Saturday, September 1, 2018

Anusara Yoga Universal Principles of Alignment: Review Time

In August there was the first ever Anusara Instagram Challenge called #weareanusara. It lasted 5 days and focused on one universal principle of alignment (UPA) a day. I had a lot of fun coming up with my caption describing how I practice each UPA on and off my mat. Here they are, I hope they can help deepen your understanding of these vast and wonderful principles. 
#weareanusara! Day 1- Open to Grace.
Elements of Open to Grace:
✨Breath ✨Foundation ✨Side Bodies Long ✨Inner Body Bright- ✨Outer Body Soft

Opening to Grace, is not just something we should do at the beginning of our practice but is the foundation that we should carry throughout our practice and into all areas of our life. This principle asks us to soften, become more sensitive, feel and connect to our breath, body/ mind/ heart and the world around us with awareness and openness. It's from this place that we can respond optimally. We have the opportunity to begin our practice, and each new day humble, open, willing and hopefully excited!

Lately in my practice I have been thinking of Open to Grace as being Open to a Revelation. To opening myself up to an ah-ha moment that can remind me more deeply of my true essence and in that opening release limiting beliefs that hold me back. Opening up to the to truth that darkness is not a bad thing, challenges are not a bad thing. When I Open to Grace I am reminded that it’s the dark that nurtures growth and helps the light shine more brightly.

Open to Grace and see the light that surrounds you and that is you!!!

The second universal principle of alignment in the Anusara method= Muscle Energy.
Muscular Energy literally pulls us into our center. It creates security, firmness and power.
On the mat creating this integration steadies us and sets us up to do refinements (inner spiral/ outer spiral) and then extend our (organic energy).

My favorite place to practice muscle energy is off my mat. Can I draw into myself, get steady in my intention? That is muscle energy the drawing in! This helps me make refinements if needed before extending out. It's my tendency on and off the mat to skip the getting steady part and go straight for the freedom of extending for example into a pose or into a conversation.

However I have found that more freedom and joy comes when I slow down, draw in and reconnect (muscle energy). The steadiness of muscle energy leads to much more freedom in organic energy.

On the mat there are three ways we can engage our muscles:
1. From the skin to the bone.
2. To the midline
3. From the periphery—hands, feet and head—along the core lines to the Focal Point.

The third universal principle of alignment in the Anusara method is Inner Spiral. This is a refinement principle that comes AFTER Opening to Grace (1st principle) and Muscle Energy (2nd principle).

Inner Spiral is an expanding energy that runs from the feet through the pelvis into the waistline area to rotate the legs IN, move the thighs BACK and WIDENS the pelvis.

Inner Spiral in the arms draws the head of the arm bones in to the shoulder sockets, back and widens the scapula's. (Inner spiral in the arms can be confusing because the rotation changes depending on what plane the arms are in but the expanding results in the scapula's is the aim).

Practicing inner spiral off the mat just like on the mat comes after I open myself up, then I draw IN, and BACK into myself to see what is going on inside. Looking to see what is working well, what isn’t working, if my actions are in alignment with my intention (attitude). I can NOT figure this out if I don’t deeply look within. For me this often includes journaling.

After this I can anchor down (outer spiral) and extend out (organic energy) from a more clear and aligned space.

The fourth UPA in the Anusara method is Outer Spiral. Like inner spiral, outer spiral is a refining principle that comes after opening to Grace and setting the foundation (1st UPA), engaging the muscles (2nd UPA), creating space (3rd UPA).

When you create space in the pelvis with inner spiral there is often a collapse in either the low back, knees, ankles or a combination of those. Outer Spiral starts above the back of the pelvis and travels down to the feet. This engages the glutes, lessens or stabilizes the lumbar curve, narrows the sit bones, widens the knees, and draws the shins in. (There is also outer spiral in the upper body that narrows the scapula tips together just like the sit bones of the pelvis. Balance inner spiral and outer spiral of the upper body also help to align the wrists and elbows).

Inner spiral and outer spiral go together and everyone will have a different amount of each spiral to help them move from a place of too much, or not enough and into a place of JUST RIGHT (sattva). It is from this just right place that we will extend our from with the next UPA, Organic Energy.

Off the mat for me outer spiral comes after I open, reconnect to my center and draw deep into myself and get clear on what actions I should take to move me in the direction of my intention.
Outer spiral is the fire 🔥 that fuels the commitment to take these actions to grow my intention.

Organic Energy the 5th UPA!
To review:
1st principle Open to Grace- connect to your breath, ground into your foundation, expand your inner body
2nd principle Muscle Energy- Engage you muscles and feel stable
3rd principle Inner Spiral- create spaciousness, align the heads of the femurs in the hip sockets create an in and up lordotic curve above the scrum
4th principle Outer Spiral- engage the glutes hold or lesson your lordotic curve align the knees towards the 2-3 toe
And now 5th principle!
After all the refining of bringing the bones and the muscles into a place better function ability and healthy it’s time to extend out! Physically, you keep the integration of Muscular Energy, and then extend and stretch out from that place of feeling really plugged in along with the refinements of inner and outer spiral. The brightness of the inner body expands out in every direction with joy, playfulness, freedom and the full expression of the pose is honored.

3 kinds of Organic Energy:
1 away from the focal point
2 away from the midline
3 away from the core and out through the skin

I think one of the most magical things about a yoga practice is it can change the way we extend our Self out to the world.
When I practice yoga (on or off the mat). I am a more kind, more patient and more helpful human. When I interact with people from a centered place it creates a positive ripple into the world. This is organic energy it’s being intentional with the way you extend out.
Organic energy for me can look like smiling at a stranger, spontaneously dancing with my kids, taking a deep breath and expanding when I see the sunset, or being able to articulate my feelings in a kind way during a challenging conversation.
The universal principles of alignment help me to co participate in life and set my intention, choose optimal alignment to lead to my intention and a way of taking action from that place of alignment.
Anusara Yoga and the UPA’s have changed my Asana practice and my life!

Intention and Testimonials

Testimonials & My Intention

My Intention It is my intention as a yoga teacher to help you bring more health and vibrancy to your body, ease and alertness to your mind...