Archive for the ‘mysore style’ Category

new Mysore classes in Brighton

Monday, March 17th, 2014

Mysore classes flyerI’m very excited to announce that I’ll be teaching early morning Mysore classes on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays from 7am – 9am upstairs at the Mad Hatter’s Cafe starting on Monday 31st of March.

If you read my previous post Big Changes you’ll know that 2014 is bringing big changes to both my personal and work life. I’ve been teaching evening classes for a few years now but my great love is morning Mysore style practice, the very same that I’ve committed to since 2006.

An introduction to Mysore style practice

If you’re new to Ashtanga yoga then it’s worth explaining what Mysore style practice is. It originates from Mysore India, where it is still practiced today in the traditional way. A Mysore class is unique because it’s not a led class with the teacher standing at the front of the room conducting the class. Instead each practitioner works at their own pace through a set series of postures.

In India it’s tradition that spiritual practice is undertaken at day break before one’s other duties. So it’s common for people to practice as early as 4:30am. Most Mysore style classes around the world start from around 6am onwards.

The Ashtanga series

There are 4 distinct sequences/series in Ashtanga Yoga. The primary series which is learned first can take anything from 9 months to 5 years to complete. Each series gets progressively more advanced and challenging. The keys to progression is patience, humility and daily practice.

The teacher

I will be on hand to assist students offering hands-on adjustments and verbal instruction explaining the next posture when appropriate. Adjustments enable the student to go more deeply into each posture and also assist with alignment. Complete beginners start right at the beginning with a series of postures known as the sun salutation or Surya Namaskara. Each practitioner slowly memorises the sequence which they practice each day. But don’t worry it all builds up gradually.

Breathing, dristi and vinyasa

Other unique aspects of Ashtanga yoga is the focus on developing a deep, even and steady breath as well as specific gazing points (called dristis) to focus on in each posture. In fact each posture has a set number of prescribed breaths – but that’s a bit too much detail at this point.

The postures are linked together by a series of movements called a vinyasa. This give Ashtanga Yoga it’s flowing quality and increases the heat and intensity of the practice.

What to expect

  • The room will be quiet and warm but not hot.
  • You should hear the sounds of people beathing deeply.
  • People will be moving and breathing as they go through their practice at their own pace.
  • I will be assisting practitioners with their practice either verbally or with hands on adjustments.
  • At 7:30am I’ll stop the class and together we’ll all do the opening chant. Don’t worry if you don’t know this. I’ll be leading this sanskrit chant or mantra in call and response. If you’d like to know what the opening mantra means check out this blog post.
  • After the opening mantra everyone will continue where they left off.

Beginners

Please let me know you intend on coming the night before by text. If you’re a complete beginner it would be ideal for us to have a chat first. My number is below, so please feel free to ring me.

Your first time

  • When you arrive find a spot near the back of the room and unroll your mat and stand at the front of it.
  • I’ll come over and talk you through your first sequence of movements.
  • Once you’ve finished all your postures you can lie down and close your eyes and take rest.
  • Allow your body and your breathing to completely relax for 5 – 10 minutes as your schedule allows.
  • Don’t forget to pay on your way out.

As you attend regularly (3 times/week) I’ll introduce you to new postures gradually as you build up your strength and flexibility safely.

Etiquette

Yoga is a practice of drawing your attention inwards focusing on the sound of your own breath.
It’s considered inpolite to stare at other practitioners while they are practicing.

Eye contact

Generally other practitioners will not make eye contact with you. Don’t be put off by this, they’re not being unfriendly, It’s just that their focus is on their practice.

Talking

Discussion or chatting is discouraged. Keeping the space quieter allows us to go deeper into our own practice, encouraging reflection and a sacred space.

Got any questions?

Just give me a ring on 07971 558 067 or drop me an email at guy@ashtangabrighton.com

Emotions are held in the body. Fact.

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

open-your-heartI’ve always believed that we hold emotions in our bodies. And there’s no greater proof than having a daily Ashtanga practice. When you’re on the mat doing your thing, there’s literally nowhere to hide. It’s just you and your emotions. And the practice of course.

