For a Kula without borders. . . my truth.

Dear Anusara Yoga Kula,

As many of you now know, I am no longer a licensed Anusara teacher. You may not be aware that I am still deeply invested in our community. I have spent many sleepless nights over the past several weeks working, as have many others. Several of these nights were spent in direct contact with John Friend. I was initially completely focused on what it was that I had to do to save Anusara Yoga. I have devoted my life for over a decade to this yoga.

Even in the wake of these terrible allegations against John, I was prepared to forgive. I was prepared to take immediate action to step in and teach some or even all of the Advanced Intensive in Miami. I did my very best to communicate with the appointed committee members, to garner support outside these lines, and to directly support John with tough love and encouragement.

It became evident over the course of these few critical days that nothing was going to change. It was utterly devastating to me. Heartbreaking.

I chose to resign, after 9 years of being certified because I felt if I did not I would be complicit in John’s delusion and further damage to our community.

When I resigned, my hope was that the initial resignations could be a type of sacrifice, that the power of the statement would be enough to shake John free of his addictions to attention and power that had become evident, that he might be able to save Anusara through humble and swift action. This was not to be.

I watched with deep disappointment as he took the seat of the teacher in Miami despite his assurances that this would not happen. As he told half-truths at every turn, omitting critical information that he had told me personally just days before, that were shocking to me and to my husband. The miserable, half-hearted and wholly-calculated letters that were released amidst confusion and delay only served as insult to injury. John has been averting our attention away from what he wants us to overlook.

This brings me to my thoughts about the most recent letter from John.

What follows is my take on a read-between-the-lines response to this letter. The courageous and eloquent Bernadette Birney has offered a similar approach. I encourage you all to re-read each of John’s letters, and ask yourselves what the content really represents. Read them once more, and ask yourself, perhaps more critically, what is missing?

We all want to believe in a man whom we each came to trust, some very deeply. But in this case, I think that the damage is irrevocable for our school.

John’s most recent letter follows, in italics, with my comments embedded:

Dear Anusara Yoga Kula,

As a follow-up to my stepping down on Monday from the leadership position, I am writing you to share the new organizational structure for Anusara yoga.

What does John’s “step down” really mean? More pertinently, will the ownership of Anusara, Inc. change in any way? What will the additional non-profit entity look like? Will its business model be at all sustainable?

Three weeks ago private information about me was posted on an illicit website in order to harm me, Anusara yoga, and all those named on the site. Although there has been no investigation or verification of the claims, a wide range of intense reactions and judgments has divided our community.

The adoption of victim role here is evident and distasteful. Intent aside (and I do not condone this individual’s actions nor his motives), the “illicit” website was all material from John’s own explicit emails and Skype conversations with students and employees. No matter how this information came into the public realm, the fact remains that neither John nor Anusara, Inc. has yet to come forth with any meaningful information. Thus, our licensed teachers have been struggling to make fact-based decisions on what has happened. The community is dividing accordingly. Also, I feel that everyone is entitled to a private life as long as they are not harming others.

Why is an investigation by any type of committee even necessary at this point? John knows exactly what he did. He refuses to come out and say it in public. All the teachers whom have told me of their personal conversations with John and direct questioning as such have resigned. My personal conversations with John included details on the actual sex therapy, on suspected mental breakdowns and subsequent cover-ups, on agreed-upon compromises for teaching in Miami that were not honored, and more. Yet no meaningful statements have been made, despite clamoring requests for more detail, and insistent pleas from John that he has told us everything. No. He has not.

The wide range of “reactions and judgements” that have played havoc within our community solely result from not only John’s actions of the past, but those of the present. My estimation is that John’s actions will continue to play out in familiar patterns in the future. We are eager to transfer our focus from this debacle back to planning and teaching, and taking care of our studios and families.

There is also no question that, despite the efforts of good, well-meaning people, the committees have been impotent. I see no reason to believe that any future committees will be different, whether under the guise of a 501C3 or otherwise. Out of respect for my friends that still remain in some type of leadership capacity, I will say little more.

