Anusara & Real Life: Embodying the Principles of Alignment.

Via Natalia Chaparro
on Mar 3, 2012
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The Anusara practice quickly attracted and fascinated many, thanks to the power of the alignment principles.

Their effectiveness can be felt and quickly proven in physical and emotional well-being as well as in their role in pain relief, prevention and improvement of different types of injuries.This has achieved the uniting of one of the largest and most visible communities of yoga, largely allowing yoga to enter into the pop culture of the 21st century.

After spending a week in Miami, amidst a storm of noise, judgments and different opinions concerning John Friend, his behavior and his way of confronting the crisis facing the Anusara community, I started to question the value or meaning that we give to the principles that John taught us with great dedication, love and Sri.

As teachers and students of Anusara, we approach yoga seeking a space to exercise and empower our physical body.Gradually we discover that we are not isolated; our individuality goes far beyond our physical vehicle and it is impossible to separate ourselves from the wholeness of who we are: yoga has become our reality.

Anusara is one of many disciplines and ways of looking at life that allows us to awaken from the dream of separateness to the reality of unity, fellowship and integrity of what it is to be embodied, beyond any particular action or reaction among members of the community. This rapid expansion makes Anusara an easy target for scandals, an opportunity that has quickly been exploited and has received a strong and malicious echo in all kinds of yoga and spirituality venues.

This article is the result of having been in Miami with John, from having a conversation with him and listening to my heart:

Let’s start by remembering the teachings of Hatha Yoga Pradipika. Among other things, these teachings warn us that the practice of asanas, beyond healing and aligning our physical body, is designed to prepare ourselves to reach and know how to handle subtle states of consciousness, without causing harm to ourselves. As John always says, these states of consciousness remind us of and connect us with our divine essence.

I firmly believe that our practice on the mat goes beyond experiencing the magic and beauty of our body; the feeling that comes from moving and expanding is itself an invitation to bring that same magic and beauty to our everyday life. The practice is a seed of that consciousness and a perception of happiness and love, which then will grow in every word and mundane task of a student committed to his yoga practice (adhikara). The learning of the student will then be reflected back at and will have an impact on the entire community (kula) where this learning has been shared.

So let’s talk of our practice, of the alignment principles and life beyond the mat:

Opening to Grace is not only the essential principle that holds a back bend or a sun salutation. Opening to Grace is to assimilate in silence, to open our heart to love and universal consciousness before acting. It is to pause and feel, to absorb in every minute the truth and force that sustains us, moves us and embraces us.

Muscular energy is not only a force that keeps an arm balance pose, it is the principle that hugs us to our inner truth, that which doesn’t depend on any external shape or sound.This allows us to react from a firm and stable center, not from the inconsistency that arises when we move from the periphery.

The inner and expansive spiral is the refined movement of energy that connects us to the universal. It creates in us the space to understand that there is not only one truth, and that the divine manifests in infinite ways, sometimes unimaginable and incomprehensible, without worrying about what is permitted or banned from this or that point of view.

The contraction that creates the external spiral is an invitation to self-reflect, to look inward, understanding that everything we see and judge in others is only an aspect of ourselves that we have trouble accepting and embracing.

The energy that moves from the center, the brightness we offer to the universe, is the organic energy, the end result of all the currents and spirals, energetic movements and patterns of alignment. Our organic energy is what we offer. It is our gift to the universe in the way we relate and assume the lessons and experiences we face every day.

The principles of Anusara align our body and soul with the order and harmony of the universe; they are not only there for times of joy and celebration. The reality is that when we most need them is when everything seems dark, confused and stormy. It is then that their power is indispensable. It is in those chaotic moments that embracing these principles allows us to not overreact, to understand the teaching and to see the presence of light even in unharmonious circumstances.

Losing our center and our connection with Grace causes us to respond to difficult situations in a misaligned way and does not  allow us to maintain our dharma, which as members of a community or kula  is important to always maintain and create the flow of Sri.

What happened to John touched us all. He was released from his secret circles and was confronted with a difficult reality that requires being transparent with others. To us, it revealed the idealistic and paternalistic tendencies, the taboo, and the moralistic and dramatic discourse that is born from the fear within some sectors of the community. In the end, we are each left with our own lessons.


I believe that the yoga practice consists of responding from integrity, from the union with our heart, from the stability and strength of our own center, the discipline in our own practice and the brightness of our own light.

That is the only way that these principles that we have cultivated will allow us to witness, in the midst of discord, conflict and change—a bright rebirth.


 Thank you John for your teachings!





Editor: Kate Bartolotta.


