She was unsure whether to try Ashtanga Yoga - practised in a Mysore Class. Unsure because she didn’t feel ready, intimidated by some of the more advanced students in the room. She had issues with pain in her knee, a hip that felt stiff, too stiff to get into some of the postures that are in the Ashtanga sequence.
She came anyway, she stuck with the daily regime of practising, she felt good that she did it even though she hated the fact that she still couldn’t do many of the things after 3 months, 5 months, 1 year. But she feels amazing about all the things she never knew she would be asked to do, like dropping back from standing into a backbend, balancing on her arms, having the legs wrapped around her shoulders. She still feels like there is a lot to learn, but her confidence, strength, flexibility, mental fortitude and the way she is shining from the heart throughout the day show that things have shifted inside of her.
Who is she? A student of Ashtanga, practising 3 to 5 times at GaiaYoga Shala in our Mysore classes. Do you want to be her, 1 year from now? That is completely up to YOU!
Ever since we started our daily Mysore Program in 2012, I have been blessed as a teacher by the trust that students have put into my guidance. I love to share my experience, I love to get to know people and see them progress over the days, months and years. Some progress comes easy, but my job is to find also the tougher challenges and progressively prepare the students. By putting my full trust in them and giving them a hand when and for how long they need it, I get to see them become better and more authentic versions of themselves. It’s amazing and I am honoured to be passing down such a powerful tool of practice.
Since I started my loving relationship with Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga more than 10 years ago I have been exploring and studying this yoga system day in and day out. It is not always easy but it's extremely rewarding and uplifting. The more I dig deeper into this practice, the more I find it to be a beautiful and great working system.
Now I am not saying that everybody should do it, but whoever feels attracted to Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga should give it a try and experience for themselves if it works for them.
In case you are thinking about starting but still doubting, here are some reasons why I personally love the Ashtanga Yoga practice:
Anything that we want to do on a daily basis should be set up as a ritual. Too often we leave things that are important to us on how we feel. And then oftentimes it is not happening because the mind finds (totally reasonable) excuses. When setting up the practice as a daily ritual, there is no question if but just how (intense or soft, long or short) we practice. Pretty much like brushing your teeth – you just do it!
In addition, the Ashtanga Vinyasa practice for me is very efficient: In those 30 to 90 minutes I get a workout that keeps my body strong and flexible, I focus and free my mind, work on mindfulness and compassion with myself while being present in the moment and breathe deeply, fueling the whole body with energy for the rest of the day.
A morning Yoga practice gives me a great feeling of already having accomplished something (isn’t it all about celebrating the small wins?). And – what can seriously upset you or bring you out of balance after having attempted your ultimate pretzel pose in the morning?
I do not exactly know if it is the continuous focus on deep breathing, all those strong movements or just the grounding feeling of being present, but my Yoga practice leaves me in a better state, physically and mentally. And this ability to uplift myself through practising yoga is one of the main reasons for having sustained a daily practice for years. Because if we do not enjoy the resulting feeling of a practice, we either quit soon or eventually have to change our approach to it.
While practising in a Mysore Class, I keep working and developing my very own practice. The Ashtanga Vinyasa System that is practised in Mysore classes is a set sequence of Yoga asanas. Everybody – each at their own pace and according to their physical ability – is (supposedly) doing the exact same breath-initiated movements or vinyasas, not changing or skipping anything in the sequence. Yet, we can and should adapt the length and intensity of practice to the amount of strength, flexibility and endurance available, to existing health issues and proportions of our bodies. In that way, even with the same sequence of asanas, every practice is different and just what I need on that particular day. And to make sure I am working hard enough, there is a teacher in class ensuring I give the best I can while my inner wisdom tells me how much is enough.
Since I started to practice Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, I was always amazed by the progress I made within a short period of time. But every bit of progress came with the realization, that there is an even more advanced way of approaching a certain asana. For example, the first time I managed to get up into headstand, my teacher told me to now try coming up with straight legs. And there is always the next asana that seems totally out of reach for the body… until you master also this one! And then you realize that while chasing all those crazy asanas, it is not about mastering the pose but about everything you learn on the way. Because the idea of wanting to achieve a certain goal inspires us to study, practice, dig deeper and learn all we need to know to get what we aspire.
For example, you might think you are working on dropping back from standing into Urdhva Dhanurasana. Without even knowing it, you learn how to adjust your balance, get to know your body’s anatomy (there are so many body parts that have to work in unison in this pose), learn how to trust in yourself (not only is my body able to do it, but do I actually trust it to be able), work on opening your heart and other blocked areas (which usually brings up plenty of unresolved issues to deal with) and finally to let go (you do have to fall backwards!).
I am not saying that Ashtangis are all awesome, I am saying that all people are awesome. In Mysore classes you just really see it coming out. Everybody is determined, everybody shows up each day again to work on themselves, facing their very own challenges, dealing with whatever comes up and exposing their strengths and weaknesses to themselves. And even though everyone is focused on their own breath and movement, beginners and advanced yogis practising mat on mat, a great common energy is created and shared, including plenty of laughter, compassion and bonding!
Ready to experience the Mysore Magic? Join our daily class!