Speaking of interviews….
We’ve poked some fun at our Yoganonymous neighbors in the past (here and here), with many of our barbs centering on the site’s seeming attempt to be yoga media’s caulk to yoga culture’s crevasse. (Meaning: It’s filler. Duh.) But, let us be the first to admit wrongfulness, since “the other day” (why doesn’t Yoganonymous time-stamp their pieces?!?!) they pub’d an interview with Mr. John Friend that made (almost!) no reference to his past naughtiness, which might make Yoganonymous the first “independent” media outlet to “move on” from the scandal, and thus pave the way for a new and improved John Friend that is here to stay.
The interview is titled, “John Friend: Root the Dark, Branch the Light,” and you can read it here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. (I was feeling whimsical.) Also, it leads with this cuddly image…
The interview is short and sweet, dealing almost entirely with the “Roots” sequence Friend and Desi Springer are promoting. It also gives Friend just enough room to do what he does best: make his well-known strong case for whatever it is he is up to.
Let’s face it. Whether its peddling a wider yoga mat, or not really apologizing for things he ain’t feeling like apologizing for, people gotta remember: After you toss out all that hanging out with spiritual teachers who have lost all credibility, the sex, the drugs, the mats, the money, the personality, the promises, the sex, the covens, the sex, the coke-snorting high people get from feeling like they can change the world through “correct alignment,” John Friend produced one of the more “This might not be bullshit” systems of yoga out there, which, at one point, was becoming a proper contemporary to Ashtanga, Iyengar, Sivananda, and Wai Lana.
Of course, everything has room for improvement, but ya gotta admit that the guy has some chops in the “musculature is, like, totally cosmic, brah” world. There’s a reason why “smart people” (read: people who require “loops” to be grounded in “fascia”) tended to gravitate toward his teachings. Yes, Friend represented the classic “charismatic teacher” that un-fun cult-watchers are so frightened of when they go to bed at night. And, yes, the whole Anusara thing had an elaborate “You can take over the world” rock-n-roll patch sewn onto its metalhead jacket.
But, for real. Becoming Anusara-certified was no joke (seven or so years, if I’m correct?), and really did make all that “Dance Your Chakras” 200-hour yoga teacher training BS look about as BS as it really was and continues to be.
Now, obviously, there’s a lot of lads and (especially) ladies out there riding the “Please, God-as-Shri, let people never forget about John Friend’s shenanigans” coattails by being “against” John Friend, hoping the yoga community will be able to stomach yet another “Open Letter to John Friend” blog post. It’s like these people forget that a scandal is what makes the butter brown, baby. The scandal is yoga culture’s sex tape. You ain’t gonna be famous for long if all you do is pooh-pooh that viral video of a secret blurry handjob. Nope. It’s do or be “been there done that” in this dog eat dog (eat dog ad infinitum) world of yoga stardom.
Our suggestion? Buy a bottle of tequila, call some polyamorous-curious friends over, set up a video camera, drink said bottle of tequila straight from said bottle, and hit record.
The book deals are written and waiting to be signed.
ADDITIONAL PREDICTION AT NO EXTRA COST!!!!
Based on the tone of the Yoganonymous article we now believe that John Friend will weather the shit-storm of hate, and come back greyer, balder, more “fit,” and very very very well-received by a very very very forgiving and forgetful yoga community. Time works wonders, kids. It taketh life and giveth it backeth. You created him, and although you’ve probably learned your lesson and shan’t create him again, someone else has read your earliest notes and will probably create another just like him. Have fun!
Thanks to a reader for the tip.
Adjust my mula bandha once, shame on you. Adjust my mula bandha twice…
… Become a Certified Teacher?
No, brother, that takes more than twice; first, you have to perform a little on the “casting mat,” then you can ascend to.muse, “solar flame,” miracle co-creator, and on to Divine Goddess. It’s like the “Stairway to Heaven.” Or maybe it’s just the “Human Centipede.” It’s a close-knit community, after all.
ON THIS THEME: Coming soon…..”MAHA GARUDA’S Yoga Shack and Tequila Factory” In the tradition of Anusara and just exactly like tequila, our system of yoga will make you feel invincible, up to a point. Luckily we have a solution to over indulgence of tequila yoga…It’s our new patented ” Commode Hugger Yoga Mat”. designed with comfort in mind we added a cheek warmer for when the side of the commode is just too cold. Completely machine washable and stain resistant, we tested this mat in the slums of Calcutta.
