Addressing the New York Times article about John Friend

The New York Times Magazine has a profile of John Friend “up on the web”: (and presumably soon in print). As an Anusara-Inspired yoga teacher, who has met and studied with John many times, I was interested to read it.

Overall, I thought the piece was pretty good.

Most of the things that Ms. Swartz writes about John–and yes, everyone in the Anusara community calls him John; it seems like name-dropping until you meet him, and then it seems pretty natural–ring true to me. But not all.

I’ve attended 8 events with John, and while I certainly agree that he has his groupies, I’ve never seen anyone attempt to give him their hotel room key, which the article succeeds in making sound like a commonplace occurance.

I also diagree with the characterization of John as “an easygoing guy with an easygoing yoga — except when it comes to business.”

If you go to an Anusara Teacher Training with John, you will understand that he’s not really all that easygoing. His expectations of his teachers–especially of the Certified Teachers, but of anyone who is attending one of his teacher trainings–are very high.

He wants the people he trains to be teachers to be the best of the best.

I would be interested to have gotten more of the context surrounding Judith Lassater’s comments; they seem very negative, but I wonder if there was more to them that made a different point. I also wonder if they were specifically directed at John or were just about the commercialization of yoga in general.

Incidentally, that John draws a salary of $100K a year doesn’t bother me one bit. John’s been teaching professionally for a quarter of a century, and is internationally prominent. Prominent enough, in fact, to get profiled in the New York Times Magazine. I put to you the question: in what other profession in this culture would that salary be considered excessive for someone in his position?