My Anusara Trial Part III, The Philosophy

My Anusara Trial Part III,  The Philosophy

Tantra philosophy is the premise of Anusara yoga.  There is no possible way I could do it, or any other philosophy, justice in one 700-word blog. The Anusara phrase, “Align with the divine,” could take up a ten-page blog alone.  So here I will share with you a short introduction of my understanding of this very positive and compassionate way of perceiving life and the world around you.

When I first started doing Anusara yoga, I was confused about the philosophical focus.  There were a lot of American teachers coming to Dublin to do workshops, and while I found the workshops uplifting and positive, I wasn’t grasping the philosophical alignment.

At first I thought that Anusara yoga teachers were telling us to be happy and positive, regardless of our circumstances and surroundings.  While it is well documented that positivity creates more positivity, and smiling makes you smile even more, to be happy and positive all the time did not seem realistic.

The more I struggled to understand the philosophical approach, the more agitated I became. I really admired the teachers, their uplifting effect, and their ability to permeate “Inner Body Bright” at any given moment, but did not always feel that I could relate to this in a genuine way. I became concerned, as I really wanted to pursue an Anusara teacher-training path, but I began to doubt if I could fit into this practice if I didn’t fully feel it within.  At one point, I pinned it to cultural differences: Americans can be much more positive than us sarcastic, dry-witted Europeans.

I remember having a conversation with close yoga friends, saying, “You know, I love Anusara but sometimes I feel Inner Body Blue and I don’t want to feel Inner Body Bright!” I shortly thereafter realised that I was not the only person who was confused by this.

It took me a while to realise that  “Inner Body Bright” is actually a term used to lengthen the torso, and not a term of emotional being!  Although, it should be noted that when one does lift and lengthen the torso, it automatically has a positive reaction on the mind.   Of course, Anusara’s philosophy is not suggesting one to feel happy in a moment of sadness, anger or pain.  Instead, what it teaches us is to feel every moment to its fullest, which aligns to my understanding of Buddhism and Pema Chadron’s teachings.

When we feel an emotion in its fullest, not only do we bring it to the surface, often  it dissipates more quickly than if suppressed.  So instead of suppressing challenging emotions such as anger, fear, sadness, jealousy, we are encouraged to feel it fully, in our body  and then find some degree of positivity to grow from the experience, instead of becoming stuck in negative reactions.

The focus behind the Tantra philosophy is intrinsic Goodness. It follows, therefore, that Anusara teachers encourage students to look for the good in all things. Out of something ‘Blue,’ they try to find a positive ‘Bright.’  In doing this, it may become less of a struggle to place trust in life and what falls in our path, and learn to go with the flow.  Indeed, the word Anusara means ‘With- Current or With- Flow.’

In an Anusara class you will often hear, “Align With The Divine.” This divinity is our intrinsic quality of goodness, the essence of all beings.  It is our supreme consciousness and the consciousness of the entire universe.  When we align with the divine we move closer to our true nature and find freedom in body, mind and soul, opening to a deeper flow of grace.

On the yoga mat ‘Opening to Grace’ is the first principle of alignment.  Every posture is an offering to unveil your true nature and your true being or to simply to be with your true nature and true being.  It’s a moment to remember your breath, to feel your core centre or your heart and move from within to express the freedom and beauty of the yoga posture on the outside.  Opening to Grace is a reminder as to why we come to the yoga mat to practice this ancient art.  Through continued practice of yoga we find union with our true nature and align with the divine.

In my next blog I want to explore in more detail the Tantra philosophy that dates back to the 8th Century.  This philosophy has changed my relationship with yoga and my outlook on life.  I feel Free.

To be continued…

Be Happy, Be Peaceful, Be Free.

Sinead.

Autumn Yoga

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” ~Albert Camus

Autumn, my favourite time of year, is here again.  Well, I love spring too; probably because nature is so noticeably changing at these times.  We are blessed in our beautiful country with the variety of vibrant colours  in Autumn. The colour of the sky changes to a subtle glow while the leaves are intensely rich in beauty.  It’s really a striking time.

Autumn is a preparation, a fall towards winter.  With the force of mother nature letting go of all she has grown and nurtured throughout the year, we, too, can let go of all we don’t need at this time of year.   As animals gather in preparation for their winter sleep, we, too, begin to gather and naturally begin to draw energy inward in prepartion for our short, cold days and long dark nights.

With regard to your yoga practice, hip openers are great postures to benefit the process of letting go, and focusing on the exhale can deepen the effect.  You may remember my previous blog, “Open your hips, release your emotions” where I wrote in more length about the hip opening practice.

According to both Ayurvedic and Chineese medicine, Autumn is a time that the mind can be noticeably active with fresh inspiration.  It is, therefore, vital to clear any unnecessary emotion; to release any stored tension around the upper back and neck.  For this reason, adding upper back and shoulder releasing work to our practice is often necessary.  It will keep energy flowing from your body to mind, and vice verse.

This will help to open the pathway to allow your creativity to flow naturally.  It makes sense to me that Autumn is the time to allow new ideas to surface, with Winter being a time to ponder, allowing what has appeared to sit within, before the coming of Spring allows you to plant the seeds of creativity that have passed the test of hibernation.

However, because the mind can be so active at this time of year, it is time for the “A-type” personality, often characterized by a highly stressed or anxious state, to pay particular care.  To help counterbalance the dangerous effects of these feelings, it is important to do plenty of grounding yoga postures, such as forward bends and, once again, hip openers.  If you can manage a headstand safely, include it on days when you feel it is possible.  This will bring your mind as close to the earth as it can possibly be!

Sitting in mediation for at least 20 minutes a day is highly recommended, but any length of time is better than none!  Sit and observe the natural flow of breath.  Don’t make demands from the mind. Let it think, let it do what it needs to do.  On noticing your mind has wondered to your thoughts, simply observe.  Then gently bring your mind back to your breath, without any judgment.  Be aware of the breath, and focus fully on how it enters and exits the body.

My last advice for the moment is for all us “urban dwellers” to get out of the city from time to time.  Walk in nature, being mindful of the stunning change of season.  Allow the vibrant colours to be absorbed by your body and mind.  Feel the fresh, country air, and try to be fully present in this glory.  Then nature will support you in return, as you will have supported her by simply noticing her beauty.

Om Peace, Peace, Peace.

Sinead