john friend announces a new school of hatha yoga: shri daiva yoga

Jan 14, 2013 by

johnfriendTshirt-1024x675John Friend has been a busy guy since the downfall of Anusara yoga in the late winter of 2012. After a six-month sabbatical, Friend was back on the yoga scene in the autumn with a hot new sequence, The Roots.

And now he’s taken it a step further, announcing in his latest newsletter the establishment of a new hatha yoga system: Shri Daiva yoga. In typical post-Anusara John Friend style, the newsletter is long and rambling, so I’ve arranged it into a handy FAQ format.

What is Shri Daiva yoga?

A modern school of hatha yoga focusing on alignment technologies for the healing and energetic expansion of the mind-body and the heart.

Hmm, that sounds a lot like Anusara yoga. What are the similarities and differences between the two systems?

There are several key similarities and differences between Shri Daiva yoga and Anusara yoga. Both schools adhere to general Tantric yoga philosophy, and both have heart-centered, and thematic classes. ‘Open to the Universal’ or ‘Open to Grace’ is essentially the first principle in both alignment systems.

While the alignment principles of both systems have a lot of similarities, Shri Daiva focuses on specific direction of muscular integration along the insertion to origin of the main muscles in both the appendages and the torso. The gluteus muscles are specifically emphasized in their engagement to help root and abduct the femurs. Shri Daiva uses a ‘Root Spiral’ in the lower part of the body, and ‘Wing Spiral’ in the upper part of the body to create a unified alignment at the band of T-12. From the balanced alignment at the T-12 band, the foundation of the pose is rooted down from the Focal Point while the rest of the body rises in extension. When the pose is rooted and the core is then extended with the right alignment at T-12, a tensegrity within the whole body is created which automatically encompasses the Loops of the torso. In addition, the Focal Point in the pelvis is at different locations in the 2 alignment systems.

One big difference between the two schools is that Anusara yoga will remain a top-level professional teacher certification program, while Shri Daiva will not engage in professional teacher certifications or trademark licensing. However, we will conduct intensives, immersions, and teacher seminars, and will offer alignment trainings for all hatha yoga students of any school, including Anusara yoga.

Shri Daiva yoga also focuses on a wholistic, disciplined lifestyle of living foods, meditation, and The Roots as a fundamental asana practice.

So how did you spend your time on sabbatical?

In the early part of 2012 I started practicing The Roots with Desi, and I found the sequence to be one of the most complete and powerfully transformative that I have done in my 40 years of practice. Through regular practice of the complete 108-pose Roots routine, eating pranic-filled foods out of the garden, and daily meditation over the last year, I had a profound change in my life, which will be clearly evident when we meet in person.

How can we learn more about Shri Daiva yoga?

Desi and I, along with other expert faculty, will be offering one-week Vital Living intensives at Vital Yoga in Denver each month with daily practices of pranayama, meditation, and The Roots plus catered whole foods based on Ayurvedic principles in order radically shift one’s lifestyle in just 7 days. Furthermore, the Vital Living weeks will help participants deepen their relationship with the Earth, which is fundamental to healing.

The best way to learn more about Shri Daiva yoga and the power of our new alignment principles is to come take a class or workshop with Desi and me.

Read the full newsletter text here, in which Friend claims to have awakened “to a new paradigm of alignment technology.”

Questions abound as to whether Friend, less than a year after accusations of professional and ethical misconduct, should be teaching again, much less creating a new system of hatha yoga. What do you think?

22 Comments

  1. Talk about chutzpah! Wow. Whatever qualities JF may or may not have, that’s one that he is most definitely NOT lacking. (Humility, I suspect, is a different story . . . )

    I have to say that I find it humorous that he’s moved on from the plain vanilla “Hatha” and “Roots” to the oh-so-much-more-mystifying-sounding “Shri Daviva” – of course, he MUST have such an appropriately obscurantist name!

    Branded mats, DVDs, TT programs and other products are no doubt coming soon.

  2. Chutzpah indeed. I guess you can’t blame him for trying. In communications following his most recent tour, he claims to have had packed classes of 70 students. That must have given him the go-ahead to launch a new brand.

    I’m even more concerned about what this all says about the yoga community, that John is able to pack workshops less than a year after being exposed for violating ALL the yamas, and selfishly and callously hurting a whole lot of people.

  3. Just sounds so cheesy it makes me feel ill.

    “Through regular practice of the complete 108-pose Roots routine, eating pranic-filled foods out of the garden, and daily meditation over the last year, I had a profound change in my life, which will be clearly evident when we meet in person.”

    Yuck. Sorry John, but this just sounds so freaking fake and syrupy. Oooh I discovered a whole new practice and ate pranic foods from the garden, so I’m like, totally different now.

    Same Anusara, same John, different label/spin/marketing angle.

  4. Also, out of interest, these are the poses as far as I can find: http://vitalyoga.org/pdf/pat_vitalroots.pdf

  5. West Anson

    Ahhh, yes. Just what the Yoga World needs, another “school of Yoga”. I wonder if this one will include a Tantric Exploration of our Inner Kundalini Energy by having sex with students and other Yogis?

  6. Corny for sure. I can’t imagine who would want to still practice with him. His description of the postures sounds like a bunch of mumbo jumbo and reeks of Anusara but just using different terminology.

    I wonder what tantric practices will go on at those month long retreats?

  7. “There are several key similarities and differences between Shri Daiva yoga and Anusara yoga. Both schools adhere to…” the principles of malarky.

