A very special person died recently and when I heard, I cried. But that is not when she was taken from me.
I am going to tell you a brief story about community in yoga. Years ago, I was part of Anusara. I want to give props where props are due: John Friend created a fabulous system for keeping students safe and helping them go deeper, not just into poses, but into their inner life.
It blew up in 2012 when a tech guy created a website and posted photos and documentation of some very strange behavior. There were tax issues. There was sex. And there was the sharing of pubic hair and howling at the moon. Good grief.
The original Anusara blew up and the community, which felt betrayed, went with it.
It’s been six years and still what I hear when I go to workshops is this: I miss the community.
It’s not like any of us disappeared. I’m still here. My teachers are still here. But if you ask, it’s not the same. There is a new (old?) Anusara school which has kept the principles, but Friend is teaching a new methodology and many of his original students have gone with him.
My friend left her body this week, but I lost her years ago. At that time, John Friend sought shelter from the storm in a new community (can you blame him?) and he stated clearly, either you were with him, or against him.
I was neither.
This man was never my teacher – he was my teachers’ teacher, but as for me, I didn’t have the money or the time to follow him around the world as many did. He would say we were a merry band of bohemians, but I had a mortgage, and children, and honestly, I’m not that merry.
Friend was interesting, but not my teacher. He has a great eye for alignment, but not my teacher. He was amusing and charming, but not my teacher. He was always polite and respectful toward me, but not my teacher.
I did not want him to be my enemy though. I will say for the thousandth time, I wish him well with his new alignment and all the pubic hair in the world.
But for Friend, he has a way of creating community by shrewdly saying he is persecuted for being an authentic being. He asked his followers to cause me harm. I had to call the police. He told them to write negative reviews on my books, to “ruin my business as I had ruined his.” A reporter called and asked why I hated John. I don’t hate him! Honestly, I don’t even think of him. If I’m John’s worst enemy, then he had a much bigger problem of simply becoming irrelevant in today’s yoga.
My dear sweet friend, who I had loved since we both first stepped onto a mat in 2007, participated in the ex-communication of me. She un-friended me, wouldn’t call me back, and blocked me out. I cried then, as I cried today for her passing.
I ran into her just a month ago, for which I thank the Universe. She seemed delighted and held me a long time in a hug. She did not look like she was winning her battle with cancer. She was taking her daughter out for a special day of shopping and lunch. No yoga. No craziness. Just one lovely day to enjoy what was important. I cried then, and I cry today for what is lost forever.
Michelle Marchildon is the Yogi Muse. You can find her wherever books are sold, or on the internet at www.MichelleMarchildon.com