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Anusara yoga

“Heart opening” poses, like “proud pigeon” and “bridge,” are an essential part of Anusara.

By Zeel Editorial Staff, Last updated: August 15, 2012

Anusara was founded in 1997 by John Friend, a former Iyengar yogi who wanted to build a suitable practice for students of all levels. Rather than using props to perfect a pose (as is done in Iyengar yoga), students are encouraged to achieve each pose to the best of their abilities either with or without props.

During an Anusara class instructors may frequently allude to the 3 A's: attitude, alignment and action. "Heart-opening" poses like "proud pigeon" and "bridge" are an essential part of Anusara. Heart-opening poses point the heart towards the ceiling.

Benefits of Anusara yoga: Anusara, which translates into "Go with the flow," is a variation on hatha yoga - a physically challenging sequence of movements that improve balance, strength and flexibility. Anusara yoga has a spiritual side too.

Who Anusara yoga is best for: Anusara yoga is open to yoga practitioners of any level, though it may not be for the inherently shy. Students may be asked to collaborate with one another during class and work together. Anusara may be especially beneficial for yogis who are out of practice and need a way to get back into the flow.

Getting ready: Wear form-fitting clothing that make it easier to transition from one pose to the next. Spandex or cotton that adheres to the body may be useful while in inverted positions, ensuring that the clothing doesn't obstruct the pose.

Calories burned: The number of calories burned during an Anusara class will depend on the intensity of the practice, how long the class runs, and the individual student. A vigorous yoga practice can burn in the vicinity of 400 calories.

Celebrity Devotees

Gisele Bundchen's model body can be attributed to Anusara yoga - she practices for one hour in the morning. Actress Alicia Silverstone is another proponent of the practice. The Clueless actress once told The Huffington Post that she prefers Anusara because it is safe and practical.


Anusara is known to be a gentle and forgiving practice, meaning students are encouraged to avoid any poses that strain the muscles. Listen to the instructor's verbal cues, which help to align the bones, muscles and organs to ensure a safe practice.

Who shouldn't do it: Individuals who find yoga to be a personal practice may opt out of Anusara yoga, since students may be asked to collaborate with one another during class.

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