Anusara Yoga

March 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Yoga Articles

Founded in 1997 by American yogi John Friend, Anusara (which means “flowing with grace”) is very popular in the United States and increasingly available in Europe and Asia. Anusara headquarters are in The Woodlands, Texas, a suburb of Houston, however Friend travels extensively worldwide, giving workshops and training Anusara teachers. In the spring of 2011, it was announced that a center for Anusara yoga would soon open in Encinitas, California.

Friend studied and taught Iyengar yoga prior to developing his own method, which explains Anusara’s focus on alignment. In order to become certified, Anusara teachers must complete an intense course of study before receiving an official license to teach using the Anusara designation. If you see a teacher calling themselves “Anusara Inspired,” this is an indication that they are not yet fully licensed, but have had extensive Anusara training.

The principle aspects that define Anusara are:

  • a philosophy, derived from Tantra, that teaches that all beings are inherently good.
  • a vinyasa-style practice that emphasizes heart-opening and the application of the Universal Principals of Alignment, Friend’s system for explaining the correct positioning for each yoga pose.
  • an intention to bring the lessons learned in yoga class into daily life.

Is Anusara for You?

Anusara classes are lighthearted, positive, and fun. They are not easy, however, as they include vinyasa flow and a lot of alignment work. Anusara encourages the use of props making classes accessible to students of differing abilities. Anusara does have its own vocabulary, which takes some getting used to, though teachers are trained to explain the Universal Principals of Alignment in lay terms. Anusara appeals to those who want to work both their physical and spiritual well-being.

Anusara Links and News

Talking Tantra with Anusara Founder John Friend: An interview in which Friend discusses the role of Tantric philosophy in Anusara yoga.

The Yoga Mogul: John Friend profiled in The New York Times Magazine, July 25, 2010.

Anusara in Encinitas: The announcement, in April, 2011, of the planned opening of the Center for Anusara.

Anusara Shake Up: The resignation of several top Anusara teachers made news in November, 2011.

Anusaragate: In February, 2012, John Friend admitted having inappropriate sexual relationships with female students and employees after his misconduct was exposed on an anonymous website. With a host of other accusations pending, Friend announced that he would take a hiatus from teaching and restructure the management of Anusara yoga. Shortly after, Michal Lichtman was named the new CEO.

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