Anusara is one of the newer styles of Hatha yoga, developed in 1997 by John Friend, but no less steeped in pure yogic tradition. Anusara’s literal translations means to “flow with grace” or “following the heart.” According to Anusara’s website, Anusara is “…a powerful hatha yoga system that unifies a Tantric philosophy of intrinsic Goodness with Universal Principles of Alignment™…” What does that mean exactly?
The site’s section on Anusara’s philosophy and methodology explain it best, including the structure of a class. The general feeling of the class is based on strong principles of alignment with heart opening intentions and references. John Friend studied for many years with Patthabi Jois (founder of Ashtanga) and B.K.S. Iyengar (whose style I will cover later in this series) and you can see how both these masters influenced Friend’s style. Mr. Friend has taken the best alignment and foundational principles of Iyengar and fused it with softer language and really crediting the divine within each of us in order to be the best yogis we can be.
What is the style/class like?
As mentioned, the class structure and sequencing is really best described on their site, but haven taken many Anusara classes one of the biggest takeaways, especially as a yoga teacher, is that Anusara teachers are impeccably trained, all go through John Friend’s official Anusara trainings and you can trust that they come out of the same camp. While in some yoga areas, that’s not always a positive, it is in this case as you’re getting well trained teachers but allowed to follow their own script. I’ve yet to do a sun salutation in an Anusara class, but I’ve held plank for 5 minutes and nailed harder poses in that environment.
Personal insight/who might benefit from this style:
I find Anusara the “thinking (wo)man’s yoga…” The heart centered talk might be too ethereal for some, but I know men and women alike who find it grounding and purposeful. If you’re looking for a practice that is steeped in alignment, grounds and opens in meditation and heart centered intention, taught by highly trained teachers who “speak the same language…” and is found world-wide now - Anusara is for you!
To dive into Anusara, try some of the disciplines top teachers teach nation and world-wide by attending retreats, seminars and workshops year-round. Some of the best in the business (I’m only listing those I know of and/or have trained with) are below:
And to see Mr. Friend do what he does best, check out the piece on him in Vanity Fair’s (June ‘07) “The World’s Greatest Yoga Masters.”