By Elena Shlychkov M.F.A /M.Ed
Many of us are aware that proper alignment and sufficient instructions are crucial elements and inevitable signs of professionalism in yoga and fitness. We would like to continue our discussion about this topic. Leaving aside the discussion regarding the recent Anusara conflict, we want to contribute our voices to the topic of the importance of alignment in daily practices. Since we do not want to “throw out the baby with the bath water” we will focus on the positive side of the method that was developed by John Friend and other influential and visionary teachers.
Here you can read my interview with an Anusara affiliated teacher Mary Barnes, who shared with me about her practical experience and her incitement. Mary Barnes is a New York based yoga teacher well-known for her Barnes Method of Yoga for Two, which includes pre-natal yoga and postpartum yoga.
M.B: I strongly believe that it is not possible to leave Anusara, drop out of it or “resign “since yoga method and the business of yoga are two separate things. I believe that teachers who resigned from Anusara yoga will continue using the principles that John Friend has developed.
E.S. Have you met John Friend and if you did what was your impression about the meeting?
M.B: I met John Friend in 1999 when I took my first class with him. I immediately realized that his Five Universal Principles of Alignment were well structured, well-articulated and easy to comprehend. I taught yoga for several years before I met John but the impression and the results from my first lesson with him were extremely strong. I realized that he was the teacher that I had looked for. I felt that I wanted to learn from him and follow his workshops and classes regardless of the place or any other obstacles.
Today, I structure my own classes based on his method and Anusara principles of Alignment such as:
- Opening to Grace and Setting the Foundation
- Muscular Energy
- Inner Spiral (Expanding Spiral)
- Outer Spiral (Contracting Spiral)
- Organic Energy
E.S. Mary, can you share any practical examples on how those principles helped your current students?
M.B: I teach Mommy and Baby Yoga and my students are primarily pregnant woman. I found the Anusara Yoga principles particularly appropriate for pregnancy. Opening to Grace and grounding at your core is the best way for my students to experience childbirth as a beautiful journey in life, as well as the beautiful creation of a bond with a baby. Any pregnant woman knows that since the moment she started carrying a baby, she was not alone any more. Anusara’s heart oriented philosophy makes her feel welcomed and comfortable.
The physical alignment principles address the physical changes that might occur during her pregnancy. During the long time of carrying and nursing the baby, a woman experiences many changes: for instance joints are more lax during and after pregnancy. I found out that the concept of muscular energy helps create a foundation and stability for the mother.
E.S: According to what Mary Barnes shared we can conclude that The Five Universal Principles of Alignment is an elegant and highly productive system. It pulses between spaciousness and focus, so that each moment guides you to further development, joy and teaches you how to see beauty in foggy surroundings.
For more information about Mary Barnes, her workshops and classes please visit her website at http://yogafortwo.com/