What is Ananda Yoga?

Ananda yoga is a profound yoga style that focuses on developing deep inner awareness on the path to a higher state of consciousness.

Unique, energetic yoga practices are woven throughout this yoga technique, which, over time, can give you greater control over your body and mind.

Ananda Yoga is based on the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda, the founder of the Self-Realization Fellowship and the disseminator of the teachings of kriya yoga.

This spiritual lineage was then handed down to Swami Kriyananda, who established Ananda yoga as a method of yoga practice accessible for all people to discover the depths of these teachings.

Definition of Ananda Yoga

Ananda yoga is a branch of yoga that is deeply informed by the ancient and classical yoga system of hatha yoga. Inspired by the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda and kriya yoga practices, this unique yoga style is dedicated to the deeper yoga practices of self-realization and profound awakening.

Like many other yoga styles, Ananda yoga uses yoga poses and breathing techniques to stimulate the flow of prana or the subtle energy in the body. This prana then awakens the chakras or energetic centers along the spine, leading to a profound awakening.

A distinguishing factor of Ananda yoga is the use of affirmations in each yoga pose repeated silently in the mind to impact the subtle energies of the body and mind more deeply. Unlike other yoga styles, Ananda yoga is not a fitness routine or a way to lose weight; it is primarily aimed at the spiritual side of yoga and highly emphasizes meditation as its core practice.

But Ananda yoga is not overly calming or slow. In fact, another core component of this yoga style is the energization exercises that focus on recharging the body and mind by tapping into the cosmic energy of the universe. After only a brief energization exercise in Ananda yoga, you will leave feeling awakened from the top of your head to the tips of your toes.

Did You Know…
Kriyananda taught the first Ananda yoga class in 1965 in California, leading to the beginning of the growth and solidification of this practice.

Although Ananda yoga has its roots in kriya yoga and the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda, it is essential to note that in 1962, Kriyananda was expelled from the Self-Realization fellowship and is not associated with kriya yoga any longer. Since then, there were also numerous accusations of sexual exploitation against Kriyananda.

Benefits of Ananda Yoga

Ananda Yoga brings yoga philosophy to life, genuinely helping each student embody these practices and transform from the inside out. With the regular and dedicated practice of Ananda yoga, you can begin to notice a profound transformation in your body, mind, and soul. The primary benefits of Ananda yoga may include:

  • Improves physical wellbeing
  • Relieves stress
  • Reverses anxiety and depression
  • Promotes relaxation and inner peace
  • Harmonizes the subtle energies of the body
  • Strengthens the power of the mind
  • Improves focus and concentration
  • Promotes spiritual awakening and realization

Ananda yoga is much more than a practice for physical wellness; it is a method to transform the mind and awaken to the realization of your inner spirit.

The Top 5 Ananda Yoga Poses

Ananda Yoga is a unique yoga style that targets the body and mind simultaneously. In each yoga pose, students are guided to develop an awareness of their body and breath while also incorporating affirmations repeated mentally to deepen the spiritual experience in every movement.

Some popular Ananda yoga practices include:

Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)

Extended Side Angle Pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana)

Fish Pose (Matsyasana)

Shoulderstand (Sarvangasana)

Tree Pose (Vrkshasana)

But again, Ananda yoga is much more than just yoga poses. This practice primarily emphasizes breathing techniques and meditation to deepen your awareness within and promote insight into the true nature of reality.

How to Practice Ananda Yoga

Ananda yoga incorporates yoga poses, breathing techniques, meditation, and yoga philosophy into a single yoga practice to provide a truly holistic and transformative experience. Although Ananda yoga appears like a gentle practice, it can be quite difficult due to the deeper components of mental awareness and spiritual realization.

Ananda yoga is primarily an inward journey, so it is important to stay in tune with your inner self and follow your guidance from within as you begin to explore this practice. This yoga style is hardly ever aerobic, and you likely will not break a sweat.

The main focus in Ananda yoga is on alignment, relaxation, subtle energy, consciousness, and adaptations to support the body.

The two key components that make Ananda yoga unique are:

  • 39 energization exercises
  • Incorporation of affirmations.

Paramahansa Yogananda originally developed the energization exercises to control the prana or life force energy in the body and direct it for awakening. Additionally, every yoga pose is combined with its own affirmation repeated silently to focus your awareness within and elevate your consciousness to a higher state.

Ananda yoga is so much more than a physical practice. These aspects of Ananda yoga help to deepen the experience and bring the spiritual focus to the forefront in every movement.

Start Ananda Yoga at Home

Ananda yoga is a powerfully transformative yoga practice that can promote changes in your body, mind, and soul. If you are new to Ananda yoga, it is advised to learn from a qualified teacher. But these days, with the growth of online classes, you can get excellent guidance online.

So, if you can’t make it to an Ananda yoga studio, or perhaps you want to try Ananda yoga at home, check out these follow-along videos below to learn more about this practice!

As you explore Ananda yoga, remember to keep in mind that this practice is so much more than the poses. So, allow yourself to explore the depths of Ananda yoga and experience the complete transformation it can provide!

Ananda Yoga FAQs

What Does Ananda Mean in Yoga?

Ananda is a Sanskrit word meaning bliss. In yoga philosophy, one of the main goals of yoga practice is to return to our original state of internal bliss. At our core, we all have this blissful state within us, known as the anandamaya kosha or bliss sheath. This core self becomes covered up over time, and through yoga practice, it will slowly unveil, allowing our true inner state to shine forward.

Who Founded Ananda Yoga?

Ananda yoga was founded by Swami Kriyananda, a prominent disciple of the original guru Paramahansa Yogananda. Swami Kriyananda was born in the United States, and after becoming introduced to the profound kriya yoga practices, he underwent a transformation and dedicated his life to this spiritual practice. He then spread these practices to others and established the Ananda yoga practice taught through the Self-Realization Fellowship.

What is Ananda Meditation?

Like many other yoga practices, Ananda yoga is more than physical poses or a way to improve health. Ananda yoga is an integrative practice that brings you closer to self-realization step by step. Ananda meditation is based on the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda, the author of the famous book Autobiography of a Yogi. This meditation practice allows you to realize your true inner state as a loving being and of a higher power.

Important: Check with your doctor before trying Ananda yoga for the first time if you have any injury, illness, pain, or you are pregnant.

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