During this month, many of our licensed teachers resigned (8% in total), including some of our leading teachers. I am very sorry and sad for the hurt that everyone has experienced during this scandal, and over time, I fully believe that truth, clarity, and great soul lessons will be revealed for all of us.

The portion of senior leadership resignation in the “8%” is significant. Until support is given for this unsubstantiated number, I question its validity. I don’t know of any community where the numbers come close. Furthermore, I would like to ask John personally why he thinks over 100 licensed teachers have resigned. I read the tone in this letter as a perceived victory by John and that he thinks the reasons for these many resignations were petty, vindictive, uninformed, fearful, or otherwise irrelevant. That in and of itself would be a terrible reflection on Anusara Yoga. What good could that possibly serve for anyone involved?

My primary reason for writing this letter is to offer my experience for the benefit of those who have been deprived of information, have been subject to seductive misinformation, or who simply lack the perspective to make an informed, critical decision. Whether you decide to remain with Anusara or not is not the issue. It is a catastrophe of leadership that you haven’t even been given factual information on which to base your thinking. I also provide this information to those who are firm in their decision, just as an additional perspective.

There are great lessons to be learned that have yet to reveal themselves. Our lives unfold in unexpected and humbling ways. Currently we have a spiritual logjam based on one man’s refusal to come forward in integrity. In addition, I believe that John is using the Tantric-based philosophy of intrinsic goodness as an excuse to do anything he likes. That John is “sad for the hurt that everyone is experiencing” sounds as if this emotional response is an amorphous, divine happenstance that floated out of nowhere. Imagine that John was a physical or occupational therapist, a counselor, a medical doctor, or a leader of a spiritual community, let alone a certified Anusara yoga teacher. He would most likely be fired, have his license revoked and possibly never able to practice again legally.

One of the perplexing falsehoods that has been propagated through the Internet, not just within the past few weeks, but within the past few years, has been the perception of Anusara, Inc. as a big corporation – when in fact, Anusara, Inc. has largely been supported by my personal teaching and speaking engagements. So, in order for me to step down as CEO of Anusara, Inc., there are significant organizational changes that now need to take place to keep Anusara yoga alive.

The first change is that I have joined in a business partnership with Michal Lichtman, who will now serve as CEO of Anusara, Inc. Michal is a successful business woman and a certified Anusara yoga teacher, and I am very confident that she will skillfully direct Anusara for the greater benefit of all. I am remaining as founder, student, and teacher of Anusara yoga. I am embracing this profound change in my life with bright openness to the next chapter for both Anusara yoga and me personally.

Michal seems very warm from her letter to the kula. My concern is that she is a student under John for years, recently certified, and still under his sway. It’s my understanding through recent correspondence that she has invested financially in Anusara, Inc. John calls it a “business partnership”. To whom will she report? I have seen no mention of any board of directors for Anusara, Inc. Will John remain as 100% shareholder? How have the corporate documents been altered to allow for this new position? I think it’s evident that Anusara has been supported in the past by John’s teaching, licensing, merchandise, etc. How would the new organization support itself if John is on sabbatical?

With significant counsel from teachers in the Kula, we will be transforming Anusara yoga into a teacher run non-profit organization (501C3), Anusara Yoga School, dedicated to serving the Anusara kula. Anusara Yoga School will direct certifications and curriculum and will serve as a central hub of information on Anusara yoga and its licensed teachers.

This sounds to me like Anusara will now encompass a non-profit educational entity that gives credence and legitimacy to Anusara’s other businesses and entities. How will the two entities interact, and whom has ultimate decision-making power? Who will be the shareholders of the non-profit association? More importantly, as has been pointed out by Bernadette and others, who will pay the operational costs?

Anusara Yoga School Board of Directors, of which I will not be a member, will be elected by the entire community of all licensed teachers. There will be forums and open communication channels between the kula, all teachers, and the Board of Directors. An Advisory Board of teachers, including Desiree Rumbaugh, Sianna Sherman, Scott Lewicki, Sumei Shum, and Barbara Noh will also be formed to help guide the Board. This Advisory Board will expand greatly in the coming weeks.

