John was a bullfrog, he was a good Friend of mine.
I never understood a single word he said, but I helped him drink his whine.
He always had some mighty fine wine.
Have you been drinking the wine or the Ku-laid? For the past two months, it seems like all the yoga community has been talking about is the John Friend scandal. Allegations from jfexposed.com have sparked a virtual frenzy, and it’s been a trending topic on YogaDork, Elephant Journal, The Huffington Post, and (just today) The Washington Post ever since. Even Anusara Inc. and John Friend himself have been sending their own newsletters to update the community on reformations within the company. Keeping up with the reformations has been a tireless process: you would find out that a select group of renowned Anusura teachers were founding an ethics committee one day, and two days later you would find out that some of those same teachers would have dropped all affiliations with Anusara altogether; you would find out that Anusara announced a new CEO, and two weeks later you would find that that was no longer the case; and the list goes on and on. And if you’ve been following along like I have, I’m sure you’re just as sick of the word “transparency” as I am.
Four years ago, the first yoga studio I stepped into was an Anusara studio. I was 19 at the time and had no idea that there were different yoga styles, and I picked the studio based on price and proximity to the BART station. I didn’t choose Anusara for its alignment principles or tantric philosophy, but I stayed with it for those reasons. In 2010, I went to my first yoga workshop: the “Melt Your Heart, Blow Your Mind” workshop taught by Friend himself. I wouldn’t say that the workshop blew my mind or that Friend isn’t a talented and inspirational teacher, but I’d say that my regular instructors have been more heart-melting and mind-blowing to me. However, some of my regular instructors have had their “hearts melted” and “minds blown” by Friend, and I get to reap the benefits from them instead.
At the end of the day, John Friend is just a regular guy with flaws like everybody else. Just as Friend’s misconduct shouldn’t be excused, his achievements shouldn’t be ignored either. Friend has created a valid system that has taken on a life of its own, so I think it’s incorrect and unfair when some people equate the end of his celebrated career with the end of Anusara. That’s not to say that the system won’t change. Change is inevitable. “Anusara” means to flow with grace. So, hopefully Anusara can ride the waves of this scandal, opposed to being swept away by it.
-The Humble Warrior