  8. I am astounded that his sexual misconduct can be so easily overlooked by so many. Returning to teaching after such a short period of time indeed demonstrates a deep level of narcissism and complete disregard for the damage he has caused others. I’m also disappointed that his interviewer did not ask him about his sexual misconduct, what he has done to rehabilitate himself and make retribution to his victims.

  9. Brad Collins

    The man is a complete phoney, a real charlatan, a slick piece of goods, a snake-oil salesman. Charming and disarming but without an honest bone in his body. Stay away from the man if you value your integrity. Trust me. I know of what I speak.

  10. Brad Collins

    A real snake-oil salesman. Beware. Stay away if you value your integrity. He has none.

  11. Steve

    I wonder if he’ll be teaching his new workshops in the same old almost speedo like shorts. lol

  12. Laurie

    It is fascinating how much interest JF still holds over the yoga world, including Yogadork. By speaking poorly about this man everyone has managed to create an incredible buzz for him, which he seems to be riding quite fully with packed classes and studios clamoring over hosting him next. Seems like the guy is a human being, who made embarrassing mistakes (but not criminal ones), apologized for them, and worked hard to move on by learning and evolving. So the more “yogis” continue to bash him the more it makes him more interesting. I went to his class in Denver because of all the trash talk that surrounded him and I am so grateful for all the haters because instead of a manipulative man, I found an amazing yoga teacher with clear and unique insights and teachings.

  13. Edward Daniel

    Took a roots class from JF and Desi Springer in Decatur GA. Not the whole four two hour class workshop, just one unit. Very challenging and very stimulating. He looked a lot thinner than his photos and was very likable and at times funny or likably corny. I guess I just don’t care about his more questionable character issues I just thought it was a great class. Which for most of us I think is what it is all about – right?

  14. As a former certified Anusara teacher here are my thoughts:

    It hurts.

    It hurts to learn that some knowingly choose to attend his workshops. I mean, it’s not an incapacitating kind of hurt, or something I ruminate upon every moment of the day, but it is something I think about. I realize that it is beyond my control. I don’t presume to tell anyone what to do. I’m just explaining how it lands on me.

    It’s like saying, “Hey, I know this person broke your heart and the hearts of so many others, and detrimentally affected your livelihoods, and made having sex with him one of the most viable ways to advance professionally in his organization. I have heard the accounts of how he predated upon women who’d been sexually abused, and engineered career-devastating blacklists against teachers who dared stand up to him. So he inflicted photos of himself being fellated upon uncomfortable workers in his office? So he used the Anusara data base as a mechanism for inflicting unwelcome sexual advances? So he is a self-admitted, ‘Master Manipulator’? So he intended to fire employees while he was assuring them that their jobs were secure? So what? My desire to have a good time is more important than all that.”

    It feels about equivalent to being flipped the bird.

    “No matter what he’s done, he’s still a good teacher,” I read on Facebook.

    To which I say, “No.”

    No.

    No, because good teachers do not predate upon their students and employees. Good teachers may have private lives but they do not have secret lives. Good teachers don’t lie. They don’t injure students so severely that they can’t walk or even sit, and then climb upon stage boasting: “Not a single person has ever been hurt during any of my events.” Good teachers don’t abruptly, imperiously demand 10% of community earnings because they’re overextended and short on cash.

    Good teachers do not do any of these things. Therefore by my calculations John Friend cannot be good teacher.

    No matter how it gets dismissed and spun, the outrage of the community was never about a little pot and a little sex. It was always about the abuse of power. I’ll never understand why we resent the Bernie Madoffs and Jeffrey Skillings of the world but don’t seem to mind abuse at the hands of famous, charismatic yogis.

    “But what about forgiveness, forgiveness, forgiveness?” so many of us are asked. “When do you forgive, forgive, forgive? You’re only hurting yourself, yourself, yourself…”

    Well, I believe in forgiveness. Much like respect, I believe it is a privilege that is earned rather than a god given entitlement. I decline indiscriminate forgiveness and am here to report that it’s not deleterious.

    Where my trust has been violated, I determine when–and if–to forgive. Claiming that prerogative for myself is a way of respecting myself. Being too quick to forgive is a good way to enable people who need help, a better way to encourage repeat abuse, and the very best way to bypass emotions that–although painful–would better be felt.

    You can read my open letter to the yoga community here: http://bernadettebirney.com/2013/01/an-open-letter-to-the-yoga-community-one-year-after-resigning-my-anusara-certification.html

    • Mark L

      This is what matters: letting go.

    • Greg W

      Very well expressed, Bernadette. I wouldn’t give him the time of day out of respect for you and the others that have been hurt.

    • margaret

      Thanks for writing this Bernadette. His actions degrade yoga teachings and yoga teachers and it’s disgusting that he is still being embraced by people in the yoga community. Forgiveness yes, but not forgetting, less we all make the mistake of putting our faith and trust in people who are not capable of holding it safely.

  15. Pete

    Carol, Emily and Bernadette:

    With respecto to all of your respective observations: Gurumayi trained him all too well.

  16. Ariane

    Wow all the above comments are so bitter . Listen to you guys . Live and let live , who has not screwed around ever, all a bunch of puritans. Those of you who have in the past practiced with john even got certified defiantly thought then that he was a great yoga teacher . And he still is . What he did who he f…. Is his problem and you are all making it yours by being so damn holier than though . Every way to get on your mat and practice is valid if you feel good with it in body and mind. Have you tried Sri daiva? Well I tell you it’s rally challenging , un scrambles a lot of stuck patterns and felt great. Desi is a good teacher too and they make a good teaching team . I don’t care what they do or don’t do off the mat and not should all of you. Bitter souls . Don’t worry be happy and point finger first at yourself . Shanti shanti Ariane

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