Mysore self-practice is the traditional way of practising Ashtanga yoga, as taught by Shri K. Pattabhi Jois, in Mysore, India.
It offers a personalised approach to learning yoga or progressing in your practice. In Mysore Class, the student is taught a sequence of postures through one-on-one instruction. The correct movements, breathing, and other aspects of the practice are learned gradually, in a step-by-step process accessible to anyone. This method allows each student time to practice and memorise what they have learned before adding more.
Read below how Francesca got started with Mysore style practice.
How long have you been attending mysore classes for?
I started mysore practice almost 3 years ago, in April 2015 immediately after attending Cathy’s beginners Ashtanga course.
How often do you practice?
I have practiced 3 times a week for most of the time since I started, and I have just begun to go up to 4 times a week.
What made you start mysore practice?
I had never done yoga in my life and I experienced a severe back-pain at the time. One day over dinner a friend of mine, which is a regular at mysore practice, said: ”You should try ashtanga- it will help your back and you will love it!” And I indeed did!
The required early rises from bed (that is often one of the most difficult things to deal with in mysore practice) were for me a God-send. Mum of two, I was dying to find some space for myself and definitely from 5.30 to 7.30 in morning I do not need to negotiate with anyone- it is just my time.
What effect has the practice had on your life?
Considerable, I still do not believe how much ashtanga and Cathy, with her excellent teaching ability, have changed me. I think that the biggest change has been mental; I am a lot calmer, I enjoy every day more; my mind is clearer and allows me to give better values to events and people. I am definitely happier! I get a lot of energy probably due the combination of rhythmic breath and movements.
As a scientist, I initially tried hard to understand why ashtanga, differently from other activities I have practiced before, was making me feel so accomplished with my every-day life… I have stopped wondering. It is just right.
What benefits do you feel from it?
During the years I have always thought that my muscles were not strong enough to cope with demanding form of exercise- I guess I did not know how to use them. The biggest benefit I gained is finding inner strength to persevere. At my first mysore class, I looked around what the other students were doing and I was pretty intimidated…but step by step I got to know the muscles in my body, how to contract them, understanding what will cause pain and what will make me feel great. When I leave the class I am exhausted, but with a great sense of achievement!
By the way, I also lost 6.5 kg since I started to practice, a terrific bonus!
What have you found most challenging (in terms of physical postures, or otherwise!) about the practice?
I am quite flexible, but even if I am improving, I feel I am still not as strong as I would like to be. So I would say that the most challenging pose for me are those that require a muscle strength and balance. I get frustrated when I loose equilibrium and focus in Bhujapidasana (arm pressure pose) and mainly in the jump back. I hope one day I will hold this pose with no hesitation. It is a challenge.
What do you find the most rewarding?
The most rewarding pose must be that one I never thought I could do. I thought that Marichyasana B and D (ray of light poses) were anatomically impossible to do. At the beginning I could not breathe at all while attempting them, but now it is extremely gratifying to be able to bind and hold the poses!
What is your favourite posture?
Every day, I cannot wait to the end of the routine when I do Urdhva Dhanurasana or backbend. One day Cathy caught me staring at a student that was effortlessly bending, she turned at me and said ”you will start trying it soon”. I thought this would never happen. I am at quite early stages, so I could say that this pose is still a challenge for me. But it feels amazing when I manage to control the right muscles that lead me to the posture… and when I do it (almost) right, my back is so stretched that I get relived from back pain for days.
See Francesca practicing below, in India, with KPJAYI Advanced Certified Ashtanga yoga teacher Philippa Asher, a regular guest teacher at our studio.
There are 7 opportunities at Ashtanga Yoga Glasgow each week to practice Mysore, including morning and evening times. Learn about our Mysore classes.
(Photo credit Mahesh Nandeesh)