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Guidelines of Mysore Practice

(Some of the guidelines below are intended primarily for students in Yoga Teacher Training, but good for everyone who comes.)


  • Quiet, please. You may whisper to the teacher with questions, asking for help or even suggestions, but try not to distract other students.

  • If you plan to do any Yin type of stretching do it in the first 30 min - while the muscles are still cold.  (Yin stretches more effectively reach  connective tissue while the muscles are cold.)

  • If you are in the teacher training then a Yin practice is only allowed for the first 15min (from 9:00 until 9:15). Thereafter, you should start warming the body up; ideally, with 10 Sun Saluations (5 of A & 5 of B). This prepares you for more active (yang) stretching.

  • Start with standing postures. This will keep your body-heat up and prepare you for the even deeper seated postures; which should come after you have completed all of your standing postures.

  •  There will be posture handouts at the front of the room of the "Primary & Second Series." However you are not limited to these series. In fact, you should also be bringing in postures that you learn from other classes, books, videos, workshops, etc; esp the postures you feel your body needs. 

  • Later in your training you can be using this time to choreograph a yoga routine that you will try out on the rest of the class in your "practice teach" sessions.

  • Before you do more yang type (vigorous or active) stretches you must first warm up with a minimum of 10 sun saluatations. (This has already been stated above, but can't be emphasized enough.) Ideally you would do 5 of the "A" style followed by 5 of "B"~ However 10 of A is acceptable if your endurance is not equal to the challenge yet. (If you are in YTT you will be taught A & B in another training session. But you can also find "A" and "B" in the handout; and you can also ask the teacher to guide you through them anytime as well.)

  • Ask the teacher (or any of the assistants or advance trainees) for help with a posture or sequence if you cannot figure it out. But do try to figure it out a bit on your own first. This is an important part of the learning process.

  • You may do other types of warm up exercises as well, but they need to be in addition to the 10 required sun salutations that must precede any type of deep or active (non-passive / non-yin) stretching, or anything strenuous, or any twists.

  • Challenge yourself with at least one standing posture, one balancing posture, and one sitting posture.

  • Try to integrate resistance into every stretch you do; although the stretch may not start out that way. In other words, first find the position and alignment, then add resistance, contraction.

  • Always contract slowly!

  • If you are going to do any inversions (anything where the hips are higher than the heart) do them towards the very end of your practice; ideally  before going into Shavasana.

  • No Headstands are allowed unless or until you have been given training in doing so safely and with permission by Will, the trainer.  

  • 60% of people who do headstands probably should not be doing them. Will will explain why you are, or why you are not, allowed to do headstand. You may thank him later. 


Benefits of Mysore Style Practice:

  • One can go safely at their own pace.

  • Focuses on one's own needs rather than defining one's practice by what others are doing.

  • Avoids the distracting feelings of intimidation which occur when everyone is doing the same thing at the same time; such as in a "led class."

  • One can go more intensely or more softly; in relation to their current needs or energy that day.

  • One can stay more concentrated and  meditative because they are not as distracted by watching and listening to a lead teacher.

  • One can cultivate greater self direction and self discipline.

  • Cultivate ability to create ones own yoga routines for self and others

  • Feel more authentic as a teacher by proving to ones self that one has cultivated true self direction; a minimum qualifier for directing others

  • Allows for self-modification.

  • Allows for creativity.

  • Increases confidence in one's ability to figure it out; this requires connecting your mind deeply to your body (aka yoga)

  • One learns how to learn.

  • Teaches trial and error.

  • Allows experimentation on one's self before trying it on a group.

  • Enables a Mysore Teacher to work individually with students, thus giving them more adjustments and  individualized teaching & suggestions.

  • Discovers better ways for one's self to find and adapt postures to one's unique needs.

  • Enables a personal practice within the support of an awesome group energy.

Requirement For Yoga Teacher Trainees:

Yoga Teacher Trainees must attend a minimum of 20 Mysore classes. However instead of shooting for the minimum I would like to encourage you to Aspire to the Optimum; try to never miss a Mysore Style class at CYS and have a home practice of at least 2 to 3 days a week if not every day). However if you were to just do the optimum Mysore time (regardless of a home practice or outside classes) you would soon find that you are leaping far ahead in your personal asana practice; which feeds your ability to lead others from an authentic place as one who truly and adamantly practices yoga-asana, not just teaches it. For who would you want teaching you: Someone who just repeats what they have memorized for 60-90min yet never having first had a considerable amount of real-time cultivating the ability to smoothly lead their self ? Or, someone who leads you who has really and regularly gone deeply inside of their own asana practice and having developed authentic insight and deeply internalized experiences?


