Ross Rayburn of Anusara Yoga: Where I Stand.

Via elephant journal
on Feb 12, 2012
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Update from Ross.

Update: a new conversation re today’s Anusara Yoga Teachers’ Exodus, etc.

Editor’s Note: We have invited two yoga teachers who just decided to leave the Anusara Community to share their letters, already published on Facebook, here as well. We’re not partisan in this matter, our only goal is to offer an uplifted, constructive forum for honesty and healing and then, and only then, moving forward. ~ ed.

Dear Friends of the Anusara Community,

I’m writing from Indonesia where the bright sun is reminding me that this too shall pass.

This morning (Indonesia time) I recommended to John he take a break from teaching for a time of reflection following the Miami workshop and for a significant period of time. I believe this would serve him and the community.

He agreed.

There are, however, respected friends of mine who have or will soon decide that the allegations against John Friend are such that they can no longer have their name associated with him. I understand why they need to make that choice. Like them, I’ve been struggling with what to do.

Firstly, let me state my gratitude for all John has taught me. Even so, I’ve tried to have unbiased, even hypercritical eyes this past week due to the gravity of the situation and my own possible blind spots. I’ve asked him uncomfortable things in order to get to the truth.

But Anusara Yoga is bigger than John Friend.

He’s made mistakes, but I am standing by him since he’s given me his assurance he is retreating from the seat of the teacher and with the help of spiritual and professional guidance go into a period of self-reflection to understand the issues which precipitated his moral violations.

I believe the global Anusara Yoga community, will continue to benefit from the Universal Principles of Alignment, irrespective of this crisis.

My choice is to stand by John as he steps back. My goal will be to teach yoga and do what’s necessary to help pick up the pieces, along with those who will help me do so. There are doubts we can actually change things, but I’m willing to try.

Also, I believe all the organizational issues with the Anusara structure can be fixed, including corporate restructuring.

If John stands by his word, I will stand by him.

I recognize reasonable people will disagree about what Anusara Yoga and its moral core are. And I understand the tendency of people to generalize; still I have always believed as long as Anusara Yoga remains about principles and not dogma, there is room for me.

John’s behavior and Anusara Yoga are closely associated and that might be as bad as dogma. But I choose to stay until John has a chance to retreat and there is space for the changes to occur.

Like all of us, I have benefitted from Anusara Yoga and I don’t want to step away, when the good is veiled and it seems dark.

To those on the outside looking in: Whether you think this is about justice or truth, everyone agrees yoga, and yoga leaders should be a positive force in the world. Anusara Yoga is. Please give us time to fix our house.

Ross Rayburn‘s overriding philosophy is that our hearts and our world are places of such abundance, yet we as yogis must work everyday remembering how much light there is not only for our own happiness but also the joy so desperately needed by our friends and neighbors.  May we all know this abundance so that we never hold back our resplendent light.


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26 Responses to “Ross Rayburn of Anusara Yoga: Where I Stand.

  1. Don't throw the teachings out with the teacher. I really respect that. And I love that you have asked John to step down for awhile it makes so much sense. As a woman I've been a bit disturbed by the almost "ooops my bad" attitude and hope he gets help and offers retribution and begs forgiveness — that he eventually receive it but that he earns it.

  2. Team YogaDork says:

    Lol @ the disclaimer above. I'll believe it when I see it. For now, EJ remains the propaganda arm of the John Friend empire.

  3. KAT says:

    Noah Maze and Bernadette Birney resigned today .

  4. Ben_Ralston says:

    And yet here you are…

  5. Team YogaDork says:

    Here I am. It's become quite obvious that EJ has no desire to present balanced coverage of this story. Until they show an ability to do so, those of us interested in truth and accountability have an obligation to call EJ, Waylon, and whoever else on their unwillingness to confront the more painful aspects of this tragedy. The answer to wrong is not to walk away but to confront

  6. Team YogaDork says:

    And I wrote all of this before reading the latest round of resignations. If it is true that JF used "sexual therapy" to “sexual therapy” to “heal” students of their “trauma,” he should go to jail.

  7. elephantjournal says:

    Hmmmm. We've published three or four criticisms in just the last 32 hours. But perhaps it's easier to insult than look into your concerns in depth.

    My interview questions were straight up–the first one being, why should anyone give a shit what you say here given that you lied to me last time about why senior teachers were leaving? Doesn't seem like I'm very good at being a sycophant, if you look at what I've been doing, instead of your prejudgement.

    As Carol (one of your colleagues and friends) acknowledged in a comment, I asked him direct questions, got some good new info, the first time he'd directly admitted to affairs…and otherwise didn't receive entirely straight answers. I was not offered a true back and forth, which would have helped my goal of transparency and fairness, not just one or the other.

    The answers aren't up to me, and given the rumor-mongering hatefest that's going on…I'm just trying (and obviously failing) to raise the level of gossip into useful discourse. I have zero interest in protecting anyone…rather I'd just like to protect the conversation and the process, so that we might actually learn from this and not repeat it. As many have mentioned, we've seen similar sex scandals in a half dozen communities, including in my own Buddhist community. I've written about that honestly and openly on this site, too.

    As I have said many times, I like and respect you and your writing, but do not admire sharing info before it's confirmed. That was my only reservation. As for reporting the errors of John's ways, we've done so and will continue to host pro and con points of view.


    Waylon Lewis

    PS: I'd also like to point out that I haven't been leaving potshots on your blog. The only comment I ever left was an in-depth explanation in response to your three or four public insults toward elephant in one day, comments you left in the heat of the moment I understand.

