"We are here to serve," this famous “Johnism” provides the highest guideline for all Anusara teachers and defines the highest purpose for yoga teaching. I dedicate my greatest gratitude to John, all my teachers in the past, present, and in the future.
I started with poor health and a troubled mind when I started my yogic path many years ago in the States. I had a hard time understanding the so-called “yoga spirit” in any given regular class. Worse, I had many injuries from Asana practices. I couldn't understand where the injuries came from since I could do most regular Asanas, and I wasn't going for circus-like movement. While no one could solve my problems, paying for my Karma was the only answer I got. I constantly felt guilty and depressed, and Asana practice had become a burden for me. Then the Universe heard my prayer as Anusara entered my life. For the first time I tasted the embodiment of the yogic spirit – Love – in a physical practice, and witnessed how this embodiment transformed people who came through its door. Kashmir Shaivism, in which the Tantric-based Anusara Yoga finds its root, like the Shiva spirit, destroyed and reconstructed my world. The realization that came with the recreation, though still shallow, motivated me to share the joy and freedom from the flash of light that the Universe mercifully shined upon me.
Attitude: Open to Grace
The nature of Spanda (pulsation) reveals itself in classes - each one varies from each other. The only way to keep me, someone teaching Yoga full time, full-on is to completely surrender to what is, that is, being Open to Grace. Open to Grace reflects attitude, or intention. It is deep self acceptance, self honoring of the body, mind and spirit, as well as being open to the immense possibilities of the unknown. I deeply believe that we are all different manifestations of the One, that we are all children of God, and that everyone is worthy of being love and is capable to love. This is the most powerful Tantric teaching: The essence of Life is filled with Grace – absolutely good (why would something good creates suffering?). This is where the yoga practice starts and goes. If the path goes to Bliss, why can't we learn to see Purtnatva (fullness) in all things instead of focusing only on suffering? In Tantric thought, even suffering is how Shakti experiences Shiva! To go from here, we can see the effort behind the frustration that comes with our Asana practice, frustration won't be another reason for judgment on oneself or others; we can also see our courage when facing suffering in our life, not just how bitter life is.
Alignment: Aligning with the Divine
Anusara's renowned Universal Principles of Alignment is the gateway for many practitioners to experience the healing power of the Universe. With the Principles, we directly face our bodies, from which not only do we develop sharp self awareness to observe our “patterns,” but we are also given a chance to understand that even the formation of the patterns is Divine. While we are aligning with the Ultimate Blue Print of both our inner and outer bodies, we align with the Divine. When we are connected with the Divine, the healing takes place, physically and on all levels. This is the most important concept regarding alignment. Alignment is NOT about perfecting the Asana, nor is it the ruler by which I measure and pick on the students. From alignment principles, we learn to respect our feelings instead of just the outer form in our bodies and in our lives; we learn that true transformation does not occur when form rules over substance.
Action: Celebration of Life
A child who grows up in frustration sees things through fear, while someone who grows up in encouragement experiences life through love. For me, what matters the most in teaching yoga is not whether the students can perform Circuit-de-Ssoleil poses, but whether the students are empowered, revived, and happy about themselves when they leave the room, and not to rush into their next battlefield with a beaten body and mind. For instance, when I bring a rose to show the students how they too can blossom in the pose; surely enough, everyone would literally light up from the inside out. I'd like people to see their own Sri (beauty), to believe that they can create this Sri, and that they are all worthy of this Sri. Yoga is a ritual of the celebration of Life! We set off from Grace to connect with the Divine. When everyone has a chance to see and accept their own goodness, everyone can love and be loved more, then, like ripples, love can be spread from the mat out to the life off the mat.
These are all teachings of Anusara, and I feel absolutely lucky to have met John. The Anusara way indeed bestows heavy sadhana/homework upon the teachers (an Anusara certification is like a PhD degree!), but teaching is really the best learning, because students truly are teachers from the Universe. I thank all my students for my own growth; because from them I learn the most about myself and my sadhana. Each time when I encounter injured ones who adamantly stick to the kind of practice that hurts them, or they return only when they are so hurt that they can't continue the old way, I am deeply reminded of the power of patterns. Every impatient, careless, unpresent soul teaches me that there is different paths and time for everyone. Sadhana is how I prepare myself, so that the Shakti can work through me more effectively. I truly feel that I am a tool of Shakti, and that I'm here to serve; serving the universe, and serving my fellow beings.
So when someone got too excited to sleep because she was able to feel a muscle that she didn't know existed before, a big guy cries in front of me about his sorrow that was never attended, a lady told me how she gained courage from yoga to end her life-time nightmare, some grandma was able to kick up in handstand after 108 tries, many who cried in Savasana, and many cards that told touching self-rediscovery stories that I received . . . I know, that all comes from the power of Shakti—Shakti from the Gurus, and Grace from the Universe.
As John once said, the wind of Grace is always blowing. We only need to open our sail to sail with it. I look forward to stepping into the current of Grace with more beautiful souls through Anusara Yoga.