Mysore style Ashtanga practice is not like a weekly class. On the surface it is similar to a weekly yoga class, but in reality is it more – more depth, more honesty. A sense of tradition and ritual surrounds the practice. It is not a time to perform, but a time to discover, and along the way you will learn many things about yourself, not just become more proficient at touching your toes!
Here are seven reasons why Mysore style Ashtanga might just be the yoga practice for you:
- Ashtanga works on structure and repetition – you practice the same postures each time adding only a few as you become more proficient. Because you practice the same postures you get to know them, and stretch their boundaries. Along the way you discover strengths, but you will also face challenges. The regular facing of what does not come easily builds resilience and an attitude of perseverance – you learn that if you keep trying then eventually you will succeed.
- There is no skipping postures you don’t like – you face them, your inability to do them, and your impatience or irritation at not being able to do them, each and every time. Through regular practice you will come closer to those postures, but along the way simple acceptance replaces the impatience and irritation. Failure will not be something that stops you, it will just become part of the process of achieving.
- You work with the same teacher each time – creating an environment of consistency and trust. They learn about you – your body, your injuries, your limitations, your strengths, your excuses, your doubts, and your fears and anxieties. They know when it’s ok to push you, when to reign you in, and also when to step back and simply observe.
- It addresses different needs – each person is different so there has to be more than one approach. In Mysore practice the student is the driver and not the passenger. Although the set sequence of the practice is adhered to each time – you set the pace, the intensity, and decide how long to practice for. These are the elements that will probably change from practice to practice, but the practice itself remains the same. So within consistency and structure there is flexibility and personalisation.
- You become aware of yourself, body and mind, on a much deeper level – you learn to manage your energy levels, to respect your physical boundaries, to slow down your breathing, to draw in your senses. This can help you to notice things that might otherwise become lost in the day to day of life like stress levels – where the silence of the Mysore room will amplify a noisy mind, or physical imbalance – where knowledge of the body gained through repeated postures will make you perceptive to even the smallest inconsistency.
- The practice becomes your practice – you will memorise and internalise each and every breath, each and every movement, so you can take them with you anywhere and practice with them anytime – over time you will become both teacher and student. Ashtanga yoga will be a part of who you are and not just something that you do.
- You will become stronger, both physically and mentally – the practice is challenging and in the process of doing there are physical changes that occur – muscular strength, toning of tummy, waist and limbs, reduction of weight, deep core strength, as well as mental strengths that develop – an increase in determination, discipline and willpower, and an inner silence that you will carry with you, everywhere you go.
There is no doubt that in the beginning developing this type of practice requires more dedication and effort than attending a weekly class where you are led through the postures step by step. Mysore style practice requires patience and it requires faith – a belief that even if you don’t get it straight away, if you just keep showing up, then one day you will understand why it is so important. In Mysore practice you gain something that will be with you through thick and thin, something steady and unchanging, something you can rely on.
In time you will realise that you are the something you can rely on simply because you never gave up.