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Yoga101: What is Ananda Yoga? Practice, Poses, Benifits
Ananda yoga is basically a type of yoga which combines the spiritual and meditational effects along with the yoga asanas(poses). In layman terms, Ananda yoga is more than just the physical practice of the poses.
It actually teaches how Yogis can balance their body and soul so that their spirituality helps them through the different asanas/poses. The true aim of this yoga style is to increase awareness, improve consciousness, help in relaxation and improve the body's alignment.
Ananda Yoga was developed by the disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda, a famous Indian Yogi who traveled to the West to teach Kripa Yoga to the students. This yoga form was taken from a Hatha yoga system and was established by Yogananda's disciple, Swami Kriyananda.
Kriyananda learned these yoga postures from Yogananda when he was a part of Self-Realization Fellowship in 1940s/1950s. In 1965, he started teaching Ananda Yoga in California through his own organization to all the interested practitioners.
In Ananda yoga, the yoga poses are not practiced in an aggressive manner and are gentler for the beginner students. It mainly focuses on the following aspects:
• Safe and correct body alignment
• Adapting a pose to an individual's needs and abilities rather than forcing the practitioner into the right posture
• Staying relaxed while practicing the postures
• Using the postures to improve your consciousness
Ananda Yoga's main objective is to promote relaxation while practicing postures. This yoga technique includes asanas, pranayama, techniques, and yoga philosophy to facilitate this relaxation. Here is the process followed while practicing this form of yoga:
There are about 49 energy channelling exercises helps in tuning your mind to the purpose and importance of energy. These exercises allow you to control your body's life force and then distribute it to the various body parts for renewing your body cells, mind, and soul.
Apart from the energy control, Ananda yoga also follows a set yoga sequence for the best result. This helps in diverting your life-force energy inwards and then outwards.
So, you start with a standing pose first which helps you in becoming aware of the energy and focus on your spine. Then, you continue with floor poses to open up your spine and send the energy to it.
Next, you practice inverted postures to send the energy to your brain.
This is a unique aspect of Ananda yoga and helps individuals reach a higher level of consciousness. There is a set affirmation for each posture which helps you understand the pose better and actually feel the movement when you are practicing it.
Course & Difficulty Level
Ananda yoga has a deep and powerful effect on your body and soul but that doesn't mean it is difficult to practice. It is not a competitive form of yoga and is quite gentle for beginner students as well.
And as you gain more experience, you can opt to increase your boundaries and make your Ananda yoga practice more challenging for you. Also, since it doesn't focus on the physical aspect of the yoga poses, you don't have to worry about perfecting the poses which makes this an easy form of yoga practice.
Here are a few major asanas that are performed while practicing Ananda yoga for a better harmonization of soul and body.
•Adho Mukho Svanasana
In reality, there are no specific asanas associated with Ananda yoga.
Difference to other yoga styles
There are two aspects of Ananda Yoga which makes it different from other yoga styles. Firstly, it uses energization exercises for bringing vitality to your body and it utilizes affirmations for reinforcing the effect of the pose on your mind and body.
Energization Exercises were created for both long-term and immediate effect. Its main aim is to grow the amount of energy and vitality that enters your body through willpower and concentration. It is a series of 39 unique energy control techniques which were developed by Yogananda to facilitate increased and controlled life-force in a practitioner.
Apart from these energization exercises, Ananda yoga also incorporates the use of affirmations with each yoga pose that is practiced by the students. Each yoga pose is paired with an affirmation which helps in reinforcing the yoga posture's effect on your consciousness.
Ananda Yoga impact on health
As mentioned earlier, Ananda yoga focuses on both your soul and your body and helps you in harmonizing them together. Apart from improved consciousness and awareness, there are a few other benefits of practicing Ananda yoga as well:
• It helps in stress reduction as it helps you control your life-force energy. So, your mind and soul are more at peace and you don't have to suffer from any anxiety or stress. This can further result in low bone density which means that your bones will be strong and healthy.
• This yoga form heals both your body and mind. As a result, you tend to be more positive and energetic in your life.
• Due to the pranayama technique used, your body receives a better circulation of oxygen. This can be beneficial in reducing chronic pain experienced by individuals
• The yoga poses practiced in this yoga form massage your internal organs which can help in digestion.
• Since it improves your digestion and controls the nutrient absorption, you have better control over your weight.
• It helps you achieve a stable mind by teaching you how to stay calm and relaxed in problematic situations.
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