After the Storm: a conversation on the advent of the Yoga Coalition with Emma Magenta.

Via Walk The Talk Show
on Mar 6, 2012
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Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis.

After the Storm: a conversation on the advent of the Yoga Coalition, with ex-Anusara Yoga teacher Emma Magenta.


We did this conversation on a sleepy weekend morning over skype chat. Here’s the Declaration of Independence via the Yoga Coalition, and a subsequent interview conducted by elephant friend Melissa Smith. ~ ed.


Emma Magenta [waiting for me to ask my first question]:

‘Kay, you ready?

Waylon Lewis:

Sorry, watching this old musical Top Hat that my mom loved.

Emma Magenta:

“Puttin’ on my top hat…polishing my white tie…”

Waylon Lewis:

Wow! Nice! Yah my grandma was Ginger’s personal secretary…my ma’s scrapbooks are full of photos of them being fabulous stylee ladies.

So. My first question is, could you kind of sum up everything that’s happened over the last month or so for those who may not be in the “inside baseball” yoga scene. You can be as personal or general as you like.

We just want to keep this accessible.

Emma Magenta:

Hah! Wow. Well, okay: on Feb 3rd, an anonymous website leveled some serious accusations at Anusara yoga founder John Friend.

After looking into the matter, I and many of my colleagues came to the conclusion that the accusations were at least partially accurate. Personally, I did a lot of soul-searching about whether I could align with John Friend’s [JF’s] actions. After many days of negotiations with JF, I and many of my colleagues further concluded that JF was either unwilling or unable to take responsibility for his actions, and we resigned.

In the aftermath of this big, heart-wrenching decision, a few of us who had resigned came together to share our feelings of loss and heartbreak. We decided we wanted to initiate a conversation with the wider community about what might be next.

And so the Yoga Coalition was born.

Waylon Lewis:

The anonymous person behind the web site is now known, but his reasons for taking John Friend down or exposing him are less known. Do you feel the information there was trustworthy? I mean, in my interview with John Friend I published 10 pages of legal docs re the pension fund controversy, and that then seems to have faded off on the list of things John did wrong. The anonymous source told me personally that the pension thing wasn’t illegal or malicious so much as incompetent and irresponsible.

As an aspiring journalist, my interest in the unvarnished truth early on was mistaken for defending John. But as Carol Horton said herself, my interview was the first time John publicly admitted to the affairs.

The affairs now seem to be the main issue. Is that true, from your perspective…[are the affairs] why everyone’s resigning Anusara and now forming a new, community-directed Coalition?

BTW, I’m not fishing for being backed up. If I’m mistaken on the above, call me out on it.

Emma Magenta:

I felt the website was untrustworthy. When I first saw it I was horrified and dismissed it.

However, I made a few phone calls (John himself was among the people I spoke to) and came to a different conclusion. That’s the most I feel I can honorably say.

Waylon Lewis:

A fair number of colleagues and friends of mine on the outside of the Anusara yoga community have shrugged and winked at the groupiness around John for years. The show-offiness. The clubbiness. But everyone including John seemed so happy and sweet and positive, it didn’t seem like a bad thing.

Now, all that idolatry has turned into tearing him down. Why so extreme?

Emma Magenta:

It’s a great question.

Waylon Lewis:

It seems love/hate. It seems immature. I’m speaking generally, not about you and Birney or Amy or anyone in particular.

Emma Magenta:

I think that anytime you have an organizational leader promoting one set of ethics in public, and living another set of ethics in private, a kind of disconnect, or lack of integration occurs. Then when people find out about the disconnect, there’s a feeling of betrayal.

That feeling of betrayal was then exacerbated by John’s reaction to the revelation that he had been living in a way that was not in accordance to Anusara ethics.

For a lot of us, the issue was not so much what JF had done. Rather, the issue was how he responded after his actions were revealed.

That’s why I didn’t resign ’til Feb 12.

Waylon Lewis:

That part I agree with. I think John’s reactions to all of this have made things worse. But it’s got to be interesting to see your own community rise up and tear you down over having affairs.

And the affairs seem to be what this is all about at this point. Unless there’s inside stuff we on the outside don’t know about, about the affairs or other stuff? It seems to be about the power differential and having affairs with married women.

