Leena’s Elucidation of the Globe and Mail Article on Anusara Yoga

Dear students and friends,

I want to give you a bit of background and explanation of the article that I was interviewed for in Monday’s Globe and Mail. The article pertains to Anusara Yoga and the aftermath of the allegations against John Friend (founder of Anusara Yoga) that came out in February. You can read it here.

I do think the representation of the Anusara situation is fair, and appreciate that the journalist, Wency Leung, doesn’t sensationalize the events that have had profound and challenging repercussions in the Anusara community. I also appreciate that she conveys the sense of hope and empowerment that many teachers are finding. I am disappointed that she didn’t convey more of the depth and nuance of the things I discussed in my 45 minutes of interview with her, but that is to be expected in a short article I suppose.

I have spent a lot of time and energy in the past few months carefully considering and discussing the issues and implications that arise from this scandal. As the article states, the future direction of Anusara is still unclear. Whether I remain licensed as an Anusara-Inspired teacher, and the extent to which I will use the Anusara name and branding in the future depends on whether I see really particular and clear changes to the organization within the next year.

What I am committed to doing in my teaching is to question the usefulness, value, and purpose of what I’ve learned, and honour what is working for me. Much of what I’ve learned from my teachers in Anusara Yoga, including many, many hours of study with John Friend, is incredibly powerful, healing, and useful. I’m very grateful for this, and always will be! My intention is with this deeper inquiry is to go beyond “right/wrong” paradigms which are based in dogma (teach it this way because John said to), and ask the more challenging and interesting question, “Given all the knowledge and experience I’ve acquired in the past and given what I see as true in this moment, what makes sense for me, and best serves my students.” My hope is that answering that question on a continual basis in regards to all aspects of the classroom and my life will help me to remain in integrity, and help me serve and teach with great purposefulness.

One quote that I like very much in the article is this: “I hope that students will be empowered to ask more from [teachers] about their ethics, about what they’re doing outside of the yoga studio,” Ms. Harvey says. “Are they practising what they’re preaching?” I am dedicated to being this sort of student, in my yoga practise and in all of my life. It is my sincerest and humblest wish that I will attract students who will do the same. I welcome discussion and dialogue around these important issues. Please reach out and give me a call or send an email if you have any questions or want to discuss any of this further.

Yours truly, Leena

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