changed the ethics code in the teacher training manual to make it more permissible for teacher-student romantic relationships.

Business Controls.

I am all for alignment and cooperation. However, Anusara never disclosed in our agreements that we had to follow certain protocols, always agree with John, or conduct business a certain way prior to any training to be certified in the method. When challenged on rules or protocols, John would call us “uncooperative”.

There was a blurring between best business practices and the teacher-student relationship. On the one hand we were held to business controls and standards when convenient, and then those rules would change and be broken which John seemed to justify by being the leader of the kula. So I asked to keep communications regarding business separate from our student-teacher relationship in order to keep the two clear.

However, John replied:

 “To be very clear, I hold the position that a teacher can not be disrespectful to me or not aligned with me and still be licensed to do business as an Anusara yoga teacher. I am both the CEO of Anusara and the leader of the kula, and my ethics in both arenas are the same.” 

In other words, if he opted to unilaterally install a rule (even if it ran afoul of his own licensing agreement) you would be considered disrespectful if you pointed out this fact. This lack of disclosure and subsequent expectation for compliance to ‘protocol’ was not only restrictive, but set the stage for many disappointments and ‘in fighting’ in the community.

The organization’s solution in response to these grievances (from me and others) was to form a business committee. I was not encouraged.

Committees, etc.

It was an honor (at first) to be asked to chair committees and serve the organization. I spent countless hours to help move the brand forward, only to have our recommendations and comments fall on deaf ears. It’s not surprising that new committees were formed with the idea that they might have power.

Here is the vicious cycle of being on a committee in the Anusara organization.

  1. John forms a committee.
  2. The committee may or not have the expertise to handle the task.
  3. The committee member works tirelessly for free, creates a body of work or gives a recommendation.
  4. John does what he wants anyway.
  5. The committee member gets exhausted and gives up.
  6. John claims he had committee support or that he gave members a chance to contribute.

Insular Behavior.

The yoga world is advancing at a rapid pace. When John “invented” Shiva-Shakti tantra, the implications were apparent. Instead of holding an open forum of yoga where diverse spiritualities were welcomed, John began to insist on further “alignment,” meaning we had to buy into his philosophy. The Anusara community became increasingly insular and isolated. 

This is not how we began.

The Anusara agenda has changed, and is now in my estimation informed by the following points:

  1. Self-rationalization of behaviors toward the world
  2. Unresponsive to the world as a whole
  3. Establishing its owns rules, standards, and patterns
  4. Disconnection from society
  5. Required submission to the group versus truly welcoming input
  6. Belief in a healthy self-awareness when isolation is self-confirmation
  7. Unquestioning acquiescence: following blindly
  8. Submission and unconditional loyalty under the guise of gratitude, grace, and “studentship”
  9. People unwilling to be in “alignment” are marginalized within the organization and eventually excluded.

So there comes a point where you have to say “no,” both inwardly and with all the consequences that will follow from a public disavowal.

I can hardly be a role model for students, teachers, or the yoga world if I compromise my values and fail to convey my honest experience.

This is a sad, tragic story. But my choice to leave was a refusal to enable John to continue operating in unhealthy ways. One’s conscience demands that we recognize when complicity compromises our simple sense of decency.

Yoga teaches us to forgive, but it also teaches us to discern.

I’ve learned that to forgive too soon is to exacerbate the problem.

I will be part of the larger yoga community that includes the teachers and students of Anusara. We are members of the same family. If you’re feeling confused or concerned, reach out! Talk to your friends and do the work that you need to empower your understanding.

With love,



About Amy Ippoliti

Amy is a yoga teacher, writer, and philanthropist. She is known for her innovative methods to bridge the gap between ancient yoga wisdom and modern day life. Amy is a pioneer for advanced yoga education serving both students as well as fellow yoga teachers. She co-founded, an online professional development school that has enhanced the skills of yoga teachers and studios in 43 countries around the globe. She has graced the covers of Yoga Journal and Fit Yoga Magazine and has been featured in Yoga International, Self, Origin Magazine, New York Magazine, Yogini Magazine (Japan), Allure (Korea), Elephant Journal,, and many more. Amy is a faculty member at the Omega Institute, Esalen and Kripalu. She is a regular presenter at the Yoga Journal Conferences, Omega Institute Conference, Wanderlust Festivals, and The Hanuman Festival. Since the age of 14 Amy has been a champion of all forms of eco-consciousness, animal conservation and more recent forays into marine conservation. Website: . Hang with Amy on Facebook: AmyIppolitiPage Talk to Amy on Twitter: @Amy-Ippoliti Pin with Amy on Pinterest and share your pics with her on Instagram.


