What Is Anusara Yoga?

Rachel Mack
What Is Anusara Yoga?

Anusara Yoga, or "Yoga of the Heart" was founded by John Friend in the 1990's. Friend, a student of Iyengar yoga, developed an asana system centered on the universal principles of alignment. There is a set ritual used to open each class: three oms, followed by three chants of the Anusara invocation in Sanskrit. Anusara classes tend to flow and are always carefully planned and themed.

After a scandal, John Friend resigned as leader of Anusara yoga in 2012. Many Anusara teachers resigned from the organization as well, but you may find some of them still teaching in this style even though their classes are no longer labeled as Anusara.

Anusara Yoga Overview

Fitness & Sweat


Flexibility


Strength & Balance


Mind & Spirituality


Flow


Overall difficulty

*Anusara offers three different levels, as well as prenatal and restorative styles, so a numerical overview may not accurately reflect every class.

Purpose Of Anusara Yoga

The ultimate goal of Anusara yoga practice is to align with the Divine. This is achieved by practicing the 3 A's:

Attitude: Awakening the heart and making it the foundation of your practice, including the desire to align with the Divine.

Alignment: Awareness of the connections between parts of ourselves.

Action: Natural flow of energy, leading to stability and joy.

Benefits Of Anusara Yoga

After an Anusara class, you'll feel all the typical benefits of a regular asana practice, including increased strength, flexiblity, and inner peace. In addition to those benefits, Anusara offers a deeper focus on aligment, specifically through five basic principles: Opening to Grace, Muscular Energy, Inner Spiral, Outer Spiral, and Organic Energy. If this all sounds like gibberish, have no fear! The teacher leads you through all five steps. This careful process results in students who have excellent body awareness and safe, powerful practices.

Is Anusara Yoga For Me?

Anusara is a playful, yet well-informed, practice. The themes often tie together the mind and the actions being taken in the body. It's for you if you like a lot of instruction and enjoy a more intellectual practice. There is a lot of focus on anatomy and, in general, more focus on the Hindu stories than you will find in the average asana class. If you have an injury, Anusara teachers have the anatomical knowledge to give you a safe class tailored to your needs.