NYT on john friend, “yoga mogul”

Where's Waldo?: John Friend guides a workshop into Warrior 1 (image via nytimes.com)

The latest (and apparently longest and most detailed) New York Times article on yoga came out this week, with a special focus on John Friend and the Anusara Yoga system. The article can best be described as a loose profile of John Friend, an exposé of Anusara, and an investigation into the state of yoga in North America, and as somebody observed on Facebook, it’s “not uncritical.” John Friend’s work is introduced as:

…his global Anusara expansion (Studio Yoggy, one of the biggest yoga-school chains in Japan, will be offering Anusara yoga classes); his Anusara publishing ventures (he has commissioned a history of yoga and continues to work on his own book, albeit sporadically); and his Anusara yoga-wear business (Friend has his own line, but also works with Adidas, which is using Anusara yoga trainers in its worldwide yoga push). He is also financing historical yoga research in Nepal and Kashmir. (NYT)

Stefanie Syman, the author of ‘The Subtle Body,’ offers commentary on John Friend’s celebrity status. “He has created his own community very self-consciously. Most charismatic teachers do that. What happens is if you are successful deliberately or inadvertently, a lot of students evangelize on your behalf and spread the word.”

Mimi Swartz, the author of the article looks at “the cult of John” and lightly compares him to “Joel Osteen, the magnetic evangelical megachurch minister with the feel-good message and a book-and-television empire.” As well, Anusara Yoga is placed within the current cultural context:

Some 16 million Americans now practice yoga, a 5,000-year-old mental, physical and spiritual discipline brought to us by Indian gurus. Nowadays there aren’t just hourly classes in major American cities but also in places like Deephaven, Minn., and Hattiesburg, Miss. “Namaste,” the traditional end-of-class blessing, has become a punch line. A school in Houston even offers “jello shots” after class. If yoga began as a meditation technique for people all too familiar with physical as well as mental suffering — with poses, or asanas, devised to assist in reaching a transcendentally blissful state — it has taken on a distinctly American cast. It has become much more about doing than being. More about happiness than meaning. It’s a weight-loss technique and a stress-management tool, a gateway to an exploding market for workout clothes and equipment.

In addressing some criticism of Anusara Yoga as being too capitalist, too culty, Swartz also notes that “yoga has become embroiled in head-of-a-pin type arguments. In yoga’s case it centers on authenticity. The fight over whether it is a spiritual or a physical practice has raged virtually since its inception, but now in the United States this question has been tinted with issues of competition, status and sweat.”

The article has generated a buzz in the blogosphere, with an outpouring of commentary by senior Anusara teachers such as Christina Sell and Olga Rasmussen. Many commentors on Facebook find that John Friend and Anusara Yoga are misrepresented. One thing for certain: the article taps into the complexity of yoga in North America, and the fascinating place in which yoga currently resides.

The article got me thinking about my own practice, and my relationship with Anusara Yoga. I have been practicing Anusara in Montreal for the past four years. I have no idea if the article accurately portrayed John Friend or not. I’ve never had the time or money to follow him around and study with him, but I attended a weekend workshop with him last year and enjoyed his presence. He seemed like a joyous and enthusiastic lover of life, and he looked like he’d be fun to hang out with.

But it seemed like an accurate positioning of Anusara Yoga, and fearlessly delved into the tension between yoga and American-style capitalism. And even though it’s my chosen practice, I definitely have some misgivings about how Anusara Yoga is marketed, franchised and portrayed, and its unabashed capitalist approach to yoga. It concerns me that Anusara is partnered up with Adidas for “adidas+Anusara” events, and that the current Adidas Yoga ambassador, Elena Brower, is offering yoga teacher training to Adidas instructors (essentially, teaching them the Anusara method, which will then be repackaged as Adidas Yoga). While Anusara theory claims to embrace diversity, I’ve found Anusara classes to be quite homogenous ~ mostly women, mostly white, mostly very fit, mostly more than middle class.

However, I continue to practice and I’ve even set forward on the long path to teach Anusara Yoga, having just completed a year and a half long teacher training. Somehow, I can set aside my intellect, my critical rational mind, and listen to how my heart and my body respond to the practice. My heart opens and my body becomes expansive, strong and flexible. On every level of my being, anything feels possible after I’ve practiced. It is how I connect to myself and the world around me. And so I continue.

