Open to Grace or, you could say, Step Into the Flow or Flow From the Heart – in any event, the first principle of Anusara yoga just feels good. Often, we come to the mat stressed, tired, frustrated or just preoccupied with thoughts of the day. Taking a seat at the beginning of our practice, and settling down by turning in to the movement of our breath releases our tension, anxiety and negativity; it even begins to still our thoughts. The exhalation part of our breath connects to the parasympathetic nervous system which has calming effects – for instance, if you breath very rapidly, as we tend to do when we become anxious or worried, you become more agitated because of the increase of oxygen in your bloodstream. This creates an imbalance in the acid/alkaline level in our blood. Conversely, slowing down the breath, especially the exhalation, allows the carbon dioxide in our blood stream to counter the oxygen levels, and we achieve homeostatis or balance.
Right away, watching our breath, we begin to slow down………….then, we step into the stream of Grace. Simply put, we take a moment to remember that inside is a luminosity, a sweetness, a quiet haven. In this space, we can be more gracious and open-minded toward ourselves. This principle gives us permission to see the innate goodness in ourselves that often is forgotten in the rushing of life. Personally, without aligning with Grace in my yoga practice, I feel like I’m exercising. Yes, I feel physically great afterwards, but the Light inside remains dim – my judgments and negative self-talk have a tendency to return more easily.
I love how John Friend, founder of Anusara yoga, describes the intention of practicing Anusara yoga. It is “to align with the flow of Grace, to awaken to the truth that our essential nature is part of the divine flow…. In each pose, we artistically offer our individual light and our unique music to the flow of life.” It means I can relax, enjoy, and move through my practice with greater ease and self-confidence.
Flowing with Grace means I say yes to all of life – the light and the dark – so that I can embrace everything that arises in my life with less anxiety and stress, struggle and strife. I more easily embrace the fact that everything that happens to me is for my own good. You’ve heard “like water flows off a duck’s back.” You can achieve this equanimity through yoga. Yoga makes life fun and exciting, inspiring and enthusiastic. Come join – take a deep breath, exhale slowly, and Open to Grace! Your life will be instantly different.