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The Joys of Mysore Style Practice

Professor T. Krishnamacharya, a famous yogi of the 20th century, taught the most prevalent yoga adepts, who became the main drivers for spreading Yoga to the West. He was a great believer in teaching one-on-one classes rather than teaching a whole group of people at a time. He aimed for getting to know a person first, i.e. their social background, state of health, professional situation, family life and emotional state etc. Based on that, a practice was designed to suit the yoga student’s abilities and life circumstances.

‘Led’ Group Classes

Today, millions of people practice Yoga and group classes have become popular and practical – as well as more affordable for the average yoga student. A Yoga teacher leads a group of people through a sequence of postures, tailored to the needs of everyone in that group, in the best possible way. Unfortunately, yoga enthusiasts sometimes find themselves in very big classes of 30 students or more, where the teacher–student relationship – understood to be of upmost importance – is greatly compromised.

I personally like to connect with each student at least once during a yoga class. I also hope to get to know them a bit outside the yoga room, to gain an idea of their life circumstances. It greatly assists me in my approach to teaching them.

The Benefits of ‘Led’ Classes

In a group class, where the teacher leads everyone through the sequence of postures at once, everyone will benefit from the practice to a certain degree. There is some beauty in all moving together with one breath, sharing the energy carrying us through the movements, and feeling challenged as well as elated in certain parts of the practice. At the very end we all sit together in a state of deep concentration, and as a group a sense of deep stillness can be experienced, as distractions around us fade away. We help and support each other in this process, consciously and unconsciously.

Led practices are regularly taught even in Mysore, South India, which is the source of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga and the method of practicing Mysore style.

What is Mysore Style Practice?

If, apart from led classes you wish for a more individualized teaching experience, Mysore style practice meets all criteria at once.

You practice by yourself, and at the same time you are together in one room with other practitioners of all different levels. You are amidst like-minded people within a beautiful Yoga community. This in itself can be very helpful, especially if you are normally surrounded by people who are not committed to a yoga practice, and who wonder what the attraction is about. Everyone in the class is practicing for themselves, with an appropriate number and intensity of postures. They have memorized the sequence, which they then can also practice alone elsewhere when needed.

The teacher can attend to you on a more individual level as they are not busy guiding the whole class through the practice. You will be given more specific corrections, adjustments, and guidance, pertaining to your needs. A true teacher-student relationship can be formed.

The benefits of practicing Mysore style

There is quiet, calm, respect and focus in a Mysore room. All you can hear is the beautiful sibilant sound of the deep and energizing Yogic breath, and the occasional comments and encouragements made by the teacher. Although deeply concentrated on your own practice, you still pick up on the group energy. This can be very helpful on the not so ‘up-beat’ days. At the same time you get given all the space needed to go through your own processes and experiences in a timely way, facing both the challenges and delights of Yoga’s magic.

It also teaches us to feel joy for other students’ achievements, rather than being competitive or envious; and compassion for those who are having a more difficult time. We learn to be content with what our body/mind is capable of at any given moment, as there are often more advanced students practicing seemingly unachievable postures, right next to us! Being exposed to that can be very inspiring. It fosters an atmosphere of non-competitiveness, where we are encouraged to do the best we can, and be happy with any result this might bring us.

When am I ready for Mysore style?

You can start practicing in the Mysore room at any stage on your Yoga journey. There is no need to have reached a certain level in the practice of the postures, nor is it necessary to have memorized the whole sequence of postures as of yet. This you will be taught step by step. Your first class might be shorter than usual, as you might just start to memorize the sun-salutations. Once consolidated, the next posture is introduced until you can both memorize and master it… and so on.

Slowly you build a solid practice, which you will move through in your own time, with your teacher giving the necessary guidance and support.

Beware, once started with Mysore practice, you get hooked!

Come and experience the joy!

OM Shanti,
Angelika