Inspiring Teachers: Mulling Over the JF Affair

For the last several months I’ve mulled over the controversy in the Anusara community, remaining largely silent (shockingly!) about the whole messy affair (no pun intended).  I will finally say that I was always a bit uncomfortable with the pedestal on which John Friend was placed.  I had taken workshops from him years ago, before his Yoga Journal cover, before his NY Times article, before his Manduka deal, before his fall from grace and was puzzled by his presence.

I thought he was a great teacher, but I didn’t see what others saw in him.  He was articulate, brilliant, and extremely capable, but for me, there was no connection.  I didn’t find him warm and inviting.  And I don’t think it’s hindsight talking.  I’ve taken wonderful workshops from other great teachers and I have found immediate connections with them.

In fact, 15 years ago I stumbled into a yoga class at my gym. I had an immediate connection with the teacher, Kelley Gardner, that led me to a life-changing practice that I will continue as long as I’m breathing.  But without that sought-after connection that distinguishes a teacher from a mentor,  the workshop-ignited inspiration is short-lived. Notes taken are soon filed away and only some of the concepts learned are put into practice.

Kelley Gardner & Immersion Students

Through these last few months, I’ve tried to understand what makes a teacher a source of true, lasting, inner transformation. Having completed the Immersion Program and Teacher Training in my own community with local teachers, I now realize what type of teacher insprires me.

Teacher that are experts in the art of yoga.

Teachers who share all of themselves.

Teachers that are a part of my life, week in and week out.

Teachers who show me how yoga positively influences all aspects of their lives.

Teachers with foibles and failures and integrity and strong moral compasses.

Teachers who strive not for perfection but for being perfectly themselves.

Teachers who are not personas but are persons.

Teachers who show how to do the dance of life by dancing beautifully each day.

So my deepest and unending thanks to Kelley Gardner, Sari Weston, Sarah Faircloth, and Stacey Millner-Collins for keeping it real.  You are the heart of my practice and are with me every time I unroll my mat.

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