Truly, once you have arrived to the point where you smoothly and deeply lead yourself (which is best done by doing it) not only will you start to appreciate the value of Mysore practice time but you will have much less anxiety about doing your practice teaches later. You will become far more confident and comfortable. On the other hand, without a consistent Mysore practice your impending practice teaches might be causing you a lot of prolonged and unnecessary anxiety; and this most valuable thing you could have learned and practiced during your training (in regard to asana) will have to come to you after your training - in hindsight. 


What is Mysore Style?


Mysore Style practice is integral to the asana aspects of the Yoga Teacher Training. This practice is also open to the public and will allow students in training to practice having one-on-one teaching interactions.

​"Mysore" allows students to go at their own pace, listen to their own bodies, discern what postures are right for them, which ones they need to practice longer, and which ones they should do less. It enables students to get fully into their own bodies rather than have their attention torn between a teacher and the students around them. There are so many other benefits to this approach as well, and so many you will discover on your own, that, like most people who  become accustomed to it, they ultimately start to prefer not to go typical "led classes" anymore.

The Myth of Mysore Style

There are some stern practitioners of this style who disagree of the description of Mysore Style above; and they would likely be followers of a method of practice known as Astanga Yoga, as taught by "GuruJi" Patabhi Jois of Mysore, India (...a sister city of Cincinnati).  They utilize a set of postures known as the Primary Series, Second Series and, sometimes, a Third Series (...3rd is useful if you want to join the circus). "Astangians" are usually the most physically flexible yogis among the many styles. And it is of no surprise that you will also find that many of them are clearly of the Pitta Dosha type; meaning that they hold a few extra degrees of the Fire Element in their body-mind constitution; or simply put: they tend to be "fiery" people. One thing about Pitta (that I can say as an insider) is that -if we don't make an effort to consciously control our fire- then we will strive beyond the normal measure to be "right", or to dictate how things should be, and we often overly-strive to over-achieve. But just because so many firey types of people practice this method, it doesn't mean it was meant to be this way. If it qualifies as yoga, then the goal is a balance of the elements within. So if one has too much fire, like the Pitta types, then they actually should be bringing in more cooling. calming and soothing postures; also known as water element postures. Or more grounding postures (earth) if someone is too spacey (space), and so on {which you can read more about that Here} . So the fact that, in some circles, Mysore has become so much of a firey practice is contrary to original way of teaching that the original guru/creator of the Mysore Style, Sri Krishnamacharya, intended. However, it was from the students that came to Mysore, from all over the world, from which the name Mysore Style emerged. In fact, it is believed that the name either emerged or grew from the students who came to learn from one of Sri Krishamacharya's successors, Sri Patabhi Jois. Jois didn't speak English very well, and didn't give the approach that he was carrying forward a name (as far as anyone knows) so then the students who came to Mysore just started calling 'that style they are doing over there in Mysore with Patabhi Jois,' Mysore Style.   

Unfortunately, those folks that came to Mysore were over the top in their aggressive adherence to strictly follow a sequence of stick figures, which should have been more like guidelines, but to them became like religious precepts that are to be followed with blind faith.  This is not always the case, but it has happened enough to prompt me to write this; for this style is one that should be accessible to everyone, not just firey tiger types. But, unfortunately, this rigid philosophy has largely infiltrated many places where the “Mysore Style” is offered.

The firey Mysore Style approach did not end in the Mysore class either. Many teachers familiar with this style went on to create the Astanga style of (Asana) yoga classes. And many of you know this teacher, or know of them. They shout,  “Full Steam Ahead!" And f you’re not with the program you had better jump off! They have mistaken that beautiful series of postures (wrongly called Astanga - but more on that a few paragraphs below) to be reserved for only the lion hearted; not realizing that Kapha dosha (with symbol of an elephant) and Vata dosha (with its symbol being the monkey) could also benefit from the style; but not if they do it like the tiger, but in a way that is right for them.


But again, the pitta tigers in most places have taken over most any Mysore Style classes you might find, and they are usually dictating a one and only "correct" approach: the tigers approach!  


In Ayurvedic reality...

Back to the origin..If we take Mysore Style back to before it had a name, we find it as a very flexible approach to asana. It was meant to adapt to all Doshas (mind-body types), all characters: monkeys, elephants, tigers, monkey-tigers, elephant-monkeys, and even the occasional platypuses. Nevertheless, and understandably, most attribute the creation of the style to the late “GuruJi Patabhi Jois“. But this is sort of like saying Sri Patanjali invented yoga; and this sort of thing happens all the time. For example, Patanajli’s 8 limbed approach to the state of being called Yoga is actually what should be termed as the Astanga approach to Yoga, but the world has taken only The 3rd limb of Astanga, called Asana, and deemed it to hold the entire title of Astanga Yoga in and of itself, regardless of the other 7 limbs intrinsic to the goal; and perhaps all more adequate than asana to really hold that title -if any could on its own. But they cannot, it is all supposed to work together.