Emma Magenta:

I forgave JF pretty quickly after I got clarity on what he had done. The thing that prompted my resignation was not that I couldn’t forgive him. I’m no angel, and none of the people I love are angels either. I’m well-practiced at forgiving.

And I’m very grateful in my life for having been, many times, forgiven by others. Others like my family and friends, and others in my yoga community.

It’s not that I couldn’t forgive John Friend.

It’s that I did not feel he was willing to accept responsibility and make amends.

I’d agree that it’s about the power differential and issues around sexuality.

The disconnect between Anusara ethics and JF’s actions leads me to believe that there’s a strong possibility that JF himself has not actually come to terms with his actions in those arenas, that in his own heart he’s not really clear on the ethics of his actions. At this point, this is speculation on my part.

Waylon Lewis:

Of course. But so for those of us on the outside, more or less, this is at this point is about John’s affairs and his subsequent lack of taking responsibility?

It doesn’t seem to be about pot or the pension or anything we don’t know about?

It’s about the affairs and his actions since the scandal broke?

Just want to be clear [what we’re talking about when we say John effed up].

Emma Magenta:

[And] certainly about his actions since the scandal broke.

Waylon Lewis:

There’s been a general sense of not knowing what this was about super-clearly…if there’s some secret horrible stuff.

If it’s the affairs and his attitude, I get it. If it’s more, that would explain a lot to me and some others.

I guess it’s just weird that it’s so unclear and folks are starting to say, “Is this all about having affairs?! Everyone has affairs. It’s not right, it’s not good, but it doesn’t seem worth all this hatred and anger and tearing apart a community.”

Okay, so John at this point is doing what? Taking a year to mend and work on himself? Is Anusara going to continue? I know Douglas’ call for its end must have been heavy.

Does Anusara have a future?

Emma Magenta:

I’m actually not that caught up right now on what JF is doing. As for Anusara yoga’s future, I wish I knew. I’m hoping for an outcome that harms the fewest number of people going forward.

Waylon Lewis:

Okay…so this Yoga Coalition, is it going to be a real community? Will folks get certified and trained through it?

Or is it just a sort of manifesto?

Emma Magenta:

Actually, we don’t know yet!

Yoga Coalition is simply the initiation of a dialogue. We are definitely hopeful that it will evolve into a community. While we don’t know whether folks will get certified through it, we do know that we don’t want to found another style of yoga. I would say it’s less a manifesto, because a manifesto is a definitive declaration, an exclamation point, if you will. Yoga Coalition right now is a question mark, rather than an exclamation point.

Because it’s a collective endeavor, you can assume that anything I say about Yoga Coalition is just my best representation of what everyone thinks, rather than a definitive statement on behalf of the Coalition.

Waylon Lewis:

Well, that sounds fun and inspiring and hopeful, but having served on the board of a wonderful food co-op, it also sounds like interminable meetings, disorganization and inaction.

Emma Magenta:

I love that you mention that your food co-op involves interminable meetings, but that you also call it wonderful. I think that Yoga Coalition has already demonstrated that we’re capable of swift, decisive action. However, now that the intensity of our foundation has abated, we’re hoping to slow things down so that we can fully evaluate the feedback we’re getting.

One of the things I’m most excited about is the opportunity to evolve and take action as a collective. Obviously, it is more complex to function as a collective than it is to function as an individual. History is littered with examples of collectives that didn’t work. However, in my own life and in my community, there are plenty of examples of collectives that do work! And in my experience, one of the best instruments available for human evolution is relationship.

Waylon Lewis:

Well, our food co-op went out of business, crushed by big corps like Safeway, King Soopers, Whole Foods, Sunflower…[as well as internal incompetence issues]

As a poli-sci nerd, I wish you all the best of luck.

Emma Magenta:

We’ll take it. We need all the luck we can get.

Funny about your food co-op. I’m from Kansas, and in Lawrence, Kansas, which I visit every year when I go home to my dad’s farm, there’s a collective food co-op called the Merc, which is absolutely thriving.

