Going with the Flow of Anusara Yoga

By Desiree Rumbaugh

There’s more to yoga than twisting your body and breathing deeply. In fact, there are several kinds of yoga practice. Anusara Yoga® is relatively new (founded in 1997) and incorporates the physicality of hatha yoga with an uplifting philosophy.

Desiree Rumbaugh is one of the first teachers certified in Anusara yoga, and her compelling personal story as a single mother is interwoven through her professional life as an international instructor.

I asked Rumbaugh to tell us more about this special kind of yoga that can be user-friendly enough for beginners with chronic pain and as strenuous as advanced practitioners need.

The word Anusara means “stepping into the currents of Grace” or “learning to go with the flow of life.”

We take that philosophy on to the yoga mat by teaching people how to align their bodies with Nature and follow the Universal Principles of Alignment™.

These are scientific biomechanical principles that are agreed upon by physical therapists, doctors and body workers of all schools and traditions.

There is a certain body alignment that works for the human body and when we align with it, our chronic aches and pains go away. We become stronger and healthier in body.

When we feel healthier in our bodies, we are happier and have less stress. It really can be that simple.

This is how Anusara yoga empowers people. By educating them about themselves and their uniqueness and then giving the message that “once you understand what is going on and you know what you want to have, you will be able to change your body through these isometric techniques of strengthening before stretching.” We strongly advocate finding a balance between effort and surrender and teach students that they need to have stability to be free.

Once a yoga student understands how to align his or her body with nature, the feeling will be so strong and positive in the basic yoga, that they may naturally feel like trying to do more complex poses. I have seen it many times in my classes and workshops. People get this understanding that they can really grasp about themselves and then at age 40, 50, or 60-something, they are blown away by all they can do that they never dreamed was possible. Imagine what happens when one returns to their daily life after having an experience like that?

Before I learned Anusara Yoga, I thought I was limited. I would come up against my injuries and then feel blocked. I didn’t understand that I could, for example, change the curve in my neck or lower back if they were not sufficiently or healthfully formed. When I tore my medial meniscus, I thought I was “ruining my knees” with yoga. Common sense would tell anybody that. Once I understood how I was mis-aligned and what I needed to do to align more with my “Optimal Blueprint,” I did the work and things changed. Now those former problems are a thing of the past that I can barely remember.

At age 49, I am completely injury-free and strong and flexible, still enjoying a very advanced yoga practice. Without the philosophy and teachings of Anusara Yoga, at this time of my life, I might have been backing away, slowing down or feeling like I needed to give up the more difficult exercises and athletic activities that I enjoy and love.

This is why I am so grateful to John Friend, the founder of Anusara and to the community of thousands who practice it worldwide. We are all part of a large group of people who are helping to create a paradigm shift. Each of us in our own way are making the world a better place, beginning with our own bodies and minds.

Desirée Rumbaugh is a certified Anusara teacher and studied with Anusara founder John Friend. She travels the globe teaching workshops and retreats. Full of enthusiasm, joy, and positive energy, Desirée’s style is playful and transformational. Last year, Acacia released her Yoga to the Rescue: Feel Good From Head to Toe DVD, and the follow-up entitled Yoga to the Rescue for Back Pain is available through www.AcaciaLifestyle.com and at retailers on April 8, 2008. The Back Pain DVD offers simple effective ways to relieve and prevent back pain. Her website is www.desireerumbaugh.com

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