Open To Grace

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1. Set the Foundation and Open to Grace (OTG)

What it is

Anusara School of Hath Yoga; Anusara yoga

Anusara is … Stepping into the flow of Grace

First Principle sets the intention of the practice as stepping into the flow of Grace,  aligning your mind and heart with the Supreme; it establishes the initial foundation of the pose through the contact of the physical body with the earth. It invites the student to be present and receptive to Grace—the revelatory power of Spirit—so they can soften their boundaries and open to the vast power around them before engaging the contraction of Muscle Energy that follows. This will allow the heart and the body to expand and the foundation to naturally ground.

Feeling Elements

Physical (Create….):
•   Softness of the skin and physical body;  stillness from the inside out;  inner fullness;  an inner settling

Emotional (…. so as to feel…):
•   Emotionally expansive; sensitivity, spaciousness, receptivity,  freedom, ease, love, connection to the divine, devotion

Why we do the alignment

•   Sets one’s intention for the practice
•   Establishes an initial foundation of the physical body connected with the earth
•   To soften the skin and open the heart, mind, and body so as to align with the Supreme
•   Softens your boundaries and opens you to the vast power around you
•   To open to the Universal Spirit within and around us
•   Creates a sense of surrender allowing the heart and inner body  to softly expand first so that all efforts are tempered and are less  hardening
•   Sets the foundation that yoga is a movement of energy
•   To soften, relax and be spacious and expansive
•   Fosters an awareness of feet and breath
•   Rests the awareness in the back of the body
•   To establish a sense of showing up and being present
•   To make the inner body bright and attentive
•   To connect to community and something bigger than ourselves
•   Helps bring in the grace of healking

Alignment Steps & Commands

•   Be present in attitude and stance
•   Relax and soften the heart and skin
•   Inner body bright
•   Lengthen side bodies; expand ribs away from hips; increase the space between ribs
•   Down-weight through the feet and hips into the earth
•   Cultivate reverence and respect for yourself as you seek to find glory in the pose
•   Inflate the kidneys and initiate the Kidney Loop
•   Evenly expand the upper torso and shoulders
•   Cultivate an awareness of a steady even breath so as to expand and soften

Physical Effects

•   Softens the skin
•   Side bodies lengthen from an inner lift
•   Allows the inner and outer body to expand softly
•   Establishes a passive organic connection to the earth
•   Sets a physical foundation of the body and an energetic foundation of practice
•   When the inner body happily expands, the foundation naturally grounds and the chest lifts and widens
•   The kidney area naturally expands and the heart melts

Energetic Effects

•   Addresses the Highest first
•   Establishes a quality of sensitivity, grounding and ease throughout the practice
•   Sets the initial contact of the physical body with the earth
•   Establishes softness and receptivity
•   Opens the heart
•   Inner body is puffy, bright and attentive to the moment
•   Aligns the mind and heart with the Supreme

Alignment Relative to Other UPAs and Loops

•   Sets the initial attitude and foundation for all consecutive UPAs
•   Start with an opening, then engage fully; Spirit first
•   When we open to grace prior to establishing ME the outer body happily draws in against an expanded and radiant inner body
•   Helps establish the Kidney Loop
•   Helps in evenly expanding the upper torso and shoulders; front and back of the lungs become full
•   Fills up the back and zips up the front
•   Softens the body due to the diminishing pressure onto the adrenal glands
•   Creates a resting-back quality and three-dimensionality

Specific verbal prompts to create this action

  • Soften your skin.
  • Inner body bright!
  • Side bodies long.
  • Open to something bigger.
  • Puff it up and keep the skin soft.
  • Enjoy the breath.
  • Breath into the expansion between your ribs.
  • Fill up the back of the heart.
  • Fold forward and expand your heart space.
  • Set the foundation by organically pressing out through your feet / hands / knees
  • Soften and allow both the inner and outer body to expand softly.
  • Soften your upper back and melt the heart between your shoulder blades.

Poses most affected


  • Tadasana
  • Uttanasana
  • Parsvakonasana
  • Trikonasana
  • Parsvottanasana
  • Chaturanga Dandasana
  • Virabhadrasana I, III

Forward bends:

  • Uttanasana
  • Prasarita Padottanasana
  • Pachimotonanasa
  • Balasana
  • Pranam (prayer pose)

Arm balances:

  • Bakasana


Inner softening

  1. While in a seated posture place your hand on you low belly and breath into your hand
  2. Bring your awareness to your upper chest as it expands
  3. Keep this sense of softness and expanse as you move into each pose


Establishing Kidney Loop

  1. Active stands while partner places their hands on their sides (thumbs up, fingers down) and presses downwards
  2. Active raises arms forward and up
  3. Partner releases active’s ribs
  4. Active uses belly to hold arms up