March 3, 2012

Advice for Ex-Anusara Teachers. ~ Katie Myer

(Photo: Katie Myer)

To fellow Anusara-expired teachers, colleagues and friends:

I understand what you are going through. Not just because I also resigned, but because 18 months ago ago, I walked away from an organization I co-created and a community I loved. Similar story: a man with charisma and talent bought into his own hype. His ego coupled with insecurity led to divisive, manipulative behavior. He lied, yelled, manipulated, and apologized. When confronted, he swore he’d never do it again. And we always wanted to believe him, despite evidence that we should not.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

I was a key player in running the organization, a co-founder, board officer and communications chair. I was proud of the organization we created, in spite of this man’s behavior. People were counting on us. On me. I couldn’t walk away and disappoint them. I wanted to keep this organization going.

So I protected him. I protected us. But I sold a piece of my soul every time I did it.

I walked away. It was absolutely the right decision, and it broke my heart. I’m proud of myself for leaving, and mad at myself that I didn’t do it sooner.

Much like now.

As the news about John Friend broke, I waited for more details. When I realized what we were dealing with, a man who has broken trust and refuses to listen to wise counsel from colleagues, peers and friends, my decision was clear. But this is not an easy path.

Here are things to expect:

People will judge you for leaving: Not just the people who don’t know the details that you know; for them, it’s understandable. You may have kept things from exactly those people, so it’s understandable that they — still in the dark — will question why you left. What’s more difficult are the ones who know. The people who know what you went through or what you know, but who choose to ignore it for the benefits they are getting. They may be angry at you for exposing what they willfully ignore.

You will have feelings of sadness and isolation: You will see your old community, seemingly happy together. You will wonder why you are unable to just close your eyes and pretend like nothing ever happened.

People will blame you for hurting the organization: They will ask, if you care about it so much, why won’t you stay and help make it better? You will question whether you made the right choice. You did.

All of the above may hurt: Unfortunately, knowing you did the right thing may not be soothing at those moments.

Here is why it’s worth it:

You have earned your own self-respect:

Most of you didn’t make a snap decision last week to resign from Anusara Inc. Likely, it was a long time coming. I put off signing my first Anusara-Inspired contract for days because I didn’t feel comfortable with the contract or the business side of the organization. I didn’t like the “kulaid” aspects of Anusara. At the time, I decided it was better for my career to be “Anusara-Inspired” than not, but I always felt a little uncomfortable with it.

Most likely, you have had many of those moments yourself. Now you are standing in your truth. Be proud.

You can teach and stand in the world according to what you believe:

No more staying quiet about things that grate against your conscience. No more studying something you don’t believe in to achieve a milestone or go through a process that didn’t resonate with you. No more putting on a public face that you support someone or something that you know in your gut you do not.

Creative freedom:

No longer are you bound by what someone else decided was important. Study with different teachers. Find what resonates with you, not what will be on the certification exam. Be creative in your class planning. Play music. Incorporate something great from another system if it works for your students. You have the opportunity to direct your intelligence and creativity towards something that serves you and your students.

Anusara likely will live on in some form. You may be tempted to go back. Friends and colleagues will promise change, and they will seem convincing because they earnestly want to believe it’s true. My advice: write down the reasons why you left. Not the public resignation letter, but the list of things that went into your decision. Here are a few of mine:

Broken trust.
 A hierarchical system.
 The nagging cult question.
 Failure to come clean in Miami.
 Manipulation. Pressure to stay quiet and never dissent.
 Tie-dyed pants. (Kidding, mostly.)
 A culture of yes, even when it’s not appropriate.
 Unclear boundaries.

Have that list handy when you start missing your friends who stayed. Read it when the next Anusara gathering is approaching or when someone tells you Anusara 2.0 is going to be better than ever. It might be — for them.  As for you — your gut was right before; keep listening.

Then make a list of the reasons why you love practicing and teaching the Anusara method. Make no mistake, the Anusara method is strong and will outlast this controversy.

Your own integrity led you to the right decision. Be your own guide. Stand strong. And reach out if you need support.

We all need each other, and our shared commitment to living our yoga, more than ever.


Editors: Tanya L. Markul & Andrea B. 


Katie Myer, RYT-200, is a Washington, DC yoga teacher committed to helping you create the life you love. Yoga has helped Katie uncover her most joyful, most authentic version of herself. Her classes inspire others to consciously reveal their unique gifts, while having a blast on the mat and maybe even rockin’ out to some tunes. Learn more about Katie’s teaching hereor find her special blend of yoga + business here for strategies to help your yoga business thrive.

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