My Asana in the Anusara Situation

In response to inquiries from friends and colleagues, I wrote the following after spending three days at the Advanced Intensive in Miami with John Friend.

During the three days I experienced the full spectrum of emotions. As our community broke apart, so too did my heart. I came to Miami because I needed to see things for myself. I don’t make big decisions quickly, and I certainly was not going to make this decision in haste.

My original plans had me staying for the weekend workshop, too. However, after the Advanced Intensive I decided to take a vacation day in Miami and then fly out earlier than scheduled on Sunday; I have never wanted to come home so badly!


My “vacation day” plans fell through so I have a day in Miami Beach alone. After almost two hours in the sun without sunscreen, I went to seek lunch. As I sit on this wild promenade that is South Beach, Florida, watching vacationers of all walks of life from all around the world, I so wanted my day to be like that today. I wanted to play and have fun after the intensity of these last two weeks but instead I am preparing myself to go back to San Francisco and take the seat of the teacher. So, alone it is, and I embrace this. Many in my community, both teachers and students alike, are awaiting my report. Everybody is asking, What is your stance?” These last two weeks I have been unable to take a stance. I have been quiet. I have stood still, breathed, and done my best to practice the First Principle. I have been listening inside and out, watching and waiting to see what happens, talking to a lot of different people. My feet have felt like lead, unable to make a move in either direction.

I am not going to give you an account of John said this and did that. I am just going to tell you how I feel.

I stand with my teacher John because I can’t fathom walking away from someone when they are in a time of challenge. I DO NOT stand for him continuing to teach right now, or for Anusara Inc. to go on the way it has for all these years. I stand for John finding the healing that he now recognizes is needed due to this situation.  In both public and private conversations I had with John I am led to believe he is going to seek help. I hold him in love and compassion and wish for him to look deep inside himself at his shadows and his wounds and make peace. I stand for him living with alignment between his words and actions; I stand for him to go back to the divine source that brought Anusara through him in the first place and remember his truth and his vision. I stand for him to emerge better in himself than ever before and to find a balanced and sustainable lifestyle.

I stand for the method of Anusara yoga because it has helped me heal and it’s the guide I use to help others. I have seen it work time and time again and I believe in it wholeheartedly.

I stand for the community of teachers (even those who have resigned) that I have grown to love as my brothers, sisters, and spiritual companions, and I want us all to thrive like never before. I stand for continuing to co-create something beautiful – whatever forms that ultimately takes.

I stand for my local community: for the amazing teachers that work so hard; for the students that come to class week in and week out; for the deep bonds of friendship that have been forged through this yoga. We in the Bay Area were really trying to come together in a more powerful way in 2012 and we were off to a great start. I honor our plans.

I stand for myself to find my place within all this mess; a place where I can continue to learn, grow, and expand to my full potential. I have been inquiring deep within myself: Where does the container of Anusara support me and where does it limit me? Who might I be without it? What would it be like to stay without all those who have left? Can I stay in good conscience? Will our “tribe” be able to regroup and form something new, something healthy? Will we all just be individual yoga teachers in the sea of yoga? I do not yet have all of those answers, so still I stand and wait.

For now I am standing steady to see if we can reclaim and resurrect the school of Anusara yoga apart from John. Thank you Ross, Desiree and others for your tireless work and enthusiasm. Will John make the method public domain? Will he let us adopt his child and allow us to nurture and grow it from here? Do we start something new on our own? Will John do the hard work on himself and create a collaborative organization? These answers will not come quickly and for this moment I am prepared to wait.

The last nine years have been the best years of my life and I am grateful to all of my teachers, friends, and students who have supported me. I have found immense healing in this practice and this community and I have created an amazing life for myself, all because of Anusara yoga. Yes, the system is dysfunctional as it is but I believe we all have a hand in that. I want to use this situation to look and see where I am out of alignment and continue to get better in myself. I don’t know what the next nine years will look like but I remember John always telling me, “keep lining up, I promise it will get better.” He was right, and I now delight in telling my students that from my own experience. What to align with right now, that has not yet been revealed, but I am confident that my practice will continue to lead me to my heart.  


  1. Julissa Carranza says:

    Your students are so lucky to have such a steady embodiment of these great teachings. Thank you for the example of how Yoga can be the place you live from!

  2. Stacey – thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and the questions you’ve been wrestling with. Your questions are valid, relevant, and are worthy of respect. I appreciate so much that you’ve shared them here. Thank you!

  3. Stacey,
    Thanks for your post. I have asked myself what is Anusara without John? I am still trying to find my voice in
    the daily uncoverings of truth, and the disillusion of a world I have believed in and stood for. Anusara is all of us and yet we are all being asked to find our truth and take a stand. We can not all fall in the current of John’s shadow. That would be a human earth quake and right now it is so important to reroute, wake up, and move towards higher ground. Love to all reading………….

  4. Marti Ayres White says:

    In some schools of psychology it is understand that one member of a family is “chosen” to act out the dysfunction of the entire family. Not to excuse John’s actions when they departed from dharma, but this is an excellent time for all Anusara students to look to our own “shadow,” rather than spending excess energy worrying about John’s.

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