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What is Anusara Yoga

What is Anusara Yoga

Anusara yoga is a modern school of Hatha yoga grounded in a Tantric philosophy of intrinsic goodness, that was started by John Friend in 1997. Friend was a popular teacher in the Iyengar yoga style and, for a number of years in the 1990s, a member of the board of the Iyengar yoga organization, before he left and founded what he called Anusara yoga. Friend continues to take an active role leading the expansion of the school and training (and certifying) teachers.

Anusara (a-nu-sar-a), means “flowing with Grace,” “flowing with Nature,” “following your heart.”

The emphasis of the school is on a set of “Universal Principles of Alignment” which underlie all postures, “heart opening” postures and the spiritual/meditative benefits of Hatha yoga.

The practice of Anusara Yoga can be broadly categorized into three parts: AttitudeAlignment, and Action.


Attitude, writes Friend, is the “power of the heart as the force behind every action or expression in an asana.” It is “the aspiration to reawaken to our divine nature, and the celebration of life.”


Alignment, according to John Friend, is the “mindful awareness of how various parts of ourselves are integrated and interconnected.”

The Universal Principles of Alignment

  • Opening to Grace: The practitioner intends to place him/herself in alignment with the flow of Supreme Consciousness. For asana practice, this includes having an attitude of soft-hearted devotion, and open-mindedness.
  • Muscular Energy: A drawing of energy from the periphery of the body into a central location in the body, called a Focal Point. The goal is to increase stability, strength, and physical integration in the pose.
  • Inner Spiral: An expanding energy spiral. In the legs it runs from the feet up through the pelvis into the waistline area. Inner Spiral rotates the legs inward, moves the thighs backward, and widens the thighs and pelvis.
  • Outer Spiral: A contracting energy spiral. In the legs it runs from the waistline area down through the tailbone and out through the legs and feet. Outer Spiral draws the pelvis and thighs closer together, moves the tailbone and thighs forward, and rotates the legs outward.
  • Organic Energy: An outward extension of energy from the Focal Point through the core lines of the body to the body’s periphery, which increases expansion, flexibility, and freedom in the pose.


The concept of Action is related to the body. Action, according to Friend, is the “natural flow of energy in the body, which provides both stability and joyful freedom.”

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