The founder of Anusara yoga, John Friend has taken a leave of absence after complaints of misconduct – both sexual and financial – have emerged.
The website Yoga Dork published a timeline of the events leading up to his announcement. On February 3 they posted the following accusations: “sexual misconduct, financial corruption within Anusara, Inc., illegal drug use and involvement in Wicca Covens as a sexual misuse of power.” (Source: Yoga Dork)
John Friend responded by writing a letter admitting he has made mistakes, which was posted online: “I am deeply sorry for choices I made, which have caused such a firestorm of pain and suffering in our community. I have profound grief for the damage done to our Anusara yoga community: teachers, students, and friends.” It was reported he will write another longer letter describing the situation in more detail. Yoga Dork said 60-75 Anusara yoga teachers have resigned after learning of the scandal.
A writer for the New York Times says such a scandal within the yoga community is not surprising due to the fact that yoga used to include sexual practices, and that there have been similar situations with male yoga gurus. Mark Morford, in the San Francisco Chronicle takes issue with the sex connection reference, saying one of the sources of yoga (Tantra) actually has very little to do with sex, though the sex aspects have been played up.
Either way, it is very unfortunate publicity for the Anusara yoga studios during a very difficult economic period. Anusara seems like a gentle, user-friendly style which has been appreciated by many.
Have you ever witnessed misconduct from a yoga teacher?
Image Credit: Per Berséus (Salsero) Wiki Commons