Discovering the Practice of Anusara Yoga

Anusara yoga centers itself on finding and experiencing bliss in yoga practice and daily life.

A woman practices anusara yoga.

Yoga is a thousands year old practice that has been used for everything from meditation to exercise. It is great because it packs a good punch in terms of working your body and muscles, but it is very accessible to people of all abilities with various fitness goals. All yoga is not the same, however. There are tons of different ways to practice, and every person will have their own preferred method. This article will be taking you deeper into the practice of Anusara yoga. Anusara means flowing with grace which has been translated by practicers into “follow your heart.” 

Anusara yoga is a specific type of yoga that centers around finding joy and bliss both in yoga practice and daily life. 

What is Anusara Yoga?

Anusara yoga falls under the umbrella of a type of yoga called “Hatha.” Hatha is a sanskrit word that refers to any yoga practice that is based in physical poses and practice. Anusara is a modernized version of hatha yoga that focuses on alignment, and also puts a lot of focus on the mind-body-heart connection. Anusara yoga was founded by John Friend who created his own unique system called the Universal Principles of Alignment. 

Anusara Yoga finds its roots in a Tantric philosophy that all people are inherently good. It draws from this philosophy that life should be thought of as a gift that we are invited to remember and celebrate in our lives, and can even bring in to our yoga practice. 

Anusara follows the system called “Universal Principles of Alignment” as the focal point of its practice. These principles are important in the practice of anusara yoga because they provide the student with guidelines on how to align your body, heart and mind in a way that provides both integration of those entities and a safe opening so that circulation is prioritized and strength, good health and wellbeing are fostered. These principles serve as tools to achieve the main goal of yoga as a practice, which is finding your center. 

Many Anusara yoga teachers teach in the vinyasa flow style, which entails holding key poses for certain lengths of time. A flow practice will help you connect to your breath, which will then help guide you through the practice. Vinyasa flow also serves to warm up the body and connects the focus of the experience to the physical exertion. Holding the poses for a certain period of time allows for more explanation of the key alignment principle and the connection of the spiritual to the physical. 

Anusara yoga is a practice that is accessible to and designed for students of any level or ability. There are more than 250 poses included in anusara yoga but there are no set postural rules or expectations, making it very flexible and beginner friendly. You will also likely find that yoga teachers will begin or end the class with a meditation as part of the practice. 

As part of the positive spiritual focus of anusara yoga, teachers and instructors will generally not “fix” student poses, in terms of alignment and physical form, but instead, they prefer to instruct the correct usage of the principles of alignment which in turn allows each individual to develop on their own and find the method that feels the best for them. Lastly, anusara focuses on spirals and how each body part should be moving, and it's known for its emphasis on opening the heart. You may find that the instructor will often stop the class and gather around a student in order to demonstrate and break down a pose. 

Benefits of regular anusara practice include both physical and mental changes. 

Benefits of Anusara Practice 

There are many benefits to practicing anusara yoga or another form of yoga. Yoga is a particularly rewarding practice because it centers around exercising both the mind and body. 

Increased Flexibility

Practicing the poses and progressing from beginner levels to more advanced ones increases how flexible your body is able to be. As you consistently practice anusara, you will notice that the poses become easier and easier to hold and maintain, and you will be able to hold them for longer periods of time. 

Stronger Body 

Yoga tones, stretches, and works our muscles. It is kind of a sneaky workout in that way, because it doesn’t have the traditional workout effects of heavily increased heart rate or heavy breathing. You will likely notice an increase in heart rate when you’re practicing, and that is totally normal, it just is not as intense as other forms of exercise like cardio or weight training. That being said, it still heavily targets your muscles and improves overall fitness. Practicing regularly also helps strengthen your body’s ability to fight injury, and you will find that you experience less pain and heal faster. 

Strong Mind-Body Connection

One of the biggest benefits of anusara yoga is that it strengthens your mind and body connection. The practice requires your mind and body to be in and stay in alignment with one another, and getting into this headspace can do wonders for your mental health. You will likely notice improved moods, more resilience, more relaxation, and more happiness. 

Key things to have in your practice range from clothing choices to meditation guides. 

Key Things to Bring Your Practice to the Next Level

Signing up for a yoga class, or finding a video online is the first step. But there are items and products that can enhance your practice and bring you to the next level. These things range from items to incorporate in your daily life to continue the value of mind-body connection, to items to have on hand for your actual yoga practice. 

A Wellness Journal 

A wellness journal can take the mind-body connection you foster in your yoga practice, and bring it into your daily life. This is perfect, especially for anusara yoga, because anusara is supposed to be something that brings effects into your daily life, and not just your practice. There are many wellness journals on the market, and it would also be totally fine to just pick a plan, lined journal. This one, however, is packed with tools and prompts that will make it super simple. Journaling, like yoga, is a practice that gets easier and more rewarding with time. Combine the two, and your mind and body will thank you. 

A Good Pair of Pants 

Yoga is centered around stretching your body and taking it to new physical feats. You will want to make sure you are comfortable and able to complete the poses without your clothing getting in the way. These leggings are revolutionary. They are stretchy, soft, and retain their elasticity even after a million washes. They also have pockets! You can stash your phone or wallet in the pockets before beginning your workout and be able to not worry about them being stolen from a gym locker or falling out of your pants. 

These leggings come in a variety of colors and patterns to help you express yourself, and they range in size from extra small to double extra large, with long length options as well, making them perfect for everybody. 

If you are looking for a looser pant, a good pair of sweatpants should do the trick. You will probably want to make sure they’re not heavy or fuzzy, as you will be working out and likely sweating. These ones are perfect because they are lightweight but still extremely soft. These also come in a variety of colors and patterns and range in size from extra small to four extra large. 

A Good Water Bottle 

As with any form of exercise, you will want to be sure to stay hydrated while practicing yoga. This is especially important if you decide to try hot yoga, which is regular yoga that takes place in 80-100 degree rooms. There are obviously hundreds of thousands of water bottles on the market, but this one stands out because it is attractive, lightweight, and keeps your water cold for hours on end. 

This water bottle comes in a ton of different colors and patterns, so you will be sure to find one that suits your style. It also comes in different shapes and sizes to fit whatever your preference is. It keeps your water temperature controlled by utilizing a tight double walled vacuum insulation. You can also choose between a straw lid or screw top to sip how you please. 

There are many benefits to incorporating anusara yoga into your routine. It is a very accessible, beginner friendly practice, that provides lots of room to grow. You will also notice an increase in strength, flexibility, stamina, and overall fitness, as well as better mental health, decreased anxiety, and more happiness. If you try anusara yoga and decide it’s not for you, there are tons of other practices out there that may suit you better, or maybe yoga just isn’t the exercise for you! Before committing to a class or gym membership, try an anusara yoga video for free on YouTube to make sure you like it! 

Macie Gelb

Macie Gelb is an undergraduate student at the University of Pittsburgh studying english writing, gender studies, and legal studies.
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