168 Responses to “Bringing My Life Into Perspective: What Matters Most.”

  1. G.C. Aloha says:

    Just what is your agenda, Ragaman Das? Your rude comments sound to me like the attitudes of a person who believes himself to be speaking from on high. How could you possibly purport to know what "all senior teachers" know or knew or what their personal motives are? The senior teachers I know personally are upstanding human beings who live simply and are not out to make big bucks off Anusara but to live authentically, in alignment with what they teach. Your bitterness and readiness to pass judgment on a large number of people–many of whom I imagine you do not even know personally– seem to reveal that you've got some baggage of your own to unpack and dispose of. Just kindly stop dumping it on the rest of us, would you? We've been through enough these past ten days. Namaste.

  2. Alan Starner says:

    Thank-you Amy for speaking the truth. As the light gets shined into the shadow side of Anusara and it’s founder, I think it’s important to realize that the shadow of Anusara did not exist in a vacuum. There must have been enabling behaviors by the staff and senior teachers, and probably many more. As we ask John Friend to self-reflect on his actions, I would also ask for the staff & senior teachers, as well as the whole community, to reflect on their own codependent role in supporting this shadow.

    The shadow is nothing new in human behavior, and exists in the yoga world just as it exists in religion, politics, corporations, and many other places. We can point the finger at John Friend and others, but this ignores the reality that we all have the potential for shadow behavior; it’s part of our human condition. The people who think they are immune are the most vulnerable to doing this themselves. Let us not point fingers, but instead reflect on our shared humanity.

    Although the Anusara shadow is playing out in the macrocosm, there is also the microcosm of our individual consciousness to consider. We ignore our shadow, rationalizing, making excuses and looking the other way until the pain of hiding the shadow outweighs the pain of shining the light of truth into the darkness. To find inner peace, we must embrace our shadow, individually and collectively. What’s happening within Anusara is a great learning experience for anyone paying attention. Let’s not use this as a reason to condemn others, but instead to learn and grow spiritually.

  3. Polo says:

    Dude, reread it. It had to go down like this. She had to regroup, find her voice. And she did.

  4. matt says:

    It seems to me that the teachers who have resigned from Anusara are the ones who have grown big enough in name and fame in the yoga world that they do not need to rely on the Anusara Community of studios to keep their traveling yoga teaching tour schedule fully booked. The ones who are not quite there yet will stay because there is more opportunity for travel-teaching within the Anusara organization than outside the Anusara organization. It's OK to recognize things for what they are. If a teacher does the work and becomes successful they should be able to spread their wings and be entrepreneurial with their skills and talents. They shouldn't be forced to make a choice between being in or out of the organization. Does a teacher have to remain indebted to Anusara if their name and fame in the yoga world was gained through travel-teaching within the community of Anusara studios? Maybe this is what has to be reconciled.

  5. matt says:

    Perhaps John feels that they wouldn't be where they are without him, his teachings and the community he fostered. Maybe the teachers feel that they have paid the price to get to where they are and they should be able to own what they have created. Most disagreements in business arise when both sides feel that they have given too much and gotten too little in return. Perhaps Anusara should be like a University. You can apply, get accepted, pay your tuition, apply yourself, work hard, earn your degree and then after that go and do your thing in the best way you see fit. Some may choose to join the alumni association, go to class reunions and stay involved with their fraternities or sororities, remaining identified with the past. Others may want to just forge ahead in life, continually opening up to the new. Either path should be honored. When the certificate is given, both sides should be even with no strings attached and no expectations of future commitment should be expected.

  6. matt says:

    How could they have let it go on so long? Well, do you realize how much money is being made by all of these teachers who are travling from Anusara studio to Anusara studio, not to mention that money made from training teachers> My goodness, it's no wonder nobody wanted to rock the boat. Most elusive answers can be found by just following the money. Everyone has to pay the mortgage. It's talked about too little in this yoga world and the east and west, business and spirituality, enterprise and philosophy are in dire need of reconciliation. These things do not have to be at odds with each other.