Details of the next steps for the establishment of Anusara Yoga School and the election of its Board of Directors will be communicated to everyone next week by a Steering Committee composed of Ross Rayburn, Todd Norian, Ellen Saltonstall, Deb Neubauer, and Jimmy Bernaert.

Aside from the fact that this sounds terminally bureaucratic and top-heavy, it misses the point. What will the functional relationship be between Anusara, Inc. and the non-profit? My thoughts on Anusara committees stand: unempowered and bound by legal obligation to silence, etc.

My hope is that this reorganization of Anusara yoga will give the teachers the opportunity to elevate Anusara yoga as an outstanding hatha yoga style independent of me. We will all endeavor to focus on the exceptional methodology of Anusara yoga, and I will look forward to joining you as a fellow student and teacher on the path.

John forgot sole/majority shareholder here. That’s significant.

With this new restructuring I am effectively putting Anusara yoga in the hands of the community and then trusting that it will grow beautifully in service to the world for many years to come.

At this time, I will be postponing teaching events until at least June in order to take time for a sabbatical of healing and insight.

I question the validity of any such sabbatical when statements like these are released and manipulations continue to make up the very fabric of this corporate culture and damage control. How is John effectively putting anything into the hands of the community?

I would like to personally thank every one of you who have stepped forward to support Anusara and myself during this tumultuous time.

This is insulting to those of us who worked so very hard in the critical hours to save our Anusara. I question now whether it was ever really mine, or ours. John has always promoted a culture of “with me or against me”. Until I was forced to make a stand for my own integrity, I was with him. Not now. I vehemently reject any paranoid and selfish notion that I have betrayed anyone, any ideals, any yoga. Quite the contrary. Agreeing does not equate support, nor does it necessarily create a yogic culture.

As the old saying goes, “If you found anything of value and goodness within my offerings, then it was from the greatness of my teachers. If you found flaws, foibles, or imperfections in me or my teachings, then those are all mine.”

This is another blunt insult, since John has not told the truth about his “flaws, foibles, or imperfections”. We continue to find value in the method, in the principles. I cannot stand by this management any longer. I have absolutely nothing to gain from my resignation other than the preservation of my own integrity, and that of my loved ones. The idea that some type of coup has been formed is ridiculous and hurtful for all involved on both sides. My friends who have reached out to me in this relentless struggle, one of the greatest in my life, agree: as individuals, and as the kula we were trained to become, we can no longer align with the Anusara brand.

May this new era of Anusara yoga continue to expand Light throughout the world.

Expanding light always involves opening one’s eyes to see. Real “light” is subtle and requires real process. Expanding the light means moving in alignment with one’s heart and mind, and all available resources in concert. And ultimately, it is our action that will offer more light. If we sit idly by and know in our hearts what is right, but do not act out of fear, or ambition, or paralysis, or pity, we break our own integrity. We usurp light.

I rarely think in terms of black and white, but the longer I sit with these available angles of approach, these uniquely shifting perceptions, the more I firmly come to know that in every moment we choose to serve the light or not. Deception, lies, manipulation and duplicitous behavior have no place in this field.

Thus, in this nuanced and excruciatingly difficult situation, for me there is but one very simple choice.

With love to all,


I am not feeling the love from Anusara Yoga or from John Friend since I resigned, though I do still love John from a distance, as well as all who are still working to the best of their abilities to save Anusara. This is my conscious decision. I hope this perspective is of some benefit to another person in need. My hopes are not to throw fuel on fire haphazardly, but rather to bring to light these base issues so that we may all move onto more enlightening subjects. I will never regret laying my love and my livelihood on the line to tell this truth.

We have been a heroic kula throughout this ordeal. Look at the activity in the Facebook groups and know that sincere dialogue is taking place. Sure, there are many strong words that lack substance or basis, and issues that are peripherally touched on without true examination. Yet, I see earnest questions and seeking hearts. In my local community I have seen the same. There is deep listening going on right now.

I urge all of us to keep reaching out and reaching in. This situation demands that, as does life itself.

