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Mysore, the self led yoga class is the backbone of ashtanga yoga. It is the most traditional and effective way to learn and practice the ashtanga yoga method. This style is named after the city where Pattabhi Jois, lived and taught. In this class, students lead themselves through as much of the practice as they have memorized. If they are newer to the practice, they may only know enough to practice for 30 minutes, where as a more advanced student may need to allot themselves up to 2 hours. Typically, mysore classes will have a 90-120 minute window for a students to show up.
Students are often intimidated by this style of class because they are expected to have a portion of the series committed to memory. However, they quickly see the merit of doing the practice without being led as a group by a teacher because their individual needs are met and addressed whether they are newer, injured, or advanced. It truly accommodates all levels except for brand new students. This class is a lot like taking a private in a group setting.
There is a misconception that the students are practicing without guidance and will not progress as quickly. This can’t be farther from the truth as the teacher has more energy to watch, adjust, and offer guidance as needed because she/he does not need to lead the group. As long as the student is committed and motivated, he/she will see and feel a difference in both mind and body. Mysore also fosters a more meditative environment because the room is quiet, except for the occasional questions and comments and the steady hum of the ujjayi breathing.
Once students get used to the initial shock of not being led, they often confess that they prefer mysore to led classes because it makes them more present. The more present, the more efficient, effective, and transformative the practice can be. Mysore is effective and empowering because it teaches the student to self motivate and he/she becomes inspired by his/her own ability to work hard, focus, and be disciplined. Under the guidance of a skillful teacher, you will progress.
Things to consider:
- This is a discipline. Come as consistently and frequently as possible to get the most out of it. We all have days we just don’t want to get out of bed or off the couch but we usually find that if we muster up enough strength to get on our mats we feel like we have the to ability to act, to make a difference, we feel empowered. Remember to pick a goal that is workable for you and your family whether that is 2 or 6 days a week of practice then stick with it!
- Please respect the teacher. Let her/him guide you the way she/he feels is appropriate. Keep in mind she/he has gone through the same process you are going through. Please don’t skip or add poses without permission from the teacher. Also please don’t ask for new poses, the teacher will know when it is time to introduce new ones. If she/he asks you to wait so you can do a certain pose together, please wait.
- To keep a meditative environment please don’t teach, help, adjust, or talk to your fellow practitioners during mysore. Feel free to ask the teacher if you need help.
- Give it a chance! Please commit to it for at least a month before you decide it isn’t for you. Often people are so freaked out the first couple of times they do mysore they aren’t able to experience the meditative qualities. Be willing to be a little out of your element in the beginning. We promise, it will pay off!
- Respect your body. Don’t push to your edge every practice but don’t hide from it every practice either. Find a nice balance by listening to your body each day and practice accordingly.
- Yoga is meant to open up a whole new world of possibilities to you. With time, practice, dedication, and faith you will become stronger and more opened that you ever believed possible. Don’t take my word for it- come experience it for yourself!