Waylon Lewis:

Okay…so what’s up with Elena Brower not being in the Collective? What about some other ex-Anusaraers? (I’m sure you won’t/can’t answer but have to ask)

Emma Magenta:

The Yoga Coalition evolved organically, among a people who were friends, acquaintances, or colleagues. When we started talking to each other, we didn’t make a list of who we should talk to–we just reached out to each other. It was actually totally organic, rather than strategic, so the list is kind of random.

We don’t even know yet what it’s going to be. Will it be something that a person joins? We dunno yet!

Waylon Lewis:

Well, can I join it? Or do I have to know something about teaching yoga or Anusara? Smiley face.

Emma Magenta:

…you will have to have something to do with yoga.

Waylon Lewis:

Well, thanks for all your kindness through this process. It’s felt a bit ugly, watching this, like seeing a bunch of people who built a doughy human into an idol smashing that idol beneath their feet…it’s felt a bit like “we created you, we can destroy you.”

I could name 100 teachers off the top of my head who are all fallible and human and have fucked up. All of them have been wonderfully silent. I bet 90% of the righteous angry commenters have fucked up hugely in their lives. We’re all human.

The Coalition feels like a first positive development I’ve seen in this whole process: constructive yet borne of wisdom and criticism and experience. So thanks and jolly good luck.

Emma Magenta:

While these are minor problems compared to what people around the world are suffering, I also feel that it’s deeply sad, and my heart breaks for the Anusara community.

Thanks for the good wishes–we’ll need them!

Waylon Lewis:

Yes. Hopefully the Coalition will enable everyone, as Benjy said in a comment. to get back to the good work of being of benefit and thinking about others. That said, this difficult time has shed a lot of light where there was little before, and that’s vital, too.

Emma Magenta:

Agree. I know I’ve grown from it.

Waylon Lewis:

Anything else you’d like to share with our readers, here, now?

Emma Magenta:

Just that the Yoga Coalition is excited to hear from people, and create something functional and beautiful!

Waylon Lewis:

Yay. Well thanks for your time and your good heart and smile, Emma. One good thing coming out of all of this is we’ve got to read you on elephant, and “meet” you as a community!

Emma Magenta:

Thank you, sweet Way!

Waylon Lewis:



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43 Responses to “After the Storm: a conversation on the advent of the Yoga Coalition with Emma Magenta.”

  1. Dawn says:

    Sorry – you are an 'aspiring journalist,' but you are watching a video while your interview subject is waiting for the interview to start, and the first piece of information you give us is about you (your grandmother) and it includes name dropping? I think your focus is off — . I really appreciate your website, but inserting your off-topic personal details in an interview about something entirely different is distracting, and it detracts from the seriousness of your interview.

  2. Brooks_Hall says:

    Hi Dawn! …just to offer another take on it. In terms of traditional reporting styles what you are saying resonates, and for many readers it might or might not be annoying—I just don't know… But what I like about the blogging form is that it seems to allow that the reportage can come from an embodied, even a little on memory lane, perspective. We're not just getting information that presents itself as "the way it is", we are participating in the unfolding of understanding that originates in people getting together and talking.

  3. elephantjournal says:

    Thanks, Dawn.

    We were meeting on skype, which you perhaps missed, though I said it up top, and as soon as we were both online we started talking, and I turned the interview off. As for personal details, I thought it cute and interesting that she knew lyrics from this 80 year old movie, and Emma's delightful, and I thought it interesting to get that glimpse into her. As for my grandmother, we're a personal publication, we're not journalism, though I aspire to its values…in any case many, many amazing journalists are very, very personal.

  4. elephantjournal says:

    Thanks, Brooks!

    There was more personal convo that I barely cut out, because I thought it helped to get a feel for the convo, but I did cut it. I'm always of two minds about that personal convo in beginning and end, I usually like all of it, others find it egotistical/distracting.

  5. meangirlsyoga says:

    I think that it is very interesting that people who devoted so many years to Anusara took less than a month to not only completely turn their back on it, but to then form a brand new "coalition." That does not sound like "practicing pause" to me. It seems like this teacher, and many of the other former Anusara teachers, are using this situation to make bigger names for themselves, to call more attention to them selves, and not to the concerns and issues of the whole kula. The constant blogging and facebook posting, the constant drama between a few certain teachers does not seem to serve the kula, but to function as a clique that, if you do not act, agree, or submit to, you are not welcome to be a part of the discussion, or even welcome to listen to the discussion- in fact you are literally thrown out of it, by the teacher or someone very close to them. And that is something that these people say they don't want any more of- it is very interesting indeed.

