Anusara is a Sanskrit word that translates into the American phrase “flowing with grace” or “following the heart”. Anusara Yoga began in 1997 under the instruction of a man named John Friend. This spiritually connective form of Yoga is similar to the more popular Hatha Yoga with poses that resemble Iyengar Yoga. This mix of Yoga style also has a bit of Tantric teachings as well. These teachings reflect Buddhist and/or Hindu religious ideals that work to positively reform the mind, body, and spoken words or speech.
Friend developed a method in which to teach this new form of Yoga and set forth three basic ideas to better explain the purpose of Anusara Yoga: Attitude, Alignment, and Action.
Attitude: Relative to the Tantric idea of Iccha Shakti (the will), this part of Anusara Yoga is the most important to practice, in order to be successful in this type of Yoga. An aligned and balanced posture holds no significance if a good attitude is not present. Inner change cannot be made unless a person is sincere and disciplined with his or her thoughts and views while practicing Anusara Yoga.
Alignment: Relative to the Tantric idea of Jnana Shakti (energy of awareness).
This second principle of Anusara Yoga asks the Yogi to take all parts of the body into consideration in order to understand the connected relationships in the body. John Friend titled the five part system the "Universal Principles of Alignment " which consist of Opening to Grace, Muscular Energy, Inner Spiral, Outer Spiral, and Organic Energy. Aside from these five principles, there are also refining techniques that allow for the greatest changes to be made within the body. It has been said that Anusara Yoga optimizes the use of biomechanics along with art and science.
Action: Relative to the Tantric idea of Kriya Skakti (energy of action). The concept of balanced action is a chain reaction of the effects of the Attitude and Alignment combinations of muscular and organic energy. It allows your mind and body to be relaxed as well as the freedom of the body to perform freely and the mind to be happy or at peace.
Many Anusara Yoga classes begin with a uniform rehearsal of a mantra - a calming phrase that is said aloud or in the mind repeatedly. The most common mantras are Nishprapanchaya Shantaya, Saccidananda Murtaye, Niralambaya Tejase, Om Namah Shivaya Gurave, and Om. Om is the most identified phrase with meditation and Yoga, and many people may already be familiar with this mantra.
Anusara Yoga is currently practiced by over 100,000 people in several countries including the United States, Canada, Japan, and Australia. Anusara Yoga encourages people to seek out the good in all things and all people. The practice has continually grown and has even received attention from the media.