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February 16, 2012

Leaving Anusara.

This has been the longest time I have gone without publishing a piece of writing in over two years. I kept trying to write this piece and that piece, and frankly, I have  pages of fabulously rich notes, scribbles, and thoughts to play with at some point. What has prevented me from drawing them coherently into an interesting piece of writing has been the bottom falling out of a central component of my life, namely Anusara Yoga. If you’re reading this, you know the rough outline of what has happened or perhaps you know the gritty details or the hints and shadows of them. In any case, every time I attempted to develop a piece of writing for the past few weeks, it felt forced, stilted, beside the point.

I realized tonight, as I wrote my resignation letter, that this would be a purging of blocked words, a letting go of things so that I could clear the way for new words to come, new ways of thinking to coalesce. And as I type this now, I feel relieved, renewed. I am creating instead of leaving, forming instead of dissolving. I’m entering the upswing of a new cycle.

The following is my letter to my community. Some people will like that I published it here and others will not. I wrote a piece here last year in which I spoke about the need to smash apart the old to begin again, and so this is what I’ve done. This is the way I need to deal with it to feel complete. Putting something into words makes it feel real to me. It seals the commitment. To those of you I love who are staying and those I love who have left, I hope it’s ok with you all. It’s the best I have to offer at the moment.

Chidambaram OM

Dear Friends,

This evening I came to a calm, yet profoundly sad decision to end my business affiliation with Anusara Yoga. This has been a painful process for me, involving the same anxiety, sleeplessness, and tears that so many of you are also experiencing. I love our system of asana and believe it to be the most elegant and intelligent one out there. I deeply love and admire our community as well, and for over ten years now I have been in a continual state of wonderment over the ocean of talent, intellect, and creativity that I have encountered in Anusara teachers and students. I cannot imagine my life without it and without all of you.

Furthermore, and the toughest point in all of this, is that I truly love, admire, and respect John. He has been supportive of me in many ways, and his teaching has helped me to heal when I was going through a couple of tough times. He has changed my life for the better. I am amazed at what he created, and I am forever grateful.

After several days of emotional turmoil, I realized that I was resisting leaving because of my deep love for the practice and for our community. The problem was, I had fallen out of love with the organization. Did you ever end a relationship because you and the other person were playing with different rulebooks? This is what I’m talking about. And this is why I have to leave.

I would like to be very clear. My resignation is a painful and carefully thought-out decision. It is a decision whose roots are in thoughts, feelings, and experiences that I’ve had over a few years. The events and revelations of the past couple of weeks have sealed it, but that tiny seed of thought indicating my eventual departure has been gestating for a while.

I pulled away from the initial cascade of resignations that began Sunday, feeling that I did not want to make a major life decision quickly, simply because so many of my close friends had left. What is necessary for me in any major life event is to get quiet, to make sure that I am in a thoughtful and grounded place, and to act from that place with informed certainty. I wrote, I meditated, I taught, I spoke with friends and family, and I’m in that place right now.

My reasons for leaving are rooted in my belief that an organization cannot successfully and healthily exist when one person has control over so many. I have felt like a bit of an outlier in the past few years because I have resisted some of Anusara’s philosophical underpinnings, specifically the Shiva-Shakti Primer. I have also disagreed with some of its financial initiatives, such as the 10% dues we are asked to pay on yoga products, when so many of us can barely make a living.

I have not felt empowered to publicly contest either of these policies without potentially damaging my career within Anusara, Inc., and that is a huge problem. I am a person who once spent six months on a picket line at the Museum of Modern Art fighting for my rights, and for me to feel, at this point in my life, that I can’t voice my dissent is not healthy. A silently fuming person is not the person who I wish to be. A person who says one thing and then does another is also not who I want to be. I believe in boundaries but I don’t believe in constraints. There is a difference. In addition, I feel that there has been a culture of fear and secrecy that is the opposite of the transparency I embrace. There are far too many moments for me to cite here, but I welcome anyone’s questions for clarification. This is about my personal integrity and about how I want to move through the world.

I am still a certified Anusara Yoga teacher, although I will be relinquishing my license. I will fulfill the teaching commitments that I have planned in the next few months that offer credit hours to those attending.

There is no other style of asana I wish to teach. I firmly believe that this brilliant alignment system is the best there is out there. I will continue to teach exactly how I teach right now. I will honor all that I have learned from John and from everyone, both teachers and students, who have been with me through this wild and beautiful ride. I love you all. Thank you. I’ll see you on the other side.

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.

– Rumi

With Love and Gratitude,

Susanna

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