As any experienced practitioner knows, a morning Mysore room can be a hotbed of emotion. There can be tears, grunts, screams, heavy sighs and even howls of laughter rippling through the shala at any given moment.

And it’s hardly surprising. As we move through our practice and begin to open our bodies, all the emotions that are held within our joints, muscles and cells are going to be released. But better out than in as the saying goes!

It’s long been known that our bodies are closely linked to our thoughts and feelings and this is fundamental to many complementary therapies. From personal experience I know that both craniosacral therapy and sensorimotor therapy are both based on ‘reading’ the body to give an indication of what’s going on at a deeper level.

Our bodies also have cellular memory and I’ve experienced this myself many times, both during my Ashtanga practice and when I used to play the sax. There I am, moving through the asanas or the musical notes and suddenly I realise I have no idea what I’m doing! My brain has disengaged and my body appears literally to be moving by itself. It can remember what posture or fingering movement comes next, but as soon as I engage my brain again I lose it! It’s like my mind is trying to take control but to a large extent this doesn’t work – I just need to let go and trust my body to make the right movements.

These last few weeks have been very difficult as I’ve been dealing with various family issues, career issues, relationship issues and general life issues! This has been reflected in my practice which came to a head a couple of days after my grandmother’s funeral. It had been a stressful and emotional couple of weeks watching her decline and fade away and then helping to organise the funeral. I’ve had days of feeling very tired, drained and heavy – like a sack of potatoes on the mat!

On this particular day I got to the end of my practice and went to do my dropbacks as usual. Now, anyone familiar with dropbacks will know that they’re a heart opening posture. As well as bending your back, you also need to open across your whole chest and shoulders, whilst at the same time keeping a strong foundation through your thighs and rooting through your feet. As I started to bend backward, and hence open my chest, I felt suddenly very fragile, very vulnerable and very weak. I pulled up immediately, instinctively bringing my arms around my chest, as if to protect my heart, and the tears started to flow.

I knew I couldn’t push my body that day and just had to surrender. Luckily my teacher could see that too and (after I’d been to the loo to sort myself out!) he gave me a reassuringly strong forward press. Although it’s tough going through things like this, I’m a firm believer that they only make us stronger and it’s a great reminder to stop and listen to our bodies every now and then, in case we lose sight of what’s really going on.

- Hannah Moss

R Sharath Jois in Europe

Saturday, June 29th, 2013

Check out this promo video for Sharath’s 2013 European tour by Digital Dristi

Stillpoint Yoga London: a mini documentary

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

My friend Scott the co-founder of Stillpoint Yoga London commissioned Leia and I to make a film about the yoga studio located at London Bridge. We interviewed John and Lucy Scott, David Keil, Scott and students and teachers from Stillpoint. Leia also shot the early morning Mysore practice.

It’s a moving story about Ashtanga Yoga and the origins of the Stillpoint space – founded by Scott and Ozge in 2008. The video had over a thousand views on Youtube within 24 hours of being posted. Here it is for your viewing pleasure:

self practice, Mysore and beyond

Sunday, February 10th, 2013

Mysore mandalaIn July 2012 I land in first Mysore class at Triyoga and plunge down the Ashtanga rabbit hole. I’d been dipping into Ashtanga classes for the last ten years but without any commitment, consistency or any real understanding of the practice. I was just bending my body.

It felt important to start my practice in London rather than Brighton where I live. I’m not quite sure why, anonymity perhaps. I set myself up for failure; not remembering the postures and not being able to commit to the practice.

During my first practice I was blown over by the energy in the room, it was perfect – so peaceful. It felt like it was just me and mat. I didn’t care what posture I got up to or whether I remembered the sequence. Practice became a habit after day one, and leaping out of bed at 5 am was a surprize pleasure.

It was exciting to be getting a super early train from Brighton into London to experience the pure joy of being a student, and entering the room with an attitude of surrender; I don’t know everything, I am not perfect, I am a work in progress. This was no hippie naval gazing and after a fair amount of spiritual shopping, I’d found something where the rewards were so tangible. No mud, intellectualising, nudity or tea were involved. Just practice, me and my breath.

