Ever since I started practicing Ashtanga yoga 8 years ago it’s been my dream to teach early morning Mysore style self practice. 3 months ago I started a Mysore group and last Friday I taught my last class. Here’s how it all played out.
A bit of background to this post can be found in my earlier post from a few months back titled Big Changes.
Running a Mysore room
One of the first big challenges any morning Mysore teacher faces is: When to practice?
I considered 3 options:
- Rise at 03:30 and practice from 04:00 – 06:00
- Practice after teaching 10:00 – 12:00
- Be flexible and practice less
Rise at 03:30
Pros: There is nothing else to do at this time of the morning besides practice – so there are likely to be less distractions and interruptions – besides email and social media of course!
Cons: You have to go to sleep at 19:30 to get a full 8 hours sleep. This will affect your relationships at home. Your body still thinks it should be sleeping so you’ll be a little tight. You may also feel isolated and lonely in your practice.
Practice after teaching
Pros: You don’t have to go to bed at 19:30. Your body is a little more open later on in the day.
Cons: The rest of the world is awake and rolling. The phone will ring, deliveries will arrive and emails will be piling up. Students will also want to grab you after class for a coffee to discuss issues they’re having with their practice. Basically there are more distractions and it can feel a little self-indulgent to use this prime time during the day to practice.
Pros: There’s less pressure to try and maintain your daily practice. You’ll be able to practice during the evening as your schedule permits. You’ll have more time and energy for teaching and balancing the other areas of your life.
Cons: You’re more prone to injury and you’re less likely to make progress in areas where you’re a bit stuck. Particularly if you’re working on some deep back bending or hip opening. Raise your hand now if you’re not working on one of these.
What did I do?
I decided to start offering Mysore classes 3 days/week on Mon, Wed and Fri. This meant that I still went to practice as usual at the BNHC with Sarah. So I opted to keep my schedule of rising and going to sleep as steady as possible. This meant practicing after teaching. The first month was really tough with the change of schedule and was made more challenging by a visit from my Mother, Sister and nephew which meant I wasn’t able to maintain a daily practice. Circumstance led me towards being more flexible (Against my own wishes I might add!). But I thought it was ridiculous to give myself a hard time about missing practice when I had so much on.
Our original plan was that I would build up the Mysore group and a new digital agency: Wildheart Media with Leia at the same time. This totally didn’t work out as planned. Teaching both morning Mysore classes and 3 other led classes a week was just too demanding.
It became clear in the second month that I’d taken on too much, doh! As I write this it seems so obvious that I’d never be able to sustain it all, but I didn’t want to face this at the time. I wanted my cake and to eat it. I wanted to live my dream. It’s been a great lesson in how not to keep things simple.
In the 3rd month we had booked two trips away, in the run-up to our wedding in Sweden and with no one to cover my Mysore classes it was going to be impossible to build up the numbers. This got me thinking more about our planned trip to Mysore later in the year and how I felt about sacrificing going to Mysore in order to teach Mysore classes.
The relationship between student and teacher in a Mysore room are very intimate and not easily transferable. So there tends to be a drop off in attendance when the main teacher goes away even with an experienced cover teacher in place. I also didn’t have the numbers to make finding a cover teacher financially viable.
Although very tiring, teaching the led classes was covering the rent for the Mysore classes but I wasn’t able to take any money home to live on. This had to come from our new company. Finally Leia and I sat down and decided to let the Mysore classes go in favour of establishing Wildheart Media. It’s simply a more viable way to support us in a much more flexible way. So we’ll be able to go to India for 6 months and earn an income. With proper nurturing it’ll also provide a viable way to provide for a future family.
How does it feel?
I have mixed feelings about it all. Relief, disappointment, gratitude, hope and excitement. I’ve also learned a lot about myself and about teaching Mysore style Ashtanga. I’ve had lovely feedback from a few students and my confidence as a teacher has grown. I feel that the experience has taken me deeper into my own practice and I’m more focused than ever. I’ve had a good scratch at an itch and I know that if I’d never had a go, it would have niggled away at me.
I feel grateful for the support and encouragement I’ve had along the way.
The whole experience has shown me how important timing is. Good timing makes the difference between music and noise. I’m reminded of the Clash song: Should I stay or should I go. Well for now, we’re going…
See you in Mysore.