Photo by Laura Gorham Photography.  Copyright 2012.  All rights reserved.

Photo by Laura Gorham Photography.  Copyright 2012.  All rights reserved.

What is Mysore Style Practice?

Mysore style of yoga practice is the traditional method for learning Ashtanga Yoga as taught by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois in Mysore, India.  In the Mysore method, each student has an individualized practice which is developed and overseen by the teacher. Postures are learned one by one, and as they are “mastered”, the student gradually builds a personal practice.  Students practice together in the same shala (yoga studio), but each student practices at his own pace. The instruction is “one-on-one” as the teacher walks around the room and provides physical adjustments and verbal instruction for students in their various asanas.  The instructor also helps remind students of the sequencing, and advises students when to move on to the next asana in a sequence or when to close at a particular point in the sequence.   A common misconception about the Mysore practice is that you need to know the Primary Series to attend.  In fact, this is not tradition and most certainly not a requirement!  You need merely show up and we will teach you personally with love and support from the very beginning.

Every student new to Ashtanga yoga, no matter what level of experience with yoga in general, will start his practice in the Primary Series.   Each student is advanced through the primary series, posture by posture, according to his ability and understanding (postures are “given” to the student by the teacher). Thus, a new student’s “Mysore” style practice my only be 30 to 45 minutes long in the first few weeks.  The duration of the practice will lengthen as more postures are given to the student.  The primary series in its entirety generally takes about 1.5 hours to complete. 

Each posture in each of the series is designed to prepare the student for the next posture in the series.  Each series in turn is designed to prepare the student for the next series.  In the modern world of yoga, it is easy as a practitioner to simply “gloss over” or “skip” the postures in which we are less proficient, less comfortable, or that we simply don’t like.  We will not develop the necessary strength, stamina, open heart, open body and open mind in those particular asanas that we choose to skip because they are less liked or because we don’t feel comfortable in them or simply can’t do them.  In the end, this will hinder our practice.  By repetition of asanas that we find more challenging, we develop the keys in our practice that we need to move forward both physically and mentally.

The practice of Mysore style Ashtanga yoga teaches the student patience, diligence, and a self-dedicated practice.  It develops a strong and intimate bond between teacher and student, one that is necessary for a student to not only practice yoga safely, but to grow as an individual through his practice.

New to Mysore?

Many students fear this approach, worried that they don’t know the practice or that they will feel inadequate next to students with more advanced practices.  I would like to encourage you to put this fear aside.  Know that your teacher will be there to guide you.  Know that other students are going through their own struggles on their own mats, and that judging other students in the room is not a part of their practice.  Know that this practice will help you grow in a way that you never imagined.  Other students will embrace you and you will become a part of a supportive and loving yoga community.  

Students new to Mysore are welcome to come and observe how the Mysore class flows at any time. There is no need to call ahead to observe a Mysore class.. The teacher can then talk to you about getting started if you are interested after class is completed. 

To best gain the benefits from a Mysore practice, we highly recommend you commit to at least one month of Mysore practice (3 to 5 days a week, which includes home study)

Mysore class etiquette:

1)    Please respect the student-teacher relationship and follow any request from your instructor.  
2)    Please do not add or skip any postures from the traditional Ashtanga sequence unless acknowledged or requested by your teacher. 
3)    Please do not take any new postures unless agreed upon with your teacher
4)    Personal hygiene is an integral part of practicing yoga. Please ensure that you and your clothing and mat are clean and free of smoke and/or strong scents/perfumes
5)    Practice with care and consideration towards yourself and others. Respect your limits and acknowledge that your body and mind will feel different every day.
6)    Please be mindful of other students practicing by keeping talking to a whisper and walking softly throughout the studio and outside in the foyer area.
7)    Please remember that while the teacher is there to help you in your practice, the teacher has many students in the room to work with and therefore kindly remember to keep questions and requests very brief.