As Ever Love, Sarah

39 Responses to For a Kula without borders. . . my truth.

  1. Thank you, Sarah, for your complete honesty and insightful analysis. It’s strong voices like yours and so many others in our strong community that are continuing to help bring light to a very clouded situation.

  2. Wishing you- wishing ALL continued healing. Aligning with principle doesnt always come easy. Sometime such aligning requires stillness, others movement…sometimes silence, other times speaking. It takes great courage to speak a difficult truth. Shanti <3

    • I really don’t know what this means, who you are, or what your background is, but my history with Anusara is well documented. I personally am taking responsibility every day. This turn of events has been a devolution of integrity that has been an unequivocal call to action.

  3. Thank you Sarah for being willing to share your struggles with Anusara and leaving Anusara. It helps all of us to see a more balanced perspective on what is going on now and in the past.

    It is clear there is a lot of pain with your decision. I think anytime anyone gets too much power there is this danger of corruption. Too much temptation, too much adoration can lead anyone to think they are invincible and do not need to be accountable to anyone.

    It also seems to me the teachers that left Anusara were struggling with some issues about John’s need for control before this disclosure of his character was revealed. So this was more like the straw that broke the camel’s back rather than a knee-jerk reaction to one event.

    I hope everyone can learn from this experience and learn how to remember the true guru lies within each of us.

  4. Sarah – i agree with everything you have written. But still, I wonder, why do you not take this opportunity to use your voice fully and fill in some of the real details, those you clearly know and are influenced by, for those of us who remain confused and in the dark. Your excellent blog still only makes reference to the misdeeds without any details. Still feels like everyone is protecrting John. The devil is in the details.

  5. Sarah,

    Thank you so much for sharing in such an authentic way, I love that you have shared from the heart and have been honest about your frustration on the plasticized band-aid presented as a solution to the interpersonal issues that John faces. It is the watermark of a true friend to not tolerate such public relations nonsense from your friend and to hold him accountable as a healer, for his behavior. THank you Sarah, wishing you health and happiness and continued brilliance of mind and heart.


  6. Hi, Sarah, we met in Estés Park in 2008 through Kelly Haas. I also resigned my Anusara inspired licence and i really appreciate you coming forward to step into the Truth and leave all the senseless discourse that is being given out to calm the tides. As a lawyer, i know what you mean legally and it´s sad to know many teachers are not fully understanding what is going on. The best to you and your family, Namasté.

  7. Thank you Sarah for your courage, your integrity and your leadership! We must stand up for what we believe in. We must use our voices and leadership abilities to forge the way. When I stepped away from John and AY last year no one in the community wanted to hear the truth. I was labeled a liar, unstable, unethical and even abusive! Eyes, ears and minds are now more open than ever. It is time to look, listen and trust in yourself. Thank you for seeing and speaking with clarity.

    With love and compassion,

  8. Hi Yogagirl, I have chosen to bring light to serious issues without fueling any flames of gossip and potentially harming involved parties. I have, however, been entirely willing to engage in critical conversation on a personal level. I would encourage you to introduce yourself in the community and begin to offer more in terms of identity and pertinent questions, and I am confident that you will receive answers accordingly. Or, even better, ask John.

  9. Ha! i so wish! truth is that my full time job is as a surgeon in NYC. I have more than introduced myself in “the community” and have asked many many pertinent questions…like you, i have a stake at protecting myself in this whole process….in doing so i have received no clear answers and i have received no clear answers…if sides were to be taken, i am clearly on yours…i still wonder how your knowing my identity should affect your giving more forthright answers…if u just said “it doesn’t feel safe right now” then i can respect that…i am just a student, that is all, you have more answers than i do – you seem to think those should be shared by John…so share.

  10. Hey Sarah, I know how dedicated you’ve been to Anusara and I have some inkling of how hard it was for you to write these words. Thanks for sharing your truth and keeping the bar raised high. Om Shanti.

