Well, I am turning in here from Tempe, Arizona where I am teaching for the weekend at Hegel Yoga. I spent Thursday and Friday in California timing some content for Yogaglo and last weekend I was in Hollywood, Florida teaching at YogaOne. It seems like between teaching, practicing, family time and answering emails, writing course descriptions and developing curriculum for upcoming projects I am without as much time for fun writing and musing these days. However, that does not mean that I do not have plenty on my mind, of course.
I have been talking to people in all my travels who have been sorting through the rubble of the dissolving of the structures once knowns as Anusara yoga and its been a very interesting thing to discuss, reflect and be part of. The aftermath continues to ripple through different communities of practitioners and students in various ways but no one seems untouched. Between feelings of relief, disillusionment, homelessness, worry, gratitude and so on, people continue to process their relationship to the way the events have unfolded and their part in all of it. And like I have written about a lot this year, everyone’s story has both simliar and different elements.
I think for me I mostly feel a lot of relief because I found the label of Anusara a bit too small as time went by. And I think this is unfortunate because my understanding of what the method and style was all about was that it was fairly wide-open as a means of practice. In my understanding it could encompass flow-based vinyasa style yoga, start and stop analysis, movement, stillness, talking, silence, music and no music, depth and lightness and an endless array of variations and expressions of the postures themselves. AND YET, as the community got bigger and as more people wanted to be part of the movement, and in the effort to define the system and manage its parameters, the definitions and expectations narrowed and became more constrictive and contricted in various ways. So there I was feeling Anusara was one thing and yet also being held to an ever-narrowing standard for teaching while being told I was free. So I think these mixed dynamics lived at the heart of my dissatisfaction and frustration which then filtered into my energetic field and I was often on edge, defensive and struggling to present an accurate representative class but becuase of the limits I also felt unable to creatively offer my truest understanding without having to explain, compare and answer to “reports back to the office”.
The ironic thing about this is that having left, I am probably- in some ways- the most Anusara I have ever been. Meaning, I am the most in touch with my heart and my own creative freedom, the most in my own flow. I have told a lot of people that the week surrounding my resignation was a mini- satori for me in that I suddenly really “got” Anusara. I had stepped out on a limb in a big leap of faith, was met with tremendous support internally and circumstantially and I had the direct experince of following my heart and being carried. Indeed, my finest hour as an Anusara yoga teacher happened once I resigned. Ironic to the say the least.
Of course, that was last October and by Feburary a ton of shit had hit the fan and all kinds of karma seemed to come due for the community as a whole. And as the story surrounding the “dark side” of Anusara came to light not only were secrets exposed relative to John and his behavior but the dark underbelly of the community’s unresolved angers, jealousies and hurts was also exposed. This is not an indictment or an accusation or even a criticism but I mention this becuase in my various disussions with people these days, one thing has been consistent: people feel a bit traumatized not only by what John did and said and didn’t say and so forth but by the way the community processed the events and in some ways cannibalized itself. More than one person told me that the reason they left Anusara wasn’t what John did but was that observing the way the story unfolded on various social media forums was so upsetting and revealing that they severed their ties rather than continue to participate in such a spiteful and angry yoga community.
So we are clear, this is not some big “yogis do not get angry” sort of proclamation or anything like that. I am all for being real, authentic and for processing emotions in a forthright and honest manner. I am instead, musing a bit on where all those dynamics actually leave us now and how best might a fractured group of practitioners continue to move forward effectively.
One thing that seems clear is that local communities have rallied together in some really cool ways. I find myself wanting to nest a bit more, teach out of my studio in Texas more and to do those things that help me connect to my practice, my friends and my family. And in my teaching work I see workshops are smaller and yet also more tender and soft these days as people seem more tentative to trust, to re-engage and to know where to place their faith. Again, that’s not a criticism- its more of an observation. I think in some ways such reticence might be a very smart response after being hurt.
I do think its important though for us to reconnect with each other in mearningful ways, to mend the hurts in our hearts, to forgive ourselves and each other even if we have boundaries that require seperate lives, locations and so forth. Every relationship has a limit that, once crossed creates irreperable damage. That is just the way of interpersonal dynamics. No doubt, as we walk through life we will have break ups and dissolved unions. And yet, forgiveness exists as well and can be cultivate internally even if external boundaries stay in place.
At any rate, its been a helluva year and everytime I see folks I know from my days in Anusara, like in Florida, in LA and here in Arizona, I feel a bit mended and healed because I know that the most important threads have not been harmed. My favorite thing in Anusara was my friends and what seems to be lasting are certain connections to people I care deeply about. Some friendships have fallen away and others have emerged and become sustaining influences.
So I could write more but mostly my point is that I do know the Facebook Forum Wars do not have to be final chapter to this story. I think we can and that we will write a much cooler storyline for this upcoming year. Mostly I am interested in watching how it develops.