John Friend Steps Down as Anusara Yoga Leader

John Friend Steps Down as Anusara Yoga Leader

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.

Dear Friends,

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.


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  • Insightful - thanks!

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    i love the Anusara community, and style, and honestly believe that John managed to gather around him some of the most evolved souls i have come across,

    One criticism leveled at Anusara was that it overly focused on the light, i did feel that, not that the focus on the light is wrong at all, but, that you can't, at the same time ignore the dark

    Now, this has happened, i am so sad, and i wonder, why what had been such an amazing community is blowing itself up

    i would honestly, as a naive outsider, liked them to stay together as a community, and really work this through, which is a hard place i know, BUT, i really dont know the complexity of the situation, and am in no position to judge

    Anyway, what is true is that John did do an amazing job creating one of the best organisations i have ever come across, and with some of the best people/leaders i have met

    maybe it truly is that the leaders are so evolved and mature and ethical, that this is the best direction now,



  • Another flash in the pan, wanna be guru suffering from unresolved narcissistic injuries.
    I am grateful for people like Jack Kornfield, who insightfully and sensitively write about the repeated insults people in similar roles as John Friend have committed against so many, so called, devotees.
    From a grossly pop psychological perspective, the term co-dependence seems fitting not only for John Friend, but for his followers, too.
    It is amazing what happens when a spiritually hungry person and/or group of people meet a charismatic personality. . .
    Borrowing from the movie, Avatar: "this is sad, very sad."
    Like the microwave society we live in, were we have come to expect everything quickly, I hope Mr. Friend will take the necessary years (not months) to do the work he must do; to shed a few layers of his false self, his compensatory charisma.
    I suppose one way or another, the "opportunity" for everyone involved to grow has been, prima facie, opened wide.

  • I'm a bit late with my comment, but I too was signed up for the 3/31 workshop, and have found all of this compelling. The Anusara community (or "kula") is made up of many wonderful and interesting people, and the organization Should be upset (angry, confused, unsure) by John's actions. I also agree with Kelven's observation of the guru/follower situation. People in high places do fall -- sometimes the higher they are the harder they fall. The remaining leaders of Anusara say "we are more than this situation", and I expect that they are correct. Hope to meet you at the rescheduled workshop! I attended

  • I am a bit late with this comment, but I, too, was signed up for the
    3/31 workshop. The Anusara community ("kula") Should be upset (confused, angry, unsure). I agree with Kelven that guru/follower model begs for disappointment. Hopefully, many of those amazing yogis that Rachel and all of us know in Anusara will come together, readjusting. Personally, I think Anusara is more than John's fall from Grace (what an ironic phrase, given his teachings) and I am optimistic since many of those wonderful teachers ARE sticking around. Hope to meet you at the rescheduled workshop --whenever it is -- and that it will be as happy as the other one I went to in 2010!

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