Where have I been for the past two weeks? I did not even notice that my hometown paper published a long article detailing the upheaval in the Anusara and broader yoga scene because of John Friend’s misadventures:
Scandal contorts future of John Friend, Anusara yoga: “Friend’s empire — an international network that claims more than 1,500 teachers, including 25 in the Washington metro area, and 600,000 students — is in crisis now, teetering under the strain of a sex scandal that has split its most loyal practitioners and prompted an astounding venting of emotions, from rage and recriminations to compassion and sadness.”
The Washington Post piece was so long that I could not finish — I’m at work right now so I’ll have to come back to it later.
I was following John Friend’s twittering and came across a link to this shot. Twitpic has several other shots of massed yogis in formation. Awe-inspiring gatherings that project channeled prana. Friend is on tour, currently in Canada, putting on workshops for Anusara yoga teachers.
As a hack photographer, I am fascinated by shots of yoga practice, both the group sync and the individual pose. John — or his people — have many opportunities. It’s a lot harder than it looks because the photographer has to capture the instance of grace in poor, indoor lighting, and frequently in movement.
WSJ Magazine From Navy Whistleblower to Warrior Pose is the story of Paula (Coughlin) Puopolo who was the focal point of the U.S. Navy Tailhook scandal in the early 1990s. This story tells her story well and also how yoga allowed her to come to peace with herself and the repercussions from the public airing of her ordeal in a hotel corridor in Las Vegas. She now owns her own yoga studio, Ocean Yoga.
Of all the yoga styles she’s experienced since then, the one Puopolo has focused on is a tantric variety called Anusara, created by the American teacher John Friend in 1997. Its guiding ethos posits the inherent goodness of human beings. Over time, it replaced smoking and prescription pills, and her anger at her attackers receded, until Puopolo decided she wanted to teach others about the restorative powers she found in the practice. “I wouldn’t be talking to you if I didn’t really think I was finally getting some clarity,” she says. “The philosophy opened me up to the idea that I could really stop hating so much stuff.”
The Wall Street Journal keeps a lot of its content behind fees-based barrier so you may not be able to access this story after a few weeks. Enjoy it while you can.