Due to COVID-19 we have temporarily paused Mysore classes, but you can join Andrea in-studio on Sundays at 11am for Guided Ashtanga. Click here to sign up.
What is Mysore-style yoga?
Mysore-style yoga is a method of practice where the practitioner follows the Ashtanga yoga series at their own pace. It is unlike a traditional yoga class where the group is led by an instructor, guiding students through poses done at the same time. Mysore-style is the traditional style in which Ashtanga yoga is taught. It is named after Mysore, India where Sri K. Pattabhi Jois taught this practice for over 70 years.
What is Ashtanga yoga?
Ashtanga literally means eight (ashto) limbs (anga) as originally codified by the anceitn sage patangjali over 2,500 years ago in the classic text, The Yoga Sutras. It is here that he outlined the eight limbs of yogic practice. Yama (moral principles), Niyama (spiritual attitudes), Asana (postures), Pranayama (breathing techniques), Pratyahara (sense withdrawal), Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation), and Samadhi (self realization). This eight-limbed path, when practiced with devotion and dedication, eventually leads one to the realization of truth through the gentle unfolding of our greater Self.
Ashtanga Yoga, as taught by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois of Mysore India, combines sound breathing (deep, slightly audible nostril breathing), bandhas (internal energy locks) and drishti (specific eye gaze points) in specific sequences of asanas linked by vinyasa (coordinating breath with movement). This unique combination creates the foundation from which the benefits of this yoga system may be experienced. With continual practice one attains strength, flexibility and grace of both body and mind. This internal purification allows the practitioner to experience a meditative quality which leads to a deeper understanding of the Self.
I’m a beginner. Is Mysore-style right for me?
Absolutely! We all need to start somewhere, but we understand that it can be intimidating at first.
What will happen on my first day?
On your first day, approach the teacher and inform him/her that it is your first class. The teacher will be the one walking around, not standing on a yoga mat. He/she will ask you a few questions and preface you on the practice and what to expect. Your teacher will then teach you the very beginning of the series – Sun Salutation A, and maybe Sun Salutation B – and might even teach you one or two of the subsequent poses, followed by the closing postures. Your practice will end with savasana (corpse pose). Your teacher will give you new poses when your current poses are comfortable and steady. Do not move past postures that you haven’t been given, and please avoid doing extra stretches or postures that are not part of the series.
Half way through class, the teacher will pause the practice and ask students to stand at the top of their mats to recite the Ashtanga opening mantra. In chanting it, we salute this ancient tradition and Patanjali. Beginners and those who are not familiar with the chant can just listen. Once the short chant is finished, everyone returns to where they left off in their practice.
What if I have trouble memorizing the poses?
We don’t expect you to memorize it all right off the bat! If you get stuck, quietly sit or stand at the top of your mat (sit if you were just doing a seated posture; stand if you were just doing a standing posture) and a teacher will come to you and help you out with the next pose. With practice, you will eventually learn the sequence by heart, but even advanced practitioners sometimes forget!
What should I bring?
Bring a yoga mat, a small towel, and wear comfortable clothing that won’t restrict movement (ie: tights, tank top, shorts, t-shirt).
You may arrive at any time during the 2 hour Mysore window, and leave whenever you complete your practice. Water bottles should be left outside of the practice room. Avoid watching others and keep focused on your own practice. Only practice what has been prescribed to you by your teacher.
In the Ashtanga Yoga tradition, days of the full and new moon are observed as holidays. Our bodies are comprised of mostly water and like the tides of the ocean and all things watery by nature, we too are affected by the phases of the moon. The relative positions of the moon create different energetic experiences that are analogous to the breath cycle.
The energy of the full moon parallels with the end of inhalation- when prana forces are strongest. This expansive, upward moving energy yields us energetic and emotional, but not well grounded. According to the Upanishads, our main prana resides in the mind. Consequently, we tend to be more headstrong during the full moon.
The energy of the new moon parallels the end of exhalation, when the force of apana is most pronounced. Apana is a contracting, downward moving force making us feel grounded and calm, but dense and disinclined towards physical exertion.