Sunday, November 21, 2010

Full Circle - Anusara Yoga

When I first started taking yoga classes in 2005 I was hooked almost immediately. From the first class I just wanted to learn more, do more, discover more about this practice that was very different than anything I'd ever experienced. The physical poses felt amazing but more than that it was the attitude of my teachers - comments like "be kind to yourself" and "use the energy of your practice to better your life and the lives of those around you" were so unusual but yet, so intriguing. Not at all like the sports coaches and aerobics teachers I'd had in the past! (although, those people do wonderful work in the practices they've chosen as well - it's just very different)

So once I started taking classes I also began to look for books and dvds and just about any resource I could find that would teach me something about yoga. One of the very first books I bought and read and actively used was Hatha Yoga by Martin Kirk and Brook Boone.

At the time I had no idea who these people were. To me they were just regular people in (kind of funny looking) yoga poses. I studied this book, and from it began to develop a personal practice. I'd do the poses I remembered from class and then I'd look through Hatha Yoga for something new to try.

6 years later and here I am studying Anusara Yoga, a style of yoga developed by renowned teacher John Friend. As it turns out, Martin Kirk, author of Hatha Yoga, is a well-known Anusara Yoga teacher who is highly respected for his teaching and especially his anatomy and therapeutics courses. I opened the book this morning and read through some of the instructions for the poses and sure enough, it sounds like the cues that have become so familiar to me from taking Anusara Yoga classes and studying to teach this style.

So here I am having a little wow moment. In the last year I've become completely infatuated with Anusara Yoga - the style and its teachers speak to me in a way that is perfect for my practice right now, at this time in my life. But in reality it's not completely new to me after all. The alignment I first learned, the sequences I first practiced, all of it came from Martin Kirk and ultimately John Friend, his teacher. So my practice has come full circle and this realization has reinforced that which I was already intrinsically feeling - maybe after many years of trying new styles, learning from a smorgasbord of teachers, and ultimately teaching Hatha Yoga inspired by all of this exploration, maybe Anusara is the practice that will be IT for me. It sort of feels like coming home...

And since I'm feeling inspired by all things Anusara today (and in deep reverence for my teachers past, present and future) I'd like to share the Anusara Invocation - a chant that is sung before most Anusara Yoga classes. It is one of the unique components of an Anusara Yoga class and it's meaning really shows the heart of the practice. In this video John Friend and Krishna Das lead the invocation and are joined by a group of students.

And here's the translation:

I honor the essence of Being, the Auspicious One, the luminous Teacher within and without,
Who assumes the form of Truth, Consciousness, and Bliss,
Is never absent, full of peace,
Ultimately free and sparkles with a divine luster.