Emotional Materialism: When I finally bought an anusara “light the sky” t-shirt I should have known it was the end. From the early 00′s “full blast” era of muscular energy, the magic fingers and LA’s very own invocation melody to this, universal principles of alignment’s unbearable heaviness of being. Two streams of thought have merged into revelation. One is John Friend’s cult of spiritual materialism that he engenders through his teaching. Two is hatha yoga’s linear and frozen approach to movement. While many (including myself) view anusara as the most non-linear form of hatha yoga, it still freezes a finite number of poses in space with little regard to movement to and from the pose. But first things first. John Friend’s amazingly calm reaction to the many negativities presented in the N.Y. Times Magazine article was an embodiment of his major teachings. Many students defended him with a grace and power that mirrored his own response. Although the writing in the article was of poor quality and its main point remained unclear to the end, I think it is safe to say it was an attack on John’s celebrity and his student’s fandom. From that unfocused cautionary tale comes this one. How easy is it to construct false realities in techno-communicative culture? Or any culture really with a leader or group of leaders? Simplifying complicated physical asanas and simplifying complicated philosophy and simplifying their union, avoid that for now. Anusara’s UPA and John Friend’s persona has created a universal framework that overlays self knowing and discovery. This overlay creates a hierarchical (top down) yoga based relationship that engenders dependence. Is this phenomenon unique to Anusara or John Friend? No. Is John Friend aware of this? I don’t know. It is easy to get sucked into these yoga relationships because like job or sex based relationships, they feed spiritual/artistic/creative egos as well as needs for libido, power, and emotion as well. The anusara community gives him everything that everyone wants: attention, flattery, acceptance, confidence. And vice versa, the students get back the same things. Whether you believe or not, anusara taps into something true: the basic common need to believe that what feels like love is real.
Principle vs. Hypothesis: The UPA range between unassailable (grace) to indefensible (muscular energy). A number of alignment guidelines (4 corners of the foot, index finger straight ahead, etc,) are presented as rules rather than approximations to finding optimal alignment. What I want to say simply is anusara is a dogmatic system that enjoys the benefits of mass appeal at the expense of individualized discernment. Yes you can lift your toes to create more muscular energy but what are the side effects of overstating and imposing and contracting. This conflict is scriptural authority dominating inner reflecting. The language and practice of anusara supports this scriptural dominance. Finding out what is true for each individual in each yoga pose is an inner art that like many yoga systems is dominated by the pursuit of external postures. Of course, anusara is a yoga system built on top of a yoga system that was built on top of yet another system… Shortcomings and simplifying have been passed on indefinitely. But how can we find out what are bodies are truly capable of? While compiling a list of approximately 1,300 asanas, Sri Dharma Mittra suggested that “there are an infinite number of asanas.” Every moment in every movement is asana, not just the peak poses where spiraling muscles align for a moment in linear form. Asanas are snapshots of something much grander than their frozen, 3 dimensional document. So really, this is an end of an 18 year yoga affair. Fuck anusara and fuck yoga too. “Beauty stands and waits with gravity to start her death-defying leap. And he a little charleychaplin man who may or may not catch her fair eternal form spreadeagled in the empty air of existence”–Lawrence Ferlinghetti