What Is Anusara Yoga?

Anusara Yoga, or Anusara School of Hatha Yoga, is a modern-day Hatha yoga style developed in 1997 by John Friend.

As a practice, Anusara yoga focuses on alignment for optimal health and well-being of the mind, body, and spirit. Similar to both vinyasa and Hatha yoga, this style of yoga is great for the strength and flexibility of your body as well as the more spiritual aspect of yoga.

In this article, we will learn about the benefits of Anusara yoga, what it is, and how to practice it. We’ll also be sharing a few of our favorite poses and online classes so that you can get started today!

Anusara Yoga Definition

The structure of an Anusara yoga class focuses on the ‘Univeral Principles of Alignment’:

  1. Set the foundation and open to grace – grounding your physical body into the earth and aligning your body and mind to be open to the universal energy around you.
  2. Muscle energy – bringing the energy of your outer body (skin and bones) into the radiance of your inner body.
  3. Inner – expanding spiral – widening the back of the body and stretching through the limbs.
  4. Outer – contracting spiral – narrowing the back body and bringing power into the hips and shoulders.
  5. Organic energy – allowing your internal energy to expand into the universe.

These guidelines help you align your body, heart, and mind for a practice intended to bring good health and well-being.

Moving with the breath (in a way that’s similar to vinyasa yoga) is a popular way to practice Anusara yoga as it aligns your body with your breath in a kind of moving meditation.

There are over 250 poses that can be used during an Anusara yoga class, and teachers don’t have to follow a particular sequence. Instead, they have the freedom to design classes suitable for every level.

Anusara yoga also uses physical cues to guide students into alignment as opposed to correcting a student’s alignment. This way, you can learn how a pose feels when practiced correctly and develop individually.

Benefits of Anusara Yoga

As with any yoga practice, there are some general and some more specific benefits to practicing Anusara yoga. Here are just a few of the benefits that you may experience.

Increased flexibility

Anusara yoga is made up of poses designed to help you increase flexibility in your muscles and ligaments. By flowing through movement as well as holding some poses for extended periods, your overall flexibility will improve.

Improved posture

This style of yoga involves a lot of spinal movement, which is great for the health of your back and spine as well as your posture.

Greater lung capacity

Moving with your breath will help you draw attention to your inhales and exhales and start breathing more effectively. In time, you’ll notice that it becomes easier to take deeper breaths during classes.

Improved immunity

Yoga improves breath, reduces stress, and helps our organs to function properly – which will, in turn, improve your immunity.

Reduced stress

Taking a moment on your mat to relax and release the worries of the day is a great way to reduce stress and improve your general outlook on life.

When to Practice Anusara Yoga

Anusara yoga is designed for students of all levels – no matter your experience or flexibility. Poses can be adjusted with props to make them more accessible for you and your body.

Anusara Yoga Poses

Anusara yoga poses include:

Half-moon pose

Start by standing in the center of your mat with your feet slightly apart. Bring all of your weight into your right foot, then hinge at your hips to bring your left leg straight out behind you and your torso parallel with the ground. From here, bring your right fingertips down to the ground or a block (with your palm open to the left-hand side of your mat). Turn your torso to the left and reach the sky with your left fingers, keeping the palm open. Gaze up to your left hand or down to your right hand if you have pain or discomfort in your neck. Keep your back leg lifted and allow your toes to open towards the left side of your mat.

To exit the pose, come into a forward fold by bringing the feet together and both hands to the mat before repeating on the other side.

Marichyasana III pose

Sit on your mat with both legs straight out in front of you. Flex your feet and point your toes to the sky. From here, step your right foot to your mat on the inside edge of your left knee so that your knee is bent and pointing towards the sky. From here, bring your left elbow to rest on the outside edge of your right knee, and bring your hand to rest on your left knee or shin as you bring your right fingers to rest on the mat behind your lower back.

To exit the pose, come back to the center and bring both knees into the chest before repeating on the other side.

Hand-to-toe pose

Come to a standing position in the center of your mat. Gradually bring all of your weight into your right foot. Then engage your core as you start to lift your left foot in front of you, keeping your leg straight and aiming to bring it to parallel with the mat. Keep the foot flexed, and hold onto your left foot with your right hand as you bring your left hand to your left hip.

To exit the pose, bring both feet to the mat and your hands to your sides to come into mountain pose.

Downward-facing dog pose

Start on all fours with wrists below the shoulders and knees below the hips. Bring your hands one palm print forwards and tuck your toes. From here, lift your hips and glutes to the sky as you push into the four corners of your palms and all five fingertips. Bend your knees as much as you need to so that you keep your spine straight. The heels can stay lifted or come down to the ground – this will depend on the flexibility you have in your hamstrings and calves.

To exit the pose, bring your knees to the ground to come into tabletop pose.

How to Practice Anusara Yoga

You can start experiencing Anusara yoga from the comfort of your own home by picking a couple of the exercises that we’ve described above.

Although there are 1000s of practitioners worldwide who teach Anusara yoga, it’s not as popular as it used to be – so you may find it difficult to find a local class. Instead, we’ve shared our favorite online Anusara yoga classes below.

Start Anusara Yoga at Home

Check out these follow-along videos if you can’t make it to a yoga studio or want to try Anusara yoga out at home.

Anusara Yoga FAQs

Who Founded Anusara Yoga?

John Friend founded Anusara Yoga in 1997 after spending several years teaching Iyengar yoga.

What Is Anusara Yoga Good For?

Anusara yoga is good for focusing on the alignment of your heart, body, and mind, as well as connecting to the energy both inside and outside your body.

Does Anusara Yoga Still Exist?

Though not as popular as it used to be, Anusara yoga still exists and is taught in several countries worldwide.

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

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