Anusara Yoga – History and Origins
John Friend established the Anusara yoga in the year 1997. This yoga is basically a Hatha yoga system of modern age. Anusara means “following your heart”, “going with the flow” or “flowing with grace”. Hence, this is a very flowing and graceful style or yoga practice. Anusara yoga is a very popular and a fast growing style and is actually based on the universal principle of alignment and a Tantric philosophy. Here we emphasize on “the universal principle of alignment” as being the focal point of yoga practice. During all the physical asanas this principle is very helpful in aligning body, mind and heart in such a manner that it provides integration and safe opening. Hence, circulation boosts up to its maximum capacity and this fosters good health, strength and wellbeing of the practitioner.
The Anusara School of Hatha Yoga (ASHY) was formed in the year 2012 by an international group of Anusara yoga teachers. In the year 2017 the Anusara School of Hatha Yoga has become a non-profit corporation with more than 800 teachers worldwide and is recognised as a 501(C) (3) by the United States Internal Revenue Service.
The vision of ASHY is to foster a unified community which inspires and supports all the practitioners of Anusara yoga from local to global. Its mission is to supply a structure to promote and support the growth of the methodology and the philosophy of Anusara yoga.
Yoga is all about finding our centre and these principles become the tools to guide us into balance. Many teachers of Anusara yoga teach in the style of Vinyasa yoga with some of the poses holding for longer time. A flow practice actually helps us to connect to our breath which serves as a guide in our asana practice. Vinyasa flow warms the body linking the focus of class with the physical expression. By holding the poses for a longer time the energy flow allows for key alignment and the linking of spiritual intension to our bodies.
Any person with different level of physical capacity could easily practice the different forms of Anusara yoga. This yoga style has around 250 poses but, without any set sequence of poses. These sequences of poses depend on the choice and implementation of the individual teacher and are not restricted in any manner. Most of the yoga teachers end their classes with meditation. The instructors and teachers generally do not fix the student’s poses related to alignment but as part of the positive focus of Anusara yoga, they instruct the students about the proper usage of the principle of alignment and each individual is allowed to develop the sequence of poses on their own as per their preferences.
What is Anusara Yoga?
The classes of Anusara yoga are based on a tantric philosophy which is non-dual. Furthermore, an intrinsic energy of oneness underlies everyone and everything. This energy is auspicious and comprises of pure goodness without any impurities. The Anusara yoga teachers have been trained to look for this goodness in our poses, practice, in ourselves and in all of life’s experience. The teachers are committed to developing an uplifting and also empowering experience for each student in the class. They inspire playfulness and light-heartedness with a joyful creativity which is the nature of the practice of Anusara yoga. Each class starts with the centring or invocation like the devotional recognition of grace bestowing universal power of the spirit which is within and around us. The main element in an Anusara yoga class is the heart theme or virtue. The theme being skilfully mixed through the postural instructions of the asanas and the breathing creates effective attitudinal expression of the postures from the inside out. This heart quality cultivates the connection between the greater spiritual purpose of yogic practice and the physical postures. A set of bio-mechanical alignment principle which is also known as the “Universal Principle of Alignment” is applicable to each asana. The teachers of Anusara yoga are trained to integrate these instructions of alignment with the attitudinal heart theme in very artful and diverse manners. This helps in providing fresh and exciting experiences to the students in every successive class. Breath is co-ordinated with actions and movements within every posture. Moreover, in each pose, the postural alignment is checked in reference to the Universal principles of Alignment and the teachers may use the verbal cues and/or the physical adjustment in order to help each student in enhancing his or her full form of the poses. If a student does not feel comfortable with the physical adjustments in the class he/she should inform the respective teacher about it. If necessary the poses may be modified or may be supported with the help of props, to help the student in achieving the general form of pose.
With regular Anusara yoga practice the body becomes more flexible and strong. Any injuries take faster time in healing, and the imbalance which exists naturally in the body is also evened out. The mind and heart are invited to join along this evolution and become more resilient and peaceful, softer, joyous, happy and balanced. The yoga student experiences a rejuvenation in the body and every movement flows with grace.