What is ‘Mysore-Style’
Mysore (Mysuru) is a city in southern India where the late Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, the guru of the modern ashtanga yoga lineage, established his school of yoga in 1948. Jois’ teachings were based on those of his guru T. Krishnamacharya (born in Mysore) who in turn based his teachings on the Yoga Korunta, a document describing six groups of postures as well as the concepts of vinyasa, drishti, bandhas and mudras, as well as yogic philosophy. The first westerner arrived to practice with Jois in the 1960s, and from that time Ashtanga vinyasa yoga has continued to spread throughout the world and continues to influence many other styles of yoga.
The traditional form of teaching yoga in India is ‘guru-shishya parampara’, or teacher-student uninterrupted oral tradition. The guru or teacher works with each student individually allowing a more student-determined, organic form of learning. More specifically, in the teaching of yoga asanas (postures) a student will spend time learning the aspects, benefits and contraindications of a particular posture as he or she physically practices. When the student masters the asana, he or she is assigned the next posture in the sequence. In this way, the student is able to build his or her individual practice, and develop a greater understanding of the practice as a whole.
In a typical ‘Mysore-style’ practice session, the student arrives at the time appointed by the guru or teacher and begins their practice, continuing up to the posture they are currently learning. At this point the guru will assist or provide further instruction, and, if competence in the posture has been achieved, will assign the next posture in the sequence.
Contrary to a led class, where an instructor verbalizes or demonstrates each breath and movement, an individual’s self-practice is a very profound internal journey. The only sound is the constant inhalation and exhalation as each student uses the ujayyi breath to generate heat within the body. At first a new student can be confused, distracted and uncertain of the way forward. But as he or she focuses on the breath and on the posture, the body finds the alignment and the mind settles into the rhythm of the practice. Even though there are many people practicing, each in their own breath or posture, the individual student is surrounded by the energy of the whole.
Mysore-style at Ekam Yoga
Most of Ekam Yoga’s time and space is committed to Mysore-style self-practice because we believe that this method of teaching and practicing yoga is the most liberating for the student. You will learn a lot about your body and your mind- what it will take and what it can give in return. In addition, this practice can be taken with you wherever you go for the rest of your life. Whether you want to practice it in your living room or on the beach during your next vacation, it belongs to you.
A few points for Ekam Yoga practitioners:
- There will always be an instructor during Mysore-style self-practice times; they will be circulating around the practice area offering verbal and manual adjustments. Adjustments are sometimes meant to correct, but more often they are made to make you aware of a new or different element of the posture, or to bring you deeper. There are a few postures that are almost always adjusted, for example the back-bending sequence. You’ll learn which postures these are as you practice more often. In addition, you can wait for an adjustment in a particular posture in which you would like assistance.
- Beginners are taught in the same room as everyone else. At this time the instructor may be in the back of the room verbally instructing beginners in the sequence. Please have patience during these times (remember when you were a beginner?), and if you become distracted focus on your breath.
- Yes, we do chant Vande Gurunam on Mysore-style and self-practice mornings (and for the traditional led classes). Regardless of where you are in your practice, please come to samasthithi..The chant is led as call and response. We do this out of respect to our guru/teacher, whoever that may be for you individually. You may of course abstain from chanting the mantra, but we still ask that you come to samasthiti. Depending on the instructor, you may also chant the mangala mantra at the end of led classes.
- Ladies, we encourage you to observe ‘ladies holiday’. If you must practice during the first 2-3 days of your menstrual cycle, do not practice inversions.