Anusara yoga is unique because it is the first yoga school that does not come from India. In 1997, American John Friend founded Anusara, which means “flowing with grace” in Sanskrit, making it the most modern yoga school. Friend practiced Iyengar before founding his own yoga school. In 2012, Friend took a hiatus and a group of his senior teachers formed the Anusara School of Hatha Yoga to train new teachers and continue to hold classes adhering to the original traditions of the school.
Although based on Hatha yoga, Anusara's philosophy centers around the Tantric philosophy that all is good, combined with a more general celebration of life. Anusara is perhaps best known for its "Universal Principles of Alignment," which explore how various parts of us are integrated.
What to Expect at an Anusara Yoga Class
Anusara yoga classes are usually fun and lighthearted, butfocus on alignment work so they are not necessarily easy. Class instructors encourage students to use props so that students of all levels can participate. Anusara has its own vocabulary which takes time to learn. Instructors will usually not fix your poses, instead allowing you to develop your poses on your own through application of the "Universal Principles of Alignment."
Practitioners refine each pose's alignment by performing the "Principles of Alignment" in order. The five principles are:
Opening to Grace - aligning with the flow of the "Supreme Consciousness"
Muscular Energy - increasing pose stability by moving energy into the center of the body
Inner Spiral - refining the pose with an expanding energy spiral
Outer Spiral - opening the heart with a contracting energy spiral
Organic Energy - pushing energy outward to increase pose flexibility
You are encouraged to find your own methodology and take the lessons you learn in class into your life outside the yoga studio.
Anusara Yoga Benefits
The positivity of Anusara along with the mind-body connection can improve your quality of life and lead to physical improvements. The practice can also lower stress and allow you to explore and get in touch with your own spirituality.