the yoga community.

hello there! 

i was going to post about sunny happy california (per usual this past week! heheh), but i thought i should post instead on something i've been thinking about over the past few weeks in regards to yoga, and more specifically this whole 'anusara scandal'.  

in case you haven't noticed, and maybe i need to work on this, my blog is not all about yoga. if anything i'm slightly too absent from yoga cliques and circles. my main practice is at home, and i cherish my yoga as my own individual journey. don't get me wrong, i love and need the occasional class to jump start my practice, but i totally prefer to practice on my own and work on what i want to work on. to each his or her own, right?

as an atheist/agnostic (whatever you want to call it, i don't like labels) yoga, runner, biker, artisan, i feel much like a cat. groups that come together and isolate themselves, label themselves, and decide upon rules really freak me out. i don't want to be herded. i love being my own organization within myself. of course i adore people and my friends, but i feel like there's already a community inside my heart, where i welcome anyone that accepts me for who i am.

so it really came as no surprise to me when people started coming forward about the leader of anusara, john friend, and his wrongdoings in the yoga community. when popular anusara teachers resigned their anusara teaching certifications and didn't specifically site why they were doing so, i kinda had a hunch maybe mr. friend was up to something sketchy. perhaps i was being judgemental, but when i read the nyt article about john, i kept thinking to myself, this man looks and sounds (ugh excuse me for lack of a better word) sleazy. perhaps i haven't been exposed enough to the yoga teaching world, but to me, there is something really bizarre about thousands of people sitting at the feet of a person on a pedestal, a person teaching yoga asana no less, depending on this one man's teachings and experience for inner peace and guidance.

i get really frustrated with yoga sometimes. 

never with my own practice, my daily practice is my healer and my privilege. and it's mine, so i can define it or create it to be whatever i need each day. 

in that sense, i feel sad when people try to own and categorize yoga, separating people from each other because of minute differences, much like religion. why do people need a leader, one person to tell them what to do? a lot of yogis say this all the time, and i agree fully, that the guru or the leader is YOU! of course it's helpful to have a teacher guide you in the beginning (and a teacher doesn't have to practice yoga asana, a teacher doesn't even have to be a person), but i believe one should use a teacher like a railing up the stairs.  once you climb the stairs, you let go of the railing.  

people ask me a lot, what kind of yoga do you practice? where do you practice? i used to feel slightly embarrassed to answer 'my own yoga, and i practice at home.' but why? why not feel proud to be independent and the creator of your health and spirituality?

like i said, i love a good yoga class to unite with fellow yogis, but i have this strong desire to share with people the necessity of meditating and yoga asana-ing on your own. i realize every person has different needs, but even 10 minutes of meditation and just down word facing dog is hugely beneficial to nurture independence and freedom within the body and mind.

i suppose it's a good wake up call that we see absolute power corrupt again and again. i don't think this will ever end. so we have to be wary of leaders and always question authority. in my opinion, power and money have got to be a strange drug, a drug that fucks up most users. again, this is why i feel it's so crucial to cultivate your own inner leader.

one more thing i've been thinking about... it makes sense that people want to come together; and often to come together, we need to be organized. this is why religion is so huge; religious groups are amazing at gathering congregations and working together, be it for good or bad. humans need community, we need each other. this is a necessity that can't be ignored. i could see why yogis came together under anusara, to kindle that sense of community and satisfy our desire for union. 

i'm not teaching yoga right now. i probably will start again someday, but right now my want for it just isn't there. i dislike the idea of people coming to me for guidance, though i know i can give it. in this respect, i think i have some growing to do. there has to be a balance between the student and the teacher, especially in such a tender avenue as yoga. most students of yoga in america are looking for much more than just exercise. we want spiritual growth, meditation guidance, life experience advice. in a way, we want a work out and we want therapy. woah- that's a lot to put on a teacher. when i was teaching yoga, i felt like i had a lot to learn from my students, and i almost wished for a way we could all teach and share with each other. i'm not sure where i'm going with this thread here, but this is just one of the things i think about.

there are no mistakes, only lessons. this is one of my favorite mantras. so what's going on with the anusara yoga community is not a mistake. john friend will continue to teach us how to live and think for ourselves in his fall. to never stop learning is the ultimate journey of life.

may we all see ourselves reflected back in the eyes of others, and find within ourselves the path to peace and joy. namaste.


  1. Right on Hayley. Like I always say ''take chances, make changes, love the chase and take charge of your life, then lay down on that old leather chaise lounge and call it a day"! Community comes calmly as does corruption in the eyes of children. I learned this the hard way Hayley. Gotta go!! Peace be your drug of choice.Please



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