I have to admit that the idea of doing a Mysore style practice was really intimidating before I started. I had so much fear. Fear that I wouldn’t remember the sequence, that people would judge me, or that I wouldn’t be good enough. But once I finally got the courage to step into the room, I never looked back.
What is Mysore style?
Named after the city where it originated, Mysore is the traditional method in which Ashtanga Yoga is taught. Students progressively move through the Ashtanga series at their pace in a group setting, under the guidance of a teacher.
While working at AYCT, I’ve had the opportunity to talk to a lot of new students who are interested in starting an Ashtanga practice. One of the most common things I hear from new students is that they’re scared to try Mysore, and would much rather stick to doing the beginner led classes we offer. While that’s totally fine, there’s nothing I love more than encouraging people to discover the magic of Mysore for themselves. I know first hand the transformative effect that the Mysore room has on people. That’s why in this weeks blog were giving you 5 reasons to step out of fear, and into the Mysore room.
1. You learn at your pace
One of the best things about a Mysore style practice is that you start at your own pace. When a teacher or assistant begins to teach you the sequence, you only ever go as far as you can. Especially at the beginning, you add on poses slowly to ensure you can remember them, and you don’t go past any pose that you can’t do. The practice is designed to bring you to your edge – not someone else’s.
2. Self-practice is convenient
In a Mysore style practice, there isn’t a set “start” or “end” time. If you practice at AYCT we have a really big Mysore window throughout the day! That means you can show up whenever works best for you. If for some reason you can’t make it during those times, fear not, you know exactly what to do so you can practice at home. Self-practice hours are flexible (even if you aren’t).
3. You get one on one support when you need it
In a traditional Mysore style practice, there is one teacher in the room and at least one assistant. Their job is to ensure every student is doing the poses in the correct order and with the proper alignment. Often times students will be faced with a pose that is challenging yet attainable with support. The teacher and/or assistant will come around and help you get into the pose safely and effectively if possible.
4. It allows you to be with yourself
Self-practice means there are much fewer distractions. No teacher calling out the poses or enlightening you with some Rumi quote that seems fitting for the class. It’s just you, your breath, and your mat. In my personal experience, this has forced me to be with myself in a way that has been both extremely difficult, yet so profound. I have faced many physical and emotional challenges while on my mat, but each time I come away a little stronger.
5. The community is amazing
There is something so special about the Ashtanga community. I could probably write a whole post on it – maybe I will – but I’ll keep in short and sweet for now. If you already practice, then you know what I’m talking about. In Ashtanga, the 6-day-a-week practice commitment means you typically see the same people every day. You begin to form bonds; maybe even lasting friendships. But what really binds this community are not the casual conversations in the change room or even the friendships that are forged at each studio. Rather, it is because every day in the space of the practice room you confront yourself and your limitations together. In the space of that room, I always feel like the practitioners around me are rooting for me. I feel them supporting me in my practice, even though we may be doing completely different poses – even if we have never spoken a word.
The idea of Mysore can definitely be intimidating. It certainly was for me at first. However, once you get past the initial discomfort, the Mysore Magic begins to emerge and just like I did, you’ll never look back! If you’re in the Toronto area, come check us out! We are home to the largest Mysore program outside of India, and we’d love to see you.