Perhaps the 1st quality, real piece of journalism to cover John Friend Scandal.

Via Waylon Lewis
on Apr 16, 2012
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Read it here:

“Karma Crash: Sex and the fall of an all-American yogi,”

by Vanessa Grigoriadis, via New York Magazine.

It’s the first real interview (my “interview,” until now the only one, in which John first admitted to affairs and directly addressed pension accusations with legal documents—was vetted through his inner circle and lawyers—I received answers to my questions days later) with John Friend—one of the world’s leading yoga teachers and movers & shakers who was taken down by new media coverage of an anonymous, agenda-driven web site and subsequent sex-obsessed, tabloid-y media coverage, his own community and teachers‘ outrage, and perhaps most crucially his own (lack of) openness, blame-accepting or even conventional crisis management (obfuscation is not a winning strategy when it comes to yogis).


About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now & 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. | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


22 Responses to “Perhaps the 1st quality, real piece of journalism to cover John Friend Scandal.”

  1. Katy Poole says:

    I found this to be a thoughtful and balanced perspective. It allows you to reach your own conclusions—which is the mark of good journalism imo. The statement about how Anusara is the first system of yoga to be truly American with no direct lineage connected to India really struck me as potent. It raises (for me at least) a lot of questions about the significance of lineage. It gives you somewhere to turn when things fall apart. In this sense, I feel John is completely alone and the followers of Anusara have no anchor. It's inevitable that distinctly "American" systems of yoga will arise, but where is the foundation that holds them together—like the 5,000 year old foundation established in India holds together the knowledge when Gurus fail and fall? It will be interesting to see if the practice completely falls out of vogue as a result in this country or if as the community matures, it deepens and grows authentic roots. Ironically as the whole Guru issue arises as the culprit at the center of this controversy, it seems that the Yoga community needs authentic leadership now more than ever.

  2. Hanuman says:

    Yes, that's was a great article, Waylon. Thanks for posting the link……

    JF got too big for his britches… like many so-called "holy men" often do. Pride always proceeds a fall from grace. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. May JF serve as a fine example of what NOT to do for everyone who teaches or leads yoga… or any other self-help organization or religion.

  3. Bolloyoga says:

    IMHO, many would have appreciated a thoughtful perspective from Waylon a couple of weeks ago, rather than the ego-massaging false cleverness of the made up interview. Now that was malicious trash, and a real departure from good judgement. Oh, the irony.

  4. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Posted to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
    Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook
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  5. hya says:

    This is a very apologetic, "poor me" article, very far from balanced as it's with John Friend all the way.
    He does not take responsibility and sees the whole scandal as "OMG sex and pot". He does not address accusations of favouritism and dodgy certification practices. His accusers are presented as puritan gossips and whiney aging women; and the journalist gobbles this up and repeats unquestioned.
    It's only informative in how it shows his state of mind and eliminates the possibility of any kind of Anusara revival while he's around. I expect another wave of resignations.

  6. Not impressed says:

    The claim that John Friend had never really gotten into alternative sexual situations under after his divorce is in direct contradiction to his own statetements, including those on EJ, that he in fact had, for many many years
    The characterization of angry ex-Anusara teachers as — in quotation the writer's marks — needing to "speak their truths" while also crying and angry depicts these women as somehow emotional only, like guests on a talk show. This is trivializing and insulting.
    This is indeed not a balanced but a rather very sympathetic article toward John Friend. It is also, however, the kind of article which the editors of EJ would most likely characterize as "balanced," because of its soft focus on the most questionable issues of John friend's behavior — the unethical sex with students and exployees, the climate of favoritism and bullying with the ranks, etc.
    Waylon lewis and Katy poole has skin in those games, too.

  7. elephantjournal says:

    Poking fun at ourselves is part of our path. The notion that I've offended Anusarians and John Friend depresses me just as much as the notion that I've offended anti-Anusarians and John Friend haters: not much. Our goal is to cover facts, which we've done. 90% of our coverage has been fair, and critical. 10% has been a commentary on the coverage, including that April Fool's day post.

    If you can't laugh at yourself on April Fool's day…the least you can do is not offer anonymous insults. Oh, the irony.

    Yours, Waylon.

  8. elephantjournal says:

    The air's already out of the balloon.

  9. elephantjournal says:

    Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

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

  10. Katy Poole says:

    Dear Not Impressed,

    I love to think I have "skin" in a game—any game—because it makes my rather unremarkable and ordinary life seem much more edgy than it actually is. So thanks for putting me on the same level of critical attack as Waylon! I feel like I've reached a new level. I've joined the big boys.