  11. Sarah, Thank you for your warrior goddess self (I mean that in the best way, Durga riding her tiger!). At first I also wondered why those in the “know” are so illusive about what they know re: the facts of John’s “foibles” (don’t you love that word, like a silly little bad habit?). While I sit on the supportive “wait and see” bench, I am beginning to abandon hope that any really straightforward public revelations will be made, possibly to protect the innocent, avoid the specter of litigation, or whatever. It is clear to me now that it is not the responsibility of those like you who decided to resign their connection to Anusara to play the role of putting the facts out there, and that that lies with John and those still in the process of what can be next. What are we afraid of?

  12. To one of my first and most influential teachers of yoga, I hope and pray you will find healing from your family, friends and students during this difficult time. Please continue to share you love, passion and vast knowledge of yoga to the community! YOU are an inspiration, and the Charlotte yoga community is so fortunate to have someone like you!
    Peace and Love!

  13. Dear Sarah, I really appreciate you writing and sharing this truth. You have given words to my thoughts and feelings. Thank you.

  14. Sarah,

    Thank you for taking the time to write this piece. I value your opinion. You obviously have more information and I look forward to the whole story concerning John’s conduct. Thank you for your truth,
    Joe Taft

  15. Sarah: thanks for writing; I’m sure it must have been hard, but it was very helpful. I had already made my decision, based on other things, but this sets my mind to rest that I was neither premature nor mistaken in my decision to step away from Anusara, Inc.

  16. I am an Anusara student, but not a teacher, and never close to John, which perhaps makes me see a different perspective. But, here are some thoughts —

    1. My understanding is that Anusara, Inc. itself is transitioning to 501(c)3 status, not that there will be two separate organizations, thus the word “transforming to” rather than “opening an additional,” thus the “teacher, student” rather than “owner.” As such, there will no longer be any shareholders. Also, non-profits do not have to rely on donations alone to make money. They can have fund-raisers, they can sell goods, etc… They can hold and own the trademarks, as well. The only thing is that the extra profits go back into the organization, rather than into the pockets of the shareholders. The Board of Directors answers to themselves or to stakeholders (e.g., certified teachers in this case, I believe.) I understand all the sadness and hurt around the situation, but I do wish that there would be more understanding of how non-profits are run in some of the comments I have seen surrounding this (as someone who runs one.)

    2. If the above is true, and if there will be a non-profit, then I think it is important for us to do the work ourselves to separate the man & the method. We cry out that we want them separated, and yet we then criticize the very moves that may lead to that kind of separation. We can ask for John to be held accountable without wishing for the death of the organization. That is, of course, if the transfer of the sole-proprietorship into a non-profit organization, as I understood the letter to be saying, is true, of course.

    All of that being said, I thank you for sharing your insight and wisdom. It is true that many of us in the student community are not being given much knowledge, other than gossip or rumor or what teacher is taking what stance. I appreciate the any teacher who takes the time to make the situation a little clearer for her students.

  17. Sarah,
    I think what you have shared, as well as the numerous other posts \by teachers who are as “in the know” and/or “in the dark” as the next person, are tastefully addressing the indiscretions of John. The interested reader already knows the allegations that have been made. It is easy to find the allegations in the multitude of blog posts available. I do not feel that a (formerly) licensed teacher, whom has already taken on the responsibility of making real, personal changes in accordance with their values, need be a translator of the circulating information about John. Nor do I think the details are fully available for teachers to reveal. You are taking full charge of your role in this debacle and thus establishing clear boundaries by cutting ties with this organization. I do not see your resignation as a shirking off of deep reflection, but instead, this action is born of honest reflection. Your actions speak volumes; I do not wish to indulge any more in the voyeuristic urges to “know the dirt”. Your assertion that he has been dishonest with you and others on a personal level is brave and I honor your ability to make the hard choices you have. I hope those that were not as invested in the Anusara system will be respectful of the space that you are putting around these issues, and also your obvious refusal to stand for what has been harmful to you and those you love. Thank you for sharing your truth.

