August 2009 – Mysore


The best way to practice!

This months topic is Mysore, I want to talk more about it in hopes of removing some of the mystery or fear many have about coming to a Mysore class.

Mysore is actually a place in Southern India–where our yoga originated from. In the 1930s the Maharaja of Mysore (Krishna Rajendra Wodeyar) became ill. He heard there was a great yogi in town who might be able to help him, Krishnamacharya, he sent for Krishnamacharya and much to his delight Krishnamacharya healed the Maharaja with his yoga. The Maharaja then became his patron and established a yoga shala for him on the palace grounds to have a place to study and teach out of. This continued for many years until the Maharaja passed on and brought and end to the long patronage.

In a Mysore class the teacher does not verbally cue the students through the practice. You take yourself through the practice with the teacher present to assist you. This is the best way to get personal attention in a class setting. Really it is a win-win situation, you get to follow your own breath, yet be with a group and share the group energy, and get personal assistance in each pose you need it in!

This is how the yoga was and still is taught in Mysore, when Guruji started his world tours he began teaching led classes to teach the vinyasa counts. However in a led class you are at the mercy of the teachers count and timing of your breath. While this is good for learning the series, you do not want to become dependent on it–learning the flow of the series yourself and taking Mysore classes is very empowering–you know the yoga and can do it anywhere, teacher present or not.

If you are worried about remembering the flow in a Mysore class, please don’t! Remember this is a yoga school and you are here to learn 😉 There are several ways to progress in a Mysore class if you do not remember the flow of poses;

  • Practice as far as you remember, then the teacher will give you one more asana which you will practice, then you close. This is very empowering as you will learn the practice this way! If you are given too many poses you will not remember them, so adding on one pose at a time is the best way to actually learn the flow.
  • If you want to do a full practice the teacher can remind you of poses, please do not bring a “cheat sheet”. Needing to be reminded by the teacher will get you more help during the practice, if you bring a cheat sheet you might as well practice on your own! If you do need a cheat sheet for a home practice type up the pose names in sanskrit and look at that for your cheat sheet–do not use pictures.
  • This is not recommended but I know many people do it . . . put your mat beside someone who does know the practice and follow along . . .

Learning full primary or Intermediate in a Mysore class
A Mysore class is the best way to progress from a beginner class to full primary or to learn 2nd:

  • To learn Full Primary; come to Mysore, practice up to navasana (as in a beginner class) then I will give you just the next pose, bhujapidasana, and help you with it. The next time you come you will practice up through bhujapidasana, then I will give you the next pose and help you with it . . . and on it goes until you have full primary. This is the ideal way to learn full primary as you are only getting one new pose each class and you are getting my individual attention with it as you learn it for the first time.
  • To learn Intermediate; come to Mysore, practice full primary and at the end of full primary (setu bandhasana) I will give you the first 2nd series pose and help you with it. The next time you come I will give you the 2nd pose in 2nd series and help you with it . . . etc. Once you learn up to Eka Pada Sirsasana, you will no longer have to do full primary–you can enter 2nd series a3er parsvottanasana.

So please try a Mysore class, you will see there is nothing to fear 😉 Mysore classes are Tuesdays at 7pm (with Bobbi and Lori or Meagan), Thursdays at 5:30 pm (with Bobbi), and a new Mysore class will be added in October Friday morning from 7-9am with Lori.

Mysore etiquette
Here are some tips to remember when you do come to a Mysore class:

  • Don’t hesitate to call the teacher over to you if you have a question or an area you want help with!! This is the biggest benefit of the Mysore class–getting individual attention where you want it (and sometimes maybe where you don’t want it . . .). Even if the class is busy, it is ok to stop your practice and wait for the teacher (if you are worried about losing heat you can do handstands or vinyasas while you wait), I do this o3en in Mysore classes with Nancy–I wait for a while and if she does not see me waiting I will signal her by giving a little wave. So it OK to call me over! Please do! as I want to offer assistance where you want it.
  • When you are getting assisted in a pose do not do vinyasa between sides, just switch sides. While you take vinyasa I may step away to assist someone else (as I am not able to just wait on you) and you may miss the assist on the 2nd side.
  • When the teacher is assisting a pose where you have no questions–you just want to be put in the pose, be ready to go when I get there–try not to make the teacher wait on you.
  • When an instructor is in a Mysore class practicing please let him/her do their practice. It is tempting to ask them questions and ask for their help, but we sometimes have the need to just be a student and let someone else teach!

So please come and experience a Mysore class–enjoy following your own breath in the practice!

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