Why is it that Anusara® yoga has changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, including myself?
Because it shows you how to radically change the way you look at life.
One of the most powerful aspects of Anusara yoga, and its first principle, is choosing to look for the beauty in every moment. Even in the most difficult and painful times we can find a way to turn towards the light.
It’s being open to the purest essence of life that guides this ability; knowing that intrinsic goodness lives in your heart. This fundamental knowing that you and everything around you is interconnected, and that the choices you make to be kind to yourself and others ripple out to make a big difference.
This looking for the good in life might not come naturally at first, but it’s something you can learn, and it can shift your life in the most empowering way!
The Worst-Case Scenario Syndrome
Most of us grow up learning to look for what’s wrong or different in things. We learn to worry and think about worst-case scenarios. Even questions on school tests early in life ask you to choose what doesn’t belong. Our minds are trained to judge.
The world around us has plenty of examples of hardship and tragedy, and each of us goes through our own difficulties. It is very easy to look around and think the end of the world (or the end of your own personal world) is near at hand. But that is only one perpective…
So many people don’t even realize they have a choice in how they see things. Me, I knew in my mind that my attitude had everything to do with my experience in life, but before I came to this yoga practice, I didn’t know how to change my attitude.
My emotions were in control of me. I didn’t have the skill to lift myself up.
I know I’m not alone when I say I spent much of my life beating myself up emotionally, blaming myself and feeling guilty for the smallest things.
That’s just the habit I had formed, helped along by mean kids in school and always feeling like I didn’t belong.
I’ve known deep depression and nearly paralyzing fear. But when I was going through my divorce, or when my house caught on fire, I had my yoga practice to lead me out of it, otherwise I could still be crushed by those weights.
As a human being you’re allowed to feel the full spectrum of emotions, riding the waves as they come. But you also have the power to not be ruled by those emotions.
How Anusara Yoga Helps You Change Your Perspective
What does it mean to say “Yes” to life?
It means that you’re open to all of the possibilities. That you first broaden your perspective and remember that there is always a gift or blessing being offered in every moment, no matter how painful or messy the situation might be.
When you recognize that you have this choice to pause and reconnect with something bigger than your individual idea of yourself, things change. You start to make choices that are life affirming, bigger picture decisions.
You take the blinders off and see the world in a different light.
This doesn’t mean that everyone who does Anusara yoga is always happy and ignores the pain of their own lives or the suffering of the world. Instead, we acknowledge what is going on, and endeavor to RESPOND rather than REACT.
And here’s the real skill that you can learn or may already be practicing: learning to discern between response and reaction.
When you REACT to what happens, it’s more like a reflex, and chances are the habitual negativity that is so much a part of mass media and social conditioning will dictate that reaction. When you RESPOND to what is, it is a conscious choice.
Practicing Anusara yoga, on and off the mat, keeps you coming back to the first principle, which is Opening to Grace. You choose to align with the auspicious, conscious energy that pulsates within you and all around you. You practice widening your perspective so you can recognize the inherent goodness in others and yourself.
Even the person who might be the instigator of your frustrations has goodness within them. They too go through pain and hard times. They have doubts and fears. We forget that sometimes.
Anusara yoga asks us to remember, again and again, that life offers us joy and is a great blessing.
It gives us skills to help us feel good in mind, body, and heart.
The physical practice helps us move what’s stuck in our bodies, and the interwoven philosophy helps us clear the negative patterns of our minds. We keep coming back to the mat to move breath and body, and coming back to the heart to reconnect to what is meaningful and what connects us to the highest.
It gives us permission to stop beating ourselves up, to stop doubting ourselves, because we realize and experience what it’s like to know ourselves as individual expressions of the divine.
Ways To Discover The Blessings And Beauty In Each Moment
Here’s one of the ways I trained my judgmental mind to look first for the beauty in others. This is a great way to expand your perspective because we’re so quick to judge others.
When you see people, whether you know them or not, identify something you find attractive, admirable, or inspiring about them.
Sure, maybe the grandma walking up the road in front of you is taking forever and you have to wait for a chance to pass her, but isn’t it great that she’s out walking? Or the kid that’s screaming down the road as she plays with her friend, rather than focusing on the noise, can you smile at the simple act of having fun?
And maybe your spouse or roommate is annoying the heck out of you for some reason, but surely there is something about them that makes your heart light up with joy and love!
You’ll notice in each of these examples that I actually spoke of the blessing after the judgment. That’s because this is how it started for me. First I’d catch myself in the act of judging, then I made myself look for the beauty.
But soon, you’ll train yourself to see the good first, and not be so attached to finding something you don’t like. When you can do it with others, you can also learn to do this with yourself.
Another way to shift your habits is to play a game with yourself to identify the gift each moment presents to you.
It’s easier in the happy times, but most powerful when you can see the blessings that come with challenge and grief.
For example, my parents live in New Orleans. When the hurricane with my name on it hit, it was devastating. Yet there are many good things that have come out of that tragedy, one of which is how it brought people from all over the world together in service and prayer. The community, both in New Orleans and worldwide, is closer because of it.
When you learn to look for the blessings in every day life, so much goodness opens up to you and you realize it was there all along!
With this practice, even in the most overwhelming darkness, you have the ability and desire to turn toward the light. And when you can do that, your life changes forever to become a grand tapestry of woven blessings in the full spectrum of human experience.