Last week I attended an Anusara immersion with Noah Maze. He had travelled from L.A. to teach the first module of a three part, in-depth study of this heart-opening style of yoga. After completing the 5-day practice, I am more energized and persuaded by Anusara yoga than ever before.
I first heard about Anusara yoga back in late 2006. At that time I was not aware of its universal principles of alignment, its congruency with tantric philosophy, or its founder, John Friend. However, even with so little understanding, I was drawn to its beautiful practice.
Parallel to this, I had started to feel my yoga practice and teaching had got a little flat. While I don’t know exactly why, I think it was simply the yoga version of writer’s block. I had lost my inspiration and was looking for something to reignite my love for yoga practice and passion for teaching. A friend mentioned something about Anusara, and in particular, its characterization as a heart opening practice, and that was enough to spark my interest.
I went to NYC in the summer of 2007 to find my yoga buddies all raving about Anusara and telling me I’d love it. So off I went to Kula Yoga with my pal Carolyn in August 2007 and there began my Anusara trail.
I was immediately engaged in the class. The teacher gave a heart-warming introduction; the group chanted a beautiful invocation and the class started with an uplifting beat. The teacher was giving directions in class that I didn’t understand, but I could see how the group responded to these instructions and I learned from watching fellow students.
When the instructor mentioned ‘kidney loop’ I saw everyone lengthen their lower back and draw into their core. While I listened to many instructions throughout the class, I captured the concept of ‘kidney loop’ internally and this alone made my participation worthwhile. This is probably because, up and to that point, my teaching of that movement would have been, “lengthen your lower back, lengthen between the hip and the rib cage, pull your belly back to your spine, and draw your lower rib cage in.” Whew! Yet, all she said was “more kidney loop” – amazing!
From that class, I gained the understanding that Anusara yoga has a clever method of language to explain alignment. I wanted to learn more. That autumn I went to an intensive immersion in Berlin with Bridget Woods Kramer.
From a teaching point of view, the way John Friend has compiled the method of alignment alone is genius. Each class is centred around the ‘Universal Principals of Alignment’ that not only include the alignment of the physical body, but also aligning to supreme consciousness: Opening To Grace, the first principle of alignment.
I am inspired by the physical system of Anusara. The alignment techniques work so well that I am enthusiastic and feel uplifted in sharing this knowledge and experience with my students.
The physical alignment and the heart-opening interpretation was enough to draw me to Anusara. I never expected to gain the amount I have from delving into this fully rounded system of yoga, and my learning curve is still on the up. It is not possible to do justice to this system of yoga in a short blog, so I will be back with more Anusara detail and love.
…To be continued