Yoga Practice

AYC ’13: Practicing Mysore style


While I have a few Mysore class options in Austin, they don’t exactly fit my schedule. So I tend to attend led classes as a way to turn my brain off and have my teacher do the counts and remind me of what comes next.

I have to admit. I was VERY VERY nervous about going to the Mysore classes during the Confluence. Everything up to navasana is hardcoded into my memory at this point. Then things get a little murky. Somehow garbha pindasana slips my mind. It’s not one of my favorite postures – just one I try to get through to get to better stuff. Like… I’m always in a rush to get into baddha konasana because I love it so much.

I set up on the left side of the room about half way toward the back, knowing that the “beginners” tend to set up on the perimeter. The first thing I noticed was a lot of pre-yoga happening. The teachers hadn’t even entered the room yet, and there were people “practicing” the practice they were about to practice. I have never understood that. Why do sun salutations before you’re about to do 10 more sun salutations? Doesn’t that just burn energy that you’ll need in order to get through your practice with the teacher?

So I sat and twiddled my thumbs while observing all the overachievers. For a moment, I wondered if this was a free-for-all where you begin and end whenever you want. Was there going to be someone to kick off the class? Do the opening chant? Thankfully, the teachers all finally entered the room and stood at the front. Once the pre-yogaing stopped, we om’ed and chanted, and the practice began.

I was really hoping I’d have someone else to follow who had primary locked down, and the first morning of Mysore, I got lucky. Someone in front was doing just primary and breathing at about the same pace. The second morning, I think I became the leader. There were a couple people behind me who were a few breaths behind.

Another oddity was all the mats were facing the front. In the led class with Dena, everyone faced toward the center of the room. Is this how Mysore classes are usually set up?

As much as I wanted to focus on my practice solely, I did find myself looking around at all the postures other people were doing. Quite a few second series practitioners. It made me feel very uncertain about myself. And then it seemed that all the more advanced yogis were getting the attention of the teachers and assistants.

Over the two mornings of Mysore, I did get quite a few very nice assists, namely binding and grasping my toe from behind. I had no idea I was that close! Eddie gave me some deep twisting help to get in Marichiyasana C and almost in D. I think it was Dena who helped me get deeper in baddha konasana and other forward folds.

I walked out of each class feeling all sorts of awesome. Having a teacher safely push me deeper than I have the courage to do on my own helped me see that I really am capable of more than I give myself credit for. And that was when I had this burst of motivation to really start giving second series a try. I’ve been doing primary for 6 years. While I’ll always have things to improve and to work toward in primary, I’m physically more ready for the intermediate series than I’ve ever been before.

So that was my experience with Mysore. I’m definitely curious as to how other people view a Mysore style of practice and see if my fears are invalid. I think I’d have to REALLY trust a teacher to do Mysore exclusively, so for now, I’m pretty happy sticking to led classes. Thankfully, I have a led class available to me that is introducing and playing with intermediate series. Baby steps!

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  1. I rarely if ever get to go to a class of any kind so my entire is at home. I prefer the deeper meditation of just flowing through the practice in my own breath and time and coming out the other end and just sitting.

    • Terri says

      wow! you do a home-only practice? i’ve tried to increase my home practice, but it requires so much more discipline and motivation than hopping into a class. i do like being able to pace myself during a home practice though.

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