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Whether or not people wanted him here, Friend says he found inspiration in his new home. It began with his consideration of "the Roots," the posture sequence Desi had created with Micah's help, which focuses on the practitioners arching their backs — usually a no-no among the long, straight lines of most yoga poses. "Genetically, Micah and I have accentuated lower back curves," explains Desi. "For several years, our teachers tried to lengthen them."

"But the more we did that, the more we were in pain," adds Micah. "I like my curve; it actually feels really good. When we embraced the curve, it changed everything."

Desi had first brought these new postures to Friend's attention while Anusara was thriving — and he wouldn't even consider them. "I was considered an expert," he says. "I couldn't conceive that this woman would have something that would be that earth-shattering." But once Anusara collapsed, once he had nothing to lose, he tried her sequence — and was blown away. "It gave me strength and a level of balance that was extraordinary and unusual," he explains. "Even the smell of my sweat was different." The way he saw it, the arched back allowed the body to function like a loaded spring, with the taut muscles holding everything in place. The posture allowed people to hold difficult yoga poses far longer, increased positive attitude, helped them reduce muscle and joint pain, and, in his case, led to striking results. "I trimmed off forty pounds," he says. "And I'm now doing stuff that I was doing in my twenties."

John Friend teaching Sridaiva at Vital Yoga.
Anthony Camera
John Friend teaching Sridaiva at Vital Yoga.
Desi (left) and Micah Springer invited John Friend to Denver.
Anthony Camera
Desi (left) and Micah Springer invited John Friend to Denver.

Suddenly, Friend's one-time student was his teacher. Still, it took time for him to fully embrace Desi's program, since it went against many of the tenets he'd spent years developing in Anusara. "It was the opposite of what I had been teaching," he says. "I had to question major elements of my alignment system." Eventually, with Desi's help, he realized this new system was so radical that it couldn't be integrated into Anusara at all, that instead it held the seeds for a new school of yoga. In early 2013, the two of them named that school Sridaiva, Sanskrit for "divine destiny."

Friend asked Desi to be his business partner, to help spread the word of their discovery. She took the lead, conveying her experience using Sridaiva's alignments, while Friend, the pattern guy, worked on verifying, organizing and simplifying the methodology so it could reach a wider audience than just those capable of Desi's demanding "Roots" sequence. "There is no way I would have done this without him," says Desi. "I am an introvert. And John provides the why — he's an expert at systemification and simplification, synergizing an idea and making it accessible." The two believe the spring-loaded posture isn't just for yoga; they think people the world over can adopt it as they go about their daily lives to improve their physical and mental health. As Friend puts it, "I really feel like you can do this at your job and leave work feeling like you've worked out."

And with his new program, says Friend, he's using the lessons learned from his mistakes. "I know what I did with Anusara, and I can take the positive things and clean up the dysfunctional things I screwed up at the beginning," he notes. For example, in Sridaiva there are teacher-training classes but no demanding certification programs, which might keep top-level infighting to a minimum. More important, says Friend, "We ask that students first and foremost take responsibility for their own health and positioning." This time, it won't be Friend's responsibility to build everybody up — so he won't be held responsible if they all get knocked down.

So far, the system's working. The two have upcoming events booked in Hong Kong, Singapore, Germany, Ireland, Switzerland, the Caribbean and elsewhere, and Friend and Desi are co-authoring a book, Optimal Posture, on Sridaiva. "There is buzz," says Friend. Yes, some of the attention might be from those wondering what happened to the disgraced John Friend — but it's buzz nonetheless.

Unlike medical professionals, yoga teachers don't need a license to practice. The closest thing the industry has to such a program is a volunteer credentialing system run by the nonprofit Yoga Alliance, which certifies that teachers have completed a certain number of hours at training programs that meet the nonprofit's standards. According to Yoga Alliance CEO Richard Karpel, there are currently about 40,000 credentialed yoga teachers — one of whom is John Friend. The organization is currently revising its credentials program and creating a new code of ethics that will weigh in on whether yoga teachers can date their students, Karpel says, but he admits the program "is not the most rigorous credentialing system there is." And that's the way he thinks it has to be: "The idea of certifying yoga is difficult to begin with. Yoga has been around for 5,000 years. There are lots of different lineages and lots of different styles. Different people have different ideas of what it is and what is isn't."

That means that Friend is free to start a new style of yoga, which others are free to embrace — or they can continue on with Anusara, since in late 2012 a group of Friend's former teachers launched the teacher-run Anusara School of Hatha Yoga. "We are taking the foundation that John built and we are moving it forward," says school co-founder Doc Savage, who says more than 400 teachers have joined the program.

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12 comments
agni
agni

Forgiveness is one thing, simple stupidity is quite another. Like all the phony yoga teachers, John was never a real teacher anyway. Amazingly,  some are so blind that they continue to go this guy and all other phony yoga teachers. BTW, real Yoga is Hinduism, taught by Hindus and not for a fee.

Shakti
Shakti

Forgiveness is one of the highest spiritual vibrations and hopefully the yoga community will have compassion for John. While I do think perhaps John got caught up in the maya of fame it sounds like he is being forthright about what happened and positive about his new life. I feel a consensual affair, some pot and wicca rituals are his personal life and it does not change who he is as a yoga teacher. Many gurus have done much worse to their students with no consequences. Hopefully the person who revealed the information realizes that revenge can hurt many people.

johnkmlee66
johnkmlee66

Good for Desi and Micah.  Wish you well John.

Erica Rosenthal
Erica Rosenthal

Who gives a shit if he slept with married students? It was probably just making the workout better

mosborne3
mosborne3

Just get into bouldering or rock climbing. 

Don Finley
Don Finley

Who said the pot law wouldn't bring in a higher class of people and business owners? lol

WillieStortz
WillieStortz

Is it just me or does this pervert look just like Jerry Sandusky? There must be something in the genetics of those types. 


Thanks for the heads up, it's always good to know when a sexual predator is lurking in my neighborhood and working at local businesses.

westwordreader
westwordreader

Friend tells reporter Joel Warner: “I really want my sex life and my other personal sacred and spiritual practices held privately, and not made public by others who don't respect such boundaries.” The article never mentions that John’s business partner, Desi Springer, is by all accounts his romantic partner, as well. Why would acknowledging that embarrass this yoga power couple?

I took a class with John and Desi and he was amazing and charismatic, a terrific teacher. They have palpable and powerful chemistry. They travel the world together, and he signs his emails “Desi and John.” And this reporter can’t write about that?

Did Friend's “aqua-blue eyes flashing with enthusiasm” – not to mention those beefy thighs and fabulous grounded feet! – get to you, Joel?   I understand!

anotherwwreader
anotherwwreader

@westwordreader 


It's that kind of groupie-talk that both enabled and got him into trouble in the first place. The only thing that has changed (judging from his 'medical marijuana' card) is his realization that he would do well to erect stronger boundaries of 'privacy' regarding distances between the walk and the talk. 


Otherwise, he apparently still actively courts and promotes such googly-eyed praise and endorsements as yours.


Yes, the article went easy on him in some respects, especially with regard to details such as the one you mention.

 
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