What distinguishes Anusara yoga from other styles of hatha yoga?

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(The following article comes straight to you from the Anusara School of Hatha Yoga website … to enlighten you on the finer points of this particular style of yoga.  I hope you enjoy it!)

What can I expect in an Anusara yoga class? 

  • Anusara yoga classes are based on a non-dual Tantric philosophy that an intrinsic energy of Oneness underlies everything and everyone. This energy is a ‘goodness’ without opposite, it is auspicious. Anusara yoga teachers are trained to look for this goodness first – in the poses, in our practices, ourselves and in all of life’s experience. This perspective is a shift from looking to ‘fix or correct’ the student, to a vision of service by enhancing and revealing more beauty and innate goodness that is the Supreme nature already present in the student. Anusara yoga teachers are committed to creating an uplifting and empowering experience for every student in class. They inspire lightheartedness and playfulness with a joyful creativity that is the nature of the Anusara yoga practice.
  • Each class begins with an invocation or centering as a devotional recognition of the grace-bestowing universal power of Spirit within and around us.
  • A key element in an Anusara class is a heart theme, a virtue. The theme is skillfully woven through the breath and postural instructions of the asana (poses) effectively creating the attitudinal expression of the poses from the ‘inside out’. The heart quality cultivates the connection between the physical yoga poses and the greater spiritual purposes of yogic practices.
  • A unique set of concise bio-mechanical alignment principles called the “Universal Principles of Alignment™” , is applied to each asana. Anusara yoga teachers are trained to integrate these alignment instructions with the attitudinal heart theme in artful and varying ways, offering students a new experience of yoga in every class.
  • Movements and actions within every pose are coordinated with the breath. Postural alignments in each pose are checked in reference to the Universal Principles of Alignment and the teacher may use verbal cues and/or physical adjustments to help each student enhance their full form of the pose. If you are not comfortable with physical adjustments in class,  just tell your teacher.
  • If necessary, poses are modified or supported with props to help each student achieve the general form of pose.
  • Postural demonstrations may be used when necessary to clarify alignment instructions, show actions or show what the pose should look like.
  • The Anusara yoga method is designed to serve students of any level of experience, age, gender, race or religion. The Universal Alignment Principles are therapeutic and students with special therapeutic needs may find relief and healing with Anusara yoga.
  • There are over 250 poses that compile the syllabii of Anusara yoga asanas. This syllabus encompasses all of the poses are commonly practiced in hatha yoga classes today, covering all of the major classifications of poses: standing poses, backbends, forward bends, twists, hand balancing, inversions, and restoratives.
  • Practicing variations of the basic poses is encouraged as a full, creative expression of the human spirit. Teachers may also creatively include various practices, including but not limited to pranayama, meditation, chakra focus, bhandas, mudras and mantra, in ways that support the theme and/or heart quality, the Anusara Yoga physical methodology and the students’ movement towards Awareness of (Cit) and experiencing your true Nature (Ananda).
  • Although there are no set postural routines in Anusara yoga, classes are designed using principles of sequencing. One of the principles includes progressively sequencing poses which encourages students of all levels to advance in their practice.
  • Classes are concluded with Savasana and/or meditation or a quiet centering to assimilate the teachings and honor the spiritual experience of the class.
  • Ultimately an Anusara teacher’s intention is for every student to leave the class feeling better about him or herself, uplifted and empowered by a revelation of his or her Divine nature.