  7. Paulina says:

    Love, sister, from Peru

  8. yoga says:

    Indeed! Follow the money…even Amy admits that (some of ) her impetus to resign was after he backpeddled her product going to market and its branding through Anusara. I also agree that many of those who were highest up knew alot of this and a single intervention hardly suffices in the light of all they were (long before) clued into. But then, have you met Amy??? Seriously..that is one kula-aid drinker…I myself saw her over and again prostrating in John's shadow – I have taken over four trainings with her and she still DOES NOT REMEMBER MY NAME or FACE or that I have practiced for years. Why? I did not plan to study for certification (silly me, I have a job – just loved anusara its support of all I encountered in real life). Amy is transparent now, sure, but all those years up until this she was no different than anyone else riding the current/waves of grace to support her world travel and hanging with the pretty yogi besties. Yech. Maybe she will actually face her own shadows in this, like so many others SHOULD DO, and get a real job, raise a kid and surrender her goddess-dom for the mundane.
    Pretentious…that is what they all are and Amy has modelled it beautifully.

  9. Anne Henrikson says:

    I fail to see the bravery in Amy Ippoliti's posting of her account of events. Anyone can throw gasoline on a fire. Its those who are in the fire, trying to put it out (i.e. the Interim Committee), who should be commended for their bravery and courage. Had Amy come forward at a time when people weren't so ready and willing to hear, I would see it as an act of bravery. To present this information now is entirely self-serving.

  10. Justin Faircloth says:

    Apparently you have not heard the hundreds of voices from concerned and affected people who have pleaded for this level of detail to be brought forward. Uninformed posts are more appropriately called gasoline to a fire, even when the fire is choked.

    Bravo, Amy. Many of us recognize the dangers in coming forward with this level of honesty, openness and truth.

  11. Ragaman Das says:


  12. Ragama Das says:

    I agree. Therefore, I shall disengage your holy suppositions from my memory and point thy saintly nostrils toward the wind of change within the world of American Yoga which, by the way, is not yoga at all. dpstrxr? LMSAO.

  13. Ragaman Das says:

    Yes. Agreed. There are many loving senior teachers. No doubt about that. I know a few of them myself. The only troubling thing all these years is their long-term innocence. So today they have either experienced a rude awakening, or a shock to their sensibilities. The premises of Anusara attracted many genuine and pure spirits, but even these gentle souls have to learn some hard lessons about life. Cautionary tale for kids: stay away from any organization that begins to smell like a cult; especially if they have a large following and pay homage to a single Fuhrer…sorry! I meant to say Friend.

    Oh, yes. I do have an agenda.
    Short term: To shed light on past, present and future foulups within the Friendly American Yoga, Inc. community and beyond. It is our collective hope that Yoga, Inc. will stop putting yoga in a box for sale at a premium. Remember: yoga was by voluntary donation in India, until we Western yogis came onto the scene.

    Long term: To encourage all Friendly gurus to cease and desist, don a loin cloth and move to a cave where they can't create mini-empires and effect spiritual hiccups throughout the spirit world.

    No rude comments. Only humor, albeit sardonic, and reflection for the sake of encouraging change. No speaking from "on high" as you so succinctly expressed the supposition. There is no bitterness here either. Only first-hand experience and direct observation. All senior Anusara teachers had a chance to bail out as far back as 2006/2007, if not as far back as 1999. So whatever defensive arguments can be presented in support of prolonging a departure, they must be weighed against whatever had been swept under the rug back in the good ole days of Friendship. JF rubbed many people the wrong way and they ended their association with him as soon as possible. Long-term teachers were unfortunately caught in a conundrum between ethics, devotion and practice.

    And to all the Friends out there in the yoga world: cease your nonsense! Ragaman Das is watching! It is my mission to expose and dissolve your nonsense as it exists and before you exist. Caveat!

  14. Helhest says:

    WAYLON ….. i wanna know what Kali said. WHY must you delete/edit/whitewash? Please stop Waylon. Please …. I just started reading you again. 🙂

  15. Steven says:

    I came here researching Anusara Yoga. Thanks for the insight.

  16. SQR says:

    Two of the things Kali said appear at the top of my comment

  17. Harriet says:

    Anne, you need to go back and check your dates. Amy was one of a very few who had the guts to speak up . You appear to be the uninformed here.