  18. Thanks Sarah,
    I’ve tried to with hold judgement while waiting for what I expected to be an opening of the truth from John’s side. By your disclosures above it looks like he is acting like so many other CEO’s. corporate executives and politicians by STONEWALLING!!! I’m disappointed and angry with John for not being as forthcoming as he had us believe he would be.
    Michael Katz Anusara-inspired

  19. i received this email from john/anusara and felt it brought more confusion than clarity. his tone did not sound at all remorseful to me, it sounded as though this is some natural disaster that just “happened” to the community. what i was really hoping for, am still hoping for, is a True-responsibility-for-ones-actions. i haven’t gotten that vibe from any of the emails or responses from john. i agree with you sarah, that john is taking advantage of the belief that there is intrinsic goodness at the core of all beings. yes he is human, and yes there is good in him, i have always felt that, but that doesn’t mean (for anyone!) that we can act recklessly, hurtfully, and still maintain integrity. i am sad for you teachers that have built your livelihoods on Anusara Yoga, and especially because of the personal relationships you may have had with john – trusting him and believing in him. I believed in him, and still do as much as i believe in any human spirit, but there was no personal relationship. with out a clear ownership for his actions, with out a clear apology and responsibility, and profound recognition of what a BIG DEAL it is that so many teachers have left, i personally can not see Anusara moving forward from this is TRUE way. that said, I have hope and faith that everything that is happening is exactly what should be happening. that it is for the highest good, this crumbling is dissolving boundaries.

  20. “Expanding light always involves opening one’s eyes to see.”
    so obvious. so true. thank you for using your voice to offer insight with dignity and integrity.

  21. Sarah, thank You for your candor & insights! My first reaction as well when I read John’s latest letter was one of denial. Unfortunately he will continue to turn the mirror on everyone else accept himself until he is truly willing to stop playing the victim & take responsibility, then and only then will the mirror change it’s direction – on John himself. Also the work that John needs to do in order to heal and gain insight as he calls it, is going to take more than a few months! Recovery is a life long process.

    To respond to yogagirl and her desire to know the details as it were – it is not Sarah’s story to tell nor any of those who resigned. It will serve no greater purpose other than to keep the focus off oneself and our own journey, onto another. I trust that the reasons the wonderful teachers who have surrendered their license, some of which I’ve had the amazing pleasure to study with, did not do so on mere speculation but on fact and their hearts calling which I can’t imagine was easy. I trust & honor that and that should be all we need to know.

    Blessings to all!

  22. Beautifully executed Sarah. I don’t believe you’ve left any stone unturned. I look forward to experiencing yoga with you again in the near future.
    Many Hugs & Blessings

  23. Sarah, Another piece that is being over looked is that for all those teachers that were in the KNOW on what was going on, what was going on with them? How could someone just let this pass by and continue. Seems to be an awful lot of “senior” teachers knew about the real John. What does this say about their integrity and what is really at the core of this social club called a kula? Where are the ethics? Where is the satyam? How can you possibly think that a system that is made by someone that is not able to even control his actions and have any clear dhi, dhritti or smritti could possibly be in any integrity. The first steps of yoga are clear as the yamas and niyamas and it looks from here that Anusara just doesn’t even know what they are? Why do you think tht they are the first rung on the ladder?

  24. Thank you Sarah. This might be the best letter I have seen, as yet. Your generosity of spirit, your open-hearted clarity, and your integrity shine through.
    I have never been a fan of Anusara – for some reason I could smell something wrong from the beginning and have taken umbrage to the commericialization and branding of something dear to my heart. Thats just me. I have been feeling a little “I told you so smug” as a result of the ‘scandal’ but I take no pleasure in the pain/suffering of others. Who hasn’t been duped by frauds/charlatans some how and some way at some point in their lives? I appreciate your letter and all that it has to offer, but I do agree with one of the other replies above: with so much deceptiveness couched in secrets and shadows – it is only human nature for those of us who are following this issue to want to know “more”. The WHOLE story behind the story. The back story. And no one is really laying that down in black and white and that does feel like enablement ; enablement of John, enablement of the fraudulence, enablement of manipulative deceptions … etc. Anyhow — thank you again ..> Well thought out and eloquently written.

