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The word “anusara” means “flowing with grace”. This form of yoga was founded in 1997 by John Friend and it is designed to help students to align with the “divine”, which is the deeper spirituality in the universe. Anusara yoga is focused on the heart in that the poses are expressed from the inside out. The key to Anusara yoga is that it helps us with self-examination, discovery and being open to new ideas.
There are three basic principles within the “universal principles of alignment”. These are attitude, alignment and action, and the principles are applied to each of the asanas or poses. Each pose contains balance between stability and freedom, has an awareness of the specific postural alignment and shows the intentions that are connected to the higher purposes of yoga.
The alignment principles are designed to show us how different parts of our bodies are integrated and connected with each other. Performing the poses in certain ways respects the individual’s body structure, supports the joints, and creates optimal circulation within the body’s pathways.
Anusara classes begin with a prayer or centering in order to recognise the power of grace and spirit that surround us. All classes focus on the heart as a way to express the divine and also as a way of connecting to the deep spirituality within us. Over 250 different poses are used in Anusara yoga, with poses from each of the major classifications – standing poses, back bends, forward bends, twists and so forth. Within every pose, all of the movement are carefully aligned with the breath and the alignment of the pose is checked to ensure that it matches the universal principles of alignment. If necessary, the teacher will adjust a pose physically or verbally.
Props can be used in this form of yoga to help a student to achieve the pose and postural demonstrations are often given by the teacher. However, Anusara yoga is not a strict form as students are encouraged to practise variations of the basic poses in order to get in touch with their inner creativity and spirit. The classes are sequenced so that students of all levels can advance in their practice. At the end of each class, meditation or Savasana is carried out so that the student can honour the spirituality and assimilate the teachings within themselves.
Anybody can practise this form of yoga, whether young or old, novice or advanced. Special needs are accommodated for with teachers being able to adjust the yoga poses to suit. However, if you are at all worried, check out a yoga class for yourself first, speak to the teacher or speak to your GP.
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Yoga is an ancient form of practice based on a harmonising system that focuses on strength, flexibility and breathing to boost physical and mental wellbeing.