  18. Harriet says:

    I hate stupid people

  19. Doug says:

    Hi Scott,

    The truth is that I have spoken up over the years, and paid a price for it as well. And the Anusara people have been successful enough in marginalizing my voice, so you really haven’t heard anything of what I have had to say. I do not blame you for that at all.

    I have indeed been critical over the years, though I did not know of the worst offenses that have come to light (I only came to know of the sexual charges in the last few months, and have long been wondering how long it would take for this to come out). For the criticisms I have made in the past, I have been largely shunned by the community and blacklisted by Anusara studios. A specific group of people was assigned to closely follow my every statement in blogs and on Facebook (which I progressively discovered after the fact) and they would immediately denounce every criticism and even rather tame jokes and accuse me of “hate speech” and worse as well as suggest that I had a personality disorder. Just a couple of months ago I asked, in a comment on the EJ interview with JF about the first departures of Christina et al, why there was no follow-up question on Anusara philosophy. My comment was labelled by Anusara commenters as ‘controversial’ and ‘inflammatory’, and a studio in Brooklyn was pressured to cancel my workshop.

    JF himself spoke to one prominent studio owner in Europe and urged her to stop employing me in their trainings because I had “mental problems.” The studio owner chose not to listen to him, and ceased to invite or support him. I continue to teach in their program.

    I did not leave because of issues related to the current state of affairs, because they were not known to me. But there were seeds of that behavior evident in the way he handled his certification system and business dealings at the time, as well as traits in the way in which he handled those who did not fully ‘align’ with him that did not bode well, and I voiced my disagreement with how such things were being handled. For more on those issues and the challenges of addressing those issues with him, Any’s letter is quite specific and accurate.


  20. Doug says:

    I too experienced many of the same difficulties that Darren did with regard to rights to my own work. If I wanted to ‘remain’ with Anusara, I had to stop producing ALL of my books and submit to a retraining with a certified teacher to bring me back into alignment. And it was quite evident that the path back to his good graces would have been far more difficult than that ultimatum made it seem. That was reason enough to just let it go.
    All this and more happened AFTER I left Anusara, and was no longer in a position to make any claims I could substantiate from being on the “inside.”

    Within the past year, a longstanding Anusara teacher in the midwest was decertified simply for the crime of associating with me, and helping to promote one of my workshops. The action of decertification came directly from JF, and teachers in her area seriously badmouthed her (for instance, one in particular accused her of physically and emotionally abusing her students. I have that accusation in writing, though I will spare the accuser of that embarrassment at this point. She has enough embarrassment to deal with already.)

    So I have indeed been critical and have largely been unheard except by those who carried the same suspicions (and thus only preaching to the choir). I largely dropped being critical through blogs, etc. because it was a fool’s errand.

    I never made such criticisms directly in workshops because that is not what people in the workshops are paying for: they come to learn yoga, not to hear complaints.

    In sum, I have been rather successfully demonized for a good number of people within the insular Anusara community, while the majority ‘outside’ honestly don’t care because they don’t know or care about Anusara. And those who were involved in Anusara but harbored doubts were encouraged to have no contact with me, and not to believe a word I say.


  21. Doug says:

    So it does lead me to ask, until this whole thing broke, what more would you have had me do, beyond continuing to teach and study, and try to set a different example of being a yoga teacher? I had been successfully discredited as the messenger and had nothing compelling to offer against the firestorm I invited any time I opened my mouth.

    I do believe it had to come to this, because even a week ago these ‘accusations’ were being loudly denounced as gossip, slander and lies, even libelous claims that should be prosecuted under the law.

    I hope that clarifies things somewhat. As a teacher I’ve done fine since Anusara, through my own hard work and without association with any brand or style. The world of yoga is far bigger than any brand or style, as many who are leaving Anusara will progressively discover. And I wish them well, and welcome them to freedom. This includes those who previously denounced me for suggesting what they now know to be true.

    It would be a rather bitter irony that, after years of taking heat for speaking up — and being ignored — I should now be criticized for having said nothing at all.

    Your question is indeed important, and I'm glad you asked it, giving me the opportunity to answer — for myself, at least.

