John 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?