The Death and Rebirth of Anusara Yoga

An update on what’s going on with John Friend, Anusara yoga, and the liberating force of destruction.

At the end of nearly every yoga class, we take savasana, which translates as “corpse pose.”

This signifies a transition between the practice of asana on the mat, and the practice of being human off the mat.

It is also a symbolic death which is followed by an inevitable rebirth.

At the moment the yoga world, and especially Anusara yoga, is reeling from public exposure of private and business choices John Friend has made in less than perfect integrity. We all make mistakes. I am not agreeing with John here, I’m just stating a simple fact: no one is perfect, no matter how much we expect them to be.

So Kali, goddess of destruction, has shown up in a big way here. People are reacting with everything from compassion to anger . . .

But I’m actually smiling because I have an overwhelming feeling of hope!

Our community of Anusara yoga teachers and students is closer than never before. In the middle of this controversy and the death of how the organization of Anusara has existed up until now I see the promise and beginning of rebirth.

We have some very strong teachers stepping up to lead the restructuring of Anusara yoga, and a promise that there will be a more democratic process to come.

This is incredibly freeing. And I am glad for it, though my heart goes out to everyone—including John—who is experiencing hurt right now.

I’ve just had an article published on elephant journal that explains why I think This Might Be the Best Thing to Happen to Anusara Yoga.

Perhaps you’ll like it.

When in doubt, practice.

Anusara yoga, as a practice, is the most effective, empowering, liberating, delightful, healing and revealing approach I have personally found. It has absolutely helped me transform and recover from a lot of my own issues and emotional baggage I’d been dragging around for most of my life.

Every single Anusara yoga teacher I have studied with has been of the highest skill, and I think it is important that this controversy not reflect badly upon them.

Everyone has their own path. There are as many ways to practice yoga as there are people. What your heart says is right for you is, in fact, right for you.

When in doubt, practice. It is in the breath that transformation happens. It is in the stillness and quiet of savasana where we sometimes grow the most.

Kali is insperable from Saraswati, the goddess of beginnings, and Lakshmi, the goddess of sustaining and abundance.

2012 promised to bring change. Here is one perfect example of the power of transformation.

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Stillness and Flow

As I sat in meditation this morning, I got this message:

Be both the rock and the water rushing past.

Be still, patient, steadfast. 

Anchor yourself in your Self.

Feel and witness the world unfold around you.

And, at the same time, flow.

Change in every moment. 

Delight in the swift current and the movement of life.

Be both the rock and the river, the shore and the ocean.

To me, Anusara yoga teaches this so clearly.

Steadfast and spacious, strong and sensitive. Yoga is both the path beneath your feet and the way you choose to walk, dance, meander, and otherwise be human along the way.

And, when all else fails, breathe and move—roll out your mat and embody the qualities you seek.

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The Tree Of Life In New Orleans: An Anusara Yoga Meditation

There is a Live Oak in New Orleans called the Tree of Life.

Locals love it, and all who discover this massive and beautiful tree on their visits return to be in awe of it’s incredible canopy, roots, body and presence.

This tree, and truly all of Nature, has so much to teach us.

The video below speaks to this, and includes a meditation that will help you connect and shift into a state of remembrance and desire to contribute to the beauty of the world.

I hope you enjoy this video, which weaves my own personal perspective with that of the trees, sharing teachings from Anusara® yoga that go straight to the heart.

Anusara yoga in New Orleans

To me, New Orleans is home

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The Yamas and Niyamas: Ethics And The Guiding Principles of Yoga

The yamas and niyamas are, in a nutshell, the ethical foundation of yoga.

Now, that might not sound very exciting, but let me tell you why it can rock your world in the best possible way.

First of all, I’ve never been a big fan of rules.

Growing up I pretty much rebelled against anyone telling me what to do if I didn’t want to do it. That didn’t make me a particularly respectful student or daughter sometimes, but that’s how I was.

These days, I’m still not a fan of arbitrary rules and laws. I understand why we have them, but if everyone simply lived lives of integrity and allowed themselves to be guided by ancient wisdom, such as the yamas and niyamas, we could effectively govern ourselves in many ways.

But this isn’t a discourse on politics and legal procedures. And that’s actually WHY I think you’ll find this an enlightening exploration into how you interpret the yamas and niyamas.

Classical Yoga vs. The Philosophy of Tantra

First of all, lets talk about perspective, since your relationship with the world is based on your point of view.

When I first started studying yoga, I found many

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Becoming A Certified Anusara® Yoga Teacher: A Personal Journey

Contemplating the journey...

I have described getting certified as an Anusara yoga instructor being like doing a Doctorate in yoga. However, it’s probably more accurately akin to entering into a Mastery Program.

There are many honourable and rich paths to the heart of yoga; truly, there are limtless ways to practice, study and teach yoga, so long as intent is pure and skill is cultivated.

I chose Anusara yoga because it completely aligns with my own truth and has helped me inspire others to live authentically, be happy, and feel good.