Is John sporting a faux-hawk? He really is having a mid-life crisis, isn’t he? Dude, embrace your inner grandfather, there’s no shame in aging gracefully. Look at Vinnie Marino.
I watched the video of the Roots sequence and it is definitely not for the beginner BUT they did put it up for free and no copywrite, so points there I guess.
As for his sexual shenanigans, Friend is always going to look and there are chicks/students who are always going to be offering and willing. Nothing new under the sun. Take the yoga and leave the dude behind or if you really don’t like his yoga, there are plenty of other options somewhere else.
The guy certainly exceeds at the creepy promo photo. He looks like he’s on the prowl at a silver fox swingers party in that pic. It really creeps me out.
I called it a year ago .. of course the guy would come back with a new following although I thought he would go overseas for a while to re-build. Guess he really didn’t need to. I think western yoga deserves every last creep it invites into it’s bed.
The photo is beyond creep!! What the heck pose is that? Crouching Bear Predator Pose? Of your nightmares!
If I saw a guy with a mug like that hovering over me, my first instinct would be to kick him in the groin and then run out of the house screaming bloody murder. I mean look at that face, like *really* look at that face. there’s no wisdom, there’s no benevolence. There’s an ugly smirk and a cunning intelligence behind those eyes. It’s one which belong to those pervy looking truck-drivers with the naked lady cut-out on their tire flaps you sometimes drive by along the highway.
Hey hey hey. Leave the mud flaps out of it.
Yeah!!!! Thats just insulting…To pervy truckers
Garuda, not all truck drivers were meant to be insulted. Just some 😉
In politics as in Yoga……. You are never fully out until you get caught with a live underage boy, or a dead underage girl.
JOHNNY U TOO BAD
You’re just robbin’ now you’re stabbin’
Now you’re lootin’ now you’re shootin’
Boy, you too bad
You’re just robbin’ and you’re stabbin’
Now you’re lootin’ now you’re shootin’
Boy u too bad
One of these days when you hear a voice say come
Where you gonna run to?
One of these days when you hear a voice say come
Where you gonna run to?
there once was a yogi named Friend
Who’s business almost came to an end
but after the scandels
He wore Juil Sandels
now grounded his career’s on the mend
To ground a scoundrel it takes more than copper.
Scandal curing sandals seems less than proper.
Lets ask the families he treated like refuse,
to forgive and forget cuz johnny got new shooz.
Mending an ego is easy with time,
even a turd may glow with some spit and some shine.
Twas teachers who made Anusara a hit,
hard lessons learned for many.
Twas johnny himself who stepped in the shit
Not johnny’s new shoes you see.
In all seriousness, the fact that John Friend could once again reach down into his own creative genius to fashion a new, well-conceived, hard-core yoga system — in partnership with a strong woman — is a pretty thorough repudiation of all the wannabe Anusara and ex-Anusara starlets that Friend obviously found too singularly unimpressive to try to pass his original legacy on to. These women have had a good year to prove themselves on their own and basically and they ain’t got shit because they never had shit. They were simply hoping Daddy would bless them, finance them, extol them, and kiss all their boo-boos — and occasionally their boob-oos. In yoga, you’re always known by your guru — if you devote yourself to one — and these women will always be known by the John Friend mantle in which they clothed — and rather often disrobed — themselves. That’s just life ladies. Deal with it. Or yes, just give up the pretense and take up a nice feminine sideline — ecological beauty specialist, personal life coach or dipshit-grinning PR adviser. As for birthing a vision, designing a system, or leading an organization — these are higher order spiritual functions that take a pretty big MAN-date from Heaven. So leave it to the men — and the very few women — who’ve got it– and run off and play. Have fun!
JF routinely shit where he ate. The residue of his shenanigans is a general mistrust among his Lieutenants, Male and Female alike. To say that JF didnt find them unimpressive is factually inacurate. he did find them impressive. Them. This dude was shagging everything he could. While thats not a crime, it is a pretty shitty way of separating the wheat from the chaff. The legacy of Anusara is tainted, not because of the trust that many teachers had placed in JF, but by his conflation of power and leadership.
