Today John Friend took a leave of absence from the Anusara yoga organization after weeks of allegations of sexual misconduct, drug use and financial impropriety.
Many of my teachers have studied with John Friend and I've always heard nothing but praise for him. Over the summer The New York Times wrote an article highlighting Anusara and Friend in which they called him a "Yoga Mogul." In the past two weeks one after one renowned teachers have announced their resignation from the organization. Everyday it seemed a few more are leaving and everyday things seemed to get worse. Yoga Dork provided a thorough timeline of the events leading up to today.
Here is the letter John Friend wrote to the Anusara community today that was published at Yoga Dork.
The last two weeks have been intensely heartbreaking for me.
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.
Presently, I am completing my current event in Miami, which I felt too irresponsible to cancel.
On Monday, I will be stepping down and taking a leave of absence for self-reflection, therapy, and personal retreat in order to take care of myself, and consider the next best step for myself and Anusara. Professional counselors and advisors will help me to determine the duration of my sabbatical.
Within the next 10 days, I will make a full public statement that will transparently address the entirety of this situation, and present a detailed outline of the reorganization of Anusara yoga. Also, I will be able to finally write and call individually so many friends who have been reaching out to me.
This devastating experience has profoundly impacted my heart and soul, and will serve to guide all my future actions with integrity.
I never met John Friend. Many of my teachers have learned from him, and I have only heard positivity about his laid back, yet brilliant attitude. I've studied and embraced many Anusara principles, especially connecting with the idea of opening my heart.
Ironically, one month ago I paid $200 to apply to study with John Friend in Arlington Heights the weekend of March 31. The website currently does not mention anything about a cancellation.
I feel sadness for the many affected by this man's unethical actions and I have compassion for him. It also dissapoints me that every community, even the yoga community, has corruption and controversy.
Do you think the Anusara kula will be able to survive this? Will the organization restructure and continue to create and educate powerful and compassionate yogis?
I wish nothing but strength and honesty for everyone.