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YOGA RETREAT & WELLNESS VACATION Bring your group and nourish yourself in a relaxing nature-beach experience. Ocean view yoga halls, delicious food, massages, excursions & a magical place to do everything or do nothing at all. (800) 257-0532; Mardejade.com

AMA TIERRA YOGA RETREAT S, WELLNESS CENTER IN COSTA RICA Individual and group retreats, open-air yoga shala, full spa and gourmet organic restaurant. Email [email protected], call (866) 659-3805 or visit AmaTierra.com New for groups: ricayoga.com.

BHUTAN Discover Himalayan mountains, vibrant culture and Buddhist spirituality, supported by Kripalu/ Pranakriya Yoga. Autumn/spring tours. bhutanyogatours.com

YOGA RETREATS IN NICARAGUA BigWorld-SmallPlanet Retreats for those who choose to experience Nicaragua as their next wellness destination. bigworidsmallplanet.com

BOLIVIAN ANDES & AMAZON Eco-lodges. retreat centres, cultural & spiritual sensibilities. Travel, adventure, culture, therapies, rituals, yoga courses, intensive shamanic traininq. Live in native communities, socially responsible tourism. Email [email protected]. Call (591) 72002055 or fax (591) 22745265. boliviamistica.com

DEVIPURAM Devi shrine with the larqest Meru on earth. Unique & visionary Sri Vidya teachinqs online/ site. Scientist-turned-guru Amritananda's powerful 45-minute Srichakra meditative prayer, Freedom Ritual for everyone. Bring Divine harmony into your life; visit devipuram.com.

MARK WHITWELL IN FIJI A blissful week in the South Pacific. Call (61) 2 9969 4753 or visit YogalnFiji.com.

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Women's sacred sexuality retreats, couples intimacy retreats, & private coaching. Sacredsexsecrets.com

BALI YOGA RETREATS Onqoing yoga retreats and discovery vacations since 2004 for beginners and intermediate yoqinis. Feel the enerqy. oneworldretreats.com

YOGA HOLIDAYS IN GREECE Live your dream on the island of Kythira, one of Greece's best-kept secrets. Call (877) 730-5522. yogaretreatgreece.com the yj interview by Diane Anderson

merry maker

Anusara Toga founder John Friend mixes serious alignment with a great sense of humor.

A rib-tickling comic. A no-nonsense alignment guru. A brandbuilding MBA. Put them together and you get John Friend,whose heart-centered Anusara Yoga is now taught by more than 1,000 teachers in 70 countries. Friend, 51, often usesgoofy voices to relate profound concepts and refers to his students as the Merry Band (a nod to Robin Hood? Ken Kesey?). Amid the laughter, you'll find a man who's serious about sharing the benefits of yoga with the world. How did you come to yoga? When I was four years old, Kennedy got shot. November 22,1963.1 was sick. My mother fed me whiskey and honey and put me in front of the TV So I was in an altered state of consciousness when my shows were preempted by the Dallas tragedy. Watching the funeral caused me deep questioning about the meaning of life. Why would we be created to have it all taken away? I kept asking questions. When I was eight, my mom read me stories about yogis with supernatural powers. These guys were better than my superheroes! When I was 13,1 bought the Bhagavad Gita and some Upanishads. I studied hatha yoga and comparative religions throughout high school. Over the years, I've studied with B. K. S. Iyengar, Gurumayi Chidvilasananda, K. Pattabhi Jois, and T. K. V. Desikachar. When I was 20,1 started to teach. Since 1990, I've taught internationally. On August 15,1997,1 founded Anusara. How did you develop Anusara Yoga's Universal Principles of

Alignment? Every style ofyoga has something to offer. But in alignment-oriented styles, I kept hearing instructions that led to big openings. Instead of memorizing instructions for each pose, I wanted a set that applied to every pose. I came up with a template of five different sequential, progressive steps. If you apply these principles, you'll enjoy improved alignment and benefit physically. You'll have greater evenness of mind. You'll feel your connection with the environment and others, which leads to feelings ofcompassion and connection, and greater knowledge of the beauty and goodness of life. What do you want people to Know about Anusara? OurTantric philosophy is life enhancing, prosensuality, inspiring, uplifting. We want to empower students and emphasize community. With your positivity, how do you reconcile the problems of suffering and evil in the world? Everything in its essence is benevolent, good, and auspicious. But we do actions that aren't skillful. Everyone wants to be happy, but we misbehave or misspeak and cause pain for ourselves and for others. There's karma and interconnect-edness, cause and effect, reasons for everything. Sometimes things seem random and unfair. The interweavings of the tapestry of destiny and karma are beyond my view. Some mysteries we don't have to figure out. We just flow with them and respond in the best ways to connect with our spiritual essence.

Are you happy? Yeah, I'm blissed out. I'm dancing better with the Divine all the time. 4ยป

John Friend leads the Anusara Grand Gathering (September 19-22) at the ijth annua! Toga Journal Colorado Conference. See yjevents.com.

MORE ONLINE Read more of this interview at yogajournal.com/johnfrlend.

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Lessons in Raja Yoga

Lessons in Raja Yoga

An easy to understand book on the principles and practices of Raja-Yoga alike. It teaches the eight steps

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