  6. Thanks guys. Great interview!- Jeannie

  7. yogasamurai says:

    The problem wasn't what John was doing, but that the he was one man. The people who'd grown up under him had to remain content as his "dutiful daughters." Read Amy Ippolitti's embarrassingly self-revelatory re-statement of her resignation. It's like the revenge of King Lear's daughter, Cordelia.

    I was struck by the absence of spiritual depth and authenticity in this interview. There isn't any real hint of any spiritual insight. It's really just about reconfiguring a company whose founder got caught with his pants down – and damaged the "brand" that everyone – especially these financially strapped studios – is trying to make a living off.

    In other words, this isn't a spiritual crisis for these folks – though it really should be – it's just a "legitimation" crisis.

    Truth is, this stuff happens in the secular world – and in corporate America, all the time. So probably no need for a spiritual "gloss" to explain it.

    But I would suggest that she not give any more interviews, and let the lady who's been designated the PR person do it. This group clearly needs "spin" control. Friend himself was really good at it, which is why he was the public face of the corporation. Now, there's really no one to do it, not at his level.

    Ladies — it's a lot easier to destroy an old power structure then to establish one of your own. The big question: You have the power now, but how do you constitute real AUTHORITY. That's a big challenge for women generally in our world – which is why most big organizations aren't LED by women – just MANAGED.

    Big, big difference between leading – and managing. John had a powerful leadership vision – and he was, and is, a real leader. The Yoga Coalition is a second-order oligarchy of senior followers – Lear's daughters.

    Unclear why you wouldn't just disband? It seems that Anusara has shot its Tantric wad. Or don't — but seriously, do better PR than this, while your casting about for a clue.

  8. Kelly Lowry says:

    meangirl — It is interesting, isn't it? But I suspect we mean different things by the word "interesting." Unless I'm mistaken, you are using it as a colloquialism, or a euphemism, or – gasp – as a pejorative.

    yogasamaurai — wow. breathe a little, mate. and read the list for Yoga Coalition. Justin isn't a woman.

    I know many of these teachers in the Yoga Coalition, but by no means do I know all of them, and I find all of this interesting, too. Here's why: they were brave enough to stand up for principles that are at the core of their beings, principles that brought them to Anusara and to one another in the first place, and they did this even at the risk of losing their livelihood by doing so. Remember, these folks pay the light bill by pedaling yoga, and the certificate on the wall was deeply woven into the fabric of their teaching, of their marketing, of their very yoga identities. By pulling that thread out of the fabric, some risked being left without the means to cover themselves. This is no small decision, nor is it certain to succeed and make bigger names for themselves. For some, it presented a very real possibility of not being able to buy food for their children or keep the lights on in their studios.

    I have no idea who either of you are because you haven't given us your name. Did you read the article above with an open mind and an open heart? Did you read Emma's stated reasons for resignation? Have you spoken with any of the teachers who are part of the Yoga Coalition? The teachers I have spoken with did this not out of narcissism, or out of self-aggrandizement. Honestly, for some of them, their names were already immeasurably large. You've misunderstood the single defining characteristic of why so many teachers resigned: they did this because their internal compasses compelled them to do so. They mean it. This IS their yoga. They are walking their talk. I think they are fantastically courageous, and that, to me, is interesting indeed.

    I write this with compassion for you, Emma, John, Waylon, for everyone involved in this ~

  9. Dear Yogasamurai,
    I would encourage you to ask questions before making assumptions about who any of us are. We welcome sincere questions. As Emma says, "Yoga Coalition is simply the initiation of a dialogue. We are definitely hopeful that it will evolve into a community." Like Emma, I believe that cultivating dialogue and encouraging people to contribute their ideas about what they wish to see more of in the greater yoga community is a healthy and productive endeavor. In this conversation with Waylon, Emma is clarifying where we are in the process.

    It is unfortunate that you think that women can't lead. I would strongly disagree. What are your thoughts on Ana Forrest, Shiva Rea, Faith Hunter, and Seane Corne? The lashing out at women undermines your argument, implying that your underlying agenda is unspoken.

