Yogapedia: What is Ansura Yoga?


Pausing to breathe before you take that first delicious bite of a meal is just one example of how we may open ourselves to the Divine in our daily activities. Anusara yoga imparts that outlook to students on the yoga mat, with the implicit goal of applying those mat-habits to other parts of our lives. Founder John Friend chose the Tantric term Anusara, translated as “follow your heart,” to describe this joyful spiritual/physical practice. At its core, Anusara opens your heart to understand there is no separation between you, the beings around you and the Divine; there is no separation between your practice on the mat and your life beyond the studio walls. 

“There’s community, the whole idea that you are connected to something greater,” says LA-based Anusara instructor Hillary Rubin. “That you’re not coming to the mat to separate from the world.” Rubin’s own story is a powerful one: diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1996, she turned to yoga and meditation for relief and inspiration; today she lives and teaches symptom-free.

What to expect

Every Anusara teacher’s style is unique, so it’s important to check out several instructors before you settle on the best fit(s) for you. Practice often begins with a chant to set spiritual intention, followed by a warm-up series that builds to an apex pose before the cool-down. Anusara instructors address the “three A’s” which Rubin describes: Attitude references the power of the heart’s intention; Alignment refers to mindful awareness of the body’s position; and Action is the balanced flow of energy in the body that offers both stability and freedom. One of the best parts: Anusara teachers focus on positive reinforcement, and recognize the beauty each individual brings to the pose, so you’re free to forget about what the student next to you looks like and be proud of your own expression.

Signature poses

Anusara sheds new light on traditional Hatha and Vinyasa Flow yoga poses like the sun salutation series, lunges and handstands. Using Friend’s Universal Principles of Alignment, the Anusara approach teaches you to expand your understanding of the physical postures through eye-opening alignment instruction and also brings awareness to the connection between your struggles and triumphs in each asana and your spiritual condition. In Rubin’s words, “The action is the same, but the form changes. There are different levels of poses, but all the poses are a sweet opportunity to express yourself more fully. This practice can be refined as you go deeper into aligning the body with your heart’s intention.”

Practicing at home? Check out Gaiam's Yoga Answers and Solutions Go-to Guide.

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