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Yoga for Balance: Anusara Yoga with Elsie

For a couple of months, Yoga Matrika has had the great fortune of the addition of an Anusara Inspired class on Mondays at 6:00pm.  This is a great fortune not only because of the value of Anusara yoga in terms of style and content, but also because the instructor, Elsie Escobar, is just such a beautiful person and fabulous teacher!  But, we’ve noticed that not many Yoga Matrika students are coming to check out this new class. 

Anusara teacher training is one of the most thorough available and it demands that instructors commit to a significant number of hours of training and experience.  There are levels of teacher training and this system ensures that any instructor who is permitted to refer to themseleves as an Anusara Inspired or Anusara instructor is highly trained and has a great deal of experience.  This training requirement means that there just aren’t that many Anusara instructors in the world and our opportunity to study in Pittsburgh is limited to the TWO instructors that are trained in this way and live in our region and when KK Ledford blesses us with a visit from California.  So, there’s a reason why you might not have heard about this kind of yoga.

Elsie is going to be offering some small group private lessons teaching the basics of Anusara and also offers a class, Yoga for Balance, every Monday night at 6:00pm.  This class is based on the Anusara principle of “Balanced Action”:

This would be the balance between Muscular Energy (conscious flow of energy originating from the inner body that creates stability, strength and physical integration in the pose) and Organic Energy (this energy carries the expansive qualities of heart, it creates expansion, length and breadth, opening the body, and freedom of movement in the joints.

“Balanced Action is the secret of yoga’s power to create radiant health. When combined with good alignment, balanced action optimizes flexibility and strength, accelerates healing, and brings radiant health to all parts of the body. In addition, the circulation of blood, lymph, oxygen and prana is optimized. Both the connective tissue and the internal organs become healthier due to imporved circultation and a stronger internal pulsation”

The best place to find information about Anusara yoga is directly from the official website: http://www.anusara.com.  Here is a list of the things you can expect from an Anusara class:

The 11 Elements of an Anusara Yoga Class

 

1. The Tantric philosophy of intrinsic goodness underlies the methodology of teaching Anusara yoga. Consequently, Anusara yoga teachers, first and foremost, look for the good in all things, especially within themselves, their students, and fellow Merry Band members. Anusara yoga teachers help enhance and reveal the beauty and Divine qualities that are already present in the students’ poses. They do not try to “fix” or “correct” students’ alignment. Instead, they are dedicated to serving each student and helping them unveil their innate goodness, worthiness, and Supreme nature. Furthermore, Anusara yoga teachers are committed to helping build and empower each student’s self-esteem, while inspiring light-heartedness, playfulness, and joyful creativity within the yoga practice.
2. Each class begins with an invocation/centering as a devotional recognition of the grace-bestowing power of universal Spirit within and around us.
3. Each class has a heart-oriented theme, which has a meaningful connection to the grand spiritual purposes of the asana practice. The theme usually centers on cultivating a virtue—a quality of mind or heart, which is a microcosmic reflection of our Divine nature. Each theme gives a direction for the attitudinal energy that infuses every action and breath in the poses. Effectively, all the poses in Anusara Yoga are expressed from the “inside out.” The theme is intertwined with the postural instructions throughout the class.
4. Teachers apply an elegant, concise set of alignment principles called the “Universal Principles of Alignment” throughout an Anusara yoga class. A central idea within the Universal Principles of Alignment is the 3 A’s: Attitude, Alignment, and Action. This foundational concept within the Anusara method infuses every pose with a meaningful intention connected to the grand purposes of yoga, creates awareness of specific postural alignment, and fosters balanced action between stability and freedom. The first Principle is ‘opening to Grace’, while Muscular Energy and Organic Energy are the two complementary forces that provide each pose with balanced action between stability and freedom. Secondary alignment principles include Spirals and Loops, which help to bring refinement and precision to each pose.
5. Movements and actions within every pose are coordinated with the breath.
6. Teachers walk around the classroom observing attitude, alignment, and action of all the students. They check postural alignments in each pose in reference to the Universal Principles of Alignment beginning with the foundation and general form of the pose. The teacher first gives verbal adjustments and then physical adjustments to the students if necessary in order to enhance their poses. In addition, students may modify poses or support themselves with props if necessary to achieve the general form of pose.
7. Teachers offer succinct, clear postural demonstrations when necessary to either support the specific heart theme of a class or to clarify alignment instructions.
8. The Anusara yoga method is designed to serve students of any level of experience or ability, from children to seniors, and students with special therapeutic needs to advanced practitioners. Therefore, the philosophy, postural instruction, sequencing, and pacing of instructions presented in the class is appropriate to the level of students present. All students are guided to achieve the general form of the pose in order to ultimately experience some expansion of inner freedom and consciousness.
9. Although there are no set postural routines in Anusara yoga, classes are designed using principles of sequencing. One of the principles includes progressively sequencing poses to help students of all levels advance in their practice. Students are not given more advanced poses until they can perform more intermediate poses with good alignment.
10. Classes are concluded with Savasana and/or meditation in order to help better assimilate the teachings and honor the spiritual experience of the class. A concluding centering is used to reiterate the heart theme. Students are left with a blessing or a reminder on how to continue to embody the heart theme “off the mat” in their daily life.
11. Ultimately, each student leaves an Anusara yoga class feeling better about him or herself, empowered and delighted by the revelation of his or her Divine nature (Chidananda).

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