February 16, 2012

Crossroads: My Experience with Anusara So Far. ~ Dianne Bondy

I was first introduced to Anusara Yoga by a spectacular teacher named Sara Davidson Flanders in my 200 hour teacher training. Her experience and teaching forever changed the path of my life. It was incredible. I ended up studying with former certified teacher Katherine Schaefer. I never started off wanting to be an Anusara teacher until I met John for the first time in Toronto. I was mesmerized. His charisma was out of this world. All the eyeballs and ears in that room were riveted to every word he spoke and move he made. Even though I “drank the Kool-Aid” at that event, I was concerned about the blind faith of the Kula. It made me nervous to see so many WORSHIPPING one person so intently.

I always noticed a sense of jealousy between teachers when he paid too much attention to any one person. One of my teachers was forced to resign after being hurt by John at a Detroit workshop. He embarrassed her in front of the group. She wanted to take a class with another teacher he did not approve of. It was a real mess. He returned to Detroit a year later to make amends but it was too late. She ended up leaving. I talked with him about it. I was really sad. I told him how I felt. He centered an entire class on me. One part of me felt thrilled, the other felt confused. Was he showering me with attention because he wanted me to stay in Anusara, or because he wanted me to defend him to my teacher? Something felt a little like High School politics.

There was lots of jealousy from others and I secretly revelled in it. We all wanted his attention. This is so dangerous.

I slowly started losing my cult-like devotion to Anusara over the past year. I love the system of yoga, and the philosophy rocks my world. I have tried to connect with other Certified Teachers in my area but I don’t have the same fit as my original teacher. I travel to Michigan from Windsor because I am the only Anusara person in my area. I love the Michigan teachers but it is not the same. I decided to connect with national teachers and I LOVE my girl Amy Ippoliti. I went to study with her, Darren Rhodes and Christina Frosolono Sell last May. I was hoping to reconnect to ANUSARA after a difficult time. It did not really work for me, and now they have all resigned. Was it a sign from the Universe? All my teachers have moved on. I am wondering what the next step is for me.

Will all this change really be sincere? Is he really sorry, or sorry he got caught? Will change really happen or will John be influencing/manipulating the committee he appointed? After all, this is his inner elite circle, right? Does he still hold all the power and have all the final decisions? Will we lowly Anusara Inspired teachers get any credit or representation? We too have all made a significant financial investment and created growth in the Anusara community.

Now it is a waiting game …mostly because I already paid my dues for this year! I am at a crossroads. I am not a lemming. I am watching with a critical eye to see what happens; but I will not continue to be manipulated. I am looking forward with an eye of discernment…

This article was prepared by Assistant Yoga Editor, Soumyajeet Chattaraj.

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Tanya Lee Markul Feb 17, 2012 4:37am

Thank you Dianne! Do you think it's possible for the Anusara tradition to continue without John? Why not continue the practice as you know it, teaching through your experience?

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Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
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Jane Feb 16, 2012 7:07pm

Beautiful letter Dianne. Thank you.

FREE Feb 16, 2012 12:34pm

OMG! I thought you were speaking about my experience in the second paragraph!!! I was a certified Anusara teacher and the same thing happened to me. I was asked to resign because I JUST MENTIONED to the senior Anusara teacher in town that I wanted to check out the teachings of another teacher. For years now I have been thinking I was the only one he treated so disrespectfully! Seems to me now that it permiated the whole system like a cancer. I really admire the integrity of the senior teachers that have left and are taking responsibility for participating in this game. At this point I will have absolutely NO respect for any senior teacher that decides to stay and continue this game.

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Dianne Bondy

Dianne is an E-RYT 500 the founder of Yogasteya.com, and Co-founder of Yoga for All Online Teacher Training yogaforalltraining.com. She loves to educate, share, celebrate yoga and diversity and is a contributing author for Yoga and Body Image: A New anthology.

She is also featured in Yes Yoga Has Curves and Yoga Journal. She is a columnist for the Elephant Journal, loves public speaking, runs yoga retreats, trains yoga teachers, has a devoted husband, two small boys and not enough sleep. Dianne is big, black, bold and loves all things yoga.

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