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A Simple Guide to Contemporary Styles of Yoga
Anusara yoga

John Friend performing Valakhilasana
John Friend performing Valakhilasana
Anusara (a-nu-sar-a), means "flowing with Grace," "going with the flow," "following your heart." Founded by John Friend in 1997, Anusara Yoga is a hatha yoga system that unifies Universal Principles of Alignment with a non-dual Tantric philosophy that is epitomized by a "celebration of the heart." In this philosophy we take the premise that everything is supreme Consciousness - nothing exists that is not supreme Consciousness. It encompasses a vision of totality in which each person is seen as equally divine in every part - body, mind, and spirit. The body and mind are honored as sacred vessels through which the divine radiance of supreme Consciousness can shine. Each of us is regarded as essentially good, so there is a lot of acceptance and allowance in this system for difference and deviation.

Anusara is flowing with Grace by saying yes to the whole magical spectrum of life. It is a willingness to be aware of all parts of ourselves - the light and the dark, the full rainbow of sensation, perception, emotion, and thought. To be in the flow is to look at whatever arises with freshness and freedom. It is simply to open our hearts with love to the present moment without clinging or pushing. Anusara is accepting the world and ourselves as we are, and then responding with love.

The highest intention of practicing Anusara Yoga is to align with the flow of Grace, to awaken to the truth that our essential nature is part of this divine flow, and to lovingly and joyfully serve this flow. We delightfully dance with the flow of supreme Consciousness through each breath and every posture in our yoga practice. In each pose, we artistically offer our individual light and our unique music to the flow of life. The art of yoga is viewed as a co-participation with the Supreme - not a practice of domination, subjugation, or control of nature. The yoga reflects a healthy, balanced relationship with the Supreme.

Anusara Yoga is an all-inclusive yoga in which each student's various unique abilities and limitations are deeply honored. It is through the limitations of the body/mind that we discover that our true nature is boundless goodness and vast luminous Consciousness. The body/mind is a gift from God to help us discover our glory, our greatness, and our worthiness to experience the highest sense of freedom.

John Friend on cover of Yoga Journal
John Friend on the Cover of Yoga Journal
The poses in Anusara Yoga are considered to be "heart-oriented," and are expressed from "inside out." Instead of only trying to control the body and mind from the outside, the poses originate from a deep artistic 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.

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