I’ve also been fortunate to be able to study with highly skilled and inspiring senior Anusara teachers, who have so much integrity and talent. They don’t wear Adidas yoga clothes to class and I know that my class fees stay in my community, help support their livelihoods. After three weeks of traveling and experiencing classes with other teachers, I’m excited to get back to my regular weekly practice with my teachers, to learn from their insights and experiences. I’m grateful for the community of lovely people who practice in Montreal, who I see regularly in classes and workshops and around town at various events. I have nothing but love and respect for the people in my immersion and teacher training. This article has helped me remember that under the glitz and the gloss, under the media hype and the commercialism, yoga (and not just Anusara, but all systems and styles) has the potential to touch people and change lives.

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  1. Interesting that you write about this. I live in London Ontario (moved here 8 years ago). When I first arrived here I was struck by the wide variety of yoga styles on offer. Whilst this is (to some extent) still the case, a couple of years back some teachers in the area were introduced to Anusara and man has it grown popular! Lots and lots of people doing training and offering classes. I did try a workshop but I found the style didn’t resonate with me although I understand it’s attraction to some – it’s a strong physical practice. I’m really curious as to how it’s adapted for people who are not fit and flexible? I teach a lot of gentle classes to seniors with many health conditions and could not envisage how this would work with Anusara – although maybe this is just ignorance of the Anusara style on my part! The other thing that put me off at the workshop I attended was the stock phrases the instructor used – can’t remember them all but some related to the heart – and they were spoken at regular intervals – almost like branded sentences. Am curious to hear others experiences on this style.

    • Hi Angela,

      Anusara does adapt for many different styles and conditions. While it is true that those who attend most workshops tend to be more fit and practice a more rigorous yoga, that is not the case for many of its practitioners. Most of the students I teach would fall in the Gentle and beginner yoga category. Over the years, I have successfully taught Anusara to students who have MS, fibromyalgia, cancer, etc. The key to the practice is working with the Anusara yoga Universal Priniciples of Alignment and following the template for an Anusara class. At the studio I teach, Willow Street Yoga Center in Maryland, USA, which is the premier Anusara studio in terms of the number of certified and Inspired Anusara teachers, only a small percentage of the classes are really advanced.

      Olga Rasmussen
      Certified Anusara Yoga Teacher

  2. Very thoughtful assessment. I’d love to learn more about Anusara yoga. I also would not want to do a standing straddle pose in that class. ; )

  3. Years ago I did a weekend workshop with John Friend, before he was filling up the megahalls. The physical practice did not resonate with me maybe because I found it very much like Iyengar yoga. I don’t buy into the “universal principles of alignment” because bodies are not universal, we are all put together differently. and I have to say that the groupie-like adoration of the students really turned me off. But I’m not saying the yoga was bad, it just wasn’t for me.

    But what I don’t understand is when people talk about Anusara yoga’s concepts such as “opening to grace” and John Friend’s other concepts from tantra. I have heard many say that they never heard those things before from a teacher and I have to shake my head because I don’t understand that.

    isn’t all yoga about “opening to grace”? isn’t all yoga about opening the heart, surrendering, giving it up to something greater outside ourselves? at least for me it is. John Friend isn’t the first teacher to talk about such things, he did not invent these concepts, he merely repackaged them.

    So any time I hear someone say that they never heard such things before from any teacher, that makes me even more thankful for my teachers and how they taught and what they taught me.

  4. After reading the article, I didn’t think there was anything wrong with the tone of it, yes it sounded wierd in some areas like the hotel room key thingie, but for the whole it seemed objective to an anusara outsider like myself. A lot of the things that seemed critical, especially the business end, are things that have been, and can be, said about yoga in general.

    I have tried a couple of classes, not in person (podcasts and videos), and while I like what I hear and some of the sequences, the teachers I’ve taken with talk a whole lot about things that make me move into my head to try and comprehend and I focus less and less on what my body is doing at any given moment.

    I agree with Linda on the “universal principles of alignment” If I followed some of these as I hear them, I wouldn’t last a year on the mat.

    Thanks for bringing the article to light though, It was a good lunch break read.

    • So nice to read your perspective, especially your experience in the Anusara method! It is not a casual practice, and so your ‘long path’ will be greatly rewarded, as it already obviously has. The reason we all go back is we get a taste of inner sweetness (kool aide?:)) after a heart opening class. That is why we go back! We get a hit of our own Essence, by building strength and flexibility in our bodies, with other people who just want to be happy too.

