Life Before Anusara

Before I stepped foot in an anusara yoga class, I had been practicing yoga for 10 years. Before I started practicing yoga I had been meditating for a few years and was a vegetarian. I didn’t begin yoga because I wanted to become more flexible. I went to a class at the suggestion of a friend, who said my philosophy of life sounded like her yoga teacher’s philosophy.

Before anusara yoga I graduated from Rider University with a Bachelors Degree in Psychology and two minors in Philosophy and Social Work. I went into the field of Psychology because I realized the power of the mind. I always thought people had the potential to heal themselves if they put their mind to it. I thought people were strong, mentally, sometimes they just didn’t know it. I wanted to help people find that strength without the use of medication if at all possible.

It’s a tough sell in this world. We are brought up in the medical model – if there is a “quick fix,” however temporary, we would rather go with that than put hard work and dedication into healing. Dealing with a person’s psychological state is challenging and takes time and effort. At that time in my life I started getting adjusted by a chiropractor. I felt better in my body. Feeling better physically, allowed me to feel better mentally. It was just easier to be happy, when I felt so good. I decided people would have an easier time with their mental health choices if they felt at their best physically.

Before anusara yoga I went to chiropractic school and graduated with Doctor of Chiropractic degree. At the time I graduated from Palmer, I had already completed 9 years of college. I was pretty smart. I was also open and willing to continue to learn every day. I loved to learn. My dad called me a professional student. I was good at it! It was during the time that I was in chiropractic school, that I began my love of yoga. I took my first class and was hooked. I didn’t just do yoga; I lived it, I studied it, I loved it. My first class was with a teacher who studied with B.K.S. Iyengar.

Before anusara yoga, I completed a 3 year post graduate program in Prenatal and Pediatric Chiropractic. While doing that program, I did my first 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training Program. The style was in Sivananda Yoga. That was a specific type of yoga that didn’t really focus on alignment. I was fond of alignment. Being a chiropractor and studying Iyengar yoga, I appreciated the attention to detail and alignment focus. So I studied books and books to gain more knowledge and understanding of yoga from many teachers’ perspectives. After my first 200 hour program, I wanted to learn more. I completed a 500 hour Yoga Teacher training Program at the Himalayan Institute in PA. I learn more about the scriptures and meditation.

Before anusara yoga, I had a successful chiropractic practice for about 8 years and a successful yoga studio for about 6 years. I was an E-RYT 500 and had a successful 200 hour Teacher Training Program. All that before I stepped foot into my first anusara yoga class. I didn’t particularly like my first or second anusara class. I found the teacher to be slightly narcissistic. But I went back. There was something about the method, the style, the technique that I was attracted to. I tried another teacher. I loved it. I thought this is similar to my style and I would like to learn more.

Before anusara yoga I was a whole person. I was intelligent and open to never stop learning. I was able to run a successful business or two. I was happy. While always aspiring to be the best, I was content with where I was. I was able to think for myself and make challenging decisions. I wanted to positively contribute to world. I looked for the best in everybody. However, I didn’t just see the good. I also saw reality. I analyzed situations. I saw traits in people that helped me make smart business decisions.

Did I mention, before anusara, before I was 30, both of my parents passed away. They died within 3 years of each other. My dad died in 1998, 9 months before I graduated chiropractic school. My mom died in 2001, two weeks before my wedding. Those were challenging situations. Losing the most important people in your life to cancer, reminds you of how short life can be. It reminds you that appreciating life is a smart choice. My parents taught me how to stand on my own two feet. They taught me how to make decisions for myself. They taught me so much, most importantly, unconditional love.

I liked anusara yoga and chose to do the 200 hour teacher Training in anusara yoga. I completed the training never attending a workshop or class with John Friend. I took workshops with John and became an Anusara-Inspired teacher. Over the past year, I have debated about whether to get my certification in anusara. Here’s why – I didn’t understand the organization of anusara. I loved the fact that we are taught to look for the best. However, I thought that sometimes people only saw the good. I felt like people missed a lot because they saw only the rose flower and not the stem with thorns. For me, critical thinking is important and helpful in life. It seemed like that was lacking overall. While we are taught to embrace the dark and the light, it seemed like the emphasis was only on the light. It was a concern for me. I went to training where a teacher taught a portion of class. In that part, she used about 14 adjectives in two sentences. She was praised for such a great job. I didn’t know what she was saying or why she was saying it. I felt patronized and annoyed. The person next to me said, “I felt like your face expressed.” She felt the same way. I couldn’t be that teacher. My style is more straightforward, less flowery. I didn’t know exactly what was expected from an anusara-certified teacher. All of my questions were not answered. I continued to teach the best I could and love the practice.

Many people are asking me what I am going to do now that John Friend has had allegations made about him and since he has admitted to making poor choices. What am I going to do now that John has stepped down from his position as leader of the anusara community?

I am going to continue to be the best yoga teacher and person that I can be. In my 40 years of life, I have spent 84 hours in workshops with John Friend. That’s a short period of time. I didn’t agree with everything he said or taught. I heard him make mistakes. I accepted him as a human being. I learned all that I could each time I attended his classes. My body felt great during and after the classes. I enjoying helping other people feel great. I will continue to do that, with the utmost respect for each individual that I meet. I love yoga and value it.

Before Anusara I was a whole person. In Anusara’s time of struggle and controversy, I am a whole person. Whatever happens with John Friend, his decisions and the directional shift of Anusara the organization, I will be a whole person. I still wish every being the best.