What is Anusara Yoga?
Anusara Yoga was created in 1997 by John Friend. It is a powerful Hatha Yoga practice mixed with a Tantric philosophy that is symbolized by a “celebration of the heart”.
This new school emphasizes a set of "Universal Principles of Alignment" which is based on all postures, "heart opening" poses and the spiritual and meditative benefits of Hatha Yoga.
Anusara is a Sanskrit term from the Kularnava Tantra which may be translated as “flowing with Grace”, “going with the flow” or “following your heart".
As a community and organization, Anusara Yoga is well networked and organized, yet there is a strong emphasis on creative freedom and individuality. Anusara Yoga is held together by an implicit alliance to the spiritual principles of the Anusara Yoga philosophy, such as celebrating beauty in all of its diversity, honesty, and honoring the creative freedom of the Divine in all beings.
Without a rigid dogma, the system is open to continual change and restructuring. Self-examination, discovery, and receptivity to new ideas are fundamental to this dynamic system.
Currently, Anusara Yoga is one of the most popular and fastest growing Yoga styles in the world; over 1,200 affiliated teachers and 100,000 students worldwide.
Worldwide media attention has included a 2004 Yoga Journal cover story, a CBS national news story in the U.S., and numerous newspaper and magazine articles throughout North America and Europe.
The Anusara Yoga philosophy is Tantric in nature. The manifest Universe that is perceived through our senses and mind is seen as a manifestation of the Divine, that is pure bliss.
Everything is supreme consciousness and nothing exists that is not supreme consciousness.
Each person is seen as equally divine in every aspect – body, mind, and spirit. Each of us is considered essentially good, accepting through this sentence all differences and deviations we can have, and accepting the world and ourselves as we are, and then responding with love.
We simply open our heart with love to the present moment without pushing.
The founder of Anusara Yoga, John Friend, began practicing Yoga at the age of thirteen. From a very young age, he began visiting India and spending time with different Yoga teachers.
He studied with B.K.S. Iyengar and Gurumayi Chidvilasananda, who became his meditation teacher and introduced him to the practice of Siddha Yoga.
He studied Buddhism, Taoism, Sufism, Jewish Mysticism, Theosophy, Wicca, and Freemasonry.
He also studied anatomy, kinesiology, and physiology, and earned national certification for therapeutic massage and bodywork in 1994.
Since 1991, John Friend has taught workshops on Anusara Yoga nationally and worldwide.
The principal intention of practicing Anusara Yoga is to align with the flow of Grace, to awaken to the truth that our essential nature is a part of this divine flow, and to lovingly and joyfully serve this flow.
The poses in Anusara Yoga are considered to be "heart-oriented" and are expressed from the "inside-out." Rather than trying to control the body and mind from the outside, the poses originate from a deep feeling inside. There is an emphasis on remembering the spiritual purpose of Hatha Yoga, which includes reconnecting with our innate goodness, power, and beauty, and expressing ourselves from that divine place.
Our practice is observed as a co-participation with the Supreme in a healthy and balanced way, not as a practice of control or domination of nature.
The abilities and limitations of each student are deeply recognized because it is through these limitations that we discover our true nature is consciousness, and it is through our own body and mind that we experience the highest sense of freedom. Anusara Yoga looks for the good in all people and all things.
Traditionally, an Anusara Yoga class might open by singing the following mantra:
-Om Namah Shivaya Gurave
Bow to the goodness within myself, known as Lord Shiva, who is the true teacher.
This essence inside takes the form of truth, consciousness, and bliss.
Always present and full of peace, this essence inside is completely free and sparkles with a divine luster.
The Three A's
The practice of Anusara Yoga can be categorized into three parts: Attitude, Alignment, and Action.
- Attitude: This term is related to “Iccha Shakti”, a Tantric concept defined as the power or energy of fullness. Attitude is related to heart and his power as a force behind every action or expression in an asana.
- Alignment: This term is also related to a Tantric concept, “Jnana Shakti”, the power of awareness. This is related to the mind and, according to John Friend, is the "mindful awareness of how various parts of ourselves are integrated and interconnected."
- Action: This concept is related to the tantric “Kriya Shakti”, ‘energy’ or power of action. It is directly related to the body and the natural flow of energy in it which provides stability and freedom.
As a nationally registered Yoga School (USA), Anusara Yoga offers a teacher certification program that meets the national standards for Yoga teachers set by the Yoga Alliance. With over 1,200 teachers and thousands of students worldwide, Anusara Yoga is one of the fastest growing schools of Hatha Yoga in the world.
The harmony of the Anusara Yoga community is also maintained by adhering to a set of ethical guidelines. All Anusara Yoga teachers are required to follow these ethical guidelines in order to maintain their Anusara Yoga teaching license.
Goal of Anusara Yoga
Anusara Yoga teachers look for the good in each practice in themselves and their students. They do not try to fix or correct students, but rather help them to deepen and show the beauty and divine qualities present in each pose.
Anusara Yoga teachers are dedicated to serving each student and helping them to expose their innate goodness, values, and Supreme nature. They are committed to empowering each student, building their self-esteem, and inspiring happiness and joy with the practice of Yoga.
- Interview with John Friend:
- Anusara Yoga official web page where you can find a teacher directory, teaching program, online store, John Friend's workshop info, etc:
- Interesting article about Anusara Yoga, its principles, the practice, etc:
Books and DVD
Yoga from the Inside Out: Making Peace with your body through Yoga by Christina Sell and John Friend (Book)
Anusara Yoga Teacher Training Manual by John Friend (Book)
Anusara Yoga with John Friend: Riding the Waves of Grace by John Friend (DVD)
Anusara Yoga with John Friend: Lakshmi Rocks me by John Friend (DVD)
Anusara Yoga with John Friend: The Dance of yes and no by John Friend (DVD)
Anusara Yoga 101 with John Friend (Audio CD)
The basics of Anusara Yoga Teacher Training with John Friend by John Friend and Mikki Willis (DVD)
Anusara Yoga/Essentials by John Friend (DVD)