Often when people begin to practice Anusara Yoga and they first hear about the philosophy, the life view, and the approach, they find themselves thinking, “Wow, this is exactly what I believe and how I try to live. I can’t believe there is a system out there, a group of people who have the same beliefs.” This is precisely how it happened for me when the Anusara method found me in 2002. It was as if some part inside of me already knew these ideas to be true but I did not yet have the words to articulate it. My heart felt blissfully at home in a community of like-minded and like-hearted people. Over the years, many of my students have shared these same feelings that the Anusara philosophy truly resonates deep within their hearts.
Recently this same theme was illuminated while I was teaching a 50-hour Anusara Immersion in Shanghai, China. In this particular Immersion, nine countries of origin were represented and all but one of the students currently lived in China. Leading an Immersion is one of the most rewarding aspects of my job. Normally, over the span of several months I get the privilege of watching as hearts gradually expand and open and the participants are empowered to create life changes both large and small. Yet in just seven days in China great transformation occurred. It was truly a powerful experience, and an honor to witness.
In the first few days of the Immersion the students were very reserved and they did not want to speak or share their thoughts. However, over seven days these 20 people shifted; friendships were born, stories began to unfold and express themselves, and hearts were blown wide open. By the end of the Immersion a beautiful community had formed and everyone wanted to speak! On the last day we sat in our closing circle and these faces that had started out as shy and hesitant, had now softened and were expressing tears and laughter. Each of them had touched the light of their own hearts and were experiencing true joy. What was even more exceptional was the realization that this happened only after seven days of immersing in Anusara Yoga. Everyone in the group felt that this perspective on life and method of practice resonated deeply in their hearts, and even though they hadn’t known it, this was exactly what they had been looking for.
The significance of this transformation was beautifully expressed by a French woman in our group, who commented that one of the best parts of the experience for her was witnessing the Chinese students open up and share their stories. This woman had been living and working in Shanghai for five years, and despite having worked there for all of that time, she had never really been able to get to know her Chinese colleagues. After only seven days in an Anusara Immersion she was so happy to be learning about her Chinese peers and neighbors. While the society and culture around them would remain unchanged, for these 20 participants, true transformation had occurred. Their hearts were wide open, emanating their inner light. It makes me smile to think that they will share this radiance with others around them.
It is basic human nature that our hearts long to reconnect with their source. The method of Anusara provides a gateway to our natural selves. It gives us an opportunity to self-reflect, to listen deeply, and to hear the inner desires of our hearts. With this knowledge we can better set our intentions and align with our higher vision, bringing it into manifestation. When we are living in alignment with our deepest beliefs, life becomes more joyful. My experience teaching in China has shown me that when the heart feels at home, the boundaries that prevent us from experiencing our natural self dissolve and what is left is the pure joy of the heart to delight in this gift of life.