  22. Rustin says:

    Actually, if you read the introduction of the DSM, and Instructions for Use, it clearly states that you cannot make an a diagnosis like that unless 1) symptoms cannot be accounted for by a substance use disorder (cannabis abuse or dependence seems to be a good bet here) and that the maladaptive behavior must be long standing – from early adulthood. Borderline or narcissistic traits are possible, but disorder – probably not. Also, although one can make discuss a persons problems, it is wholly inappropriate to make a diagnosis without a history and mental status examination. After that is done, the diagnosis is between him and his doctor.
    I hope he gets help. I doubt that name calling will increase the probability of that happening.
    Many open hearted and trusting people put their faith in Anusara and John. If he turns it over (as any sane person would do in this situation) Anusara may survive. If not – who knows.
    I feel the pain of those who have invested so much – predicated on trust. Relationships are established on trust, they are like the foundation of an Asana, firm feet. When trust is betrayed, it is like a rug being pulled from under.
    I did an Anusara class tonight, not because it is my primary practice but because when anyone in the yoga community suffers – we all do. The urge to judge is intense and I feel it too. Accepting him as he is does not mean endorsing his behavior.
    I am doing my best to relax into the edge of this situation – and not enjoy someone else's disaster

  23. Daniella Cotreau says:

    Wow. Thanks Amy. Your last comment of "I’ve learned that to forgive too soon is to exacerbate the problem." really stuck with me. Sitting with that one in my own life. I honor your courage and your discerning stance to walk with integrity in your own values. Thank Goddess! Bless you Lady! xoxo

  24. Melissa says:

    At least and at last you get the chance to state your experience!
    I had the privilege of studying with you on several occasions in S. Florida, and witnessed/ experienced the Anusara community's reaction to the workshop. Funny how John always seemed to pop up at the last minute with a "once in a lifetime" workshop on the same weekend.
    I hope to study with you again someday soon.

  25. Will Duprey says:

    May all your futures teachers create a relationship that lightens as it tightens! Thanks for sharing this.

  26. Peter says:

    Wow, so she is a senior yoga teacher? She just comes across as bitter that John is more greedy than she is. Whatever. Yoga doesn't need to be branded, merchandised ,or incorporated. You are a fraud, snake oil sales person.

  27. John says:

    Amy thank you for telling your side. Can you please let me know how I can spend more money with you. Making money is clearly the only reason you teach, I mean sell yoga.

  28. […] per comprendere meglio, il punto di vista di Amy Ippoliti, una ex insegnante di Anusara Yoga, che ha dato recentemente le dimissioni dall’organizzazione proprio per divergenze etiche e […]

  29. maurice says:

    Thank you Amy for insight into the questionable business practices of Anusara Inc.

    My wife is an certified teacher and I’ve never understood how John is able to extract so much voluntary effort and good will from her without offering any financial compensation. To now learn of the controlling efforts over how you see fit to run your own business is even more disturbing.

    Congratulations! You are now free of those shackles. No one ownes you anymore. You are now free to embrace all that is good of the Anusara methodology without being under Johns thumb.

    Good luck in all your future endeavors!

  30. Johnson says:

    There is an underlying sense of "ownership" John exhibits with his teachers. Amy reminds us they are not employees of Anusara Inc. The manipulation of it's followers feeds into the "Guru" persona status that he has assumed over the years-despite his effort to now deny it exists.

  31. Johnson says:

    I don't think so. Its not all about money but what is ethical or legal in what a teacher can do to regulates someone,'s business. John has abused of authority here. If anyone is focused on $ it is JF. I'm curious how much he makes a year.

  32. maurice says:

    Not quite. Anusara is an excellent methodology involving the most rigorous method of teacher training. The community exists within its practice and path towards certification among all students and teachers. Unfortunately, it has evolved from a training method into a business controlled by a greedy "guru" that takes advantage of its teachers.

  33. Maurice says:

    You are missing the point Marko. She tried everything any responsible person would do; from speaking to John directly to chairing a committee to reform Anusara Inc. The committee system turned out to be a sham. In the end EVERYTHING requires JF's blessing anyway. What a waste of time for her.

  34. Maurice says:

    Amy just blew the lid off this whole organization. Anyone who knows Amy knows she's a level headed person with tons of integrity. My sympathies go out to all those students and teachers who are struggling to come to terms with this betrayal. It may be easier to deny what has come out than to see the truth in it all.
    Anusara seems to have started out with vision of integrity and the technical principles remain solid. The leadership has unfortunately alowed it to devolve into a close minded organization incapable of accepting any alternative ideas and certainly incapable of reforming itself.
    Bravo for your efforts Amy! You did all you could before resigning.

