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Methodology

women and men in mexico practicing anusara yoga methodology in hanumanasana or splits pose

Anusara Yoga Methodology

How we safely impart knowledge to teachers and students is a hallmark of Anusara yoga methodology. Through our precise teaching method that honors diversity, we share Anusara yoga’s heart-centered philosophy.

While our philosophy is what we think about and how we frame our thoughts, our methodology is how we put our thoughts into action. We consider our distinct method a “how to” for the yogic path. Our goal? The Anusara yoga method aims for a deeper connection to our hearts that is

  • accessible
  • manageable
  • effective.

Anusara yoga methodology unveils students’ innate goodness, worthiness and supreme nature.

Open to Grace

At the heart of our methodology are our life-affirming principles of “Open to Grace” and “Align with the Divine.” Our emphasis on the embodiment of Grace and its profound philosophical teachings are designed to open us to life’s possibilities and create a vibrancy of body, mind and spirit. 

Our philosophy reminds us to look for the intrinsic goodness of every situation in order to appropriately respond to what is happening in the present moment.  

Therefore, Anusara Yoga becomes an alignment guide for our life, on and off the mat.

3 A’s of Anusara

While we enjoy the many benefits of Anusara yoga, ultimately, we seek the most direct route to our hearts by attuning to our

  • Attitude – the power of the heart as the force behind every action or expression; the aspiration to reawaken to our divine nature; and celebration of life.
  • Alignment – the mindful awareness of how various parts of ourselves are integrated and interconnected
  • Action – the natural flow of energy in the body which provides both stability and joyful freedom.

Together, attitude, alignment, and action are called the 3 A’s of Anusara. The 3 A’s are central pillars for Anusara teaching methodology. As part of the foundation to understand Anusara’s non-dual Tantra yoga philosophy, the 3 A’s inform every aspect of our method.

anusara experienced certified anusara yoga teacher keric morinaga touches his heart as he shares anusara's universal principles of alignment

Key Elements of an Anusara Class

Anusara yoga classes contain unique and distinguished key elements that are essential to our teaching methodology including

  • a heart-oriented theme
  • emphasis of an Anusara Universal Principles of Alignment™
  • effective pose sequence
  • clear and inspirational language
  • precise demonstrations.

Anusara classes are classes fluid, safe and fun. Anusara licensed teachers are masterful co-creators of beauty (shri) who recognize the Divine in each student.

anusara yoga teachers kim friedman and nicole damen assist students in handstand at the wall in Italy

Anusara Yoga Methodology
Peak Pose and Progressive Sequence

Like life, while we often get excited about the peak experience or peak pose, as seekers, we actually discover deeper connection on the path to ultimate experience.

Anusara classes are themed around a peak pose or deeper connection that is accessible for all participants. With over 250 poses that compile the syllabi of Anusara yoga poses, the method does not have a set postural routine.

Through precise cueing and detailed progressive sequences, Ansuara teachers help students feel successful. In our teacher trainings, we clearly delineate precise actions and sequences that lead to a peak pose or peak experience.

Benefits of Anusara Yoga

Like many forms of yoga, Anusara cultivates increased strength and endurance. Also, Anusara helps with upright posture as well as stretching tight muscles in the physical body.

In addition, Anusara yoga enlivens a connection to other aspects of our being including breath and our life force (prana), a calmness of mind, and a connection to spirit.

More importantly, Anusara yoga methodology unveils each student’s innate goodness, worthiness and supreme nature. The specific benefits of Anusara yoga are many.

  • Anusara yoga classes inspire you to be your fullest expression of you.
  • Precise alignment principles make the practice safe for students of all levels.
  • You learn how to recognize your intrinsic goodness and how to see goodness in others.
  • Your yoga practice deepens in a way that enhances your connection to self and liberates your artistic expression from inner body to the outer world.
  • As you open to Grace and develop steadiness, your new awareness will help carry you through life’s challenges, on and off the mat.

In an Anusara yoga class, students learn how to properly align the body as well as develop strength, vitality and a clearer understanding of how the body works in order to master life’s challenges.

Furthermore, Anusara distinguishes itself from other yoga styles by the incorporation of a heart-oriented theme and the Universal Principles of Alignment™. Anusara licensed teachers are highly skilled experts at conveying philosophy, anatomy, and alignment.

jacalyn prete and ansuara students in japan smiling

Heart Oriented Themes
Anusara Yoga Methodology

Anusara yoga classes are centered around a meaningful theme that sets the intention and attitude that the teacher invokes throughout a class. Themes are often rooted in Anusara’s philosophy which makes the practice both a joyful and an inspirational experience.

Using Anusara’s 3 A’s as pillars, the teacher skillfully weaves the theme into the alignment and action cues throughout the class. Heart-oriented themes help students connect the physical practice with a deep feeling of self-honoring, safety, community, devotion and love.

As well, themes often explore qualities of our heart also known as virtues such as courage, compassion, wisdom, and vigor. There are many more virtues.

Anusara teachers come from diverse backgrounds and infuse their insights, individual experiences and life journeys into their class themes making them personal and relevant.

At the beginning of class, we often sing our Invocation to

  • connect to our community
  • meet our common desire to know our hearts’ true nature
  • recognize the Divine in our lives.

anusara yoga teacher madhuri martin assists a man in urdhva dhanurasana or full wheel pose

Universal Principles of Alignment™

Anusara promotes creative freedom and individuality while teaching within a precise methodology. Universal to each pose are Anusara’s 5 principles that create support for the theme and precise physical alignment. These principles create present-moment awareness in a sequential order that builds from the inside out. 

