John Friend and the Anusara Yoga scandal: A primer

John FriendAfter two tumultuous weeks of revelations and teacher resignations, John Friend officially announced yesterday that he would be stepping down and taking a “leave of absence” from Anusara.

Like Bikram Choudhury, Friend created an entirely new style of heart-centered yoga embraced by 200,000 yogis around the world. He was deemed the “Yoga Mogul” by the New York Times in 2010 and recently created branded products with Manduka, using his name and stamp of approval as the selling point.

The fallout began with a series of mysterious high-profile teacher defections—from Elena Brower to Amy Ippoliti. Then, an anonymous source created a website accusing the leader of  illegal drug use, sexual misuse of power, and pension fraud, to name a few. The thread continued to unravel, as more details surfaced and Friend admitted, to Elephant Journal, that many of the accusations were true.

Amid all of this emerged YogaDork, a Woodward without a Bernstein, breaking this enormous scoop—with a literal anonymous Deep Throat—and keeping up an impressive play-by-play as the scandal continued. She officially gets our yoga-coverage Pulitzer of 2012.

If you haven’t been following the news closely, we put together this handy catch-up primer. Does the scandal surprise you (or do you expect gurus to misbehave)? Tell us in the Comments, below.

—YogaDork reports, last November, that three of the biggest names in Anusara are breaking ties with the discipline.

YogaDork’s amazing, handy timeline of the entire controversy, with links to all of her coverage from Day 1 to the present.

—On Feb. 8, 2012, John Friend responds to the accusations against him in an interview with Elephant Journal editor Waylon Jennings.

—Blisstree posts an interview with Elena Brower about her defection and the scandal on Feb. 16, 2012.

—A Huffington Post editorial asks: Can Anusara salvage its image?

—We ask: What Will Manduka do with all of those John Friend yoga mats?


Share This:

  • 14

13 Comments | ADD YOURS

  1. February 27th, 2012 at 9:52 am

    […] Brower’s Virayoga expands with new “street studio”The Anusara world may be mired in controversy, but Elena Brower, who split with the discipline four months ago, is charting a clear course for […]

  2. February 27th, 2012 at 11:53 pm

    when things get really really really big after a certain size its kinda grotesque, well thats my judgement i dont mean that in a good/bad way i mean just IS way… its just what it IS ….its just the natural WAY of stuff…it gets so big that it EXPLODES OR IMPLODES…natural stuff going on here…its all life…love it all..and be totally imused..continue to LOVE LOVE

  3. March 2nd, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    Do I expect Gurus to misbehave?
    Do I expect western yoga mogule to misbehave?

  4. March 6th, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    that is why study is important, as well as knowing one’s self. It can’t all be on Friend. Look for what you need from the art–not the person.

  5. March 9th, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    …humans will behave like humans…

  6. March 11th, 2012 at 11:43 am

    […] continued dedicated study with Douglas as John further outlined Shiva-Shakti Tantra. During the recent, troubling events inside the Anusara world, Douglas wrote an open letter  to the community outlining his belief in […]

  7. March 24th, 2012 at 10:44 am

    Interesting, the story is about another yoga scandal, and the side-bars are all advertising spurious Yoga. Delusion upon delusion. Real Yoga is Hinduism; taught by Hindus and not for a fee.

  8. April 18th, 2012 at 1:28 am

    […] regard to responsible sexual conduct.   I know Anusaras creator seems to have forgotten this, but recent controversies aside (this topic has been thrashed already), I really do love what Anusara fosters.  The […]

  9. May 7th, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    […] before his Yoga Journal cover, before his NY Times article, before his Manduka deal, before his fall from grace and was puzzled by his […]

  10. August 11th, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    […] has already been written about guru-led misconduct, inappropriate student-teacher relationships and tantric […]

  11. August 13th, 2012 at 11:05 am

    […] is achieved through awareness of both sides; keep reading to re-balance your view of yoga…all leaders are human, not gods to be followed blindly, students can become disillusioned with their practice, and yoga has caught the eye of big […]

  12. March 27th, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    […] is no stranger to sex scandals, and just a year after the John Friend affair, another star yogi is being accused of abusing his guru status by systematically engaging in sexual […]

  13. November 11th, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    I have come to the conclusion there was Grace on guru’s for a short time in the 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s, and then, Not. Since then, teachers who insist upon promoting themselves as “enlightened” and insist upon blind obedience from “followers” have been spiraling into the dust. Note: only ego can make others feel intimidated, real presence simply doesn’t do that.

Leave a Comment (* required)