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Anusara sadness

All I knew about Anusara yoga before tonight, I’d read in a NYT article about its founder. I’m a huge believer that alignment is a crucial aspect of asana, if not the most important part of a physical practice, so I liked that the Anusara style puts major emphasis on alignment. I also support the translation of yoga’s core values into a message of personal empowerment and awareness that’s easily digestible by western culture.

So I was psyched to learn that tonight’s training would be led by an Anusara instructor. I was hungry for a taste of something new.

And now I’m sad.

I don’t know if it’s worth ruminating on this feeling; I know it will pass, and it’s certainly not fair to say the Anusara style is responsible for the emotion. Goodness knows I hope it’s not, and I plan to try another class. Because the gloriously frustrating thing about yoga experiments is that they are hardly scientific. I can’t replicate my experience any more than I can tell you how it felt for the person on the mat next to me.

All I know is that I was brimming with enthusiasm upon arrival and floating on a soft cloud of sadness when I left.

Which most likely just means the yoga was effective. My heart opened, emotions released, I relaxed, and now I’m feeling what came up. Simple, pure, true.

Current feelings aside, the style did place the expected emphasis on alignment, and I appreciated the teacher’s repeated and patient clarification of a proper cobra: lifting with the heart, absolutely not crunching into the lower back. She put us in a few poses that were almost familiar but not quite, so that they challenged my body in a new way and brought me to a different edge.

She encouraged us to relish the edges and the challenges, because life is full of them and we have the power to choose our actions. She asked us to focus on our foundations; on our fingertips clawing into the mat and the edges of our feet firmly rooting into the floor so that muscles engaged all the way up to our backs.

I learned to feel rooted and grounded and secure. Leaning into a prayer twist while in a crescent lunge, I encountered my usual shaky wobble of the back leg–until the teacher asked us to remember that we had the strength and freedom to create our own stability. I dutifully redirected my focus to those back leg muscles and suddenly–stillness. Solidity. Who knew?

The inner me, apparently. That higher self of mine is so full of truth and desire, I was told, that it made my very existence possible. The universe may not be just, but it wanted me to be here. My life wants nothing more than for me to be true to my own essence. To follow the path that is uniquely mine. Bad things will happen along with the good and the important thing is to take part in it all. To embrace existence with radical affirmation.

I dig all that, especially the concept of indiscriminate gratitude: Being thankful for everything in my life, whether I like it or not, has resulted in personal miracles that continue to abound. So I’m on board with Anusara for the most part. I can willingly step into the current of life and go with the flow.

Which for now I guess means honoring my sorrow. It’s vague and specific at the same time, and I can appreciate that it’s the honest outcome of an open heart. Because we closed the class with an energy practice (disclaimer: not an Anusara technique) that made my chest swell. We sent love to tsunami victims in Japan, and to people in our lives who needed it, and to each other. And then we OM’d, so many times that it became a constant sound for long minutes, a heavy, hearty vibration of humanity and comfort.

A nice reminder that we’re all in this together, however it feels.


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