      My own experience of Anusara has been a complete awakening to the amazing gift life is, and has given me the tools to stay centered even in the hard, difficult challenging times. Anusara is a yoga that can work, and has worked for me and obviously many others! It can bring more brightness and deep connection to one’s own Self/Heart/Spirit, and deeper connections to the people and world around, and you just feel happier. It has done just that for me. I love my life! – and it just keeps getting better. I have been deeply touched by Anusara.

      @Hannah… Awesome!

      @Linda-Sama – No, not all yoga is about open to Grace or heart opening. You should give Anusara and John another go! It has been a long time since his Iyengar days and his teaching has changed.

  5. I had just read the NYT article when I saw your blog. I very much appreciate your point of view, as always. I was on that same trip to the Iyengar Institute in Pune with John in 1989. It is true that he is a knowledgeable and sincere yogi. I have taken several workshops from him, both before and after he developed Anusara. I respect his commitment to yoga. He is, by no means, a Johnny-come-lately yoga teacher.

    Like Linda, I have concerns with the idea of “universal principles of alignment.” People’s structures are vastly different and I can’t imagine there ever being universal principles that apply to every individual. Also like Linda, I have found Anusara to be much like Iyengar yoga, a method I studied for several decades. It’s useful—if quite familiar—information, but “languaged” differently. That said, I have learned a few things from John that have been quite helpful in my practice and teaching.

    And once more, like Linda, I haven’t found opening to grace to be a new or exclusive concept. I have found many teachers to be in touch with the deeper aspects of yoga, most notably, Donna Farhi, Judith Hanson Lasater, and my own mentor, Pujari, who quietly taught extremely powerful, intimate (no more than 10 people) retreats for 25 years at his and his wife’s small retreat center in Southern Utah.

  6. when I took JF’s workshop I was a newbie teacher, however, trained by someone who studied with P. Jois 3 times and who also studied at an Iyengar Institute in the US. So if was not like I did not know what I was doing, I went with a beginner’s mind because I had heard good things about Anusara.

    but as for those “universal principles of alignment”, my friend and I never felt more “unaligned” after all those internal spirals, ad infinitum. I remember to this day JF demonstrating and adjusting extended side angle on someone and after all the “spiral this” and “roll that”, the guy looked totally out of whack! I remember my friend and I looked at each other and said “whaaat?!?” And JF looked so proud that he had just “fixed” this guy’s alignment! I saw this guy and all I felt was pain.

    but your mileage may vary….

    as for what Charlotte said: “Pujari, who quietly taught extremely powerful, intimate (no more than 10 people) retreats for 25 years at his and his wife’s small retreat center…”…..

    after all the commercialization of yoga both in the US (and India, tho not as much as America, oh no, never as much as America), the fact remains that there will ALWAYS be the anonymous yoga teacher in an ashram or small yoga shala somewhere in India (or here), teaching quietly, with no advertising, living in obscurity.

    the sad thing is, we will never hear about their greatness because they are not “marketable.”

    there’s an old saying about the squeakiest wheel getting the grease…..;)

  7. Actually, the amazing thing about Pujari was that he was marketable. He is energetic, committed, heartful and charismatic. When he had a choice of becoming a high-profile teacher or developing an small, intentional center where he could facilitate people in going deep, he chose the latter. I feel SO fortunate to have stumbled upon their center (The Last Resort), and to have had 23 years of guidance from teachers of such depth and integrity.

  8. Really interesting discussion here. “Opening to grace” was one of the phrases that kept being used in the class and I found the constant repeats of it rather irritating after a while. I can also relate to Linda’s comments re: spirals and alignment – I found I was too much “in my thinking head” when doing that workshop – and not in my body. So I didn’t find it relaxing at all. I’m much more drawn towards internal sensation focused stuff …

    Also agree with the comments about some excellent yoga teachers quietly teaching away … I feel so fortunate early on in my practice to have experienced the teachings from some of those types of teachers … I really struggle with the whole yoga commercialism thing – I wish it would go away (even though I know people say it’s a good thing because more people are practicing yoga). But so much focus seems to be on “doing yoga” and not so much on “being yoga” – and you really have to seek out classes that focus on philosophy and movement and breath and not just on moving in and out of asanas …

