To my Anusara (and post-Anusara) friends,
When the Anusara School of Hatha Yoga announced itself a couple of months ago, I was startled—the last I had heard (though, really, I hadn’t been listening too closely), efforts to recast Anusara Yoga as an independent, teacher-run school had failed due to disagreements with John Friend regarding transfer of the Anusara Trademark. The teachers in question had decided to recast themselves as Kula Evolution, and fell entirely off my radar.
So I was initially cautiously pleased that the issues had been resolved—I enjoyed the community that surrounded Anusara Yoga, I appreciated the standards in teaching that it aspired to, and was hopeful that this new entity could be instrumental in preserving those ideals without the involvement of John Friend.
I guess it’s worthy of a quick explanation: I don’t really bear any particular ill-will toward John, but the coercive business relationships that people came forward to describe in the aftermath of the exposure of his complicated personal life—which may or may not have had a coercive aspect to it as well—were enough to convince me that I don’t want to be in any sort of business relationship with him.
However, I quickly realized that this new organization was made up of entirely different people, and noticed a couple of things on the school’s website and in their announcement that seemed ambiguous, so I asked for clarification by replying to their announcement newsletter. What I asked was this:
Could you please confirm that the ownership of the “Anusara” trademark has been transferred to this organization, and is not simply being licensed from Anusara, Inc.?
To which I got the following reply:
Anusara Inc. does still own the trademarks. As an independent school of yoga we have acquired the exclusive rights to all the trademarks held by Anusara Inc. Anusara Inc. will receive as small portion of the licensing fees from each of our teachers but will have no other involvement in our school. Those funds will be used by Anusara Inc. for administrative and legal expenses involved in maintaining the trademarks.
Please ask if you have any other questions.
So, if it matters to you—and I realize that to many of you it may not; either Anusara is dead and buried to you, or you didn’t dissociate yourself from it in the first place—please be aware that some portion of money you send to the Anusara School of Hatha Yoga will be going to Anusara, Inc., which almost certainly means to John.
It also means that John has a tool to coerce behavior out of the School if he so chooses—revoking the exclusive license to use the Anusara, Inc. trademarks would effectively destroy the school’s ability to function, and, as we know from Dune, “The power to destroy a thing is the absolute control of it.”
Given that I haven’t ever heard him acknowledge the behavior to which I object, much less apologize for it, I lack trust that John has embraced a new way of approaching business relationships. And so, to ensure that I do not end up in a dysfunctional relationship with John, I am afraid I will have to pass on a relationship to the Anusara School of Hatha Yoga.