A thought that has popped up in my mind many, many times over the past 10 years …. ‘Maidstone needs Mysore!’
Mysore Style is the traditional method in which Ashtanga Yoga was taught by Guruji (Sri K Patthabi Jois) and is now taught all over the world. It is named after the city of Mysore in southern India, from where it originates. Mysore Style differs from toady’s usual yoga teaching, in that the teacher does not teach the whole class as one group. It involves practicing the traditional Ashtanga sequences alone at your individual pace and level, as guided by your teacher, along side other practitioners, who will all be working at their own level. The teacher will move from student to student, offering guidance, modifications and adjustments as required. In between times, students continue with their allotted (and memorised) proportion of the Ashtanga primary series (and beyond).
“Yoga can be practiced by anyone, whether young, old, very old, healthy or sick. Even so, the way in which a young person is taught will differ in manner from the way in which an old or sick person will be taught. Therefore, each student must be considered as an individual and taught at a pace that is suitable for their situation in life.” KPJAYI.org
If you haven’t practiced with this style before, here are 8 reasons why you should give it a try:
- You get one to one teaching, in a group setting: Unlike a group class, in a Mysore practice, the teacher has time to observe your individual practice, so that they can give you personal instruction and adjustments as and when you need them. This makes the session suitable for all levels, from complete beginner to advanced practitioners and even other yoga teachers.
- You will learn mindfulness: In order to practice this way, you are forced to really, truly learn the Ashtanga sequence on all levels (there are six series in total, but most people will be working with Primary series, as taught in most led Ashtanga classes). This will quickly teach you to be present and focused. 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.
- You can take it at your pace: Panic not! Reason number 2 does not mean that you have to learn the entire primary series before you start. If you are already very familiar with it, of course you can continue with your regular practice, but if you are brand new to Ashtanga, then in your first session you will simply be taught the Surya Namaskar A (Sun Salute A), breathing and relaxation. And once you have memorised that, you will learn Surya Namaskar B. Then, with time, you will gain new postures to add to your collection.
- You can modify: As in the KPJAYI quote above, the teacher will not expect you to force your body into a specific shape or posture in order to ‘earn’ the next asana in the sequence. Instead, they will adapt the posture to suit your individual body and needs.
- It’s motivating: There is something really special about practicing together with other people. Even though your practice may look very different, or you may be finishing your practice as somebody else is just beginning theirs, there is a certain energy shared by simply moving and breathing alongside one another. This is much harder to recreate at home and will help to keep you motivated even on the hardest of days.
- It’s inspiring: Much as this style helps you to become more focused and self-reliant in your practice, when your eyes do wander (trust me, they will at some point!), it can be really inspiring to see what other people’s practice looks like, no matter what level that might be.
- It’s convenient: A Mysore session will have a set start and end time, but you are welcome to come along whenever suits you, providing that you can finish your practice by the end of the session. So if you need to fit it in before work, you can start right at the beginning, or if you need to come after dropping the kids off at school, that works too. And equally, if your practice is two hours long, or just thirty minutes, it doesn’t matter, providing it fits into the session times.
- You will build a strong, confident self practice: There will be days when you can’t make it to the studio, but the self-reliance of this style of teaching means that you will be able to recreate your practice anywhere, anytime. The aim is that Ashtanga becomes a 6 days per week practice (but remember, you get to build up to this and it may well start with just one day per week, or six days per week, but just 10 minutes each day).
When I first learned the Ashtanga method, this Mysore style was not available locally. Kindly, my teacher, Sue Marshall, invited me to practice in her home (still a 6o mile round trip each time), along with a few other students, and that is how we learned to memorise the series. However, in order to receive specific adjustments, I travelled to London, Spain and even India to visit teachers who would teach in this Mysore style. I have long thought that it would be amazing to set up a Mysore style community class in Maidstone, and now, with the confidence gained from all the Mysore sessions with John Scott and friends this year, along with some great session on my 500hr teacher training course, and developments in the consistency and quality of my own personal practice, I finally feel ready!
Unfortunately our weekly Mysore classes are taking a little holiday. Please contact me or visit the Group Classes Page for times and details of Ashtanga led classes and future Mysore offerings.
xx Helen xx