  9. Like pop music, pop yoga is a hit. Say what you want, but the yoga stars are going to draw the most people to them. I always say: Anusara is the most beautiful yoga form I’ve practiced. It was the first style I studied before I even knew there were different schools of yoga. I called it the ‘friendly Iyengar’ yoga once I got involved with the Iyengar school. I ran into too many angry Iyengar teachers and Anusara ended up too touchy-feeley, partnerized and pop . I’m glad that John has not been touched by scandal despite the innuendo in the article regarding hotel keys being pressed in his hand. Hopefully the non-vinyasa style will continue to evolve and not end up too corny or continue to emulate bad attitudes from the past.

    PS Welcome back Roseanne. It’s been kind of boring in the yoga blog world since you have been gone.

  10. Hmmm “yoga stars” ?! What exactly does that expression mean?! Who qualifies for a yoga star and who doesn’t? Seriously, “yoga stars” to me – as I look at the American yoga scene – seems to be those who promote themselves very heavily (in Yoga Journal for eg). It’s not that I’m anti-promotion … it’s just that I wonder how such people with their jet set lives doing all these conferences, workshops, trainings etc maintain their own practice and lead balanced lives …

    BTW the first teacher training I did with the British Wheel of Yoga (who?! see here: http://www.bwy.org.uk/) recommended a maximum of 25 students in a class!

    But what I do know … I’m not a “yoga star” ! (that’s British irony before anyone accuses me of me having my nose out of joint!)

  11. My take on the article is an “exposé” on the commercialism and franchising of yoga as it is today (in other words since the Bikram blowup) and John Friend’s Anusara empire is the biggest and brightest example. Anusara as a practice actually comes off seeming like a fun popular community-oriented style. The article is about the yogapreneurs and yoga business opportunities, in my opinion. You have to admit John Friend, the man, is working pretty damn hard on that front.
    I still believe people will continue to choose their practice based on experience. Still when you have a certain style of yoga/brand of stretchy pants waved in your face that is usually the one you’ll try first, and at least once even if for curiosity’s sake. Everybody’s doing it, it must be good! it’s called smart marketing.

    ps. agree with yogadawg, we missed you roseanne! though I resent the boring comment.

  12. @yogadork: who’s boring comment are you resenting? yogadawg’s? 😉 i actually liked to get a little insight into his practice.

    @angela: welcome to the blog, and thanks for coming back! love to have a fresh voice on things. and if you’re wondering about what makes a yoga star, perhaps you should check out yogadawg’s steps to yoga stardom: http://yogadawg.blogspot.com/2010/02/yogadawgs-steps-to-yoga-stardom.html (and while you’re there, check out all the other genius stuff on his website/blog)

    and thanks for the welcome back, y’all! it’s good to be back. i have to admit that my life is boring without the yoga blog world. i’m going to refrain from further comments on the post/article b/c i’ve said what i have to say… but i love seeing what’s unfolding here!

  13. You know I love you Dork and never find you boring. As Rahsaan Roland Kirk said, “Sometimes you just have to get out town or people will think you are just a local band” (don’t know what this has to do with anything here but I always wanted to use that somewhere 🙂

  14. @Dawg-I love the pop yoga moniker. Ever so appropriate and descriptive of a lot of what’s going on out there. Do I hear a bit of Mr. A Trip’s influence? (altho I don’t really see pop yoga ever having the longevity of Pop Art…). 15 minutes all around!

  15. You know, I’m wondering why this type of article is never written about Shiva Rea. No one gets upset that she trademarked her Yoga Trance Dance, no one accuses her of borrowing, reinterpreting and commercializing Pattabhi Jois’ Ashtanga Yoga. It seems absolutely no one is pissed off at her for being successful.

    I know it’s in large part because she is so authentic and knowledgeable. She has a warm, serene presence and a devotional style of teaching that reminds you of your favorite yoga teacher who reads Rumi poems to you during your Savasana and always gives you a big hug after class, and this comes across beautifully across several different media. However, could it also be because Shiva Rea is the one who does most of the writing about Shiva Rea and yoga? (as a longtime Yoga Journal contributer – and excellent writer IMO). I don’t know if she has been offered the “opportunity” to be interviewed by the NYT, but if so, she has not taken it.

