What does AnusraGate mean for DC yoga? Well three things at least. First, two of our better teachers have stepped out of the tent. Second what was the biggest Anusara studio in the US is now no longer exclusive to Anusra. Third, Douglas Brooks is getting some more air time, and as usual–if you get through it all–it is worth it.
1. Two DC certified teachers resign. A week ago, a couple of my favorite teachers (both of whom featured in my list of what I consider a rockin’ week of yoga in the District) “resigned” from Anusara. Jordan Bloom posted to his mailing list and Naomi Gottlieb-Miller posted this brief statement to her facebook page:
Today, I am taking the leap and walking away from my licensing with Anusara, Inc and John Friend. While I will always hold the method of Anusara in the highest esteem and continue to teach it’s brilliant, effective and empowering principles to my students, I cannot in good conscience, continue to align with John Friend. Today and every day, I will continue to offer the yoga I love to the students who inspire me guided by the teachers I admire.
Both statements came out on the 15th and the list of Anusara teachers who are leaving is long. You can see a timeline and list of teachers at the SF Anusara blog. There are likely other teachers who resigned, but these are the only two certified teachers I know of in DC, please feel free to let me know who I’ve missed.
What I’m curious about is, what actually changes? What changes for these teachers when they step out of the drooping Anusara tent? Or is this like a fire drill, everyone outside, and then when we get the all clear we can go back?
2. Willow Street goes “beyond.” As I read their letter, it seems like they are taking a step away from John Friend as it is a timely thing to do. It doesn’t sound like there will be any major changes at Willow Street, other than that they can now have non-certified teachers teach. (Which is good, because at least two of them just resigned 3 days before this letter came out). The letter is signed by Joe and Suzie, who according to the timeline are in slightly different places. Joe resiged, and Suzie is on the committee to rebuild Anusara.
But quite frankly, little needs to change. It is a great studio teaching a powerful system. Distancing themselves from John Friend seems like the right thing to do, it will reduce the guru adoration of JF and that is not a bad thing. This is their leading paragraph, underlines are my own:
Regardless of whether they are maintaining an official license with Anusara, Inc., every single one of our yoga teachers is highly trained in and committed to the elements of Anusara yoga: its principles of alignment, its heart-oriented method, its therapeutic approach, and its underlying philosophy. Indeed, we have the deepest respect and highest regard for the teachings of Anusara yoga, and are grateful to both John Friend and Anusara’s many senior teachers, including our own Suzie Hurley, for this yoga method that inspires and heals bodies and hearts.
3. Doug Brooks get a louder voice. It feels like a each teacher has written eloquent goodbyes, and the leading formerly-Anusara teachers, like Elena Brower have had some revealing commentary. But, if we want to get past the “what happened” and learn something from all this, then the best thing I’ve read so far is Doug Brooks statement on Elephant Journal. DB left the Anusara tent a long time ago and continues to teach. I have more of his stuff on my shelf than official Anusara materials. He writes about the Guru, as usual he is verbose, but also–true to form–he’s good. Watch this space, I am still reflecting on what he wrote and will be adding my take soon.