My Mini-Anusara Immersion

Jan 6, 2012   //   by Yoga Lisa DC   //   Blog, self-care, Yoga  //  No Comments

One of my teachers frequently reminds us about the benefits of and need for making time for self-care. She even suggests that we each take time to go on a retreat – whether that be an afternoon alone wandering in the city, a formal planned retreat to some far off destination, or even a day trip up to NYC to sightsee and maybe take some yoga classes. Time away to help ignite your internal fire. Last week was just that for me. I took 4 yoga classes at my go-to yoga studio near the town I grew up in – Dancing Foot Yoga (“DFY”). DFY specializes mostly in the Anusara, Iyengar, and Kundalini styles of yoga. My week was a like a mini-Anusara immersion, since that was the style of all the classes that I took.

It was the jumpstart I needed after the incredibly busy last few months and before moving into the new year. I made the time for self-care, bought myself a 5 class pass, and made it to my mat 4 times while in NJ. And my favorite part of the entire experience was all that I learned from the wonderful teachers at DFY. Each teacher – Emily, Kat, and Regina – is Anusara-certified teachers and brings her own distinctive teaching voice into the studio.

I took two of Emily’s mixed level classes last week. Emily’s background includes practice in the Ashtanga tradition, in addition to her Anusara practice and training. Her practices were challenging to me from the sequencing to the application of alignment. I had fun playing with the flows and was definitely inspired to bring some of Emily’s simple creativity into my classes. My favorite sequence included a modified lunge twist (parivrtta prasvakonasana) transitioning to extended side angle pose (utthita parsvakonasana) transitioning to side plank (vasisthasana). It was a fun sequence to play with. In class, Emily reinforced the principles of keeping the side body long, inner body bright – allowing the heart to shine, and keeping the arm bones in the shoulder sockets along the back body. By my third day of taking classes last week, I was showing marked improvement in doing all three and although I get sore when doing my downward facing dogs (adho mukha svanasana) now, my alignment is improving greatly. And I picked up some new cuing, which helped me, and I hope that I can effectively bring into my classes to help guide my students.

Regina’s class on Friday also had a strong alignment focus. Regina started her class with a quote from Buddha about abandoning that which does not serve us (I really have to find the quote). She talked about samskaras (samskaras are patterns that we tend to repeat over and over in our lives). And in light of the upcoming new year, her focus was on letting go of the past and trying to break some of the patterns that may hold us back. The practice focused a lot on keeping our lower ribs in our back body, while keeping the heart open. I found it particularly hard at times to do this, as the natural inclination can be to puff out the lower ribs, but I did it. She taught us to sit straight up and down, rather than leaning forward. The class theme particularly resonated with me and I only wish I could remember more of her exact cues. And in our seated forward fold (paschimottanasana), Regina came over and taught me the “anusara” way to do it, breathing into the back body and incrementally folding deeper, keeping a yogi toe-lock and elbows out to the side. I think it has changed my seated forward fold forever.

In DC, I don’t take the opportunity very often to attend classes in meditation and there are very few opportunities to take classes in pranayama. So when I saw both on the DFY schedule, I made it a point to go and try them out. I went to a class called Hip Opening & Meditation taught by Kat. The class was really hip opening, pranayama, and meditation and I loved it. It was a complete change of pace from my normal practice. Our hip opening was akin to a yin practice in that we weren’t overly warm when we started and we held each asana for several breaths. After about 30 minutes of hip opening, Kat set us up to practice some pranayama. I had my first experiences with Viloma I and Viloma II breathing techniques. We practiced a little more before more pranayama and then a short seated meditation and savasana. On Friday, I stayed after Regina’s class for Kat’s pranayama class. It was 30 minutes of just pranayama. We did some of the same techniques that we did on Tuesday, including some nadi shodhana (alternate nostril breathing). I am so happy that I took these classes. I am excited to try to bring the new breathing techniques that I learned into the classes I teach. It will be challenging myself as a teacher, something that I definitely need to do more often.

I really enjoyed my mini-Anusara immersion. I learned so much – refinements to alignment, new breathing techniques, and new ways to explore how to let go. Now, time to implement what I learned in my teaching and personal practice (and maybe find an Anusara class that I can take to help supplement my vinyasa practice).

When was the last time you went on a retreat or made time for self-care? Did it reignite a fire within you or give you a much needed jumpstart? When are you going to have that time again?

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About Lisa

Auntie to two adorable little boys and a beautiful little girl. Sister. Friend. Yogini. Yoga teacher. Accountant. Knitter. Amateur photographer. Very amateur golfer.

Where to Find Lisa

Wednesdays, 8:30 p.m.
Yoga 1 (1 hour)*
Tranquil Space Arlington

Thursdays, 5:30 p.m. Yoga On-the-Go*
Thursdays, 7:00 p.m. Yoga 1*
Tranquil Space Arlington

Substitute Teach, As Needed*
Tranquil Space Arlington and Dupont

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