5 Qs with Anusara Yoga Founder John Friend: on Kundalini, Tantra, and the Divine

5 Qs with Anusara Yoga Founder John Friend

1. Anusara, which you founded, is one of the fastest-growing styles of Hatha yoga today. Can you tell us why?

Anusara yoga is one of the fastest-growing styles because it is an artistic, celebratory, and empowering practice. It is based on a life-affirming vision with an overall positive view of life. In Anusara yoga, we use the Universal Principles of Alignment, which can be applied to both the asana practice and to living one’s daily life off the mat. The Universal Principles allow any level of student to tap into a powerful source of inner and outer transformation. One can gain proficiency in yoga very quickly by applying these principles in the practice. So, students are able to gain a sense of success and progress in the practice while having a lot of fun and learning how to deal with difficulties in their life in a skillful way. Because of these reasons, Anusara yoga has been ever-growing since its inception 13 years ago. We are in over 100 countries world wide with over 600,000 students and 1,300 licensed teachers.

2. You’ve studied yoga with students affiliated with Swami Kriyananda’s Ananda Yoga Village and Yogi Bhajan’s 3HO, among many other teachers. I teach Kundalini yoga. What drew you to Kundalini yoga, as taught by Yogi Bhajan?

In my inquiry into Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian philosophies, I studied Sikhism, founded by Guru Knanak. The most important style of yoga that has been influenced by Sikhism is 3HO, or Kundalini, founded by Yogi Bhajan. In the early 80s, I studied Kundalini yoga with some Sikhs at the 3HO center in Houston, Texas.

3. The lengthy Anusara teacher certification process has drawn some criticism. Can you explain the purpose behind the way it’s structured?
Yes, our certification process is widely recognized as one of the most rigorous licensee processes within the yoga world. The criticism is that it takes much longer than the average certification process within the yoga world today. It is more extensive than most, and has a very high standard. Therefore, it is not as easy as most certification programs.

Although it can be a challenging process, our certification represents a very high standard of knowledge and teaching skill within an ever-expanding yoga world today. It is set this way to assure that all students of all levels are given an outstanding and uplifting, expansive experience at every level of being, and so that the vision maintains integrity with expansion.

Understanding that the standard of certification is of the highest rigor in the world, wealso offer another licensing category for those who are in process of certification and are fully dedicated to the practice, the teachings, and the community. The Anusara-Inspired level of licensing is empowering and encouraging as teachers move towards full certification. Thus, the process is supportive and not exclusionary.

4. You’re known for blending Tantric yoga philosophy and universal principles of alignment. How do the more metaphysical aspects of Tantric philosophy (e.g. Kundalini energy and the chakra system) come together with the much more physical principles of alignment?

In Tantric philosophy, we see that the body is the outer form of energetic embodiment. Therefore, the Universal Principles of Alignment are looking at the body from a perspective of Universal Consciousness, as opposed to just the biomechanical principles of the physical body.

5. If you could tell a group of 1000 students just one thing, what would it be?
Life is a blessing. Each person has a unique gift to offer back into this co-creative Dance with the Divine that is life.

Apr 15, 2011 · Comment (2)

2 comments · Add Yours

As someone who is on the path toward certification I am very grateful for the high standards. Each step of the way is valuable and I feel myself guided through the intricacies of alignment with my divine nature. Precisely because it is challenging I grow and I feel myself out of tune in more and more subtle ways which is sometimes hard but really exciting. I know that I can count on my teachers to uplift me in really powerful, meaningful ways, to lead me toward deep healing and exquisite joy. I want to be that kind of teacher much more than I want a piece of paper after a set amount of time. I want to emulate the greatness that I see in my teachers in my own unique and heartfelt way.


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