It’s a collective pathology that is endemic to American yoga, and that implicates the women as much, and in some cases, more than the guru. No one held a gun t anyone of those women’s heads. A number of them were married. Where I come from, a married person ALWAYS bears the greater onus in an adulterous situation. Male or female. What kind of “wife” does this — one who is horny, desperate, dissatisfied, take your pick. No real judgment implied — and that’s the point, if you want to place blame at all, you have to take off the pseudo-feminist blinders. And I do mean PSEUDO..
Well, I guess if the Fem/Masc blinders are equalized, there remains the boundary issue of Teacher /Student.. That in my opinion is not and cannot be an equal relationship. In those cases, the teacher bears the responsibility, Period. Yee was a prime example of stepping across the boundary. He was a married teacher who decided that the vow he took was fungible. I met my Spouse in class. I spoke with no less than three very experienced yoga instructors who guided me in the process of clearing the teacher student relationship boundary BEFORE we committed to each other. This is serious stuff and when I decided to give this thing a GO, the burden fell entirely on my shoulders to clear any Karma away before involving another. I cant speak for JF or the wives he bedded. But I did see some of the damage that his irresponsibility as Yoga Teacher created. Whether or not One has a right to make a living doing this, they have an obligation to the student. The Yamas/Niyamas are not an ala carte menu.
So did these women, and they still are. It’s endemic to the boundary-less culture of American yoga, a culture that believes it is spiritually “exempt” from tax laws, yoga ethics, indeed anything that stands in the way of its narcissistic ego — individual and collective.
Garuda, I respect your views, and your experience, but we are all individually responsible for our decisions. These women are not robots, and many were not “his” students – a lot of them were just part of the ;larger flock. Your first responsibility is to your partner. It just doesn’t wash. You made a marriage vow before your God. if you have any integrity or character at all, it is inviolable. The idea that the “teacher” or the head of Anusara pulled you into something against your will only reinforces the pathology of the relationship. You’;re accepting the premise of the pathology. As an adult, unless you are forced, where you put your vagina is entirely 100% your responsibility — and trust me, brother, that’s how a judge will view it during the divorce hearing. Again, no yoga “exemption.” Suit, show up and grow up. We’re all accountable.
Amazing how that sounds like a defense that ol Bikram Choudry should be retreating to soon. He no doubt will try to blame shift his role in rape onto the student teachers he assaulted and abused. It is a cultural thang I suppose to trap a student with your authority and take advantage under threat of exclusion . I dont know if JF was just a playa, or if he was a power tripper, but it is probably not coincidence that the Women involved, were also climbing up the Anusara ladder.
Garuda — Methinks Bikram will just flat out deny it, and if there are no witnesses, no physical evidence, and no people at the time who heard her say, “he did this to me,” it could just turn into “he said/she said.” No one ever reported anything to the police, and the events took place close to 3 years ago.
Also, there’s a question here – fundamental? – of “consent.” I don’t think anyone has ever alleged non-consensual sex with John Friend? In Bikram’s case, we are talking about charges of “sexual battery.”
It’s not the same as sexual assault or rape, though laws vary by state. Basically, it’s unlawful touching of a sexual nature, without necessarily penetration, etc. etc.
The people who are saying he’s being accused of “rape” are not technically correct. I think they know, with this much time passing, it’s too high a threshold. Also, there are no criminal charges at all, and the damages sought are really modest. Lost wages? I mean, really. To what? It doesn’t even sound like they are alleging emotional distress.
It’s a tough way to go, and the mere fact that 1-2 other people may have alleged the same probably won’t matter, in the absence of corroboration from one of Bikram’s female lieutenants who the plaintiffs allege are essentially co-conspirators. The thing many people forget is that in a civil suit of this kind, you have to show you were actually “damaged.” If these women are not careful, Bikram will win — and will then counter-sue for defamation.
Anyway, re: Friend. I recognize that in these cult or cult-like environments, people do start losing their freedom to choose in subtle but powerful ways. I have studied it. However, under the law, going to bed with your guru, even if he took advantage of you, is “consensual.”
