On Anusara and John Friend

The anusara yoga community has been faced with challenges – senior teachers resigning for various reasons and John Friend’s personal decisions exposed in a very public way. Each teacher and student in the community has to take a breath, detach, discern and decide what this means for him or her on an individual basis. Each person is going to have to choose for him or herself what action is right for the future.

From the Anusara webite:

Anusara (a-nu-sar-a), means “flowing with Grace,” “flowing with Nature,” “following your heart.”
Founded by John Friend in 1997, Anusara yoga is a school of hatha yoga, which unifies a life-affirming Shiva-Shakti Tantric philosophy of intrinsic goodness with Universal Principles of Alignment.

Anusara yoga was founded by John with the best of intentions to make the world a better place. It is a hatha yoga system that has taught so many people how align with the universe, to align their bodies and see the world with a more positive attitude.

By definition of anusara, you have to follow your heart. That doesn’t mean you have to make a quick decision. It doesn’t mean you cannot go back and forth about your feelings. It means you have to connect to your breath, connect to your heart and to the universe to find what is right for you.

John Friend is not anusara yoga. John is a human being. He is fully capable of making choices and dealing with the consequences of his actions. For me, John has been a leader of workshops and a great asana teacher. Each workshop I have attended has taken my practice deeper physically. Each workshop has left me feeling empowered. For that I am grateful. I don’t get to practice with him on a regular basis. I don’t know him personally. I know him publically. Although I expect him to practice what he preaches, I don’t expect him to be anything other than human. I have not put him on a pedestal. I have heard him make mistakes. I don’t think he is more than me or better than me. I think of him like I think of everyone else on this planet. I am not perfect. I hold myself to the highest of standards. I have control over my actions and reactions. I try to be the best person I can be. I have done that long before anusara yoga was created and will continue to do so.

I am not in any position to judge another’s actions. I am not going to defend nor condemn John actions. I think he is disappointed in himself. I think he knows many people are hurt by the choices he made. I think he is taking responsibility for his actions. I may not agree with his choices. I do not know all of his choices nor do I know his actions. I do know that anusara yoga is a wonderful system of yoga and I will continue to practice and teach it.

I am my own spiritual teacher. I look deep within myself to know what is good and what is right. I answer to myself. I have never been fond of organized religion. Yoga teaches me that I have the power to behave morally and ethically. I do not give my power to any one person anywhere, anytime.I am learning from all the beings around me, every second of everyday.

This challenging time for anusara yoga has given me the opportunity to look at how I see the world. It has reminded me that I will always see the highest and the best in everyone. It also reminded me that I am firmly grounded in reality – the reality that we all need to refine our actions at times. We are all human. Knowing that, doesn’t excuse or justify anybody. John’s poor decisions and actions are his and do not reflect the community of anusara yoga. We are taught to make decisions that allow us to flow with Grace. You choose for yourself what you want to be a part of and take responsibility for your own actions. That’s yoga.

In my community I lead by example. I live yoga and have for a long time. I want to be a balanced human being. I don’t jump into extremes. I connect with my inner teacher, my true self and act from that place to make the world a better place. I want people to find peace and to live happily with more ease. I am imperfectly perfect. I fall, I brush myself off and get back up. When I make a mistake I learn from it and try to never make the same mistake twice. I grow everyday to be a better human being. I don’t ask anybody to follow me, rather to join me in the practice yoga and life. We are all in this life together. We have to decide how to make the most of it, with honor and respect for those around us.

At this time I am waiting to hear how the anusara community will separate the man, John Friend from the style Anusara yoga. I will help in the process where I can. I wish to continue to teach yoga in the best way that I can to make the world a better place. I will make all decisions with love and respect for all beings. That is my commitment.