Good grief, it has all gone crazy in the Yoga world. I have just received an email news update from the wonderful Bridget Woods-Kramer, an Anusara-inspired teacher in London with whom I have studied previously, which addresses her regret to write in response to the publicity storm relating to John Friend, the founder of Anusara Yoga.
It would seem that his actions represent a failure to adhere to the ethical standards of Anusara yoga and more specifically the root philosophical teachings upon which Anusara is based. As if Yoga needed any more bad press.
I studied a lot of Anusara Yoga while I was in Vancouver this time last year and loved the energy of the classes. Of course what has happened in John's personal life does nothing to detract from the quality of his teachings, nor indeed the Anusara lineage and other Anusara teachers. It is just a shame. The internet is full of stories of his reported actions and like Bridget says,
"It should be remembered that we are nothing if we can’t find forgiveness & compassion in our hearts and gratitude for what we have and for that which we have received. I look forward to a time of healing and change and I reaffirm my commitment to be the best yoga teacher I can be."
The trouble is we do put these people on pedestals. They are internationally acclaimed Yoga teachers with massive followings of students. They have inspired and students look to them for spiritual guidance. And yet they are only human. And often their ego works in as many tricky ways as our own. And often the power gets too much. And sadly they then become a false guru.
I have met many of them on my Yoga journey. Open and keen to learn more and to be guided spiritually, it can often take you a while to recognise them. I have always been very good - or is that every bad - at looking for the best in people and not necessarily taking the time to check into my intuition. I have met teachers who have presented themselves as the most spiritually directed and ethical individuals, the kind of teacher who you may pout on pedestal, only to find that they have abused their "power" and have engaged in inappropriate sexual relationships with their students or have screwed them over financially.
I guess the lesson for all of us is to recognise the pure from the false. To recognise when someone is using their power in a positive life transforming way, or from the ego. It is a lesson - for me again - not to put people on pedestals and not to always think they are better somehow. It is also a lesson to be pure hearted and minded and utilise our power (as everyone has the ability to be powerful) in a loving way that benefits the whole of humanity.
Thankfully it is Valentine's day tomorrow and I am hoping that despite the commercialism of the day, we can all tap into the universal consciousness of love (as happens when we are all swimming on the same wavelength so bring on those feelings of love from the heart) and raise the vibration of the world (and especially the Yoga world) a little bit.
Time to go dancing around the fairy ring, bring on some more positive changes!