  35. maurice says:

    Can anyone comment on what is in this licensing agreement? Amy was vague in what she was objecting to.

  36. maurice says:

    Ironically, there is no business relationship here. The teachers are not employed by Anusara Inc. The Anusara website promotes the teacher events (that Anusara sanctions) but that's it. The teachers are not only implicitly promoting Anusara Inc inteaching it, they also pay annual dues to keep the license active (which seems crazy to me). Im an architect and pay the State licensing board an annual fee to renew my license (not my my professor or former boss). What a sham!

  37. Amy is a Hero says:

    Amy thank you for offering your authentic reasons for leaving. It takes great courage to for the people who have spent thousands and thousands of dollars, countless hours of devotion, made their life’s-circles surounded by kula-people…. and this scandal is destroying their world.

    John Friend is personally responsible for flagrantly flushing the whole system down the toilet. He is the sole proprietorship of a corporation that has no accountability. No share holders, no one to keep his power in check (congress senate president).

    It is not surprising that he used his Merry Minstrel Mogul Mischief for his own personal Pan Bachanal. Pagans are a lusty raucus bunch. Not surprising that he weaved a spell of mystery (shri!) around him and garnered power, money and fame.

    I think everyone is shocked that the truth was so thoroughly revealed to render him powerless to the internet, which he used to create his empire. Live by the sword, die by the sword. You can’t have it both ways. When you write your own ethics, and hold other people accountable to them, you had better be behaving by them or you will be accountable to a much greater source (in this case, the world at large).

    Anyone that represents Anusara is representing corrupt politics. Becaused of the two faced propaganda of the founder, Anusara is no longer a philosophy, instead it is a marketing tool designed to hook you in and make you feel part of a club. How can any student trust their teacher who labels themselves with a Scarlett A?

    I feel bad for all of the teachers who are staying because they are loyal to the system. If the teachings are so powerful, they will survive a great fall and be communicated in a way that is understood by the teachers and students; not creating a catchy-all method that is designed to create followers who brand themselves as special because “it works”.

    They are not being loyal to anyone but John Friend. Was he loyal to you when made you sign your license that limits your yoga and your teachings? Who did that serve? It created a house of cards that he personally has toppled with seemingly little or no remorse or accountability (as evidenced by him teaching his Tantra of relationships in Miami after his committee advised him not to, he still has to take the stage and see who his true followers really are).

    There is no doubt that there are awesome teachers in the aforementioned and soon to be a dirty word method. My wish is for each one of them to look inside themselves and be Dorothy at the end of the Wizard of Oz who has been listening to the tricks and illusions from the Man Behind the Curtain who turns out to not have any of the answers.

    The great teachers are still great teachers as evidenced by their integrity and willingness to walk away from a train wreck created by Chief Engineer John Friend. He did this to himself. This is not blame, this is fact.

    Dorothy looks inside of herself and found out it was she who had the power. Please teachers, students, and followers of JF, tear down the wall, look behind the curtain, check your 3rd eye and realize that you already have it all, and you don’t need him or anyone else to label you fit enough to teach what you already know based upon your own exploration and passion for the beauty and wonderment of Yoga.

  38. Maurice says:

    Great comments! The insight Amy has provided is hard to accept but very enlightening into the currupt nature of this company and its leader. It is most painful for the teachers to come to terms with the betrayal of the high values instilled by it's leader. The "cult like" following that emergerged years ago Helped encourage the abuse of power in it's leadership. As a student I admit to drinking the koolaid wholeheatedly without first investigating what I was really signing on to. i will forever retain more skepticism after being duped. I hope the restructuring process is truly meaningful and gets back to it's roots as an elite "school of yoga". That is what the community should be based on "integrity and high level of expertise in teaching" nothing more. Once a teacher is certified, that teacher should free to teach with no further financial obligation to its founder. The supreme leader, "guru" persona that the founder has assumed should be abandoned now. John needs to take a more "silent role" in the future and abandon the high pedestal he once happily occupied. Unfortunately, I fear, his gigantic ego, (which we are all culpable of helping to create) will likely prevent this from happening.