  25. Thanks Sarah. Beautifully written. I haven’t had it in me to be in the thick of all this. It’s just felt better for me to shine more light into my new role as a mom and stay grounded with what’s in front me. I am very grateful to you and so many others who are willing to speak out and share your thoughtful words with the bigger community – with sensitivity and grace, I might add.
    Much love, kate

  26. Thank you for your insights in this matter.

    I expect that Anusara Inc will maintain the trademarks and branding — and be the licensing arm for the organization as well as the product-producing aspect. I suggest that the licenses and royalties aspects will be involved in this arm of the business.

    Then, the yoga school will focus on the teacher trainings — taking in money from those teacher trainings (likely in a percentage with the teachers, or the teachers being hired to run the trainings), and that is how they will make the income.

    Thus, a person can take Anusara training and get certification via the school, and if they want to use the trademarked elements of Anusara — or produce related products — then they would engage Anusara, Inc with the licensing agreement and the product/royalties aspect.

    This is just a guess.

    Also, if Michal is a business partner, she has likely purchased aspects of the business and also has shares. It is unlikely that she has a majority share, but it looks like it’s been in the works for a while.

    Partnerships and sole ownership businesses do not require boards of directors like corporations do, and so it’s not surprising that there isn’t one.

    And I agree, this is rather ‘business as usual’ — and of course, John will still hold a great deal of personal power in the organization as the “founder” and also the holder of the trademarks. Ultimately, the board will report to him (and Michal) to make sure that these trademarks are maintained. . . so there isn’t a whole lot of separation.

    Just a thought, though. Guesses really.

  27. I particularly appreciated how you addressed John’s letter. You responded to each thing he said and all your answers are clear and not necessarily judgemental. John’s letter is defensive , skirts issues, withholding of any responsibility other than to project that things will change but without definition of just how that will happen. Certainly he can’t believe that most students and teachers are not intelligent because that is how it sounds to me personally. I am in the Anusara Teacher Training as I write this. It has not changed my mind about the principles, the Tantra, the overall conception of Anusara, it just changes my mind about leadership and the way all people get blind sighted looking for someone to lead them. Thank you for your thoughtful and insightful reflections on all of this.

  28. Thank you, Sarah, for your well-articulated intelligence and open-hearted sharing. My responses to your letter are similar to yours, although not as well thought out as you’ve shared. Evidently, it is much easier talking about the Light than standing in it. As Lila dances in our heads, if we aren’t clear about our intentions and truthful to ourselves about our personal traits and tendencies, we can and so often do fool ourselves about what is going on.

    Heck, I’ve no doubt I’m fooling my own self right here and now! 🙂

    I take that insight for myself, not passing judgement on anyone. A cautionary tale, this is. Perhaps the irony is that this whole story may have become Mr. Friend’s greatest teaching for us as yoginis and yogis. And, as with any teaching, we all take from it what we will. I’ll not attempt to state for anyone else what that teaching is or should be. For myself, there is always a need for a so-called “outside” teacher for the earnest student. But ultimately, every sincere teacher must want the student to access their own Innate Guide. That’s one point. There are many others.

    I also congratulate you for “aligning” with your integrity because when you as the teacher shows up, your own personal authenticity is the real value you offer your students; not the Anusara brand or methodology.

    The words “align” and “alignment” are biggies in Yoga World. Too bad these seemingly benign and useful words have taken on the aroma of “obey” and “obedience” within the context of Mr. Friend’s behavior.

    By giving up your license, what have you truly lost vs. what have you gained? Perhaps at some point, you’ll see that license as an anchor that did not hold you steady, but dragged you down. Now you can FLY! 🙂

    I live in Asheville and hope to some day take a class or two with you when I travel to Charlotte. I’ve had some workshops with Mr. Friend and have taken the immersion trainings. Now and then, I teach a little.


  29. Hi Sarah

    I am friends with your sister Rachael and met you briefly at Desiree’s workshop in Wilmington in 2008. I love the light you bring to this world. I had the great joy of meeting Serena this fall while vacationing in Boone, and I think of the three of you so often and the fantastic sparks of love and art you all spread. Anusara has always spoken to me greatly, and I count some of my greatest teachers among its gifts. My heart is with you and your family – yoga & earthbound – as you travel this difficult terrain.

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