Why I’m not Resigning my Anusara Certification—yet.

Via Waylon Lewis
on Feb 16, 2012
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Where I Sit.

Good Morning, everyone,

It’s 5:20 am here in Singapore. I just finished meditating and had some thoughts to share:

My meditation started in the shower, actually (or it was probably just that I was still asleep). I watched the water fall and it reminded me of the joke my friends used to do when things were bad or crazy. We used to pick up a book or a pencil, drop it, and say, “Gravity check…whew…at least that still works.” This morning, the water was falling just like every morning. Gravity check. Whew.

Then I did the sitting kind (of meditation that is), to go inside. When I finished, I thought: What do I want to do here about all this?

My answer:

I want to keep teaching the yoga that has changed my life. Keep teaching the tantric philosophy I follow as a Christian and as a yogi. I want to have fun, smart, interesting people in my life. And I want to keep getting better and help other people do the same. I want to work hard and accomplish a lot and I want to remember to enjoy life and have love.

So, I sit here in Asia. Far from my home. Far from my love. Amidst a torrent of chaos. Just days before I start my 42nd year. I can say without hesitation:

I have all those things.

I’m not perfect, of course. I mess up all the time. Just watch how un-yogic I get when getting off an airplane (I travel a lot) and someone in the row behind me tries to leave first. Listen, I’m a very patient person … but “Really! Do ya not know how the exiting of the plane is supposed to work?!”

That said, I’m proud of my choices this past week, even if many if not most have faulted me for them. I’ve tried to stay steady, ask everything and hide nothing. And, I have remained hopeful (with a few moments of despair and sadness).

And here we are today. Many of my friends, for whom I have the highest respect, have left and my heart goes out to each of them. No matter their choices, these are deeply good people who care about the same things I care about. My heart also goes out to all the people who don’t have a certification to resign. Having traveled the world teaching for five years, I was blessed with the evidence that Anusara Yoga was bigger than John Friend, long ago.

It can best be summed up by this story: I told my Immersion II students here in Singapore two days ago about the scandal (I had to, because the bags under my eyes are now bigger than the suitcase I live out of); and after the long, gory dissertation was over, one student said…”Who’s John Friend?” I couldn’t help but laugh, somehow relieved. There’s a bigger world here that’s unaffected by the who and what and the agony of the last week. Yoga is strong. Community is kind.

Here’s the deal, for me anyway. It is more than fine if someone resigns or ends their affiliation with the business…whether they keep teaching Anusara principles or not. I sure plan to teach the same way I have been. In fact, for some reason, I’ve been teaching better than ever this past week. I guess it’s true: yoga is a tool for difficult times.

And there’s something to be said about great pressure breeding a crystalization of what we believe.

It seems to many connected with Anusara that the world is going to be radically different after all of this. It will be. But it’s won’t be, too: the method will be the same. I’ve helped too many people get out of pain with the Universal Principles to stop loving and using them.

In fact, the reason for not formally resigning is I’m really, honestly not that affected by Anusara, Inc. For me, its major role is the certification process. It’s been incredible to be a part of a system where you don’t get certified unless you know your stuff. There are flaws in the system, of course, but there is consensus in the larger yoga community on the high quality of the teachers who are certified.

Regarding John, let me bullet point this:

> He’s told me he will leave on sabbatical for an extended time and would return to teaching only after advised to do so by his therapist(s). The plural is because he will most likely use multiple approaches to address these issues.
> He hopes he can face his demons and heal because he says he hopes he can someday return to the seat of the teacher and be of service.
> I’ve been told I’m enabling him. This is a point I totally hear, and a consideration that I take seriously.
> I can only say that it just hasn’t felt right to shut him out, yet, and I’m very much a no-one-is-evil, everyone-has-sh*t-to-work-with, let’s-get-to-it sort of guy
> On that note, if or when there’s proof with regard to the more serious allegations I will be the first to help bring those to light.
> Recently, I’ve had to ask this man, who taught me so many great things, some of the most uncomfortable questions of my life.
> And the recrimination moments regarding power differentials in relationships were by far the strangest role reversal ever for me.
> Now, I’m assuming it’s all out there or will be this week. If that’s not true or if I find he has misled me, nothing I’ve said above will change. I will just stop talking to him.

