Anusara yoga was founded in 1997 by John Friend. The word anusara means “flowing with grace” or “flowing with nature” or “following your heart.” It is described as a celebration of the heart which looks for good in all people and all things. It is a hatha yoga system which states that the highest principle is to align with the Divine and to step deeper into the flow of Grace. The basic philosophy can be summed up in the concept of intrinsic goodness. It is this spiritual goodness that the practice of anusara yoga seeks to find and reunite with during a anusara class. Anusara has classes, workshops and retreats all centered on these basic ideas and principles. Anusara yoga teachers seek to bring out this intrinsic goodness in every person, not by correcting poses but highlighting the good in every person. Although there are over 250 poses variation is allowed to serve the purpose of flowing with grace to accentuate each person’s intrinsic goodness.
There are 11 elements of an anusara yoga class. The first is the previously mentioned teacher seeking to bring out the intrinsic goodness of each student through poses and self-esteem. The second element is the beginning of the class with a invocation/centering followed by the third element which is heart-oriented theme which is followed through the poses. The fourth element is the application of the “Universal Principles of Alignment” which are attitude, alignment and action which means every pose has a purpose as stated previously. The fifth element relates to breathing. Hatha yoga has at its core the concept of proper breathing. It is central to yoga and is a primary health benefit in teaching students how to breath which leads to relaxation, reduction of stress and attainment of the basic principles. Elements six and seven involve the teacher observing poses and offering instruction and demonstrations. Element eight of every class is the idea that anusara yoga is available to all people regardless of their ability or experience. Element nine focuses on increasing poses to a more advanced stage as the student progresses without setting firm rules on poses. Elements ten and eleven involve the class ending with meditation and the student leaving feeling good.
The health benefits of anusara yoga would include better breathing techniques, increased self-esteem, a relaxed state with less stress and a general overall better attitude towards yourself. At the anusara website listed below there is an online store with products to aid in the practice including clothing, books, music, audio and accessories. There are also listings of events including John Friend’s Melt Your Heart, Blow Your Mind world tour. The schedule is detailed on the website.
This article is intended as a general guide to anusara yoga. To get much more detail go to their website listed below.