Top 5 Questions about Mysore Style.
Pic: Barbara Fetis
I get a lot of questions about what is Mysore style practice, so here are the Top 5 questions:
1. Why is it called Mysore style?
This class is called Mysore as a way to say that it will be held in the same style of teaching as in Mysore, the city in India where Ashtanga Yoga is mainly taught now days, and that it's done so according to the system created by Sri.K. Pattabhi Jois, the founder of our school, the KPJAYI.
2. What's the difference from a regular guided class? A guided class is what has been experienced in the West as a Yoga class for decades, but it's not the original method for teaching Ashtanga Yoga. In Mysore, India, postures as "given" by the teacher one by one for the practitioner to work on and memorize. Thus the teacher needs time to assess and evaluate each student's pre-conditioned body, which allows time for the practice itself to sink into the student. Each student then needs a different amount of time for his body and mind to open, release and adapt to each of the postures been practiced before moving on through the series. The series are set and unchanged as every posture progressively builds on top of the abilities unlocked by practicing the previous posture. If the previous posture is not performed well enough and long enough, then the following posture will surely not be available for you to perform in a safe manner. Everybody starts from the same point, equal standing, and goes on learning the series depending on their natural body abilities and restrictions. The class is held in silence so that you don't have to break your concentration to look up from your mat to copy somebody else's moments. That way you have to follow no one but your own breath. This is the method that finally provides the practitioner the tools to go deeper into the meditative state of self contemplation.
3. Is it really really hard? Think just for a second about the reasons for you to start taking a yogic practice. 99% of the time it will be to help you break an unhealthy habit or disorder, been it bodily or mental, such as lower back pain or depression. Now think about how hard it is to break our normal unhealthy habits. We are conscious about how bad they are for us, but how often do we keep repeating and reinforcing those patterns? Yes, that's daily, if not every minute. So that's how strong those attachments are, we have been reinforcing them day after day after day. Every yogic practice is supposed to be really really hard as it's purpose is to provide us with the platform to break the chains of self conditioning and be able to see ourselves in our purest form. There may be other techniques such as relaxation involving a full deep state of rest, but that is not Yoga. True Yoga requires effort and intention for change, and needs to be done without interruption and for a long long period of time.
4. Isn't 6 days a week, everyday at the same time too much?
No, it's just the perfect amount of practice and here is why. Your body and mind has been following a pattern daily which is what we are trying to modify. Shouldn't this therapy then be done daily too? 6 days a week gives your body the repeated daily feedback for it to understand that it needs to change its behavior and strength patterns to fit a new set of patterns. So if you skip class your body gets confused and doesn't know whether to let that muscle lengthen or reinforce it, whether to get stronger to sustain that amount of exercise or just stay as it is. The method is as follows: 6 days a week practice, 1 day of rest, 2 led classes weekly to improve on the pace, and 2 extra days of rest set randomly across the month by the new moon and full moon commonly known as moon-days. You should come everyday at the same time as the body learns by repetition and it helps you set a rhythm to wake up at the same time, brush your teeth at the same time, take shower at the same time and come to practice at the same time. It then helps build a strong morning ritual. As the practice is truly yours you can then come at your own time from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. as we close at 8:00 a.m. and you need at least one hour of practice everyday. So let's say you start at 6:18, then you should be ending around 7:18. If you start at 6:43, then you should be ready by 7:43.
5. What is parampara?
Parampara is the sanskrit word to address the way of teaching that humans have been using for millennia until the modern ages of mass schooling. In Parampara the knowledge is transferred directly from teacher to student one-on-one. Teacher and student have to build a bidirectional trust relationship where they both learn from each other. There is no other way to teach Yoga traditionally but this, allowing time and patience to work their way through both. Parampara is established only when you study with a teacher who's teacher is the current Guru of your chosen Yoga method. It is the only way to ensure that what you are learning is actually the exact same thing that is been taught at the source, which provides both safety and precision on the passing of the teachings through the lineage. This is the way Ashtanga Yoga was meant to be taught, in a private manner, in a group setting, pose by pose, breath by breath, and adapting it to you until you can reach the fullest expression of the pose available to you. Safe, true to the lineage and following tradition.
This is Mysore style Ashtanga Yoga.
Student of the KPJAYI, Jose Luis Velez has practiced Ashtanga Yoga since 2008 and has been studying under the guidance of R. Saraswathi Jois since 2016. He has studied Yoga Philosophy and Sanskrit in Mysore, India with teachers like Lakshmish Bhat at the KPJAYI and Vidvan Prof H.V. Nagaraja Rao from the Mysore University and the Maharaja's Sanskrit College. He has also studied Ayurveda with the Vaidya Nixia Lino and Ayurvedic Massage at Suyoga Ayurvedic Massage Center in Mysore. Jose travels yearly to Mysore, India, to study, reconnect and learn directly from the source.