In January 2011, I walked into the first weekend of the Anusara Immersion with an open heart and absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into. Until October of that same year I had never even heard of Anusara Yoga, and my decision to sign up for the immersion was pretty much based on "100 hours of yoga, that sounds fun LET'S DO IT UP" rather than any understanding of what I was embarking on. I was a poor grad student - I didn't really have $1500, but somehow I found it. There were so many finals and projects - I didn't really have time to spend entire weekends immersed in the Tattvas, inner spiral, and discussions of the Gita but somehow I found it.
I walked out of the immersion a different person. I can't adequately express in words the shifts that took place in me over the course of those six months, so I won't even try. Above all, the most amazing gift I received from the Anusara Immersion was the community and the amazing people I met. We laughed together, we cried together, we balanced upside down together, and when we came out the other side we were changed, and we were a family.
This week my teacher resigned her Anusara license. If you've followed yoga news at all you're probably aware of all the shenanigans that have gone down with John Friend and Anusara Yoga since February. If not, check out the Elephant Journal archives or any number of blogs, I won't get into the gory details here.
I've been grieving on-and-off for Anusara for the last few months - for the slow falling apart of the community, and for the pain I was sure my teachers were going through. But at the same time, we still practiced the UPAs, and we still sang the invocation before every class which made it easier to stay in denial.
It's hard not to feel like now, Anusara is really gone. For some reason, the invocation has been the hardest piece to let go of. I guess that as a musician, this shouldn't surprise me but after a long stressful day at work, singing those four simple lines I felt like my heart was coming home.
For me, that chant will always be love, possibility, and memories of some of the best six months I can remember. It's the music that tied us together. For my teachers, that chant has totally different and complex associations. It's like this one picture - we're looking at the same thing, but to me it's a rabbit and to you it's a duck.
|WHAT ARE YOU|
I know Anusara isn't gone - it exists independently of John Friend, of trademarks and licenses. One thing that's become clear to me since everything blew up in February is that what Anusara is to me, is totally not what it is to someone else. To one person, Anusara is John Friend. To another, Anusara is the last fiftneen years of their lives and it's very complicated. To another, it's a wiccan cult where everyone wears rose-colored glasses and sings Kumbayah for hours on end. This doesn't make my experience (or theirs) any less real.
Like many things in life, our experience with Anusara is what makes it real. I'm sticking with my teachers and my community regardless of what brand or label they practice. I am so grateful for the immersion - for the way it changed me and for the friends I found there. For me, Anusara will always be this time, and these peeps:
There is no spoon. There is no Anusara. There's just yoga.
Om Namah Shivaya Gurave
I honor the true teacher who resides within me and all things
Who embodies truth, consciousness and bliss
Who is never absent and is full of peace
Illuminating all with divine light
This has been cheesy. Thanks for reading, goodnight :)