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John Friend and the Anusara Yoga scandal: A primer


John FriendAfter two tumultuous weeks of revelations and teacher resignations, John Friend officially announced yesterday that he would be stepping down and taking a “leave of absence” from Anusara.

Like Bikram Choudhury, Friend created an entirely new style of heart-centered yoga embraced by 200,000 yogis around the world. He was deemed the “Yoga Mogul” by the New York Times in 2010 and recently created branded products with Manduka, using his name and stamp of approval as the selling point.

The fallout began with a series of mysterious high-profile teacher defections—from Elena Brower to Amy Ippoliti. Then, an anonymous source created a website accusing the leader of  illegal drug use, sexual misuse of power, and pension fraud, to name a few. The thread continued to unravel, as more details surfaced and Friend admitted, to Elephant Journal, that many of the accusations were true.

Amid all of this emerged YogaDork, a Woodward without a Bernstein, breaking this enormous scoop—with a literal anonymous Deep Throat—and keeping up an impressive play-by-play as the scandal continued. She officially gets our yoga-coverage Pulitzer of 2012.

If you haven’t been following the news closely, we put together this handy catch-up primer. Does the scandal surprise you (or do you expect gurus to misbehave)? Tell us in the Comments, below.

—YogaDork reports, last November, that three of the biggest names in Anusara are breaking ties with the discipline.

YogaDork’s amazing, handy timeline of the entire controversy, with links to all of her coverage from Day 1 to the present.

—On Feb. 8, 2012, John Friend responds to the accusations against him in an interview with Elephant Journal editor Waylon Jennings.

—Blisstree posts an interview with Elena Brower about her defection and the scandal on Feb. 16, 2012.

—A Huffington Post editorial asks: Can Anusara salvage its image?

—We ask: What Will Manduka do with all of those John Friend yoga mats?