    To clarify, Yoga Coalition includes both men and women.

  10. yogasamurai says:

    I see no reason to mince words – or to pander to "feminist" sensibilities. I don't put women – or men – on a pedestal, because frankly, I am not into celebrating one gender's presumed inherent virtues over another. I'll leave that to women with an axe to grind? Listen, if you don't realize that men and women are equally beautiful, and always have been, then maybe you shouldn't be preaching the "yoking" of opposites to begin with? Yoga is decidedly NOT a feminist empowerment exercise. Never has been. The struggle for personal strength, individuality, creativity, and spiritual freedom is a UNIVERSAL one.

    There are some very, very wise women in the yoga world – but they are quite a bit more senior than the celebrities you name, and tend to keep a much lower profile. I don't think they'd be caught dead doing what those folks do, though I'm not condemning what these celebrity folks do. They are the Madonnas and Lady Gagas of yoga, basically. I like listening to Madonna and Lady Gaga, and I find their spunk and presence compelling. However, I wouldn't ask either of them to found or ground a spiritual enterprise. I wouldn't ask Shiva Rea or Sean Corn to, either.

    This is Old Sage Work. It's also Old Crone work perhaps. I say that with complete respect. People – and women – who have transcended their own youthful ego needs for status and power, beauty, fame and fortune. It comes with time, and can't be rushed? It's a life passage that so many in yoga haven't reached. They're too busy being all that they can be.

    Imagine if you went to a Native American tribe or nation and asked, how come your youngest and fiercest, most combative and visible, braves and warriors aren't your spiritual leaders? The elders would laugh.


  11. yogasamurai says:

    Yoga Coalition not a "balanced" gender organization — and neither is yoga generally Let's cut the bullshit here? I've been at events that were called "international" because someone from Canada was invited?

    The yoga we have is what it is, and many of its dynamics reflects those profound imbalances of race, class and gender. If this was ANY other organization besides yoga, no one would doubt this. No one. If the organization were 85% male, and there were problems, every woman in yoga would blame it on "male dominance." We're even blaming the problems on "male sexism" when 85% of yoga is female.

    It's fucking Orwellian.

  12. Dear Yogasamurai,
    The only one who has been making huge generalizations about either gender is you.

  13. yogasamurai says:

    More Yoga Women ON….THE…..MOVE! Woo Hoo!
    Better get started on that Yoga Coalition fund raising!
    Maybe you could co-brand?

    From Vanity Fair

    "Whose Yoga Is it, Anyway?

    Sonia Jones, lithe blonde wife of hedge-fund billionaire Paul Tudor Jones, has partnered with the family of the late Ashtanga-yoga master Krishna Pattabhi Jois to launch a chain of yoga studios and boutiques. That’s got many of Jois’s devotees in a distinctly un-yogic twist."

  14. yogasamurai says:

    Well, as long as you're not defensive about it….

  15. yogasamurai says:

    We've been patiently waiting, all of us, men and women, for "Hedge Fund Yoga."!!

    I'm thinking that maybe Mitt Romney's lovely wife might push for a nationally funded, government-supported Yoga
    School? It could be like a School of National Service? A Thousand "Meridians" of Light?

    What about "Military Wives Yoga"?

    We already have lots of women involved in promoting yoga to the US military, which sees it as a great way to train its troops, and also make them more effective killing machines.

    Maybe yoga really IS the new face of Empire. I am soooo excited. Who needs these oppressive principles and guidelines. How passe!

    Just those evil men trying to control our bodies, dammit! I HATE THAT.

    Yoga really is becoming THE WORLD….

  16. paul says:

    Doing postures isn't an inoculation against being a torturous person, but it does offer a door to being less torturous. I'm glad that the "studio" yoga is becoming acceptable to all castes and "race" and classes. It takes a long time for hard hearts to soften (and beat).

  17. elephantjournal says:

    Brother, I'd love for you to couple your powerful sentiments with the putting your name out there. Strong words behind anonymity?