  39. Baffled2 says:

    Baffled – you read my mind! Are you my guru. Seriously, John Friend was up front when he said his Guru was "Gurumayi" Chidvilasananda. That was my first clue. I liked the asana practice at the one anusara workshop I attended but the sycophantic atmosphere was too much to return to. I don't think this is about one man's abuse of power — it's about a community dynamic that a lot of people seeking tantric enlightenment involve themselves with.

  40. myriamsofialluria says:

    YIKES!!!!! Love you Amy….always!!

  41. […] I think he needs what I think John Friend needs: tough love. As Amy Ippoliti writes in a statement explaining her departure from Anusara: sometimes the best way to hold someone […]

  42. Ragaman Das says:

    Both spiritual and image-oriented cults rely on young, open, innocent, trusting, unquestioning hearts and minds. Perhaps I may agree with your sophomiric adherence to a scholastic definition of a cult. So to facilitate the argument let's not call the U.S.S. Friendship a cult. Let's simply call it what it actually is, was and will continue to be: sycophancy.

    It is only human nature to protect one's livelihood, even if it is being slowly withered away at the very core. But must we allow it to also compromise and erode our personal principles? We can take it for granted that Friendship, Inc. senior teachers and disassociated former associates were put in a tight bind in 2012. However, by that point in time, the rooster has crowed more than three times for each of these folks.

    Friendly arrogance existed before Anusara became a gleam in the lusty eye of its founder. Dating back to early the early part of the 2000 decade, there were already Friendly red flags popping up all over the place. Intelligent people who came into contact with everyone's Friend noticed the vibe right away and backed off. Some of us wondered why others would remain and continue to enable his arrogance.

    Back in the day, our amigo's privy staff would dismiss his Friendly antics with a quaint, albeit cautious, "That's John!" Aw! How sweet and forgiving is that? And the word of the day was to keep everything hush, hush because our Friend controlled the purse strings. It is well-documented that Jim Jones was protected by his ethically confused sycophants. But enablers are people too. When you have a good thing going, why rock the boat? Right? Even when ethics go out the window. After all, karma yoga gets you free classes and discounts on an already overpriced product line. Right?

    What we have witnessed in the Friendly greater yoga orb this year is no different from what is happening in the smaller satellites popping up all over the place nowadays. We Americans have corrupted yoga in every which way, shape and form. One misshape is to create branding. Not only is this a ridiculous notion, but it's now akin to the practices of your standard, run-of-the-mill neighborhood cult, be it saintly, satanic, or Friendly. It is well-documented that everyone's favorite Fuhrer used scientific marketing tactics to win over a single-minded following. Our Friend is no different. All the elements of a well-calculated marketing scheme were already in place back in 1999 and they began to surge again in 2003. With growth comes greater restrictions, greater totalitarianism and stricter apostle management. From this perspective, Human Resources takes on a whole different meaning.

    Unfortunately, today we see a yoga studio popping up on every corner of major cities. Some small towns now have not one, but two, maybe even three, yoga studios within less than a square mile. All completely pre-packaged business enterprises comprised with Karma Yoga and other opportunistic business practices designed to exploit without adequate compensation. Now that's some serious Cha Ching!!!! Especially since the national business and consumer statistics tell us that the health and wellness industry is a multi-billion dollar business. Whew! Who wouldn't want a cut of that fluffy cheese? But in order to compete, one must now remold and reshape an ancient practice into a marketable package. Anusara followed that path. In doing so, it inevitably discovered cultish practices all on its own. Kudos for that!

    Any time you tap into the hearts and minds of a community, you inadvertently find yourself formulation rules, regulations and marketing formats. Yoga, in all its purity, is ripe for abuse by our capitalistic minds. It's much worse if we infuse our marketing projects with a personal agenda.

    On the flip side, the capitalistic approach to yoga has been beneficial to society as a whole. While the popularization of yoga has brought a beneficial notoriety to bad eggs, it has also begun to penetrate the general cultural landscape…at a price. There is now a cultural hunger for yoga and its practices. This fact alone paves the way from many unqualified and inexperienced charlatans who managed to acquire one of the many official certifications that are given out like cant nowadays. You can't blame a yoga studio for turning towards this marketing gimmick. For some studios, certification provides the primary source of income AND profits. Why sacrifice your cash cow? Studios churn out student after student. The savvier ones, not necessarily the most ethical, branch out on their own and quickly open up a Friendly neighborhood studio.

