This article was originally posted on the Brighton Ashtanga Shala blog …
New to ashtanga yoga? Never heard of “mysore style” classes? The best way to find out is to come along and watch a class, but we have written a bit here about what you can expect …
Mysore style classes are very different from the majority of yoga classes. We don’t lead the class as a group with continuous talking; instead students gradually learn a set sequence of postures and breaths and do their practice at their own pace. We help students by giving them physical adjustments or verbal instructions when it is necessary. In Mysore classes students spend their practice listening to the sound of their own breath, focusing their eyes to specific points, and paying attention to being in the posture.
Classes run six days a week, Sunday to Friday with Saturdays as rest. We recommend daily practice as over time it becomes easier to practice everyday than only once or twice a week. You can never be late for a class as students turn up at any time within the opening hours of the shala, so it can be pretty convenient to fit into your life and become part of your daily routine. Beginners, intermediate and advanced students practice side-by-side, which creates a hot, sweaty and powerful atmosphere in the room!
Learning Mysore style is ideal as ashtanga is a strong practice that requires discipline and care. By learning the correct sequence of postures and breaths in a gradual way, we are not biting off more than we can chew, finding it too difficult physically or mentally, risking injury, or even giving up all together.
Learning in this way helps students to really understand a posture before moving on to the next and helps us discover our own physical and mental strengths and weakness. It gives students the opportunity to experiment with the postures that are difficult to get grips with in a led class when you are practicing at a group pace. This method can give students confidence in a daily practice, which becomes steady and more consistent over time.
Mysore style classes shouldn’t be confused with “self-practice”, even though students are practicing at their own pace and to their own ability. The sequence of postures and breathing, for most students, should be followed in a very specific way. The sequence is taught to you individually and postures are added slowly to allow you to develop greater flexibility, strength, and concentration, while sweating helps detoxify your body. Each posture builds on the ones that follow and if each posture is steady before moving on, the sequence unfolds in a way that is right for your own body and mind, making the whole process easier in the long run even though it might not feel like it at the time!
“Mysore style” refers to the traditional way ashtanga yoga was taught in Mysore, in India, by the late Sri K Pattabhi Jois and is continued by his grandson Sharath and daughter Saraswati at the KPJAYI, and many other teachers around the world. At the Brighton Ashtanga Shala we teach morning Mysore style classes from 6am – 9am Sunday to Friday at Yoga Haven.