    ~ Waylon Lewis

  18. Doug Keller says:

    This is not 'just about' the "affairs" and the actions taken since the 'scandal broke,' though if you want to isolate and dwell on that aspect, I highly recommend the article by Kelly Morris, "Teachers, Keep it in Your Pants.' Its in your magazine (–kelly-morris/) and makes a strong case that these 'affairs' are not so easily shrugged off. A second read (I'm assuming you read it once, at least) might lubricate your moral compass.

    This is 'about' an entire pattern of abuse of power, not just in terms of sexual relationships with students, teachers and employees, married or otherwise, but also in his treatment of employees, treatment of teachers with whom JF disagrees (see Amy Ippoliti's letter) as well as teachers whose actions and fortunes he sought to tightly control as 'certified,' which included capricious favoritism. He defied his own rules and process for certification, jumping the process and granting certification according to his own whim (this is backed up by Betsey Downing's reasons for giving up on him and Anusara — you might want to interview her). While the system and structure of Anusara may have looked good at first glance, the way he personally ran it led to disharmony and waste that has been expressed in many many ways by those who have been moved to finally give up and leave.

    His actions 'after' this 'broke' were not a separate or 'worse' issue. They simply reconfirmed the pattern of abuse of power and obvious sense of entitlement on his part that led to further lies, rationalizations, and the adoption of the attitude of the victim, when the obvious truth is that he was the perpetrator and central architect of this disaster that has led to so much pain for so many. None of this had to happen. And if you are too squeamish to 'pass judgement' on the morality of the behavior, at the very least you have to admit that much of it was just plain boneheaded.

    Please once and for all reconsider the false meme that this is just about the 'affairs' and the actions that followed the revelation of the affairs. There is a single pattern of behavior at work, both before and after, which taken as a whole presents a very strong argument that such a person, as Kelly Morris memorably put it, has no business being in the position of a teacher — much less a teacher of yoga, the central codes of behavior for which (yamas, niyamas and etc.) he has repeatedly, flagrantly and even systematically defied over the course of many years, and continues to defy.

    Please consider this once again, Waylon, because your own comments seem to miss the big picture and trivialize the situation.

  19. Ew ew ew says:

    But, Waylon, could you BE more of a weenie:
    "Okay…so what’s up with Elena Brower not being in the Collective? What about some other ex-Anusaraers? (I’m sure you won’t/can’t answer but have to ask)"
    No, you didn't have to ask. Your crush-favoritism is SO LAME! Why didn't they include your fav girl? Listen, don't worry about your girl — she's apparently supported by a rich boyfriend. She's fine. And if she suffers because of feeling left out, well, maybe one of the reasons she got left out was her complicty, her blaming, and her arrogance. So maybe that's her karma.
    Also, PLEASE stop it with the whinging "everyone's human; everyone fucks up" excuses. It's SO stupid. Yeah we all make mistakes, but some mistakes are bigger and more serious than others, involving abuses of power, breaches of ethics. Not ALL of us make THOSE mistakes. No, actually, most of us out here DON'T fuck up as badly as JF and his discplines did.
    Waylon, you're really, really coming off poorly in this. REALLY,, son. Wipe your nose, and grow up.

  20. Get off it, Waylon says:

    And again, Waylon:
    "Brother, I'd love for you to couple your powerful sentiments with the putting your name out there. Strong words behind anonymity?"
    Why this obsession of yours with trying to get people to out themselves on your site? Why this constant pressure on commenters to do so, why this endless implication that if we don't, we're somehow cowards? It comes across as sanctimony and bullying. Why do that, when it has been so well documented, as expressed by Doug Keller and others, that the Anusara disciples stalked and bullied people on the internet and in real-time? Why would you ever encourage people to put themselves at risk for that? That's irresponsible. That's being a poor host. What's wrong with you, Waylon?That's just fucked up.

  21. To Kelly says:

    Hi Kelly,
    Again, b/c there is so much evidence that the Anusara disciples targeted critics and bullied them, it is wise for people not not post their real names on the internet. Other than that, no one is entitled to has their stuff read with an open mind or heart. Stop being so pious and preachy. You have to earn credibility and respect as public figure, and teachers and as writers. Skepticism — even cynicism — seems the wisest approach here. Whether the coalition members do or do not use the coalition to forward their own public images or to "serve the larger kula" remains to be seen. Personally, as a yoga student who only occasionally practices AY, I'd like to see the coalition open up to other schools and forms of wisdom. I think they plan to do that. But I am not interested in either idealizing them or pissing on them. I will watch what they DO. Discernment. Beyond that, my "heart" is my own business. It doesn't belong to anyone.