    PPS: why do you prefer anonymity?

  8. elephantjournal says:

    Yup. We reported that earlier. Seems like the first joy I've seen online in some days…some relief that things are becoming clearer.

    I've invited them both to share their stories here…despite being "the propaganda wing of John Friend"..!

  9. elephantjournal says:

    Here's one article, with criticism:
    here's another similar:
    here's another:
    here's my interview, with lots of tough questions (reread them before you scoff, not one of them is close to indirect or easy, though I readily admit to trying to frame the context of the tough questions in an open, fair, kind manner):

    I also reported on and broke the news about my friend Amy's resignation, and Elena's, Darren's, Christina's. We're ignoring nothing, here. I think you, blinded perhaps by your own style, which is your own…mistake fairness for support. The only thing we support is getting after the truth. Also, I do not enjoy going after blame…what I enjoy is seeing things as they are, or trying to—and then and only then figuring out how to move forward.



  10. elephantjournal says:

    "It’s an old story, not exclusive to Yoga. Each time it is repeated, real people suffer real harm."

    Scott Newsom:

  11. aheartpractice says:

    I would imagine this is someone trying to stir up problems by posting as "YogaDork" just as someone is trying to stir up problems there by posting as "Waylon." Oh, internetz, you're crazy! 🙂

    Of course, if I'm wrong, I apologize.

  12. yogadork says:

    hey guys. while the 'team yd' is a supportive gesture of the work on yogadork, just want to clarify we at yd are not behind the comments using the yd name. and so yd is not "attacking" anyone. hoping we can all comment, debate and disagree respectfully.

  13. yogadork says:

    hey waylon.. please see comment below.

  14. Team YogaDork says:

    Waylon, I respect that you believe you have been fair. I hope that, in time, you can understand why I and so many others believe that you have not treated these allegations with the seriousness they deserve and that your initial reaction to the story, which still seems to guide your thinking, is so misguided.

    In the meantime, I don't think I am able to have a productive dialogue with you. I'm going to take what I presume to be Ben's advice and spend my internet time elsewhere. Namaste.

  15. and now yoga says:

    Dear Ross,
    It is beautiful to stay by a friend when he is in trouble, because this is when he needs you the most. And John Friend, with no doubt, needs friends, real ones.
    But how can anything be called "yoga" or even house, when there are no foundations? I mean where are the yamas and niyamas? where is the lineage?
    Anusara Inc can remain and maybe restructure. Yoga, the sacred path that some of us are blessed to walk has fundamentals. Anusara, as it is today, is doing a great disservice to Yoga, to dare call itself Yoga.
    As bigger than John Friend as it can be, as supportive and loving the community can be, please for the sake of Yoga, don't call it Yoga. Maybe it is Anusara, but surely not Yoga.
    With warm regards from freezing Geneva where your teachings a couple weeks ago were heart-warming.
    Hari OM!

  16. Ok, so at last count we have 15 different posts by authors other than Waylon offering different perspectives on this situation. How exactly could the coverage be more balanced?

  17. elephantjournal says:

    Great. Whew. Me too. While we're obviously taking different approaches here, and you and I have had our differences personally over the last week, I'm not interested in offering anything other than respect for team yogadork or yogadork yourself here. While I wish your wish for respectful debate was shared by your friends, I thank you for your clarification.



  18. elephantjournal says:

    My initial reaction was that it was probably mostly true but, because it was hosted by an anonymous site with a clear agenda, we'd wait until we had facts or more information before destroying a man's reputation and his community. Not that we have more facts, including my interview and the pension documents, any destroying of his reputation and his community is John's own responsibility.

    I continue to hope that we can as a greater community learn from this and not repeat these mistakes. I don't think John's accepting blame is important, but we also have to learn that we don't need to put teachers up on pedestals. A relationship between teacher and student should always be based on mutual respect and critical intelligence.

    Why do you prefer anonymity? Genuinely curious, since it's clearly caused some confusion here.



  19. elephantjournal says:

    Is someone posting comments over there under my name? ~ Waylon

  20. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

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

  21. Yogaross says:

    Thanks for your comments. You sound like someone I'd love talk yoga philosophy with! I'm back in Geneva soon. Let me know (I guess first who you are) and we could have a tea and discuss your observations. All the best, Ross

  22. heather says:

    " if John can stand by his words" Phewf. AFter reading Waylon and Bernadette' dialogue on EJ that's one BIG, If! To write that apology letter and still teach a course on the Dharma of Relationships, after he's destroyed so many just well….John Friend should ask Tiger woods who his therapist was. Ross, I took your class many years ago and enjoyed it! Keep on teaching!

  23. tootakky says:

    Thank you Ross, and thank you Wayne. Yes this is a mess, but the venom coming from those rejoicing in the human frailties of JF say more than his misdeeds. If they claim to be yogis and yoginis, the yoga they practice differs from what I have learned from my teachers.

    The Anusara yoga kula has been part of my life for many years. I'm not in the inner circle, so I've not been aware of the growing misdeeds, nor do they effect me personally. That is between JF and his victims. I will continue practicing Anusara Yoga which continues to inspire me and introduced me to the principals of alignment and opening to grace. With or without JF, an Anusara kula and Anusara yoga will survive. It may not be called that, but the gifts of JF's genius will persist through the people he taught, and who in turn teach. Hari om shanti.

  24. Thank you Ross, for sharing this. Would love to come and do a class with you.