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Yoga is a practice that has long been known to offer a number of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual benefits. It has evolved so much in the years since it was first developed and now has several different forms. If you want to give yoga a try and prefer a more traditional form, then Ananda Yoga may be the ideal form of yoga for you. What is Ananda Yoga? Ananda is the term used to refer to the global movement established in 1968 by Donald J. Walters, who is known by yoga enthusiasts as Swami Kriyananda. The movement is largely based on Paramhansa Yogananda’s teachings, which deals with teaching practitioners how they can fully realize God as a tangible and loving reality in their lives. Kriyananda is a disciple of Yogananda, and is now one of the world’s leading spiritual leaders. Among the greatest things about Yogananda’s teachings is that it embraces the truths underlying all of the great religions. For this reason, everyone is encouraged and welcome to practice Ananda Yoga regardless of their faith. This form of yoga is known as a gentle yoga which uses all the ancient techniques like meditation, Hatha Yoga, Kriya Yoga, divine friendship, and community. It combines breath awareness with postures and affirmations to move you from physical awareness to energy awareness and then, finally, to inner awareness. The primary objective of Ananda Yoga is to harmonize your mind, body, and emotions. Ananda Yoga basically brings the practice of yoga back to the original essence of spirituality. Above everything else, this form of yoga seeks to elevate a practitioner’s level of awareness. It does this by strengthening the natural effects yoga postures have on a practitioner’s state of consciousness. The practice of Ananda Yoga includes the following: 1.Asana (postures) 2.Pranayama (breathing techniques) 3.Classical meditation techniques 4.Philosophy of applied yoga What is the actual practice of Ananda Yoga like? Ananda Yoga involves gentle asana for beginners and a gradual increase in the level of challenge presented as a practitioner gains more experience. Unlike the more modern forms of yoga, it is never aerobic or aggressive; rather, it is always inwardly-directed. The main emphases in Ananda Yoga are: 1. Correct alignment and safety 2. Constant relaxation, even during effort 3. Continuously increasing awareness and participation in energy movement as well as states of mind that arise from the practice itself 4. Adapting every single asana to the abilities and needs of the practitioner What sets Ananda Yoga apart? There are two aspects that set Ananda Yoga apart from other forms, and those are asana affirmations and energization exercises. Each asana or yoga posture is reinforced with a specific affirmation, which you “recite” silently while you’re doing the asana. The purpose of the affirmations is to strengthen the asana’s effect on a practitioner’s state of consciousness, thus making your mind participate actively in the practice. The energization exercises included in Ananda Yoga are actually 39 energy control techniques developed by Yoganada himself to help you increase, focus, and easily control his life-force. So, if you really want to get into yoga, Ananda Yoga is definitely a good way to start.
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