We hear that term a lot in Yoga. We’re instructed to get into poses that will really open the heart and get into our chest. When I first started my practice, I would notice my teachers were giddy when heart openers were the focus of the class. The movements were taught with joy. I was new to yoga and all I knew at the time was that some of those poses were difficult to get into. I relied on trusting that my body was okay, and it wasn’t going to break. Soon I made the commitment to practice every day.
Anusara is a Sanskrit word that translates to “flowing with grace”, or “following your heart”. There are over 250 postures in this practice, all of which can be modified so that everyone can benefit. The practice transcends age, restrictions, and limitations that may prevent people from trying a yoga class.
The Universal Principles of Alignment is the key element that sets this style of Hatha in its own category. These principals, when applied properly, give your body the ability to get into poses safely, with a joyful heart and mind. There is no specific sequence that must be followed, like you would find in Ashtanga, or Kundalini. Some of the poses are held a little longer to feel into your body, promoting more circulation, as well as learning to link breath with movement. The approach is non-dualistic and only focuses on the positive connection of our mind body and spirit. Making corrections is not as important as students learning how to feel into their own body and what works best for them. Everybody is different, everybody is not built to stand hips width apart, or nail a “perfect pose “. That’s not the point in this practice. The point is to leave feeling better than when you walked in, understanding yourself, and knowing you are at one with the universe.
It’s easy for us all to fall into the trap of trudging through life, trying to get through each day, shoulders slumped and not noticing anything but what’s next on our ‘to do’ list. We never take time to stop and soak in the beauty that surrounds us, not realizing that it doesn’t have to be this way. What Anusara taught me was to start noticing little things, like the first robins coming back, signifying that Spring is on its way. I noticed that dogs smile and mine was smiling at me all the time, filling my heart with so much love for her and I was being grateful enough to notice. It’s scary to live life with my heart forward and learning that there are other people who are doing the same that passed by me unnoticed when my shoulders were slumped, and I only lived to check off the next task on my list. Understanding that I matter to myself and others and how much they matter to me. That little kids can be wise and that what they have to say can completely change your perspective on things you thought you knew but you were sure of. Anusara taught me how to be curious about the people that irked me the most and then realizing that they reflected me and maybe I need to be humble and make some changes.
I’m now the yoga teacher that gets giddy when I know that my student will be doing heart openers. I am the student that opens herself up to grace. I am the observer watching others open up to grace, following their own hearts and seeing all the little miracles around them. I am the lucky one that gets to live heart forward, opening up to the endless possibilities that life has to offer, and I get to become a part of other people’s journeys as they mesh into mine.
I end by asking you… Are you awake and aware of your own heart and all the blessing that make you you? What do you see in those around you? Is it positive? Is it sad or angry? Are you happy? Are you willing to take the step to open your heart to grace, allowing others to see your truth, your authentic self? Lastly, take a minute to realize how quickly time moves. How do you want your story to read? You are the key to making it the most awesome story ever written.