Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What's in a Name? More thoughts about Anusara

You may or may not have heard about the turmoil within the school of Anusara Yoga.  John Friend, the school’s founder, has stepped down from his leadership position after accusations of unethical sexual relations with students and employees, among other allegations, surfaced.

As turmoil in the Anusara Yoga world continues as a result of John Friend's unethical behavior, I am still contemplating my own reactions.  Many of my esteemed colleagues have resigned their Certifications. I have not, but I have been questioning if that should be my course of action.

Over the years my son has been diagnosed with language delays, ADHD and Aspergers syndrome. Though many people rail against labels, I found it helpful to know these were trends and not just the isolated behavior of one person who was close to me. I never rested upon those labels and never felt that he was only those things. He is a complicated person with talents and deficits just like any other person. But the label was helpful when seeking advice about how to address certain problems. And the label was a comfort in letting me know that I was not the only one having difficulty.

To get my certification I studied for hundreds of hours with wonderful teachers over the course of 7 years before I even began the certification process.  I completed 3 videos which were reviewed and critiqued by a wonderful mentor. The final video was then reviewed and critiqued again by 2 more wonderful teachers.  I completed a 30 hour exam detailing history, philosophy, gross and physical anatomy as well as teaching techniques for healing, relieving pain, and helping students to express their poses to their fullest potential. All along the way I received advice on my teaching that helped me become a better teacher. I received my Certification in 2006.

To me the term Certified Anusara Instructor means that that instructor has worked their ass off, because I worked my ass off. But though I am proud of the title does not mean that I think I am better than anyone else as has been suggested. I don't feel part of an elite crowd, I don't feel beholden to a controlling organization. I am happy for the support of the organization when it comes time to create programs that deepen my students’ study. I am happy to have a community to call upon if I need clarification on any Yoga related issue.

And though I have been disappointed by John's behavior, I personally do not feel victimized. The only way I feel in any way hampered by the label Anusara is through its recently diminished reputation. Anusara is a label that describes the method and style of teaching that I have found to be healthy, grounding and uplifting.

Labels bring specificity. We choose how much we want to identify with the labels.

Having said all that, the future of the organization is unclear right now. By keeping the name I may be supporting an organization that may no longer have the integrity I choose to support. Though I don’t feel any need to change the status of my certification at the moment, I am monitoring the progress of the organization and keeping my options open.  After all, “That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet.”

Blessings and Namaste, Sharon

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