It is with bubbling excitement and humble gratitude that I can now call myself a certified Anusara yoga instructor. It has been a journey of many years and incredible growth, and so I offer you this story…

My First Taste Of Anusara Yoga: Finding My Teacher

My first Anusara yoga class was a weekend workshop with the founder, John Friend. I had no idea what the Universal Principles of Alignment™ were, or what order the 3 A’s are arranged in, because I didn’t know the concepts existed. I had been teaching for all of 6 months and a friend told me, from obvious joy and heart, that I absolutely had to try it.

John Friend teaching. Courtesy of Anusara.

So I drove 5 hours down to Seattle to get my first hit of Anusara yoga from the source. I had no idea what to expect, but I went and put my mat front and center.

That weekend I found my way; that elusive focus of what I wanted to do with my life and how I wanted to live.

John Friend spoke to my heart, in that first class and in so many others I have had the privilege of attending. He used many of the same concepts and poetic threads that had already

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Inner Body Bright, Outer World Resplendent

When your intention is to embody light, the world around you grows more beautiful and bright!

In Anusara® yoga there’s a term called “Inner Body Bright.” We’ll get into the specifics of that in a moment, but first I want to invite you to think of it in a way that has far reaching impact…

Consider this: The more you light up yourself, the more you light up the world.

You might be thinking, “Well, that’s obvious.” Or you may be thinking something along the lines of, “Huh?”

Either way, let me expand that a bit.

First of all, ‘light’ is sort of a vague term that’s used a lot when trying to describe things most of us can’t really see. However, if you consider that everything is made up of energy, and that high frequency energy is light, that helps to define it a bit more.

It’s also helpful, for me at least, to remember that there are plenty of people who actually see energetically. I have several friends who can tell you the colour of your aura, which I think is pretty cool, but haven’t yet figured out how to do myself.

At the same time, even if you aren’t able to ‘see’ these energetic plays of light, you can feel them.

Getting back to my main point…

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Spicy and Sweet: Yoga Can Be Delicious!

Spicing Up Your Yoga Practice

My all time favourite hot sauces made by my friend Ashif!

Yesterday morning in Yoga Boot Camp a friend of mine, Susy, taught us a blend of Latin Dance, Hip Hop, and fitness. It was a blast, with laughter and smiles all around, bodies moving to irresistible beats. I brought Susy in to spice up the camp, adding another dynamic element into an already outstanding program where every day is different.

Because it’s always fun to do something playful and different.

The same goes for your yoga practice. The variations and variety of possible poses and themes means you can taste a new flavour of yoga each time you come to your mat. Being willing to explore and expand helps you grow at whatever level your practice is at now.

This exploration, getting creative with your practice, brings immense enjoyment and wonder.

It doesn’t have to be through advanced poses either. There are playful and profound ways to

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Pranayama: Yoga As A Dance With The Breath

Breath is life, and it connects us to all that lives around us. This is why one of the main focuses of yoga is the breath, including the practice of pranayama.

Can you recall the feeling of your breath really opening up in a yoga pose? Or the shifting of your mind and emotions into a state of peace when you pause and just turn your focus to your breath?

So much of yoga is about the breath, for breath is infused with prana, which is literally the energy of life. Here’s what my teacher, John Friend, has to say about prana in the Anusara® yoga Teacher’s Manual:

“Prana is the vital force in our bodies. It interpenetrates and pulsates within every cell – giving life to our body… Every particle of the physical body, every molecule of DNA, every cell, every organ, and every gland pulsates with prana.”

One of the practices of yoga is pranayama, which is often referred to as ‘breath control’, however I much prefer to consider it a ‘co-created dance’ with your breath.

To me, the concept of control calls in the hardened attitude of domination and separation with one being in control over another.

But we’re speaking of Nature in one of her most essential forms; the movement of life! For pranayama to bring joy and equanimity, doesn’t it make sense to deeply honour the relationship between yourself and your breath? And, when you think about it, where does the breath end and you begin?

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How Anusara Yoga Helps You See The Light in Dark Places

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!

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Hokule’a Goes To Wanderlust: How To Follow Your Dreams

Today I changed my name. Legally.

Well, okay, it’s not totally official yet, but that’s just a matter of the paperwork getting processed. It’s in motion and happening.

What’s my new name?

Katrina Hokule’a Ariel.

Hokule’a means ‘Star of Gladness’. It’s Hawaiian, and this feels like a rebirth. I’m really and truly living my dreams…

I’m so inspired and feel so ‘right’ on my path, that I sang out loud on my walk home. Om Namah Shivaya to the trees, birds, and some surprised people. Did I mention that Hokule’a is the essence of my heart song?

When people need inspiration, I hope to be a part of the light that reminds them who they truly are. I hope I’ve been able to do this for you at some point. It’s very likely you have inspired me…. I’ll get back to this in a minute.

What does this all have to do with Wanderlust?

Well, it’s really all Divine Timing. You know, when things line up so perfectly you couldn’t have planned it better?

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