Thursday, July 22, 2010

My Immediate Reaction to the NYT Article on Anusara and John Friend


Yes, I just read the NYT and subsequent bloggage. Overall it is simply a excellent that John Friend and the school of Anusara were featured in such a prominent paper. Clearly Anusara is enough of a movement to merit that kind of attention. Having grown up with the NYT on the breakfast table daily, and having been interviewed myself for magazines and articles, I know how easily quotations can be taken out of a larger context. I won't get into all the things I want to say about some of the quotes just now...however, what stuck with me is how this article has stirred up the age-old, conversation about the "commercialization of yoga". (oooh! Hide, run away!)

Here are my two cents on the subject...Can I be frank?

I would love to see the people (who are freaking out) get over themselves around all the concern over "the commercialization of yoga". What good is doing yoga in a cave and not letting people know about it? What good is one yoga weekend in Podunk, when that teacher goes home and there are no more teachings? Enter Yoga DVD's or an internet yoga class which can hugely help these students stay connected!

We are all marketers at heart - whenever we give teachings, we are shifting people's minds. Guess what? That is the definition of marketing! I have always LOVED that John Friend is a model of prosperity, abundance, ethical, and sustainable business as a yogi, while at the same time able to go SO FULLY DEEP into the topics of spirit and oneness. Isn't that combo what we all want?

Not to mention, if yogis actually made and had money - OHHH AH OH WOW! (insert double rainbow guy inflection) what a world this would be. Think about it, since yogis generally do not use money to harm, be corrupt, or overly consume - think of all the causes and charities the yogis would give to if they were making more than $35K a year!! The world is in dire need of this kind of contribution. I want to make this kind of contribution.

I say keep marketing, John. You go!

Nothing but love and a whole lotta shri from me on this topic.

8 comments:

Kari said...

Couldn't agree with you more Amy!!! And I don't think Anusara is commercial, I think John and the Anusara teachers might get this kind of "stamp" because they reach out, they make yoga FUN and accessible to a lot of people who might otherwise turn away from yoga.
Yoga has by many been looked upon as an inward practice, a practice that takes you away from life.
Anusara says that yoga IS life, it's including, it's not a competition about reaching the most advanced pose....it's about the amazing journey going there - together.
Thank you to John, to you Amy and all other teachers that work so selflessly spreading Anusara!!!! In love&light..

The Socratic Yogi said...

When I think of John I think of a teacher who deeply care about yoga and his students. I have never been overly concerned with John's openly commercial approach to building an Anusara organization. To me, this is just part of who John is. It is his karma and his own unique take on what Anusara yoga must be to accomplish its goals. I see John as a teacher. Someone who I wish to learn from, but not someone who is perfect. I accept him for his flaws and imperfections and do not let those imperfections or decisions I disagree with get in the way of what I wish to learn from him.

What worries me more than the recent backlash against his embracing - group hugging? ;) - of commercialism, is when I see devoted students who feel the need to justify and adopt everything he does as being yogic. This apologetic attitude is not new, and history is full of gurus and teachers whose students who never questioned their actions or decisions until it was too late, and who openly supported the ideas, values and attitudes that ran counter to their own deeper beliefs about the world and their place within it.

Yoga has become commercial in the modern age this is true. But I do not accept that this is the best way for spread the teachings even in the modern age. Nor do I believe that the partnering of yoga with commercialism can be achieved without great cost to those teachings. I would encouraged to see more anusara practitioners not accept so quickly all that John does in the name of shri and for the good of the kula, but really look deeply into their own hearts and ask what does grace, community and personal spiritual empowerment look like to me and if those answers do not line up with Anusara's business plan that we stand up as say so. I believe there is no greater turning away from the divine than to adopt someone else's idea of it at the expense of our own.

As someone who runs a yoga festival and community organization, I have often been faced with the difficult decision as to gain more participants and spread the experience of what we're doing at the cost of our initial core values and ethics. It has made me compassionate for what John must going through on a immensely exaggerated scale. In the end, we must, each of us, stand for what we believe in and then reap what we have sown. Anusara is still young, even by modern standards, and it roots have only begun to form. What will flower from this school of yoga will largely depend upon the choices made now by John and by the community that either supports or rejects them.

Eva said...

We read the article and agree with you Amy about how we need to spread the word about yoga to the world through our commercial endeavors. And yes, profits can be paid forward in so many ways that could benefit the world and humanity. We have just released our documentary film - "Anusara Yoga - The Heart of Transformation" (featuring the beautiful Amy Ippoliti, as one of the many inspiring interviewees in the film). The film is a commercial venture that will undoubtably have a transformative, altering positive affect on hundreds of thousands of people who will see it. We are encouraging people to host screenings and sell the DVDs to their guests to help spread the word about Anusara even further. The timing of the New York Times article on John is perfect as we launch the film. Synchronicity at work. Further expansion for all involved in the success of Anusara community and beyond. Thanks for being in our film Amy! http://www.AnusaraYogaTheHeartOfTransformation.com

YogaKula said...

We read the article and agree with you Amy about how we need to spread the word about yoga to the world through our commercial endeavors. And yes, profits can be paid forward in so many ways that could benefit the world and humanity. We have just released our documentary film - "Anusara Yoga - The Heart of Transformation" (featuring the beautiful Amy Ippoliti, as one of the many inspiring interviewees in the film). The film is a commercial venture that will undoubtably have a transformative, altering positive affect on hundreds of thousands of people who will see it. We are encouraging people to host screenings and sell the DVDs to their guests to help spread the word about Anusara even further. The timing of the New York Times article on John is perfect as we launch the film. Synchronicity at work. Further expansion for all involved in the success of Anusara community and beyond. Thanks for being in our film Amy! http://www.AnusaraYogaTheHeartOfTransformation.com

Amy said...

Thanks for all your comments, everyone!! Please let me know if I can ever support you on this topic. :)

Bob Weisenberg said...

Very well put, Amy.

Bob Weisenberg
YogaDemystified.com

Amy said...

Thanks again.

This topic is getting so much attention, I have been asked to go on the air at http://ownitsister.com/radio this Monday Aug. 2 at 11am MT, for a show titled: Demystifying the Business of Yoga …So You Can Change the World!

Come join us. :)

Bob Weisenberg said...

I'll look forward to listening, Amy. The title made me curious because it's the title of my blog in reverse, but I can see it's a different topic altogether, equally interesting.

Bob Weisenberg
YogaDemystified.com