Ganesh statue in MysoreMy practice was deep, it was meditation right from the start, but with accompanying bruises, aches and pains. Springing out of bed while its still dark with ease all added to feeling like I was part of some secret yoga cult. It was exciting, but as the days, weeks, months passed there was a fair amount of mental struggle, each posture bringing its own particular angst.

Some days I just didn’t want to have a man standing on my thighs for Baddha Konasana. And then there was Garba Pindasana- it hurt and I felt ridiculous in the posture. I had to practice letting go and those thoughts and hang ups would dissipate, or sometimes manifest into something else but one thing is for sure nothing ever stayed the same.

I’d arrive at work after practice inspired and excited. I have to share the intimate details of my practice with my colleagues whether they are interested or not.

After an intense few months of balancing practice, professional life (and a man on my thighs) I’d found a beautiful harmony between the two; the ‘leaving my ego at the door’ would spill info my professional life and bare fruit.

A week after finishing my documentary in London and six months after starting the practice to the day, I’m in India and about to begin a month of practice with Sharath, grandson of the late Sri K. Pattabhi Jois in Mysore the home of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. I’d actually registered at the Shala just a couple of weeks after starting, which I’m slightly embarrassed about but I was so inspired by the practice.

I wait for that ‘one more’ before I enter the Shala with an attitude of surrender to practice under the gaze of Sharath. I soak up that powerful healing energy. My body is strong and my practice is enjoyable. I get dripped on by my neighbouring Ashtangi, he mops up his pool of sweat from my mat, I’m touched by his thoughtfulness. After practice I drink coconut water, I eat masala dosa. I indulge in the non-stop yoga talk. I am now in the Mysore groove.

A couple of weeks later, my body feels heavy, my practice is clunky, my mind is monkey. I’m bruised, achy and a million miles away from peace. I’m dreaming of back home, plotting and planning my first week back. Sitting with the now is hard. I’m craving and grasping something else. This adventure has now taken me to challenging places and I want to run away. I’m now a full time yogi and internally there is a whole load of work going on. There is a mirror in front of me, and nowhere to hide. As the layers peel back, my wounds lay bare.

I realise back home it’s too easy to hide. There’s very little to distract yourself with in Mysore, life is yoga, yoga, yoga. I have no job; I start to feel identity-less, l’m just another yogi floating in the sea of consciousness. I fill my time with my Ayurvedic massage course, practice, hanging out with yogis and sitting with the now. I give some attention to my wounds and feel gratitude; I recognise this is the ‘gold’ and I begin untying those knots of fear and frustration.

Seven months later, I’m still down the Ashtanga rabbit hole. My last week in Mysore, I do back bending with Sharath – grabbing my ankles for the first time, there is a moment of excitement, my ego feels nourished briefly. Then, the reality kicks in – I’m right at the beginning of this potent path of Ashtanga yoga.

Mysore charmAs Sharath said in one of the conferences ‘Are you practicing yoga or are you just bending your body?’ In the west he referred to ‘yoga factories’ and went on to say you won’t get enlightened there, if you want to break through barriers, you need real sadhana practice and you must practice with purity. If you practice for the right reason, then transformation is possible.

I’d leave the conference each week moved, inspired and reassured; I can see the treasure down the bottom of this rabbit hole. Practice in the Shala is an act of devotion – it’s a temple, not a school. I didn’t come to Mysore to learn yoga, I came because I want to practice yoga; I want liberation, and I want sangha.

I will miss you Mysore: that ‘one more’, motorcycle ménage a trios, constant yogi chat about asanas and injuries, coconuts, chanting the primary series in Sanskrit, Sri Durga’s coconut chutney, Sharath’s led primary bad jokes; which never fail to make me smile and the friends I made – all present and on the same trail.

I still think maybe tomorrow I’ll wake up and my Ashtanga party will be over. It was all a big fat yogi om shanti dream but as they say ‘one breath at a time..’

Register

Sign up to receive a monthly email about upcoming workshops and our latest blog posts.

* indicates required

Are you interested in:

Share your thoughts

Login here if you have already registered.