liveonearth (liveonearth) wrote,

Anusara Yoga Comparison

In Flagstaff Arizona I went to (TYE), and here in Portland I've been going to (Amrita). Both are Anusara yoga schools. Anusara is a very new school of yoga, established in 2000, and the fastest growing for reasons that I know well. The founder of this new tradition is a very charismatic fellow by the name of John Friend.

The contrast between TYE in Flagstaff and Amrita in Portland is striking. These teachers have all studied with the same uber-teachers, but they teach drastically versions of the yoga. I can say this because the corrections that I am getting in the new school are precisely the opposite of the corrections that I received at the old school. I am willing to work to integrate opposites into my practice, but I tire of being told I'm doing it all wrong and I'm going to hurt myself. I'm in better shape now than ever before because of yoga.

The teacher tonight told me to stop "slinking" from cobra to downward facing dog (arching my lower back) because I'm going to hurt my back. She gave me some schtik about how it makes the vertebrae grind against each other. Excuse me? I used to have lower back pain. Now my core muscles are strong. Now I CAN slink.

Most of the corrections I'm getting from this new school are based on the assumption that I am new to the practice. I am treated as a complete beginner because my practice doesn't look like their practice. I don't really appreciate it. I have been to many different yoga schools, and usually there is some recognition that I have worked at this, studied this, and that I am moving forward with my particular body and mind in my own particular direction.

But not at Amrita. I have four classes left on my punchcard after today, and I will not be buying another punchcard. I will try some other yoga teachers. I tire of the fussy insistence that I tilt my pelvis forward, bring my ribs back, and level my hips all the time. When I do what they say, I can't even GET into the asanas. I have to back out of the asana, then move into the alignment they want, then try to get back to the asana. When I relax from the positions they put me in I can move smoothly from one asana to the next and feel the joyous flow of energy through my body. It kinks me up, to be so bossed around. They seem to be trying so hard to protect us from injury that they don't teach as effectively.

Tonight's teacher had us doing a "headless" headstand and then a forearm stand (pinchimayrasana) without any instruction about shoulder position. The only instruction was with regard to holding with both hands onto a block. The instructions for L pose were lacking as well. They are going to have people with arm and shoulder issues if they do not address this issue. If they catch me "melting my heart" as we were taught at TYE, they tell me to extend my arms and get rid of the dish between my shoulderblades. So far, I disagree with much of their teachings with regard to shoulders and spines, and I am waiting to see "the light" with regard to their method.

Don't get me wrong, I am willing to listen and learn something new from each teacher. I recognize my own resistances and I work through them. I will learn something from each and every teacher that I encounter, though it may not be what it is that they were trying to teach me. And I remain the leading expert on my own body.

A more detailed comparison, while I'm at it:

-one sweet invocation sung for every class except beginner
-focus on total alignment, big picture of pose, also on foundation, 5 principles
-holding asanas for a long time
-use props only if you need them
-all levels classes (love the mix)
-lots of asanas in each class: not much lecturing
-all teachers highly skilled and exhuberant
-encouragement to go to your own personal "fullest expression" of the pose
-music during sivasana (I found it distracting)
-very full classes
-reasonable rates
-tiny rough-wood-floored studio with no office spaces, small room to put stuff in

-four different invocations, often with musical accompaniment that obscures the music and makes it harder to learn
-no mention of foundation yet, no principles
-focus on specific alignment with neglect of the rest (lots of very shoddy basic poses out there, but we're focussed on revolved arta chandrasana)
-focus on showy advanced variations that require high core strength
-shorting side B is routine
-Sarajoy (owner and founder of studio) is by far the best teacher. She charges an extra fee for her classes. While she is without a doubt the best teacher, I find her extra charge egotistical and unappealing.
-Sarajoy says "take 5 full breaths" in dog pose then after 2.5 breaths she has the whole class doing something else
-substantial use of props and specific instructions to use them even if you don't need them
-being told not to go so far (no fullest expression)
-no all levels classes, few night classes
-the 2nd string teachers are much less experienced/skilled than the top few
-no music for sivasana
-classes not even close to full
-much more expensive
-big fancy facility with lots of offices, back part where we change is not heated
Tags: education, my practice, yoga

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