I have, finally, decided to pursue Certification in the Anusara system. For those of you who don't know what this means, you can check here if you're curious.
I resisted and then ignored the invitation to take my teaching to this next place for some years. For many reasons (some known and some mysterious), now feels like the time to start. I applied (first stage of the process) at the beginning of December. Below is a copy of my letter of intent. I felt inspired to share it, as it reflects a sort-of distilled biography of my teaching journey.
I took my first Anusara class with Elena Brower in May 2002. I had been practicing at a studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn for about a year. I had been touched and birthed by the yoga practice so completely that it had posited a seam into my (still young-ish) life: life before yoga and life after were entirely different.
I was ready to do teacher training and it wasn’t offered at the Jivamukti-inflected studio where I was practicing. I asked my teacher what he recommended and he mentioned Anusara. Although I had plunged, bodily and with heart into yoga, I was very young and naïve in my understanding of its history and philosophy. If I were to characterize my sense of things back then, it would sound something like this: “It’s all just yoga, right?”.
So, when my teacher mentioned Anusara by name, I thought, ‘John Friend, he sounds nice’. :) It was with that innocence and simplicity that I walked into Elena’s class that day. There was something quite simple and elegantly clear in my continuing to practice Anusara, although the inchoate affinity started to be informed by real knowledge.
I began my first teacher training in the fall of 2002. I am grateful to have participated in Lois Nesbitt’s first training. I remember being often overwhelmed with the thought of ever being to pull-off what my teachers were doing. Slowly, with the wisdom and generosity of Lois’ guidance, as well as the brilliance of Ellen Saltonstall’s anatomy instruction, I was becoming a teacher. I saw how each of us in the training was becoming a teacher, and each in her very own way.
In 2005, I completed a Level 2 TT and subsequently several therapeutic trainings with Noah and Naime, as well as hundreds of hours with certified teachers and years of study with Sally Kempton, Douglas Brooks and now Paul Mueller-Ortega. I have been teaching full-time in Los Angeles since the summer of 2003. I have had my heart in this for a long time.
So, why now? Why am I inclined to begin the certification process now, after all this time? Partially, of course, it is purely instinctual, and emerging from a quite wordless space. If I am to give it voice, it has much to do with intimacy. I have been friendly with the principles and ethos of this system for a long time. I have known Anusara for a long time, and have watched the principles change in my awareness and understanding over time.
It has steeped and stewed in me, and I now trust that I have the wisdom as a teacher to honor the system fully as I dive further into its depth. I have been teaching yoga with the inspiration of the Anusara system and lineage for nearly eight years. I have strengthened my container as a teacher sufficiently such that I know I can carry the challenge of being Certified with full integrity.
I am currently ten months in to Paul’s year-long ‘Entering the Heart of Shiva’ course. I know that my experience in the course has contributed greatly to my beginning the Certification process. I have come to understand depth of study in a wholly new way—it has grown me up, availing me to a level of maturity of practice that was previously untenable and unknown.
Paul speaks of ‘the digging of the well’. “It doesn’t matter where you dig the well,” he said, “just be sure to dig deep enough.” It is as if the nectar of practice, of the heart, is just below our feet. We start on a path, and begin to dig, and then resign, thinking that the nectar must be somewhere else. And then we begin to dig a new well, get discouraged or fatigued, or confront some uncomfortable, rocky place in the ground of our consciousness, and we stop again, thinking that the nectar must surely be somewhere else.
At some point in our sadhana, by simple grace and sweet effort, we learn to dig the well deep enough to touch the molten core of bliss that flows just there. ‘There’, then, can be wherever the practitioner has burrowed deep enough into the heart. I have placed myself here, in the lineage of Anusara yoga. I have stood nearby for many years. I am now ready to fully dig the well.
Thank you for reading this, for your greatness, and your support.