Addendum: I meant as long as you’re of age, and he did not “coerce” you, either physically or with threats of loss of employment, etc. If you are one of these women, how do you show that this incident happened at all, and if Bikram admits that he did have physical contact, that it happened the way you said it did? You are the plaintiff, the accuser. Again, a witness or others testifying saying it happened to them, too, terrific. Bikram, if it comes to this, may well have witnesses saying something else, maybe even impugning the women’s character and saying they were jealous liars. It’s very messy. In a civil matter, the threshold of believability is certainly lower. It’s usually the “preponderance of evidence.” You don’t get off simply on the criminal standard of “reasonable doubt,” which clearly exists here in the absence of physical evidence, witnesses etc. (Which is why no criminal prosecutor in his right mind would bring charges now). If there are 10 people supporting the plaintiff in court with similar detailed accounts, a jury might decide in their favor. Then again, they may not award them anything, either. Will they take a confidential no-fault settlement? Another big issue.
Anyway great fodder for the yoga blogs. Jenny Carlson at yoga Dork has been gunning for him for some time? I wonder which one of her favorite yoga pals — Brower, Rea, take your pic — wants Bikram’s market share? O, how cynical. My bad.
Actually, that “new, well-conceived, hard-core yoga system”, The Roots, was created by Desi and Micah Springer, two SISTERS in Colorado. JF didn’t do jack shit in the way of creative genius on that system of yoga other than lend his smarmy marketing persona. Sounds like the sisters made a deal with the devil – cash in on the controversy to get bodies in the door and buzz going on their Roots system, all publicity is good publicity, next stop cover of Yoga Journal!
Ya know, the Anusarans (both men & women) who were globetrottin’ their workshops back in the day are pretty much still globetrottin’ some manner of workshops today; the studio owners pretty much are still running their studios with more divergent offerings; the every day teachers are still teaching every day classes with more of this and less of that; and JF reinvents himself to sell the latest brand of snake oil. Nothing really has changed that much .. and that’s the problem.
Do you really think this is a problem of Anusara yoga and John Friend? Really? American yoga is a giant commercial brothel, and these days it’s hard to separates the hos from the pimps. People are tripping over themselves to perform downward doggie — and twice on Sundays. But, you know, “spiritual materialism”? That’s not an issue. Don’t we have a right to make a living y’all?
My last statement was meant to illustrate that it is not a problem with this one system or this one man but as you stated “a collective pathology that is endemic” to western yoga. It seems like the same B.S. is continually being recycled and people are happy to fall asleep/forget and keep on consuming. The beat goes on.
I think John Friend gives a pretty clear eyed view of where The Roots came from – and his own role in its refinement as part of his own trajectory as a yoga teacher over several decades. Maybe the Springer Girls will disagree with his characterization that he “reviewed and modified” the sequence, which is really all he claims publicly. It does seem to go quite a bit beyond “lending his smarmy marketing persona.”
You say they made a “deal with the devil” by working with Friend? If their system was so brilliant on its own, why did they feel compelled to go to Daddy — whom Desi met in 2005 — in the first place? Maybe they’re the devil.
Stewart, I’ve read the description previously. JF explicitly states the two sisters created the system on their own in 2008, later modified by Desi in 2011 and then presented to JF a few months later in 2011. He goes on to state the first time he practiced the system was in early 2012. It’s all right there in the link you provided. JF does not claim he created the system at all, there’s no debate around this.
I think it’s pretty clear the sister(s) linked up with JF because it takes more than simply having a good idea to create a successful, thriving market for that idea. Would it were so, we’d all be wealthy. JF is charismatic, has name recognition and can sell the crap out of things. He regains some post-scandal legitimacy by being “in partnership with a strong woman”, as you put it.
I don’t think anybody is a victim or a saint in that arrangement – both parties needed something from the other so, yes, they both struck a deal with the devil, so to speak.
Personally, I find it the same-old, same-old nonsense being peddled again under a different name and angle. I’ll take a pass on the whole lot.
Why does anyone ever feel the need to develop a new system of yoga then brand n market it?
I may be dating myself, but there was an episode on “Outer Limits”, of an alien (space creature), that walked like a spider, but had a human like head. That picture of JF made me flash back.
It reminds me of Toy Story where the mean kid makes creepy mashups by putting the head of one toy on the body of another.
Oh My! That picture picture has got me feeling a bit Romulus and Remus all of a sudden–you know…like a feral child who wants to suckle the teets of that she-wolf called John Friend.
Got milk .. or maybe milf?
Did anyone notice that Babs casually added to his list of 20th century yoga legends that unheralded moaning yogini genius known as Wai Lana? Bless you my son. MAHALO!!
