Styles

Anusara Yoga

Camatkarasana. Photo <a href=Anne Wu
Camatkarasana
Photo Anne Wu
Anusara Yoga focuses on postural alignment in the body and positive alignment in the mind. Together, they create a style of yoga focused on a connection with spirituality from the inside-out and a belief that people are inherently good.

Founded in the mid-90’s by John Friend, Anusara quickly became one of the most popular styles of yoga in the West. This is thanks in part to its focus on fostering community, inclusiveness and a belief that everyone can connect with the divine.

Friend’s journey with yoga began at the age of 8 when he became captivated by stories about yogis who had developed supernatural powers. That curiosity about the esoteric potential of yoga was bridged with the physical asana when he started a regular practice of Ashtanga yoga and later Iyengar. Though he was passionate about yoga, he was became frustrated by what he saw as isolation between mind and body he found in these two styles. He eventually developed his own brand of yoga based on Tantric philosophy and dynamic biomechanics, which became Anusara, meaning “to step into the current of divine will”.

Anusara is a physically vigorous practice. Classes comprise of chanting, invocation and asana grounded in themes supporting Anusara doctrines, which are: the Universal Principles of Alignment; Energy Loops; and the Three A’s—Attitude, Alignment and Action.

Anusara class structure

Anusara teachers design classes to support a peak pose. Sequences are constructed to round out the practice, keep the body safe and injury-free and support practitioners to stay open and free in their bodies even outside of the yoga room.

Classes typically begin with the Anusara invocation to ground the class in tantric theory before moving into asana. Following the invocation is a warm-up series of poses. Warm-up prepares the body for the depth needed to achieve a peak pose, for example Vasisthasana.

The cool-down section of class is a thoughtful series of poses to ground the practice overall and integrate the asana at the cellular level of the body. Following savasana is a closing thought or meditation for students to take the joy found in their practice off the mat and into the world.
The practice is famous for its rigorous requirements to achieve Anusara teaching designation. This means that you can be sure of a high quality of teaching if an Anusara teacher is at the front of the room.

Classes bring heart-opening elements into almost all poses, which is believed to bring people more in-line with the divine principles upon which the style was founded. Even in poses not thought to be heart-opening, such as Uttanasana, students are encouraged to lead by melting the heart rather than hinging at the hips, as would be taught in other styles.

John Friend Controversy

In early 2012, rumors began flying about the inappropriate relationships Friend was having with his students, among other unethical behavior. These rumors were soon verified which had a cascading effect across the entirety of Anusara yoga, including the resignation of many senior teachers and demands that Friend step down as leader. He eventually submitted to the request by resigning as CEO of Anusara Inc.

Anusara Today

Since the scandal, the group was restructured and renamed Anusara School of Hatha Yoga with goals to become a non-profit corporation. Friend is no longer associated with Anusara yoga.
There are currently many teachers spanning the globe within the Anusara School of Hatha Yoga. Teachers continue to be certified and trained in the original style and with the original Anusara princples.




You Might Also Like

  • Jivamukti YogaJivamukti Yoga Founded in New York City in 1984 by David Life and Shannon Gannon, Jivamukti is one of the nine internationally recognized styles of Hatha Yoga and one of the most well-known Yoga studios in the world today. David and Sharon are credited with the exponential rise...
  • Ashtanga Vinyasa YogaAshtanga Vinyasa Yoga K. Pattabhi Jois (1915–2009), just like Iyengar, was a disciple of Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, who is often referred to as the Father of Modern Yoga. It was at the age of 12 that Jois first attended a demonstration by Krishnamacharya, whose disciple he asked to be shortly after. The discipleship lasted for 30 years. These 30 years of daily multi-hour yoga practice made him one of the world’s top teachers, with yogis from across the globe turning to him for practice and then spreading […]
  • Hatha YogaHatha Yoga Hatha yoga is a term that is used to describe specific yoga postures.— It also refers to a broad philosophical branch of yoga. Iyengar, Ashtanga Vinyasa, and hot yoga are just a few of the many styles that are based on hatha yoga. Let’s take a deeper look at practice. Hatha means “force” in Sanskrit — alluding to the effort...
  • Yin YogaYin Yoga Don’t let its slow pace fool you—practicing Yin yoga is a rich and meaningful experience. Developed in the late 70s by American yoga teacher and martial arts champion Paulie Zink, Yin yoga is the balance to a full, active lifestyle. To fully understand Zink’s intention in creating this style of yoga, you must first understand its roots in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). In TCM, life force called qi (pronounced CHEE) flows through the body via energetic (non-physical) […]

All Topics