Anusara: The Amway of Yoga

Now that Desiree, Ross, Sianna and every other major Anusara teacher has left, it begs the question, why would anyone stay in Anusara? Well, it’s not about the yoga. It’s about the money, baby.

You see, people will say that Amway has some great products. I was once told that their wax paper was so good, I needed to be a distributor for it. However, I try not to use wax paper under any circumstances because it involves cooking. Like Amway, Anusara had some great methodology.

But if a teacher tells you that they are staying in Anusara because of the methodology, well, that is about as true as John Edwards was innocent.

Any teacher who stays with Anusara after the revelations of sexual misconduct, sex covens, and a system that preyed on vulnerable students and teachers has their own agenda. M.O.N.E.Y. Yours.

“My husband told me years ago that he was after my money,” a Colorado yogi recently said about John Friend. “And now I realize he was right.” Listen, it’s a very bad business when we realize that our spouses may have been right all along. OMG. But in this case, it’s true.

This is how Anusara’s multi-level marketing scheme worked. To become licensed either as an Inspired or Certified teacher, it takes upwards of 500 hours. Immersions cost between $2,500 and $4,000, plus travel expenses. You are required to take 50 hours with John Friend and another 10 hours each year to maintain your license. You need 250 hours of documented practice with Certified Teachers. All this spells cha-ching to the tune of about $10,000. Personally, I have 750 hours with certified teachers. My husband is dying!

There is a local teacher in my area who says she is staying because she has separated “Anusara” from the shit storm surrounding it. She just wants to teach yoga in her studio and bring joy to the world. Oh and by the way, please take her upcoming immersion, philosophy, and Sanskrit course which will still count toward certification. This is not the yoga studio of just “be.” This is the studio of “me.”

What she and others don’t understand, is that even without Anusara you can still teach yoga! Hallelujah! Go forth and Om. There isn’t a law against it even in Boulder, Colorado where it seems that every single person is a yoga teacher. Advertise your classes just like the rest of us free market suckers.

The only difference without the Anusara brand label is you won’t have a multi-level marketing scheme supporting you anymore. There will be no more students who need to fulfill the required hours. You won’t have John Friend selling the promise that you are divinely perfect. Your offering will have to compete in a very busy market, and that scares the “chit” out of people.

Years ago I turned down the Amway offer because I decided that wax paper was just wax paper and all the rest was a marketing machine I wasn’t interested in. It is the same with Anusara. Yoga is just yoga, and all the rest is a branding and multi-level marketing machine that no longer serves the students. No, what’s left is not about the yoga; it’s about the money, baby. Yours.


Michelle Berman Marchildon is the Yogi Muse. She’s an award-winning journalist, a former corporate executive and a survivor of 50+ years of life. Known as the “Erma Bombeck of the Mat,” Michelle is the author of the memoir “Finding More on the Mat: How I Grew Better, Wiser and Stronger through Yoga,” and a Columnist for Elephant Journal and Origin Magazine.  She is an E-500 RYT with Yoga Alliance and teaches Aligned Vinyasa in Denver, Co. Even though she is uber-fabulous, she is NOT an Ambassador for Lululemon, and has been promised she will never be one. You can take her with you on your computer or I-thing by downloading her classes from