  22. Hi Kelly says:

    sorry about the typos! ugh

  23. Oh, brother says:

    Brother? What are you guys, members of a …. cult? …..oh never mind

  24. yogasamurai says:

    Brother Waylon's getting a lot of heat, I guess, and takes some of the comments posted here very personally? It's an occupational hazard of trying to make the news, be the news, help others, especially the Anusarans, promote themselves – all the while "reporting" on the process. It's a messy dynamic.

  25. Get off it, Waylon says:

    That's from me. It IS personal — sorry, but I don't know how else to put it. As personal, anyway, as anyone could be about how a voice or persona behaves online. Queasy about conflict and making ethical/moral judgments, yet also, biased, self-referential, somewhat bullying towards commenters, and overly sensitive when called on his shit. IIf this is the quasi-"journalism" of the blog-o-sphere, it's AWFUL! Is THIS the yoga world now? How AWFUL! Really really bad.

  26. The way it is says:

    This isn't a journalism site. It's one guy's little thing. He doesn't come off very sympathetically or credibly when he takes part in these discussions. . Chalk it up. It's beyond me why so many yoga teachers bother with his for interviews and stuff, but there it is.

  27. Another perspective says:

    More than about "affairs," which are easy to minimize about insofar as anyone forgets that the affairs were with students and employess. The ethical problems are part of a larger long-standing pattern of workplace abuse on many levels. I also agree that Waylon is so queasy about passing judgments on his personal favs that he wants to trivilalize the problems in AY Inc. As such, he is guilty of the same bias and favoritism as John Friend. Bad yogi — no macro-biotic cookie!.
    I'm not a great fan of, but there's a decent article up about workplace bullying, which is pretty germane here.
    It may only be that the workplace bullying was so severe that people were so appalled, freaked out and traumatized that they don't want to come forward, are afraid of reprecussions. That would definitely support not pressuring people to give their "real names" on these posts. So — elephantjournal, have some common decency and respect around that issue.

  28. yogasamurai says:

    I would take it in stride, Waylon. It goes with the territory? It's ALWAYS been the yoga world, actually, because well, it's the world. We're really not that enlightened in the West.

    I think a lot of stuff is just coming to the fore, and it's messy? A lot of people aren't used to conflict, to the fire. Though they seem to prattle on about it endlessly.

    Anyway, we just passed the Maha Shivrati, February 20. All of this exploded during this annual reflection and transformation period. Perfect timing?

    You don't need to hear this from me – but you're doing great. You're in the thick of it, and shit is flying. Well, go to the shower, rinse it off, and come back for more!

  29. Another perspective says:

    pup, he's not in the thick of it. at all. his position is completely protected.

  30. yogasamurai says:

    Christ, we're a nation of nattering ninnies who barely vote, participate in civic life or have the personal wherewithal to "show up" for our own blog interventions. Which, in the overall scheme of things — as The Bard once said — "aren't worth a gooseberry."

  31. yogasamurai says:

    Yoga Uber Alles! This is why Hitler's aide Himmler loved yoga so. He saw its enormous mobilizing potential — as a tool to bypass the mind entirely.

    I really don't think there is ANY consistent social or personal ethics associated with yoga – it's a total myth. The alleged principles are misunderstood and misapplied out of their original context. They really can be used to justify or rationalize almost anything, in fact.

    It's "Western" yoga – more than the ancients – who have imputed these meanings to the yoga traditions — with perfectly good intentions perhaps. For example, the idea that Ahimsa means "no use of force" – and by extension, pacifism, or non-violent political action? Or that Asteya (non-stealing/non-cheating) might also mean an end to "Wall Street greed."

    It's much the same with Catholics who have cited Bible teachings to support "liberation theology." You can do it, but it's not simply "given" in the Scripture. It's a secular politics seeking a compelling religious rationale.

    Yoga did not emerge in a Judeo-Christian values context, and there are real implications to that, if you want to pursue it to its core.

