What is a Mysore class
This class give the opportunity to the student to develop his “personal practice” which is an integral part of the Ashtanga Vinyasa System. By practising independently, the student gradually evolves his practice, in his own pace, with the teacher creating the appropriate ground for his safe progress, allowing the development of a free teacher-student relationship, based on non-attachment. This was the traditional way in which Sri K. Pattabhi Jois taught in the town Mysore, India and which is continued until today by his family, naming the class after the town.
If there is no teacher guidance how do I know what I have to do in the mysore class ?
The Ashtanga Vinyasa System is based on repeating specific positions (asanas) which form the different series. By regular practice the student learns these asanas and gradually completes the different series, starting from yoga Chikitsa (primary series). The evolution comes gradually since patience and persistence are required from the student, so that meditation of breathing and movement is created, which will set the ground for thought and emotion observation.
Why do I constantly practice the same asanas ?
Repetition does not only consist the “mother” of knowledge but also peace of mind. Everything in our lives have the exact same repetition. We eat every day, the sun rises and sets every day, every week repeats the same days, every year repeats the same seasons. Even the one thing that keeps us alive, our own breathing, has the same repetition, inhalation, exhalation. Constantly seeking something different, without devoting ourselves on something specific creates more and more turbulence in our mental and spiritual balance.The aim of the continuous repetition of the asanas is for the practitioner to gradually detach himself from the external outlook of Yoga practice, and to enter a level where breathing has incorporated into movement, thus the real meditation begins to occur.
Is the Mysore class only for experienced students ?
On the contrary! Since each student has his own pace, and his own series of exercises the lesson is ideal for everybody, irrespective of level or age. With the absence of a group guidance (led class), there is the possibility of question asking from student to teacher on possible queries on the series, the technique, or any personal speculation. It can be compared to a private lesson for each student individually, conducted in a common environment.
Our modern, running pace of life, creates stress and escapism from anything that puts pressure on us. Unfortunately, most of the times our needs keep us tied in unpleasant situations that we are obliged to endure. The practice helps us deal with all those trails, by keeping our composure, creating peace and calmness to our body and mind. Even practicing once a week can help make a difference. The aim is to put yoga in our lives and not our lives in yoga. The right approach to the practice should simplify our life and connect us to our true nature, so that we can act in harmony within our daily lives.
If I can
There are some key positions in the series, that must be performed in order for the practitioner to move on. This method is put into practice in the Ashtanga Institute of Pattabhi Jois (KPJAYI, Mysore, India) for the past decades, so they can manage in a way the increased attendance of people. In actuality during the early years, Guruji, would never stop a practitioner who could not perform an asana. In Abhyasa Ashtanga Shala, every practitioner is treated individually, going by the rule of therapy in the first place. Variations replace positions, which at first may look impossible to perform, so that the practice can serve the body of the practitioner and not vice versa. The progress comes gradually in a steady pace without pausing in a predefined point for everybody. On the contrary it stops to the point where injuries are prevented and any notion of fast evolution within the series including moving from one series to the next is not consistent with our approach.
Can I use my notes of the series I am practicing inside the class ?
The so-called “cheat sheets” are usually a page which includes the whole sequence of the series the practitioner is working on. This is good to study in one’s free time so that is can be memorised, but on no account should it be used during practice by peeking. The teacher is there for any clarifications and in time the practitioner learns the series, honouring first of all this traditional system that he himself chose to practice on, and the Guruji along with the whole Ashtanga community.
How do I learn a new series ?
The students who practice regularly, move on gradually to the next series after some period of time. The traditional method for someone to learn a new series, is to add one to two asanas at the end of the series he is already practicing on, until the half new series is added (early years the whole series). Provided he has established practicing one and a half series in a row, for some time, he then separates one from the other, and alternates practicing the two series within a week. Although this is not always attainable mostly because of limited time, it is still the best and safest method.
What is the introductory mantra ? Do I have to chant it ?
The introductory mantra is an invocation a thanks giving to something superior to our own existence, expressing in this way our humility as living creatures. A thanks giving to the sages and teachers that keep the tradition alive, making it accessible to us until today. The vibrations of the sound affect the whole body and mind creating an awakening and a connection of all senses and functions in the student to the upcoming practice. On no account is anyone obliged to do something he feels uncomfortable with. Being honest with ourself by not pretending is closer to yoga than chanting something you do not understand or follow.