Wai Lana’s outdoor conditions are breezy
though she makes it look easy
I want to give a hug
to the lady who does yoga on a rug
even though the production is cheesy
It seems to me JF’s big boner was fooling around with the funds and what he did with said funds.
Maybe, you’re right, but how will we ever know? There are so many layers of denial, damage control, partial disclosure, organizational revisionism, and full-scale cover up going on in the world Anus-Sewer Yoga. A team of social psychologists could spend 20 years on the case, and end up in the rubber room themselves. Some of the people involved are incapable of telling their own truth, because they still don’t know it, and they certainly aren’t sharing what they might not never know. There are so many semen-stained bodies buried in the world of yoga. And people think William Broad over-did the “sex angle” with yoga. Are you fucking kidding me? Ask any yogi or yogini of longevity, and they will set you straight — if you don’t already know. Yoga is just one giant bullshit society – what do you expect, when you fuse the ego with the libido and put them both on spiritual steroids?
I believe he was aware of what he was doing, he got into trouble with the feds for fooling around with the retirement fund, that isn’t psychological or confusing it’s just a crime.
Here I was, about to “Root the Dark, and Branch the effin light, and you guys ruined it for me
Yoga Whelp, you really might as well just go by Stewart J. Lawrence. Your patent blend of misogyny, moralism, and sex-obsession is unmistakable. I’m sorry to find its stench permeating this conversation.
Thanks, I will keep sharing on behalf of gender balance, mutual respect, and personal accountability, and you can keep sharing hate speech under a cowardly pseudonym, You are are shining example of the contemporary pathology. Thanks for the inspiration!
I am a middle age male yoga teacher. I find Stewart, the downward facing Whelping dog’s take on things refreshing, balancing, and controversial to be sure. When I teach a room full of 40 women and 5 men, it becomes patently obvious that the girls club vibe could easily overun the teachings. Luckily, I had a couple of wonderful teachers ( one male, one female) who taught from a place beyond gender. I learned the skills needed to keep the estrogen flow to a modicum and I certainly dont teach the “dig-me” brand of yoga that the 25 year old cheerleaders are peddling. Whelp,,,or “The Whelp” brings a masculist POV to the thread. But I do believe that his masculism is being mistaken for misogyny. That is your shit, not his.
I am Stewart’s wife, Cristina Gonzalez. Let me get this straight, basta —
“Moralism” because my husband thinks people who are married should be faithful to each other.
“Sex obsession” because he thinks, rightly, that sexual acting out is rampant in yoga by both genders.
“Misogyny,” because he doesn’t think women are better than men and is proud to be a man (I am proud of him, too, by the way).
What kind of crazy fucked up white bitch are you? Maybe you should crawl back into the Anu-sewer you came from. CG
Stewart er, um I mean Christina, I really don’t understand your schtick.
It’s clear you have nothing to spew out except poison and vitriolic rage against women and the yoga community at large.
You’ve done it here, you’ve done it at Yogadork’s site, you’ve done it at It’s All Yoga Baby, if fact you do it at just about any outlet you can find. True there’s a lot of idiots and blind followers but if you hate it so much, why do you still watch it so closely and why the keen interest? Are you profiting from it in some way, just like the people you skewer?
I don’t recall anyone voting you in to be the official critic, ombudsman, recanteur etc.
You’re not funny at all either.
I’m writing a book, so thank you for the additional material. I’m actually a published author on the topic, at Huff Po the Guardian and many other places. The blog thread postings are just fodder for the most part, but you obviously haven’t read most of what I write anyway, though I can see you are one of the assigned Anusara cyber stalkers I’ve had to deal with for a couple of years, just as so many other cult critics have No I don’t try to profit, I leave that to spiritual wannabes like you. I don’t get paid a dime. Many of the people here are published authors also, and they also wax on interminably, here and elsewhere. I’m not official anything, but I am a trained social psychologist, and I do have a keen eye for social pathology. Yoga is a gold mine, Thanks for being such a devoted miner.
Here you go, Devil —
Do you want the LA Times, Christian Science Monitor and Politico pieces, too? Actually just Google my name and yoga or immigration, among other topics I have reported on for the past 15 years.
Hope that helps. And send me yours. Who are you again, dear?
Why can’t we all root the dark, and embrace the light?
Novecho, you sound like the Rodney King of yoga! Nothing like a good LA police beating to get you to start meditating, eh?
And by Police Beating”, Are you referring to the Anusara Patrol?