  43. Ragaman Das says:

    Let's seek to keep it that way. The Anusara clan has learned a highly valuable and vital lesson. This is what I propose for all of them, if they wish to survive as instructors and if they deeply desire to lighten the stain now born by all of yoga:

    1. Stop apologizing and move on as an individual instructors. Many of you have genuinely developed strong practices.
    2. Stop associating with and using the name Anusara, its symbolism and metaphors, as a teaching mantra.
    3. Stop seeking a following. Just simply stop. Be content with one, or two students (metaphorically speaking). Continue seeking a large client base and you will soon find yourself managing a cadre of sycophantic apostles.
    4. Give up marketing practices based on Anu$aran principles. But may be easier said than done, considering the fact that our Friend laid down many delectable formats for a profitable business.

    Present and Future yoga Friends beware! Ragaman Das is watching! Caveat!

  44. Ragaman Das says:

    Cha Ching!!!!! Would you like evidence to see what the senior Anusara teachers were holding out for? Why were they protecting and enabling their Friend? From whence the silence of the lambs? Here's a video recorded and narrated by everyone's yoga Friend. Posted on YouTube on April 23, 2011. Lest you think that Om namah Shivaya!

    Perhaps the development plans for Anusaraland were one of the motivating forces behind the revelations by the "disgruntled I.T. guy" who finally exposed the nonsense (?)

    Hurry and view before it is removed. The legend reads:
    "Encinitas, California is the fountainhead for yoga in North America. Find out how this magical coastal town has drawn yogis from all over the world for nearly a century, and why Anusara yoga founder John Friend is realizing a lifelong dream of making it home. Look out for a new Encinitas landmark, The Center for Anusara yoga opening this Fall!"

  45. Ragaman Das says:

    Good yoga instructors are a dime a dozen in America.
    Authentic yogis in the world can be counted on two fingers and are found in caves.
    The only genuine yogi is an impoverished yogi living the precepts and who has renounced the world as we know it.

    Here is the reason:
    When it comes to yoga, clients respond to vibe, buzz, culture and the physical practice. Despite what any yoga studio owner may profess, genuine yoga would scare the masses. It would be highly unpopular due to its seemingly exotic, albeit simplistic, nature. The nature of authentic yoga highly contradicts our Western way of life. Let THAT statement be the opening for the beneficial and life affirming dialogue we have been yearning for in our materialistic society. Yoga, Inc. exploits the mass appeal of yoga through a highly crafted marketing plan filled with the right vibe, buzz and culture. There's no law against that. There's nothing to prevent you from creating an empire. Just don't call it yoga, because what you are doing is running a business that has nothing to do with yoga.

    Incidentally, the Friend YouTube video ( panders, caters and condescends to our sensibilities and desires for spiritual fulfillment by encouraging us to become "Our Most Spritually Expansive & Adventurous Selves." Oh! I'm sorry! I should translate that for the innocent mind: "Our Mo$t $piritually Expan$ive & Adventurou$ $elve$"

    Let the name Anusara die out. Quick! You might as well notch off the name Anu$ara before someone else snatches, brands, TMs, copyrights, or patents it.

  46. Louanne says:

    The first time I meet John he was assisting Mary Dunn at featherpipe, circa 1991. He spent a lot of time working with me since I had recently had my hip replaced. I watched John rise as both a student and friend and watched him change as well. For me, the change started at an Inner Harmony teachers training when I witnessed the students misplacing their love of yoga with their love of John. Several of the teachers that have become prominent in Anusara had a hand in placing John on that pedestal. One that he clearly could not handle. I tried to warn John at the time that he needed to deflect their "worship" of him, but it was clear that it feed a place in his heart that had been wounded. I quietly began to separate from Anusara; that was about 14 yrs ago. It saddens me to see how far off the path this brilliant teacher has gone, but let it be a reminder to all of us that our teachers are only human and never give you power away.

  47. […] Bringing My Life Into Perspective: What Matters Most. […]

  48. SMC says:

    At a teacher's gathering in 2000, I raised my hand and asked John what happened if anyone broke the rules after signing the thick sheaf of the Aunsara teachers agreement. He said, "oh, don't worry! I like you!"
    I tried again- was he going to appoint an ethics committee to over see things? Oh no, we don't need that! We are all friends!
    I couldn't sign on the dotted line. I had studied with John since before Anusara had a name, but I sure didn't think that a school/community of yoga should only have one leader. Amy, thanks for your words.