Day 1: A Close Look at Anusara Yoga

Margaret Kruszewska

MS_Anusara_day1.jpgYoga has to be experienced to really understand what it is and what it does. So, convinced that a fun and educational way to begin to understand all the different yoga approaches is to immerse myself in these 10 day mini-training yoga sessions, I headed to a new yoga studio in the Los Angeles area whose teachers are Anusara schooled.

I was slightly familiar with Anusara Yoga having sampled it at a workshop with the founder John Friend many years ago. And although he seemed a nice enough guy, I didn’t get into the language-specific metaphors that everyone seemed to be grooving on like “spiraling thighs.” Actually I found it very confusing and I suspect that was also true for the Anusara groupies cause I remember that during that class I was adjusted by three different Anusara assistants, each undoing the other’s alignment!

I was surprised to read John Friend’s web site description of the Anusara approach as combining “heart- oriented Tantric principles” with “Universal Principles of Alignment” (with a little trademark symbol after it!). It’s the Tantric claim that had me scratching my head.

Sure enough, Day 1 teacher begins the class with a lecture on this being Tantric because it’s non-dualistic. Oh, I get it they are defining Tantric as Advaita Vedanta. OK, whatever but the class isn’t exactly a free-form joy and bliss session. The warm-up is a vigorous form of your “classical yoga” sun salute. And then we went right into handstands. That’s right, it all came back to me. What I didn’t get in upper body workout in Bikram, I was gonna get in Anusara.

Handstand is not one of my favorites. And I have yet to find a teacher who safely takes you through the steps. Sure enough, in this class, two students collapsed while attempting handstands with what looked like a potentially dangerous landings on the side of their necks. They laughed, the teacher laughed and wondered what went wrong. Gee, maybe students aren’t warmed up, or prepped or spotted enough? Instead we work with class partners (see my rant about working with someone who doesn’t have a clue how to spot you)!

Overall, the teacher provided a good variety but you’d think with all the high falutin- heart- talking metaphors, the directions wouldn’t be so confusing. So while “melting the heart” may be a cool poetic metaphor, it doesn’t help when you’re upside and your wrists are caving in on you.

That night while massaging my achy wrists, I almost became nostalgic for my days with Bikram!

 Six Days of Intense Anusara Yoga

[tags]anusara yoga,teaching yoga,handstands,John Friend[/tags]

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