Kula Evolution | staying steady, staying connected


Attention Anusara Geeks! Today’s “must read” is the first post on “Kula Evolution,” the website of the transitional Interim Steering Committee, soon to be Leadership Committee, negotiating with John Friend about the transfer of the Anusara name to a community of teachers. I’m excited by these developments. I think Anusara is a new paradigm for yoga, and so has the potential to use what it knows to transform itself. Far from being irrelevant, if this can be pulled off, it will still have much to teach us.

We believe the yoga system and alignment principles that we have been studying and teaching for years have great value to the world, and we want to maintain the integrity of this system.  We want students to be able to learn this system and teachers to continue to be able to be certified in it.

In order to ensure greater unity of the community, we have created this space called Kula Evolution.  This will give the community a chance to communicate ideas, get involved, and move forward toward a selection of leaders and a creation of a new paradigm.

via Kula Evolution | staying steady, staying connected.

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About Richard Hudak

I am Senior Adjunct Faculty in Sociology at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, and I have been a practitioner of Anusara™ yoga. I have completed 200 hours of teacher training within its diaspora community, consistent with its philosophy and alignment principles.
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6 Responses to Kula Evolution | staying steady, staying connected

  1. David says:

    You wrote that you think anusara is a new paradigm for yoga. All yoga? What paradigm would that be? Thank you.

    • Richard Hudak says:

      Anusara is just a different darshan, “vision” or “view.” So I don’t think I’m saying that it is a paradigm for all yoga, because every yoga proceeds from a different darshan. It’s not better, but it’s certainly not worse, as some recent discussion in the yoga community at large has suggested.

      Anusara is based on three “jewels,” the Tantric philosophy, the Universal Principles of Alignment, and the community or kula. The Tantric view is the path of the householder, how to delve into the deep mysteries and emerge to live them in “the world.” The ability to resolve these organizational problems are for me a test of that view. How can we be uplifted even as we get messy? What good is a view if it can’t be lived in such times, trying as they are for all those who have been associated with it?

      The Universal Principles of Alignment (UPAs) are and are not relevant here. The Tantric view comes into greater focus on this matter. But it seems difficult for me to separate out the UPAs from the Tantric view, based as they are on non-dual notions such as balanced action. While not in focus either, the kula is clearly directly relevant because it has been split by these difficulties and is in need of healing, regardless of one’s continued affiliation with whatever becomes of Anusara.

      I hope this addresses your questions.

  2. David says:

    I would not say that one yoga is better or worse than another. I don’t know how one could objectively say such a thing. But it has been reported that Anusara in fact considers itself to be better. Is that inherent in the Anusara view?

    I would think that you are right that resolving the current mess is a test of the view. Was it also not a test that this happened at all? I have no interest in blame, or even accountability for that matter. I care about how proclaimed adepts can apparently have progressed so little in the very areas of life that a yoga practice aims at. As you say, what good is it if it can’t be lived.

    As a yogi and a yoga teacher I am very interested in whether the Anusara view itself will be challenged by its practitioners, and if it is, what will be found. And I hope that any problems discovered won’t be ignored via an appeal to human nature. Humans are supposed to be able to do this. An Anusara case study could be helpful for us all.

    Thank you.

  3. Richard Hudak says:

    I’ve practiced scores of hours in Anusara classes, and I have never heard it proclaimed it’s better. I have seen evidence that John Friend can speak hyperbolically or even evangelically about this or that aspect of the method.

    I also think that Americans, partly in reaction to, and partly in support of their own culture, are suspicious of the positive aspects of the philosophy, the affordances of the universal principles of alignment, and the warmth exchanged in Anusara kula or community. I think some may suspect the distinctly American approach to yoga: to say that the guru is within sounds like “if it feels good, do it.” On the other hand, our chronic overwork may make a more ascetic path sound attractive. It’s as if some find Anusara too hedonistic.

    Another sense in which Anusara’s philosophy differs is in its departure from Classical Hatha in the benefit of asana. Classical Yoga insists that the purpose of asana is to be able to sit in meditation, in order to awaken. Tantra insists that in asana itself we may find awakening.

    The Universal Principles of Alignment simplify into a system some ideas we find in other alignment-based systems, namely Iyengar, but with some notable departures and refinements on the meta-level of alignment. My experience of the Iyengar system was that there were different sets of instructions proposed for every pose. While pose-specific refinements do exist in Anusara, the Universal Principles exist as a simplified organizing framework that works in every pose.

    Like Iyengar, Anusara also insists that benefit can be obtained by working the actions when the full expression is not necessarily available to a particular practitioner. But the ideal is not so much a perfectly aligned prose as the fullest expression available to the individual practitioner at a given point in her or his practice.

    Combine a philosophy that looks for the good in all, with alignment principles that are freeing, and teaching that is similarly aligned, and mutual support among practitioners seems naturally to evolve.

    Analysis of why the community has reached this particular juncture is likely to continue for some time. I do not share the assumption that there are fatal flaws in the philosophy that have produced this. I am persuaded this is so by Douglas Brooks’s pained observation that he tried to get John Friend to adopt a structure similar to the one his teacher, Appa, had cultivated among his own students (Elephant Journal). Models exist within Tantra that recognize and hold in check the power of the teacher. Particularly within her kula, from which I am somewhat geographically removed, but also in the immersions I am taking with her, my teacher has explicitly cultivated dialog. This is to say, in response to your query, that I maintain that the seeds already exist within the philosophy for Anusara to grow beyond this rift. Will the seeds be cultivated? I hope so, and devote my energies to this.

    There also is a sense in which the Tantric path does “walk the edge.” As a path for the householder rather than the ascetic, it must seek awakening amongst the very things that can pull one off the path to the highest, but not to the extreme that it does. As another of my teachers put it, “Fire is transformative. We play with fire. Sometimes we get burned.”

    This fire has gotten quite uncontained because it has emanated from the seat of the school’s founder and lead teacher. Some have left the burn area, some have set a firebreak by burning and extinguishing a ring around it, an still others are still fighting the fire in the thick of it.

    I am grateful for your respectful questions as they are not adding fuel to this fire, but seeking understanding. I must emphasize that the response I make comes from my own bhavana of the teachings, as apprehended by three years of study of Anusara, and two of three “immersions” (over sixty hours of training).

    • David says:

      Thank you for your considered reply to my questions. I hope your practice continues to serve you. As for Anusara generally, I’m sure that there is solid ground underneath all the cittra vritta of personality. Deep bow.

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