    I think your own perspective dictates how you read into anything. I find the article "balanced" about this controversy because I was never involved in Anusara to begin with. I always thought it was too one-sided on the "have a Shri-filled day" blissy all-is-good end of the spectrum. And I hated all the applauding in class. I'm an old-school Ashtangi. I like to keep my yoga quiet and inner-directed. So for me it comes across as a balanced article. To me, JF comes across as broken, destroyed and pitiful in this article. For someone more closely aligned with Anusara, perhaps he comes across as not repentant enough. Unless a journalist resorts to writing in Morse code, some kind of bias is going to come through.

    In any case, thanks for the compliment.

  11. Pamela G says:

    I found the NY Mag article to be hands down the best piece on this subject to date. In my opinion it is well written, very balanced and even handed. I did not have the impression the author portrayed John Friend as some sympathetic victim when reading the article, as some have suggested. Quite the contrary, from the many tongue in cheek comments and staging throughout the article to me it seemed the author was trying to portray a fallen figure that is at once remorseful but also still pretty much in denial. This is a sad and pitiable portrait of a man who caused a great deal of damage and is struggling with recognizing the full extent of his own accountability. Perhaps some people are not in a place to see beyond the wrongs done, preferring to stay in a place of righteous anger. People have to process on their own time line, of course, but I can't help but wonder what toll this sustained and focussed anger is having. I hope everyone gets to where they need to take in the full spectrum truth, make amends as needed, heal and find some peace.

  12. Bob K says:

    I took a training from John Friend last summer in Park City: I found him uninspiring even bored with what he was presenting. I believe he really wanted go get out from underneath the lifestyle he had built for himself and to free himself from responsibilities and the many expectations others had placed on him. He wanted out and the surest way out was to get caught with his pants down, for a lack of integrity or alignment with his words. He did it, he got what he wanted, he got out and now he gets to reinvent himself, or at least have space to explore some of his other interests without fear or restriction. Good luck to him if he wants to find more meaning in the less conservative parts of Southern California culture.

  13. mattalign says:

    Hi Katy,

    I agree with your sentiments in response to "Not Impressed" wholeheartedly. Well said…

    With regard to your first post, I would only question your statement about the need of the yoga community for authentic leadership. I once heard David Swenson say, "The role of the yoga teacher is to wean the student from the need for a yoga teacher". I agree with him and I think that the authentic leadership lies within myself and it lies within you and within each and every person who seeks harmony and unity in their life through yoga. Coming onto your own matt in the context of your own practice and experiencing first hand the energy of your own body as you move through space and face the challenges and sensations of asana and the inward turning of quiet repose is what truly yields the benefits in my opinion. Beyond that, what is this dire need for leadership outside of oneself? Doesn't that just set you up to be let down again when the next "Authentic Leader" turns out to be human? If anything, I think it's time for all yoga practitioners everwhere to claim the mastery of their own practice, and themselves.

  14. […] in the room relative to the current events with Anusara (Oooh, now there is a way to say it… current events…), a trainee made a comment that involved a criticism and a generalization of certain things in her […]

  15. […] Two articles just came out regarding John Friend and Anusara. One is in the Daily Beast within which I am quoted (and read further cause I have plenty to say about that) and one in New York Magazine. […]

  16. chang says:

    why doesn't the IT guy have a name?

    John Friend's mom sounds like she was kind of cool.

    I doubt he only had sex with 2 ppl in the coven. srsly.

  17. Andrew Gurvey says:

    Wow! Standing behind the cover of anonymity while throwing insults at Waylon because you were offended by…Wait for it….An April Fool's Day Joke. Bad taste or not, that interview was a joke, which Waylon then took down because people could not take it in stride. I do not agree with this decision, by the way.

    Posting anonymously referring to someone else's writing or sense of humor as "malicious trash" would be construed as being both malicious and trashy. Until you decide to step forward when making judgmental statements about another author, I could care less about your "humble opinion".

  18. […] what you built doesn’t change Yoga. She’s hiding behind the door giggling at this latest dust up. She has a carving of three monkeys on her desk depicting ‘hear no evil see no evil do no evil’ […]

  19. […] Perhaps the 1st quality, real piece of journalism to cover John Friend Scandal. […]

  20. […] John Friend reached dizzying heights of yogi-celebrity. But this growth curve has been derailed by a series of revelations about his personal relationships with students and treatment of teachers within the system (1). The […]

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