Regarding the future:

> Well, who knows really? That’s why we call it the future.
> I think we the Anusara community can build whatever we want, period full stop.
> I’ll be happy to help start a new yoga school, I’ll be happy try to fix Anusara. Honestly, I’m just not that freaked out.
> I certainly would hate it if it sounds like I’m being insensitive and diminishing the pain my friends have gone through, or not acknowledging the severity of the situation. I promise I’m not. I am in a great deal of pain myself. I’m just not scared. It’s time like these that we practice for.
> For me, the principles have done what they promised: when the shit hit the fan, I paused, made my best choice possible, and then spent my day in service of others.
> I would not say this resulted in bliss (the word many people accuse Anusara of mis- or over-using) but it was the content, loving and integrity-filled Ananda for sure.

So, we go on. One step at a time. I hope I can keep teaching. I hope I can keep growing and I hope more people around the world accomplish their dreams as well.

Much love,



About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now elephantjournal.com & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


8 Responses to “Why I’m not Resigning my Anusara Certification—yet.”

  1. Suzanne says:

    Ross, thank you so much for your directness. It's refreshing to hear all sides during such a difficult time! You are a wonderful teacher and no doubt whatever you decide to do, your teaching will only improve!

  2. Cyndi says:

    You sound very grounded and at peace with your practice. Kudos. I do hope, however, that if the allegations prove to be true, that John Friend is held accountable for these serious breaches of ethics and an ego out of control. I believe with great success comes great responsibility, and although forgiveness and compassion may be in order, anyone who takes advantage of a power position with vulnerable students should not have access to repeat the same transgressions anytime soon. We need to hold the leaders of the Yoga community in the US to a high standard of knowledge and behavior. If we don't, we risk diminishing the credibility of the practice. These days with the safety of Yoga being called in to question, this is more important than ever.

  3. Rudy Mettia says:

    Thanks Ross, I'll support you which ever way you go. Seems like just yesterday we were practicing side by side at a JF event. Hope to see you soon.

  4. Jasmin Cloud says:

    Great to see this. As a psychotherapist I’m baffled – John will return to teaching when advised by his therapist (s) ??? As a relational psychoanalytical therapist I would not advise a client what to do, the aim of therapy is to make unbearable feelings and thought states become tolerable. Therefore it is always the decision of the client to choose what they want or need to do. John needs intensive treatment which takes time, therapy is not a quick fix. Too many different treatments complicate psychotherapy as its a relational process /treatment. How this all continues to progress is interesting indeed!

  5. Benson says:

    Those women teachers were really brave to get off the fence. I tip my mat to them for their courage

  6. alison says:

    I hope you stay with Anusara.
    I have only been studying and practising Anusara for a year but one of the most powerful lessons it has taught me is "Be spacious" and what transformations can occur within space. It has had a powerful effect on my relationships and my life and health. I feel spaciousness in what you say. This impuslive "jumping ship" coming from other Anusara teachers is bewildering, considering being spacious is such a key teaching and practice. Disappointing to see and not inspiring.
    Brilliant piece.
    Thank you.

  7. Kelley Linn says:

    Thank you Ross for your dedication to the students of Anusara Yoga. As a school of hatha yoga, it is still the best training currently available. The core teachings of Anusara yoga have served many and will continue to do so if we have sound teachers who are willing to be steadfast and dedicated to the heart of the teachings. I'm hopefully about the restructuring of Anusara that is in the works and look forward to growing in a community that sticks together to work things out when things get tough. I'm sorry that you feel faulted by your peers who have left the kula. Know that there are many of us out here, whose voices may not be as loud as "senior teachers" publically resigning left and right, that respect and honor your decision to stand by Anusara yoga as a school of hatha yoga and to support John as a colleague and a friend.

  8. Guest says:

    I don't understand how you are able to judge others, many with far more years invested in the practice of Anusara, as impulsively jumping ship.