Ananda yoga is designed to harmonize your mind, body, and soul. It is generally regarded as one of the gentler forms of Hatha yoga. Although based on centuries old knowledge, it was founded in the 1960s by Swami Kriyananda, who followed Paramhansa Yogananda, the author of Autobiography of a Yogi, a classic spiritual book. Ananda, like other forms of Hatha yoga, focuses on yoga postures, breathing, and meditation. Ananda yoga is unique, however, thanks to the two mains ways that it differs from traditional Hatha yoga. It uses affirmations said silently during poses to make the practice more thoughtful. Ananda is also unique in its 39 "Energization Exercises" designed to aid your life force. The goal of the exercises is to tap into cosmic energy to recharge your entire body. Yogananda added these exercises in the 1970s and considered them the science of yoga.
What to Expect at an Ananda Yoga Class
An Ananda yoga class is never aerobic. It is inwardly directed and gentle enough for beginners, but can become more challenging with experience.
Your yoga instructor will focus on:
correct posture alignment
staying relaxed even while exerting yourself during postures
ensuring that you know the affirmations to repeat silently to yourself during each posture
helping you to use the postures to raise your consciousness
Your instructor will be ready to modify postures to fit your needs. You needn't worry about anyone trying to force you into a perfect yoga pose or twist your body into a pretzel.
Ananda Yoga Benefits
Ananda Yoga is more about connecting with your higher self and your energy than exercising, although you will get some exercise benefits too. Each posture has a related meditation that you repeat silently to yourself. Combining the postures and affirmations will give you both psychological and spiritual benefits. Through regular practice, you will become more aware of your mind and body and how your mind influences your body every day. The combination of postures and meditations awakens the subtle energies within you, especially those of the chakras. Continued practice enables you to experience and control those energies.