Masterji Vishwanath (nephew and former assistant to Patbhi Jois; as well as my teacher for 3 years) has taught that Hatha yoga is the first 5

limbs of Astanga and Rajah Yoga is the remaining 3. However, he says


"There can be no Hatha yoga without Rajah yoga

and there can be no Rajah yoga without Hatha yoga."

Yoga is meant to humble the ego, but often when we find those who are ignorant of this we also often find that instead of their practice becoming humbling it is inflating. In the many decades that MasterJi has been teaching he has seen all too much, and to his dismay, how many come to his Astanga yoga training to build up their pride and ego, though unknowingly.  ~ Hence this long explanation. For, on the other hand, if we know the real goals of yoga, such as to balance our temperament, to become humble, and honor all life and all doshas, and create harmony all around us, then Mysore practice can be a most effective and beautiful approach to the more ideal goals of yoga.    


The Mysore Style of teaching involves providing a space for individual asana practice within a group setting, under the supervision of an asana teacher.  It enables students go at their own pace, to work on their own, or work one-on-one with the teacher, to discern and apply postures that are most advantageous when to their own unique mind~body constitution. The goal or result of this, when properly applied by acknowledging such uniqueness and acting accordingly, is a state of harmony. 


Balance/Harmony is the goal. 


The Legendary Sri Krishnamcharya

Sri K didn't even teach the primary series or any of the "Astanga series"  as they are referred to today. Although he certainly taught postures that you will find in those series, his way of teaching was to meet students where they were at, but not in location (as so many came to him from all over the world) but with their varied bone structures, proportions, doshas and temperaments. Sri K also spoke little English and had to resort to teaching from having the students begin with 'whatever they already know'. From there he would adjust and tweak them until they began to master the poses without so much of his help. It is probable that he would also give a set of postures. But it is not practical or necessary to learn, much less do, hundreds of postures as so many try to do today. Nevertheless, it is good to work with a set, but to apply one set approach for every person has proven time and again to be inappropriate and even dangerous.


If you read Kaushtbub Desikachar's biography on his grandfather (Sri,  K) entitled The Yoga of the Yogi, you learn that Krishnamacharya would work with all individuals in differingmanners according to their capacity, constitution and temperaments.

If you want to know a bit more about Mysore Style, do not look to Sri Patabhi Jois, instead go to his teacher, Sri Krishnamacharya. You can trace many styles of yoga back to him and the masters of these styles (including BKS Iyengar). They were taught by Sri Krishnamacharya and in a way that is more true to what is now called Mysore Style.



Below is an excerpt from another website about the history of Krishnamacharya's influence upon Asana yoga.    


"Another student, T.R.S. Sharma (pictured below) affirms that during the yoga classes,


Krishnamacharya was innovating all the time in response to his students.


He would make up variations of the postures when he saw that some of his students could do them easily. 


“Try this, try putting this here, and this here.” He was inventing and innovating.


Krishnamacharya never emphasized

a particular order of poses,

there was nothing sacrosanct

about observing order with him.


He would tell me “practice as many as you can.” Below is a photo of the young Sharma in front of the Palace perfoming virancyāsana.

Full story at:

Mysore Support Group

Mysore Support Group

Mysore workout partners

Mysore workout partners

Mysore Workout Partners

Mysore Workout Partners

Mysore Friends

Mysore Friends

The many benefits of having...

Practice Partners

Below is an article pasted on having a workout partner. In Mysore practice you have a whole room full of partners. When you hear them all breathing in ujjayi (aka ocean sounding breath) it is a powerful torrent of sound that can be exciting and invigorating; a magnetic force that you can't wait to attend again and again.


Besides the group experience (though certainly not required or even the norm) it is quite good to find a yoga partner; which you are more likely to meet as you keep meeting with the group. 


Having a Workout Partner Can Help You Achieve Your Goals

Having a workout partner can mean the difference between success and failure when it comes to your fitness goals. Unless you're consistently a highly motivated self-starter, your chances of sticking to a long-term fitness plan without a partner are significantly lower than they are with a partner.


You Won't Cancel a Workout

When you answer to no one but yourself, it can become a habit to cancel a workout after a long, busy day because you feel tired or because you feel that it's a waste of time.


You'll Be Bolstered by Outside Perspective

It's difficult to view yourself objectively. When it comes to your fitness progress, you may not notice how your strength and endurance is improving or that you've lost weight or gained muscle tone over time. Having that validation can help boost your self-esteem and keep your motivation levels high.


You Can Celebrate Your Successes

Celebrating your progress alone isn't as much fun as it is with a partner. You and your partner can set goals for yourselves and celebrate every few weeks after you've met those goals.         ~Source:

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