We’re Just Human…Insight & the Anusara Yoga Controversy

I’ve been somewhat shocked and yet entertained at all this John Friend, Anusara uproar.

First off, let me say that I tried Anusara years ago when I first started practicing but it didn’t stick with me for these reasons: 1) Way too much chanting. 2) With a room full of strangers the teacher had us do partner stuff. Ewww! 3) There was a lot of prodding to “open your heart.” 4) I didn’t leave the class sweating.

All of this was a big, No thanks for me! My impression was this is the type of yoga for those who grew up in the sixties and were still nostalgic for the free-love of Woodstock.

A week ago I couldn’t have told you who John Friend was, but now I’ve certainly read through the backlogs of whistle-blower articles, mesmerized by accounts of him having sexual relationships with his students (some of who were married) in addition to his girlfriend, mishandling 401K contributions, someone starting a website to leak information that has now been taken down, and the onslaught of comments to the blogs and articles where yoga students (I won’t call them yogis) lashed out at each other in anger, judgement, and vicious rebuttal, sometimes in long multi-length paragraphs!

I was definitely on the fun ride of “what-the-heck-is-going-on” bandwagon.

Until last night, in class at Pure Yoga and my teacher says, “If you would please dedicate your practice tonight to John Friend. Let’s not forget how many people he’s helped. He’s in a lot of trouble but he’s only human and he deserves compassion and forgiveness.”

You know what, they’re right!

What am I practicing by feeding into the frenzy of information by giving these websites page clicks? Why do I even care? I don’t know this guy and it’s all heresy to me because I wasn’t there nor do I know any of these people.

I didn’t directly judge Mr. Friend but I certainly didn’t give him an ounce of compassion. I went along with what I read and that’s not cool…

People who choose to take the path of leadership are courageous because they take a public position in disseminating ideas, philosophy and direction to those who are seeking an authority, or expert, to guide them. Maybe Mr. Friend was seeking self-love in the wrong places? Maybe he received poor advice? Maybe he was unconscious about what he was practicing? Maybe he lost his intention?

And as an erring, evolving yogi(ni), I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and hope he finds forgiveness for himself…

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