    I personally feel this article does a lot of “leading the reader” in its analysis of marketing and yoga. I get the feeling the writer is not particularly well versed in either, and I have a resounding tut-tut for the copy editor who wrote the “yoga mogul” headline. A chance to do something very interesting there was missed. This paragraph, in which a number of “star yogis” are reduced to their physical appearances, among other things, is probably the crux of my discontent:

    Friend, who has a degree in finance and accounting, has also corporatized the practice. Like all yoga stars, he’s a road warrior, giving workshops as a way to drum up business. But Friend’s niche is to be less exotic than some yogis while being more spiritual than the most commercial ones. He calls himself Anusara’s general manager, as opposed to its guru. He doesn’t wear a turban like some Kundalini yoga teachers, or his hair exceedingly long, like David Life, a founder of Jivamukti yoga. Nor does he define the spiritual aspects of yoga the way some schools do — he doesn’t press students to embrace animal rights or to chant for extended periods. And he doesn’t stick to the same sequence each time in class. On the other hand, Friend brings in enough spirituality and gentleness to differentiate himself from the hot and heavy yoga types, like the bandanna-wearing power-yoga creator, Baron Baptiste. Friend also would not be confused with the Indian master Bikram Choudhury, who created and franchised a kind of hot yoga, which stresses transformation through a rigid workout in a 100-plus-degree room, not through happy sermonettes. Friend’s persona is that of an easygoing guy with an easygoing yoga — except when it comes to business. Friend is not above a little intrayoga competitive trash talk to make his point: People know about physically oriented yoga, he said, “but as we grow they are going to learn about Anusara. Then people can choose — either they are going to go to a fast-food joint or a fine restaurant.”

  16. Ha ha Brenda, I think you might be right about Mr. Trip. The lines of the personas are starting to blend a bit.

  17. excellent article and discussion…

    i read the NYT article and did think the overall tone was a bit… well… negative in a way. But then maybe a better word would be ‘disenchanted’.

    Or maybe I’m just projecting? hah.

  18. have you read John’s response??? It was, I thought, a very nicely written response to the article without being too snarky and such.

    • yes, it was very gracious and grounded:

      my favourite part: “If you practice Anusara yoga, then simply remain steady in the truth of your own direct experience of our yoga. Do not be swayed by rumors or comments of those that have little knowledge of Anusara yoga. Purely respond to what you know from your own experience of your Heart. In this way, we all represent the voice of our own truths.”

      and: “All yogis need to unite as a global yoga community. If the yoga schools can not get along in harmony, then how can we expect world peace?!”

  19. Yoga has always evolved with the times. When it happens it’s controversial. But it keeps the teachings relevant.

    John is amazing. He reaches out, and he’s present. He wrote me while I’m here in Malaysia – I don’t teach Anusara – And my own teachers that I have studied with haven’t written me or reached out or checked in. They are to busy to answer my questions or enter into a dialogue, but John did. Maybe it’s a little thing, but it’s big to me. It tells me he is the real deal, and he’s there for us, for all of us.

    The world is changing so quickly, yoga gives us practical tools so we can adapt successfully. There’s a lot of dark, heavy, oil spill, war, global warming, pollution, GMO energy buzzing around. We need yoga.

    John, Shiva, our yoga rock stars, they’re yoga warriors, and I am grateful to them for the hard work they do, and the messages they share. It’s high. And not everyone is going to get it.

    But wow, the outpourings of love for John that I’ve been reading everywhere, the stories about him from his students, well, now I really want to study with him. It’s tipped me.

    It would *rock* to have a NYT on Shiva Rea.

  20. “All yogis need to unite as a global yoga community….”

    but Grace supports Anusara. specifically. according to John.

    “John, Shiva, our yoga rock stars, they’re yoga warriors”

    The “yoga warriors” are the teachers out there who keep teaching despite having 1 or 2 students show up to class, despite not making enough money to be able to afford health insurance, the ones doing karma yoga in shelters or prisons, and the ones who will never have stories written about them in the NY Times.

    • I agree, Linda. The “yoga stars” are no more warriors than the rest of us who have dedicated our lives to practice and to sharing what we’ve learned.

