Learning yoga—Mysore style

Our method of teaching and practicing yoga differs from most other yoga schools around town.

Traditionally in India, people learned yoga from an experience practitioner/teacher one-on-one. The teacher guided students through postures, and tailored the practice to the unique needs and capabilities of every person. Students only practiced postures that the teacher had given them. This enabled people to develop and expand their experience of yoga at a safe, suitable and sufficiently challenging pace.

This is how we continue to practice yoga in our studio today.

Most of our classes are practiced and taught ‘Mysore style’. As a student, this means that you’ll receive direct guidance from a teacher on what postures to practice, and how. The postures follow set sequences, which will give you what you need over time. All of us start with the same sequence of postures, but we all practice at our own pace.

At first the sequences of postures seem like a lot to learn. With ongoing practice though, you’ll learn the sequence by heart. Then your practice will flow more freely, following the rythm of your own breath. This is where yoga begins to emerge. You won’t need to think about what posture to do next, or wait for someone to tell you. You’ll just know.

And you don’t need to worry about getting confused with the sequence of postures. We’ve all been there! Everyone in the room had to learn the same sequence to start with. And a teacher can always assist you.

← watch our Mysore video

Practice what’s right for you.

Sometimes it’s easy to get distracted by what other people are doing in our studio. You may notice people practicing other postures that seem more ‘advanced’. Don’t worry about what other people are doing. ‘Progress’ in this practice isn’t measured by how many postures a person can do, or how they look on the surface. We can’t really measure yoga. It’s more important how well it enhances your life.

And there’s still a place for led classes.

Every Sunday we have a led class for students to practice most of the ‘primary series’ of postures together. Sometimes we also have special led classes on other days.

In these classes the teacher guides everyone through the same sequence, counting breaths along the way.

Led classes have their own power and beauty to them, with everyone breathing and flowing through the practice together. Some people find these classes useful to ‘brush up’ on the sequence, and/or enjoy an extra challenge. Plus they’re a great way to start a Sunday morning before brunch.

And if you’re wondering about the name…

Mysore is the name of a city in South India with a long and rich tradition in yoga. It’s where Sri K Pattabhi Jois developed and refined our current method of practice (although the roots of astanga yoga go back thousands of years). Pattabhi Jois’s daughter Saraswathi, and his grandson Sharath, still teach astanga yoga in Mysore today.

“Mysore Style” Ashtanga Yoga — Adjustments and Consent

An adjustment is about supporting the person to find the space in their body to soften into the asana, never about forcing a body to go where it is not ready to go.

I say to every new person who comes to Te Aro Astanga Yoga when I first adjust them that they need to tell me if I am hurting them or if they are uncomfortable with what I am doing. Unless there is consent I cannot build the trust there needs to be. The conversation around consent is one that is always open. I tell people that if they do not feel like being adjusted on any given day or for any particular asana, then they must tell me because I am happy not to touch them. I have people who come regularly to practice at Te Aro Astanga Yoga who, for a variety of reasons don’t want to be touched or don’t want specific adjustments and I totally respect that. I can always find other ways to help them with their yoga.

To read more about what Mike has to say, click here.