About Natalia Chaparro

Natalia Chaparro, una Colombiana, empezó practicando el Yoga hace 10 años. Su practica constante e intensa fue mezclado con sus estudios de veterinaria, los que realizó motivada por el amor inmenso que tiene por los animales y el interés en el mágico funcionamiento de un organismo vivo. Al terminar su carrera de veterinaria, conoció a maestra de Yoga B.J. Galvan, quien le introdujo en el mundo del Anusara. Desde entonces el fluir de la gracia ha traído a su camino seres maravillosos que han dejado su huella con enseñanzas poderosas. La oportunidad de aprender y compartir la luz de personas como John Friend, Sianna Sherman, Douglas Brooks, Kelly Haas, BJ Galvan y Tulku Tsori Rinpoche, ha empoderado sus ganas de servir y seguir este camino de aprendizaje. Actualmente Natalie ofrece más o menos 8 clases de Yoga a la semana, y ofrece terapias de sonido con cuencos tibetanos, todo esto con el animo de canalizar y compartir todo eso que sus maestros y el universo han invertido en ella. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Natalia Chaparro, a native Colombian, began practicing yoga 10 years ago. Her consistent and intensive practice was combined with her veterinary studies, both of which left her motivated by her immense love of animals and her fascination with the magic of the living organism. Upon finishing her veterinary career, she met her yoga teacher B.J. Galvan, who introduced her to the world of Anusara Yoga. Since that time the flow of Grace has brought to her path marvelous beings who have left their mark on her with their powerful teachings. The opportunity to learn and share the light with teachers such as John Friend, Sianna Sherman, Douglas Brooks, Kelly Haas, BJ Galvan y Tulku Tsori Rinpoche, has ignited Natalia’s desire to serve and follow this path of learning. Natalia currently teachers on average 8 yoga classes per week and also offers sound therapy with Tibetan singing bowls, all with the purpose of channeling and sharing all that her teachers and the Universe have instilled in her.


10 Responses to “Anusara & Real Life: Embodying the Principles of Alignment.”

  1. Jason says:

    Thank you for this share I was wondering when remembrance of teachings would finally surface.

    Yoga begins in our experience and subtle awareness. An aspect of the anusara method that is important in my practice is that remembrance of why we practice and our intention (sankalpa). Offering the practice back in gratitude and expanding the energy of the heart is really at the essence of yoga.

    Compassion and flexibility in our attitude is a nice sign post on the road that the practices have beared fruit in our awareness.

  2. […] Anonymous. Bill and Dr. Bob conceived of the entirety of Alcoholics Anonymous not too long after getting sober. And despite the very real moral undertones of the 12 steps, many believe that Bill W. had multiple […]

  3. Etienne says:

    At this point, I do not see from any Anusaris an attempt to bring quite abstract JF-Anusara concepts into "alignment" with specifics re: ethics in business and teaching. Invocations of "transparency" are not sufficient. The "kula" itself is corrupt. The cacophony of denial, miminizations, and put-upon attitude testifies enough to that.. So, also, does the conitnued insistence upon narrating this sick hot mess as "John's tragedy" — something that, as you say, "happened to him." According to you, as you use the passive voice, he "was put into a situation…." No, he was not. These were consequencess of corrupt decisions he made. This was not his tragedy.
    It has been a tragedy, instead, for the yoga community at large. I still see, even in this lovely, brave attempt to speak in an Anusara-like way about intregrity, a lack of simple vocabulary about integrity or ethics. Why? Ethics are SOCIAL. They are socially constructed. The "kula" has been insular and incestuous and out of touch with the larger society, like any cult. There is the problem.

  4. April Ritchey says:

    This all an adventure……there is not where to go or be we are on a ride to experience the good and the bad the light and the dark in full celebration. The Kula is disillusioned by the sparkly world it painted for itself…mired in feel good…feel bliss all the time..Now the party is over and the real work is beginning….I see this not as a tragedy but an affirmation of humanity's beauty…all will be well…there is so much goodness that wlll come out of this……remember we make up the story of standards and ethics….it is what ever we buy into…what truth we decide to follow. This is all a play and we decide our responses and reactions…Now is the time to use this system for great Seva and outreach…to be in service of the greater good…..This is the time for great opportunity and change…It will be great!

  5. yogasamurai says:

    Yes, I do love this, Etienne. Since we're all psychologically implicated in each other's guilty acts, we're all, in fact, guilty, and therefore, no one is actually guilty. That's "intrinsic goodness" for you. A critique of moralizing that frees you of moral obligations.

    Bottom line: Just don't get caught, lest you get strung up by witches.

    Surely, Etienne, you've thought of stealing a pension fund at least once in your life? Now now, don't be shy. Or organizing a Wiccan sex cult with the MILFs at your office?

    I know there's a Bernie Madoff secretly lurking in all of us. I sure wish he would come out – and soon! It might make my financial life a tad easier.

    Would it be snide and truly unkind to ask the lovely Ms. Chapparo if she's currently in Israel following her "bliss"?

    Sorry– my bad. :o)

  6. Jillian says:

    This is beautiful. Thank you so much for the positive reflection.

  7. SQR says:

    No, it would just be snide.

  8. yogasamurai says:

    Whew, glad we cleared that up. Thanks.

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