  21. exactly. I think that’s what is most annoying —- that somehow JUST BECAUSE it’s Shiva, JF, whomever, that somehow they are “better” or “more deserving.” uh, no…they are merely more successful due to luck, karma, marketing, being in the right place at the right time, people giving them a break, whatever it is. I know many teachers, as you do, who have worked just as hard to get where they are yet are unknown and will probably always be unknown.

    we live in a culture that has the cult of celebrity and we (some of us) worship celebrities in whatever genre. As I heard Lama Surya Das, we USED to have spiritual elders, now we have celebrities.

    I say to everyone to look at the person on the mat next to you — they might be your next teacher in more ways than you might think.

  22. It seems to me that there are at least two main aspects to this conversation. There is the commercialization of yoga thread which uses Anusara Yoga and John Friend as an example of both the pros and cons of that trend. And then there is the whether or not we like Ansuara Yoga and/or John Friend aspect of the discussion. I suppose we could throw in a discussion of objective/ethical journalism and so forth as well.

    I think its fairly obvious yoga is a business and an industry now and that these time-honored traditions are being marketed to the masses in some questionable ways. I started doing yoga in 1991 and in the time I have practiced I have seen tremendous shifts in the amount and variety of offerings and opportunities available for study and practice. My opinion is that a lot of that has been great and a lot of it has come at a significant price.

    I am a certified Anusara Yoga teacher and John Friend is my primary teacher so obviously, I am biased in a lot of ways and my experiences will color my response. Having said that, I am not an Anusara Yoga purist- I study occasionally in the Iyengar system, I have a wonderful Ashtanga teacher in Austin, TX and I love a good sweaty flow practice as much as anyone!

    For me, Anusara Yoga is not about loops and spirals or what John does on the road or how many people are in a room. Anusara Yoga for me is about being anchored in a way of looking at myself and the world that is profoundly affirming. And believe me, I have a pretty serious cynical side and a lot of that “profoundly affirming” stuff wasn’t so easy for me to swallow at first! Anyway, my point is that I am a certified teacher who makes her living teaching Ansuara Yoga but I am first and foremost someone who loves yoga and what I love about it– in fact, what I think most people love about it– transcends method and technology.

    What I love about yoga is the way I feel as result of practice. What I love about yoga is how it asks me to move beyond my comfort zone on all levels and how it gives me what one of my teachers describes as “both fire and nectar.” I might say it kicks my ass regularly and nourishes me deeply and I am always in awe at how one practice does both. And personally, John is my teacher because he helped me open to the fullness of the practice in a very profound way. The timing and circumstances were really conducive for the two of us to form a very profound bond. But I know its not like that for everyone.

    I started teaching yoga in 1998 and when I met John in 1999 no one knew what Anusara Yoga was and while John had a loyal student base, I was in classes with him with 40 people and there was no big hoola or fanfare or anything. It was a bunch of people in a room doing yoga. So as the years go by it is more people and bigger rooms and so the outer form is shifting and it works for some people and it doesn’t work for others. Seems pretty simple and obvious to me.

    What is cool is that because yoga has grown and there are so many expanded opportunities, finding where you fit gets easier and easier. There are so many amazing teachers of all methods and traditions who serve with great dedication and with the highest integrity quite under the radar. There are great and inspiring teachers who serve in larger, more public forums. Big classes and notoriety do not equate with being a better teacher or having more to offer nor is the opposite true. Although obviously, as yoga moves into the mainstream more and more, the values of the mainstream come right along with it.

    I think about this a lot. All I see there is to do is stay committed to my studentship and my practice and teach from that place. It is the only arena where I actually have any dominion, in a sense. The marketplace is moved by much larger forces than me and so my participation in that marketplace is best when it is anchored in the deep love and respect I have for the tradition, which as I said, is bigger than a method.

    all right, this is long enough. I love the energy of the discussion here. How nice to have so much passion on the subject.

  23. Christina:

    First I have no problem with Anusara as a yoga form but seeing you crop up as an apologist on a yoga blog is a bit redundant. I appreciate your verve, but please let John speak for himself. Posts like yours just seem like piling on to one stupid article in the NY Times which in the end amounts to nothing. If we are in the yoga moment, there is nothing to defend, nothing to explain and John is a big boy. Let him explain himself and defend his own yoga. His students, like you, are making this situation more embarrassing.


  24. Great discusion here.

    We had the honor to do a video interview with John at the Wanderlust Festival. We were curious about his response to the NYT article well as how the community has responded to it.

    The interview is now live: http://bayshakti.com/interview-with-john-friend-at-wanderlust

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