    If you want a doctrine of compassion, empathy, humility, social service, and sacrificial love, don't look to Hinduism or to yoga for any of those things – because they're not there. You can bring them in, perhaps, from another tradition.

  32. Awakening says:

    huh? that comment wasnt worth goose-shit

  33. yogasamurai says:

    Mister Keller, you seem to have a long history with Anusara Yoga? Sounds like – I don't know the history – that you had a major falling out at some point with John Friend. I have seen and heard hints of it – and they seem to show up here, too. Not to take away anything from your testimony and witness, but you do seem to focus a lot on him personally, and his leadership, more than the organization or movement itself. Perhaps that's understandable since he appears to have dominated the organization. But it would be interesting to hear what you have to say, in greater depth, about Friend and Anusara as a whole – its distinctive "theology," organizational ethos, and operating principles and guidelines. With Friend "out of the way," or at least a separation of sorts, everything will be fine, I take it? Or not?

    By the way, appreciate much of what you have written on yoga. Very accessible.

  34. yogasamurai says:

    Whose isn't? Isn't this just a gigantic CYA operation all the way around?

  35. Kate says:

    Hey Stuart,

    You're a fucking obsessive misogynist asshole.

  36. Stewart J. Lawrence says:

    Well, I think what it is, in fact, is that a lot of yoga women are used to guys talking "up" to them – and talking condescendingly "down" to them.

    So when I don't talk "up" to you, it seems like I am talking down to you. This is a very common problem these days.

    I speak my own spiritual truth based on long experience. If that offends you, it's entirely your issue. The fact that you blew your cool here just confirms that, I think. Not offended – or even surprised, actually.

  37. Stewart J. Lawrence says:

    It's very hard for women with their well-defended entitlement complex to deal with any dark social reality that might "implicate" them in anything — though you're perfectly happy to rag on men at the first sign, and to applaud when we agree, masochistically that we're evil incarnate. When you're ready to treaty men as your spiritual and emotional equals, you will? I am certainly not holding my breath. My partner wonders why I even deal with you guys – and what she thinks is far worse than what I say? I guess she knows the beast. Indeed.

    P.S. I gave you a thumbs up – for emotional honesty.

  38. Kate says:

    honored. not really. And women generally don't have entitlement complexes. But again, that's a misogynistic attitude. oh well, never mind. andso you are the yoga world's Rush limbaugh. okey-doke

  39. echo says:

    Good post, Doug. As you were the first (I believe) to break ranks with AY several years ago, I took your leaving ack then as a warning sign. I did take some weekend workshops with Mr. Friend and participated in the Immersions series, but a big something in me held back. I didn't aspire to the label or brand. Labels may be good so that the consumer may know what they are getting into. But on the other hand, in the spirit of yoga and its pursuits, I'm against such labeling and branding, finding them self-limiting. Real 'bohemians' don't join groups. They hang out. 🙂 Anyway, keep up the good work.

  40. […] crutches were help and for John, it was Grandpa repeating words louder so he could be part of the conversation. Despite the loud talking at the table, the air was clear and the gents were at […]

  41. Doug Keller says:

    Hi Mr. Yogasamurai, In the past I have indeed spoken out in criticism of both the developing theology/'culture' of Anusara and the kind of leadership behind the organization that was very much driven by JF personally, including the tactics used against those who voiced disagreement or criticism. Back then no one else was willing to speak out, especially since there was a significant price to be paid for doing so.

    Now things are different, and the story is much bigger than anything I personally have to say. Much is emerging that even I did not know about, and in my post here I was summarizing the big picture, backing it up with what others have already said publicly. We're at the point where the community will fill in the picture in a way that I cannot personally.

    Some Anusara teachers are starting to report that they are losing their long-standing teaching jobs with some studios because of the mere association with the name of 'Anusara' — and many are acknowledging that the brand is broken beyond repair. So it seems, to answer your question, that a mere separation or distancing from JF personally is not enough, regardless of how things are reorganized. Apparently it won't really be 'fine,' though time will tell.

  42. […] feel this is necessary. People from around the country and around the world have contacted us and asked, “Why is everyone […]

  43. […] editorial doors to more interviews (with Douglas Brooks, Amy Ippoliti, Bernadette Birney, others) and various articles, including many “I’m leaving Anusara and why” resignation […]