Every weekday early morning our shala opens for so called Mysore class. While you might be familiar with the concept of led classes where a teacher is leading the whole class, Mysore classes are distinctly different. Here each practitioner does his/her own practice following the Ashtanga sequence, known as the Counted Method too. Since the teacher is there to guide and support whenever needed, Mysore practice often is referred to as guided self-practice.
You might have been curious about the concept of Mysore classes, maybe have been wanting to try them for a while, but have had some reservations or second thoughts about actually giving it a go.
We as teachers oftentimes hear that people feel intimidated by the idea that they will practice "on their own". Also, many people think that they have to show up knowing all the poses and its names in their first class, or simply feel they are not ready or not "good enough". Others just cannot immagine how a class like that might work at all. And it's true - you cannot really understand how this practice works until you have been there and actually experienced it with all its focus, intensity and uniqueness.
However, most people that have tried it and all of those who stick with it will say that developing a self-practice in a Mysore-class setting is just the best way to learn yoga and build a relationship with your body, breath and mind.
The depth and power that you get from learning yoga from a teacher one-on-one, the group energy, the mental grit that comes from practicing every day, even when you don’t really feel like it, the self-confidence from knowing your body and mind because you consciously spend an hour or more every day to get to know them. All this and more makes Mysore class, with its consequential developing of your self-practice so deeply beneficial.
To give you some more answers and support you to give our Mysore classes a try, please read on and let us know any question that you still might have.
Nowadays led classes are a nice way to get started with Ashtanga, to learn some asanas and the correct steps in and out of them (vinyasas). However, to make true progress in a physical and – even more – in a mental and spiritual way, developing a self-practice in a Mysore setting is necessary.
Imagine being challenged by a posture and having a teacher there just for you, giving you undivided attention, verbal clues, individual hands-on assists and a full support while you try it until succeeding, or at least until you understand its biomecanics.
Imagine working on really demanding things every day until you finally master them - because you have put in the effort, built the confidence, improved your flexibility, strength and stamina.
Imagine becoming familiar with YOUR yoga practice so that you just flow through the movements with focus and ease, so much so that it becomes a true mediation in movement.
Imagine the confidence, humbleness, freedom and fortitude that you get from leaving your comfort zone on a daily basis.
All this is build into the concept of Mysore classes, which makes it a unique learning environment.
Practicing in Mysore is not a matter of your level of experience or how good you are. The whole point is that a beginner might practice right next to a long-term advanced practitioner. Everyone shows up to be the best version of themselves in this very moment, to breathe and move. If you can do that, you can come. Everything else will come with time.
Essentially it's not what you can do but whether you are willing to learn and spend time working on yourself and looking within.
Every great skill starts with the first step, followed by many additional steps. Great results are not due to superhuman efforts but rather small and simple daily steps, consistently and devotionally made in one direction. That is true for everything in life. But what it takes is responsibility and enthusiasm for life and one’s own goals. And developing a strong and dedicated yoga asana self-practice will let you experience how it feels to continuously get little more focused and aware every day.
How does that sound? Curious, but still not convinced? You still want a bit more information before joining us? Please read on.
In Mysore classes you are practicing the Ashtanga sequence (primary, intermediate or advanced). Thousands of dedicated Ashtangis around the globe find this kind of practice to be greatly effective, as it's smartly built to lead you to a healthier body and a calm and blissful mind.
While practicing this vigorous flowing sequence at your own rhythm of breath, a meditation-in-movement occures (once you don't have to think anymore what comes next which usually takes a couple of weeks). That recharges you on a physical and energetic level, and its effects are felt throughout the whole day.
The sequence is build in a way that equally builds strength and flexibiliy and therefore (re-)balances your whole body. Postures are builiding up on previous postures, and prepare and open the body for the following ones. In this way you will learn to control your body and will savely aquire the needed skills for increasingly difficult and more advanced postures.
The role of the teacher, who’s presence is extremely important in the Mysore setting, is to individually follow and support you by giving adjustments, sharing tips and tricks, and correcting misalignments. The teacher has already been there in his own practice and shares from his/her own experience. In that way you can focus on your own practice while the teacher offers help when needed, gives necessary corrections, and supports the advancing and development of your practice, when you are ready.
If you are new to yoga, Mysore classes are – next to private classes – the only way to get such individual assistence, guide and care from the teacher right from the beginning. The close collaboration with your teacher builds the base for an organic growth of your practice, and enables your teacher to closely follow, recognize, understand and support your needs.
Furthermore, the development of an individual practice is the base for inner development. Instead of being dependent on the teacher, you take responsibility for yourself. The practice then becomes the mirror of your daily habits and attitudes, eventually bringing you more clarity of mind. The occasional frustrations arising during practice become a gateway to your growth. The inner peace, lightness and bliss deriving from your daily practice will elevate you and will be felt even more intense and joyous. And both – experiencing and accepting frustration and joy – will be wowen into your daily life and will make you more content and relaxed.
For getting started with Mysore classes knowing the sequence is helpful, yet not necessary. If you are new to yoga or Ashtanga, the teacher will show you the asanas and explain what and how to do it. The student learns by repeating the asanas, their names and the sequence. Once the sequence and asana names are known by heart, new poses are added. In this way you practice according to your capabilities, being challenged but not overstrained. However, learning always works best with consistency, dedication and repetition. So if you want to start learning yoga from scratch in a Mysore setting, committing to at least 3 to 4 times per week initially is crucial to make the body memorize the sequence, and the practice to progress.
Therefore we recommend committing yourself to the first month of daily practice (or at least 3-4 times per week). It is a challenge, but this way you can build a foundation of knowing the sequence, experience the bliss and benefits, as well as develop the discipline to keep doing it consistently.