On Sunday March 11, several Anusara teachers and friends met at Avocado and discussed the recent developments on the Anusara front.
Here is a short summary from my own personal point of view:
--We all expressed our appreciation for the teachings of John Friend & Anusara and our concerns for all the recent developments.
--We have all been deeply touched by the pain and confusion and all the ethical issues that have been raised.
--We remain open to the future and less attached to our need to stay affiliated with Anusara Inc. If Anusara continues to exist as a good organization that contributes to the advancement of fairness, democracy, health, and strong ethical yoga practice, then yes we would all like to be part of it.
--We vowed to speak up and have less tolerance for attitudes that do not really serve the highest good.
--Overall, we all felt that Anusara in its core lacked a strong foundation on clear values and ethics. We would like to follow a more spiritual organization one that is founded in real care for the world, rather than a mere financial corporation. We would like to see Anusara reach out and make a difference in places where help is needed in the world...
Allow me to share some of my personal thoughts & feelings on the subject of ethics and finances:
1) Yes it is true that NYSY is responsible for bringing some of the most celebrated yoga teachers in the world right here in Athens.
I have been thinking deeply on how we contributed to this phenomenon of Yoga Teacher Celebrities and the whole financial game. I acknowledge our great responsibility here. Looking as honestly as I could, what I found in my heart was my clear intention to bring the best teachers that I had personally met and admired to my homeland and people. Look at the results: the whole level of yoga and pilates teaching in Greece has been elevated to a whole other level through NYSY's programs. It has been a lot of hard work and we do not regret it. We are proud to witness this great expansion of yoga and pilates studios and communities across the country. Now more committed than ever, we are still here with the same intention to make the world a better place through "healthy minds and healthy bodies".
2) At the same time we can't help but acknowledge the rising imbalance: As the financial situation in Greece is approaching record lows, many guest teachers' intentions do not jive with the needs of our community. Some of them demand unreasonable minimum guarantees--sorry but I see a demand of 8,000€ for a workshop as absurd for our community of many unemployed people where one is considered lucky to have a job that pays 800€/month. There is nothing yogic or sri about this equation in my eyes.
3) What to do?
We have many great options. Challenge makes our resolve clear and our stance even stronger.
--First of all, we have many people in Greece by now who are strong yoga teachers and practitioners.
--We can encourage each other and together uplift our Greek sangha.
--We can start thinking of ways to offer more of our practice and service "for the benefit of all beings". The Good Karma YogaFEST is proving to be a great opportunity for our communities to meet and practice together, while offering a very small donation to a benefit cause.
--In my practice I am personally starting to look at the deeper philosophical roots of yoga. Our recent trip to India was one such effort and I plan to share more soon.
--We can all continue to search within and connect with our own deep intentions and inner divinity. Search, practice, connect!
--More discrimination, less tolerance... Ludicrous as it sounds, several star teachers are contacting us about offering seminars in Greece right now. Like Hollywood stars they have their assistants make contact. The first thing the assistant or manager wants to make clear is minimum financial guarantees.
In a time when Greece is in the news every day and everyone has heard about the unemployment, poverty, debt, and people's hardships,
my standard reply to them is: "Before we even start talking about minimums, can you tell us...What connection do you feel to Greek people right now and what would you like to offer to our yoga communities?"
4) It is a good time to try being fearless while remaining compassionate. A great time indeed to become activists for "the change we want to be in the world".
5) Om Saha Naa-vavatu... Maa Vid-vishas-vahai... Let us not turn against each other.
Times are tricky. Let us use our fire constructively and not direct it at each other... I see it, feel it happening all around and percolating inside me too, but the undercurrent is LOVE right?
I bow to you with great love and respect,