In my class yesterday at Yoga Sanctuary, I took a break from our ongoing study of the Bhagavadgita to let students know that, on Thursday, Feb. 9, I relinquished my Anusara-Inspired (TM) license. I told them that some apparent abuses of power within Anusara had recently come to light and seemed serious enough that I no longer wanted to be associated with the organization. I didn’t go into details, but told them they’d find plenty of information online if they wanted to know more.
My own reaction in announcing this caught me off guard. As I recounted how Anusara yoga was the first style of yoga I ever tried and the one to which I’d been devoted since, I got choked up. I thought of the nearly 11 years I’ve invested, the time, the friendships, even the money. I assured them that nothing much would change, because I would continue to study whenever possible with my main teacher, Noah Maze, and the other teachers who have influenced me, Anusara or not. Still, I felt a loss.
An apt theme for the class seemed to be loving kindness. We made it our collective intention to embody goodwill, and to extend kind thoughts to all those harmed by the current events, including John Friend, who is at the center of the controversy. We did lots of heart-opening back-bends (of course!) and the loving-kindness meditation.
It was a tough but rewarding class for me. I recalled one of the first practices I did with Noah, when he taught a lesson on unconditional love. While my students reposed in savasana, I turned the pages of my copy of the Gita, looking for wisdom, and stumbled on this:
“Without hatred of any creature, friendly and compassionate without possessiveness and self-pride, equable in happiness and unhappiness, forbearing, contented, always yoked, mastering himself, resolute in decisions, with his mind and spirit dedicated to me – such a devotee of mine is beloved of me. ” (34.11 in J.A.B. van Buitenen’s translation)
As the relevance of the passage settled in, I understood the days’ class hadn’t really been a break from the Gita at all. With or without Anusara, my license, or the drama of the day, yoga goes on as it has since Arjuna faced his fears on the battlefield. May anyone else grappling with what’s happening to Anusara remember that.