5 Common Misconceptions of a Mysore Style Ashtanga Practice
By: Taylor Hunt
The Morning Mysore group was started by Jasmine Grace and me about a year ago. I had recently moved and no longer had a place to practice at my house. So, I asked Jasmine if I could practice with her at the studio before work. We originally started practicing at 6:00 am, but soon moved the time to 5:00 am so that we could still make our practice a priority in the midst of our busy schedules and family commitments. Word began to spread and a few people started to join us in the mornings until there were about six of us. The Morning Mysore group was born; and I eventually moved my own practice time even earlier so I could teach the class. I never imagined it would get much bigger and to tell you the truth it was a hard sell at first. “We practice Ashtanga yoga at 5:00 am, everyday!” “Huh, you do what!?” But, more people continued to show up to practice with us in the mornings. A lot has changed over the past year and the Yoga on High community has embraced this new program with open arms. Morning Mysore has grown into a group of amazing people! And, I feel really blessed to be a part of it all.
Here are five common misconceptions to help everyone understand what happens in a Mysore style Ashtanga class:
1. Time…You don’t actually have to show up at 5:00 am. Yay! One of the many benefits of a Mysore practice is that you may show up when it suits you. If you need to be at the studio at 5:00 am to fit your practice in before work, you are welcome to join us at this time, but a lot of people arrive closer to 6:00 or as late as 6:30. You can come to our Morning Mysore classes at any point as long as your practice is finished by 8:00 am.
2. The sequence…You don’t need to know the sequence before you come. It would be ridiculous if you had to memorize over 50 poses of the primary series before you stepped foot into the Mysore room! Poses are taught one at a time based on the individual’s ability. In the beginning, you start with a shorter practice allowing time to learn the fundamentals of breath and movement. As you begin to commit the sequence to memory and gain understanding in the postures, poses are gradually added in subsequent classes. This is the traditional method of learning Ashtanga yoga and is the safest way to approach the practice.
3. Commitment… It would be difficult to understand what is happening in the Mysore room by just coming to one class. If Mysore class intrigues you, the best thing to do is commit to practicing for a month. In the beginning, learning occurs gradually allowing you time to adjust as you develop more strength, flexibility, and familiarity with the sequence of poses. Throughout this time, transformation begins to occur.
4. Led class vs. Mysore style…Led classes are a great way to learn about the breath and vinyasa, but Mysore-style is where you follow your own breath to deepen your focus and meditation skills. Both styles are beneficial and teach the same postures, but come from a different place. In a led class, the student follows along to the teacher’s count and everyone does the same pose at the same time. In a Mysore class, the practice can be tailored to fit each person. Everyone in the room does their own practice and progresses at their own pace. In a led class, you may just skim over a difficult pose, but in Mysore style you have the opportunity to work one-on-one with the teacher.
5. Teacher Involvement… In a Mysore class, each person in the room is receiving private instruction within a group setting. In the beginning, new students receive more attention. As they become familiar with the practice, they are allowed more independence, getting adjustments and assistance only when needed.
And, this one goes without saying, but just in case you didn’t know…Mysore is open to everyone from new beginner to advanced practitioners. All levels and all ages are welcome! Oh, I guess that’s six misconceptions.
Interested in what’s going on in the Mysore room? I encourage you to join us and experience it for yourself. We practice Morning Mysore every Monday through Friday from 5:00 am to 8:00 am; and Sundays from 8:00 am to 11:00 am. We have also recently added a Mysore Beginner Drop-in class on Wednesday at 7:00 am and Sunday at 10:00 am. Check out the online schedule for more details.