Until a few years ago the Father of Modern yoga, Pattabhi Jois lived and taught yoga in the Indian city of Mysore. Today’s practice of Mysore Yoga in the Western world is a reflection of the yoga done in India for generations.
Mysore yoga is done in a room of practitioners of all abilities and levels and is overseen by a teacher who, instead of giving out specific cues or poses, regularly checks in with individual students and helps make modifications and adjustments based on their body.
Students follow the traditional Ashtanga yoga sequence and are free to drop in and leave as appropriate throughout the class time block.
People say you should try everything once, but I think twice is a better rule of thumb. My first impression of Mysore yoga was that it was not for me. I didn’t like the awkward feeling of not knowing what was going on and I hated having to wait for an instructor to come help or adjust me because I simply didn’t know the sequence. Even though I had been exposed to the same poses in other Ashtanga style classes, the sequence and the level of movement seemed more challenging.
Over the last couple of weeks I have been attending between four and five Mysore classes. And I’ve completely changed my mindset. I actually prefer the self guided practice, and find that my practice has reached new heights. I realized that the postures seemed harder because I’ve been practicing a more authentic version of yoga, one free from the Westerner way of watering down the practice. Because I am following the same exact sequence each time, I am seeing my body quickly transform and I’m able to measure my flexibility and strength exactly where it’s at. Since all of the students are working on different variations of each posture and sequence it’s impossible to compare yourself to the people on the mats around you, which has transformed my personal practice and brought me more inside. And of the first time I am working towards stepping away from yoga class settings and settling into practicing yoga on my own, which is the ultimate goal of all.
Have you tried this variety of Ashtanga yoga, it it offered in your area? What is your biggest challenge in yoga classes?