Established in 1997, Anusara yoga now is one of the most popular forms of yoga being practiced today. It is also often referred to as heart-centered yoga. Its popularity may have something to do with the positivism it espouses.
By definition, Anusara specifically means to go with the flow of nature, the flow of grace, or to follow your heart - hence the alternate title of Heart-Centered Yoga. In Anusara yoga, the "asana" poses, when combined with the "universal principles of alignment," allow a connection with the divine goodness of nature. This connection is referred to as "supreme consciousness." To achieve that, Anusara yoga practitioners must exercise the principles and go with the flow.
For some, simply hearing the words "go with the flow" can be very relaxing. But Anusara yoga does not end there. It holds a much deeper meaning. The feeling obtained also is much more intense. It is an overwhelming feeling of joy, love, peace, enlightenment, happiness, oneness and connection with nature. In this type of yoga, your heart is centered and in tune with nature, as well as yourself.
Energy from the Heart
The energy that is tapped for Anusara yoga comes from within the body, rather than the outside. Specifically, the energy is deeply rooted in a natural state of inner feelings from the heart. To tap these feelings, Heart-Centered yoga participants use the universal principles of alignment.
In the words of Dr. Douglas Brooks, a leading scholar of Hindu Tantrism, "Flowing with Grace, anusarena, we experience our inner worth, we align our bodies, our minds and hearts in the current of the Divine flowing through us, we celebrate life itself as we touch the Divinity who pulsates within us as our every thought, feeling, and experience."
One With Nature and Heart-Centered
Anusara yoga celebrates the heart as well as nature. It is not a domination of nature, but rather a harmony and participation with the natural flow of things. "Inner body bright" is a secondary principle and is the term for the energy flow achieved through the first main principle of Anusara yoga. That first principle is called "opening to grace" and is an essential starting point for every pose. In opening to grace, the goal is to align with supreme consciousness.
In Anusara yoga, the main focus is a spiritual connection to innate goodness as well as the freedom of expression related to that goodness. While there are strict principles involved, creativity and self-expression are greatly encouraged.
Anusara (Heart-Centered) Yoga as a Way of Life
The philosophy behind Anusara yoga is not left behind on the mat for participants. It often is a big part of the way they live. Anusara yoga is not just practiced a few times a week like simple exercises. In fact, it is not actually considered an exercise at all, but rather a spiritual connection and a way of life.
With Anusara yoga comes the realization that life, as experienced through one's true nature, is perfect. It is not something that needs to be corrected, but rather should be embraced for what it is. There is beauty in everything and nature is as it was intended to be when created. That said, the spiritual awakening, or supreme consciousness, achieved through Anusara yoga is also intended to allow the discernment between things that are of nature and are good for us, and those that are material and may not be. While not all material is bad, some may be.
An Inviting Community
Anusara yoga is rapidly growing in popularity and has a large community base. Those involved in the Heart-Centered yoga community are said to be friendly, inviting and have open minds. All expressions stemming from Anusara yoga are positive in nature. They stem from the heart and are all about experiencing and expressing love, peace and happiness from the inside out. Because its roots involve love, participants from all backgrounds and religions are welcome to join the community. The philosophy can be learned and practiced by attending classes and seminars.
Anusara Yoga Techniques
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
The definition of Anusara is to flow with grace, or "go with the flow." In Anusara yoga, often called heart-centered yoga, certain principles are followed. But participants are also encouraged to be creative and to go where their heart takes them.
Philosophy and Meaning of Anusara or Heart-Centered Yoga
Anusara yoga has a philosophy that is Tantric in nature, inspiring participants to go where their hearts lead them. It is not a form of exercise, but rather a series of yoga poses that are meant to lead to a deeper spiritual meaning and connection. It is a way of finding the good in everything, including yourself. Basically, you follow the principles to properly achieve the energy, enlightenment and state of awareness required. Then you let natural creativity take over and go with the natural flow of nature.
Universal Principles of Alignment
There are five main principles in Anusara yoga, which are called the universal principles of alignment. Anusara originator John Friend defines alignment as "mindful awareness of how various parts of ourselves are integrated and interconnected." There also are secondary principles involved.
For heart-centered yoga to be effective, each principle must be followed in succession with each pose, while still holding to the preceding principle. For instance, before starting any pose, "opening to grace" must be achieved. Then throughout the pose, each of the alignment principles must be adhered to without interrupting the others.
The Five Principles of Anusara (Heart-Centered) Yoga in Detail
Opening to Grace - Opening to grace is the act of going with the flow to align yourself with supreme consciousness. This is achieved by practicing the poses with an open heart and mind. During this first main principle, "inner body bright," a secondary principle, is achieved. Inner body bright is a feeling and energy that flows from within to the outer body. This energy should create a feeling of fullness and buoyancy in the outer body.
Muscular Energy - Muscular energy is that which is drawn into the focal point. This action causes the pose to be stronger, more stable and more effective. The focal point is a secondary principle in Anusara yoga involving the pelvis core, the heart and the palate. In Anusara yoga, the muscular energy is drawn through the focal point, while the organic energy is extended outward from it.
Inner Spiral - The inner spiral is the energy felt throughout the core, starting at the feet and running up into the waistline. It is the energy that enables inward rotations of the legs to allow for widening of the pelvis and thighs.
Outer Spiral - The outer spiral is basically the opposite of the inner spiral. The outer spiral allows outward rotations of the thighs. This spiral runs outward from the waistline and down and out through the feet. This is the spiral that draws the pelvis and thighs inward, rather than widening them.
Organic Energy - Organic energy is that which extends outward, starting at the focal point and extending throughout the core of the body. This allows for increased flexibility in poses during Anusara yoga.
Applying Principles of Anusara (Heart-Centered) Yoga to Life
Anusara yoga is more than an activity, it is a way of life. The Anusara yoga community consider themselves to be very organized. Yet at the same time, there is much room for individual creativity. Those who practice Anusara yoga often apply some of the things they learn to their lives, such as appreciation for the good in everything. Those interested in learning more about it can learn the principles and techniques from a certified Anusara teacher through seminars and classes offered at many yoga centers.
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