Mysore (self practise) Classes
Wednesday 9-11 am and 7.30-9.30pm
The traditional way of practicing astanga is ‘Mysore style’ the self-practice method. The term Mysore comes from the Indian city of Mysore where the practise of astanga began and continues at K.Pattabhi Jois The astanga Yoga institute.
Mysore is a perfect practice for beginners and advanced students alike. It starts breath by breath and each posture is learned in sequence with students moving at their own pace until the full sequence is known.
We practise in a quiet room filled only with the sound of ujahi breath. Individual instruction and adjustments are given as and when needed to suit the student rather than the class as a whole making it feel more like a 1-1 class but with the support of the group energy of others in the room. A beginner will naturally be given more instruction than an advanced practitioner but both practise in the same class. Mysore Style classes are a great way to start your practise as there is no need to “keep up” with the other students in the class. Typically a beginner will practise for a shorter time 1/2-1hr to begin with and build the time as they learn the full sequence.
My aim is to guide, correct and encourage as needed and work with each student individually to enable them to get the most from their practise.
The class is open for two hours so as long as you are finished by about 11am you can start at any time.
Advantages of a Mysore class:
1.Personal attention: Like a private class within a group, each student receives personal attention and guidance from the teacher. There is space and time for the teacher to observe students in their practice and give adjustments when needed. This personalized assistance is tailored to the students’ individual needs, which happens less frequently in led classes where generalized instructions are given.
2. Increased concentration and focus: This is a much more personal and internal way of practicing yoga. When confronted with our own practice, we have to face distractions, discomfort and the wandering mind. The physical practice aims to bring us back to that focused state, rather than passively listening to a teacher or watching others. This is a more meditative aspect of yoga.
3. Move at your own rhythm and pace: Spend more time on postures that are challenging and place a greater emphasis on making the practice your own. Besides, everyone in a Mysore style class is going at a different pace and practicing different asanas, so perhaps there can be less comparing and competing.
4. Group dynamic: There is something special about practicing in a room full of people. This may be hard to describe in an objective manner, but there is a sense of ‘energy’ in a Mysore style self practice room. A space where one simply hears the sound of breath, the movement of bodies and senses the body heat. This magical ‘energy’ often carries you on through the practice.
5. Portable: It can be practiced anywhere, anytime, by anyone. You don’t need props, belts, walls or even a mat. As long as there is space to extend your arms up and your legs back, then you can practice. This can be a reminder that yoga is not bound by material ‘stuff’. You don’t depend on anything apart from yourself – a breathing body, that’s all.
6. Deepen your understanding of the practice as it is. Feel the breath, bandhas and drishti – pay attention and cultivate awareness. There is also more potential to come into a meaningful relationship with the teacher or guru.
7. Stay in control: It allows practitioners to further refine their own practice. This is refinement in a self reliant way.
8. Watch yourself, not your neighbors, teacher, feet / toenails / pedicure. Observe your thought patterns, habits and just be a witness. A self-practice environment enables one to hear and feel body (and mental) sensations more clearly.
9. Inspiration: Although you don’t want that drishti to wander around the room, or a competitive streak to kick in, seeing other practitioners on the mat can be a source of inspiration and joy.
10. Explore… the possibilities, the layers, the depths of the practice. Be playful, but not too much, it’s Ashtanga after all…
Words: Inna Cos
Photographs taken at the Shri K Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute, Mysore by Coni Hörler.