The Universal Principles of Alignment, also called Anusara’s UPAs, are central to Anusara yoga methodology. The principles are a big part of “how we teach.”

Skilled Anusara teachers chose one or two complementary UPAs to focus on in each class.  Often, the teacher chooses the principles that best support the class theme and heart qualities.

Anusara’s UPAs
  1. Open to Grace and Set the Foundation
  2. Muscle Energy
  3. Inner Spiral
  4. Outer Spiral
  5. Organic Energy

The UPAs bring attention to the sacredness of the physical body. To understand the importance of the order, the depth of each principle, and the nuances in yoga poses, please explore workshops and trainings from licensed Anusara teachers.

Action
Anusara Yoga Methodology

What we do and how we do it is our Action. With Anusara’s 3 A’s, Action is the power and energetic process through which Attitude is expressed.

Anusara’s teaching method addresses various aspects of Action including Balanced Action, the Focal Point, and Energy Loops and Spirals.

Balanced Action

In every pose, we seek balanced action between two UPAs – muscle energy and organic energy. We also seek balanced action in the moments between poses also known as the vinyasa flow.

Balanced Action creates an optimal amount of both stability and freedom of movement in the body so that energy may freely flow.

Focal Point

In Anusara, the Focal Point of a pose is the key place of power in the body within a given asana. In addition, the Focal Point is where muscle energy accumulates and from which organic energy extends out. There are 3 Focal Points:

  • Core of the Pelvis
  • Bottom of the Heart
  • Center of the Upper Palate.

Energy Loops and Spirals

Anusara yoga methodology creates awareness of seven pairs of energetic loops on the body’s horizontal plane. These loops work as a secondary alignment guide along with the Universal Principles of Alignment.

Working with these lines of force helps the body move into its most satisfying and stable form, the optimal blueprint unique to each individual. The Seven Loops are: 

  • Ankle Loop
  • Shin Loop
  • Thigh Loop
  • Pelvic Loop
  • Kidney Loop
  • Shoulder Loop
  • Skull Loop.

How Ansuara yoga teachers and pracitioners initiate skillfully actions requires dedicated study. Our global community offers workshops, trainings, and retreats worldwide. Join us to deepen your knowledge.

anusara yoga teacher provides a hands on assist to a student in balasana or child's pose

Matrika – Precise Language

As part of our teaching method, Anusara yoga teachers train their voice and words to cultivate messages with a desire to travel the quickest route to the heart.

With precise cues, Anusara teachers create awareness and connection.

Matrika is a Sanskrit word that defines the subtle strength behind the thought and the word. It’s revealed when awareness takes a new trajectory.

Using language of the heart is a hallmark of our methodology. Effective language includes:

  • Heart Qualities
  • Action and Feeling Words
  • Linking Commands
  • Active and Passive Instructions
  • Expressive Language
  • and Verbal Adjustments.

Our global teacher trainings adhere to Yoga Alliance’s standards for 200 and 300 hour programs and go beyond the minimum established standards to cultivate world-class teachers who lead with precision, safety, and inspiration.

anusara yoga teachers smiling in a partner pose with their arms over their heads and holding hands

Efficacy of the Practice

We measure the success of our practice based on depth of the quality of our experience, not the quantity.

In Anusara yoga, we know we are making progress on the path when we feel an increase in our

  • spiritual centeredness; inner strength and steadfastness
  • trust in the Divine play
  • wisdom – seeing and knowing the interconnection of life
  • capacity to lovingly honor the Divine in each other
  • appreciation and gratitude for all of life’s gifts
  • actions and words which are truthful, uplifting, and life affirming.

There are more ways that we measure whether the practice fulfills our highest intentions. The list above is just a few. Roll out your mat and practice with us on YogaVibes to experience Anusara yoga’s transformational effects. Use the coupon code: anusarayoga to get a 15% discount off any monthly or annual subscription.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Anusara yoga follow a guru?

The Anusara School of Hatha Yoga has no single leader or central spiritual teacher. Rather, Anusara yoga draws on the power of the community’s collaborative effort and desire. The “seat of the teacher” moves to individuals with subject authority throughout the global community of practitioners. The body is led by the parts. The one has become the many.

Is Anusara yoga good for beginners?

Anusara is a great style of yoga for beginners since it is highly focused on safety and alignment. Also, new students often feel better because Anusara recognizes the innate goodness in every individual. Diversity is honored. Poses are taught with detailed instruction and thoughtful sequencing combined with precise cues that helps each student feel successful.

What are UPAs, Universal Principles of Alignment?

Universal Principles of Alignment™ (UPAs) are 5 precise steps in Anusara yoga’s teaching methodology for attaining optimal alignment, increased function, and decreased discomfort in yoga poses. When mindfully applied, the UPAs deepen awareness in the present moment. When skillfully and consistently applied, the UPAs offer potential for radical transformation. In order, the UPAs are – Open to Grace and Set the Foundation; Muscle Energy; Inner Spiral; Outer Spiral; Organic Energy.

What’s an Anusara class like?

Class often begins with an introduction of the heart theme for the class, a centering that may include a chant of the sacred sound “OM” and the Anusara Invocation. The teacher then guides the students through a warm-up and a progressive sequences of poses that leads to a pinnacle pose or action within a pose. The chosen class theme informs the physical and artistic expression of the poses. With precise cues and clear instruction, Anusara teachers guide students deep into the feeling sensations of each pose and sequence, so as to integrate body-mind with heart and spirit. After the peak pose which often builds heat, the teacher offers a series of counter poses and cools down the class in preparation for an extended rest period and/or meditation. Students leave class refreshed, challenged and inspired.