Taking the plunge from your weekly Ashtanga class into Mysore self-practice can be daunting. Once experienced, the beauty of the Mysore room can be felt for oneself but for some of us it can take many years to try it out for the first time. I’d therefore like to answer some of the burning questions self-practice newcomers may have.
What on earth does ‘Mysore self-practice’ mean?!
Mysore is the city in Southern India where Ashtanga Yoga and its founder the late Sri K Pattabhi Jois hale. Self-practice is the method in which yoga was originally taught, directly from teacher to student. This would have been in small groups with each student practicing something different according to their experience and ability. This means each students practice is tailored specifically to them and the teacher is on hand to assist the student as and when they need help. And this is how a Mysore self-practice class is taught today.
Why should I come to a ‘Mysore Self Practice’ class over my regular yoga class?
By committing to a regular self practice you are much more likely to deepen your understanding of your existing yoga practice, it will become more personal to you. And you can work on the things that are relevant to you and not be dictated to by a large group class.
The class runs from 7am-9am… thats a really long class! Do I have to stay the entire 2 hours?
The beauty of a Mysore self-practice class is you can come and go according to the time you have available and the length of your practice. You may start at 7am and finish at 8am. Or start at 7.30am or 8am. Its totally up to you as long as you are finished by 9am. This means its easy to fit into your morning schedule..a bit like going to the gym (but better!).
Do I need to know the whole sequence in order to join a Mysore self-practice class?
No… by coming to a Mysore self-practice class you will begin to memorise the sequence and commit it to ‘body memory’. Over weeks and months, through repetition it will become second nature, just like breathing.
I’m a complete beginner. Can I join a Mysore self-practice class?
Yes! As a beginner you will be taught step by step. To start with your practice will be short, around 30-40 minutes. You will start by learning the Sun Salutations and then begin to add the standing poses. It is very gradual, but still challenging! As you add poses your practice time increases.
What do you mean by the word ‘practice’?
As yoga ‘practitioners’ we aim to keep the yoga as a ‘practice’ rather than something we at some point ‘perfect’. So this way we keep exploring and learning rather than aiming to be perfect! As Shri K Pattabhi Jois said, ‘Practice, practice and all is coming’.
How many times a week should I come?
As many as your circumstances allow, although ideally start with two or three classes a week if you can.
Can you recommend a good video that explains further?
I love this interview with Eddie Stern by the New York Times
Sounds great! What now?
Why not try one of Guy’s Mysore style self-practice classes held upstairs at the Mad Hatter’s Cafe? There’s an introductory drop-in price of £5/class until the end of April.