Basic Guidelines of Mysore
(These guidelines are intended primarily for students in the Yoga teacher training; but good for everyone)
No talking, please. You may whisper to the teacher, but keep it to a minimum.
If you plan to do any Yin style of practice do it in the first 30 minutes when you first arrive -while the muscles are still cold. Yin is more effective in reaching connective tissue while the muscles are cold.
If you are in the teacher training then a Yin practice is only allowed for the first 30min (from 8:30 til 9:00). Thereafter you should stop doing as much passive stretching and start warming the body up -preparing it for more of the classic postures; such as those in the Primary or 2nd Series in Astanga. (There will be handouts at the front of the room for these 2 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.
However before you do more yang type (vigorous or active stretches) you must first warm up with a minimum of 10 sun saluatations Ideally you would do 5 of the "A" style followed by 5 of "B"~ However 10 of A is acceptable if endurance has not been built up yet. (If you do not know what "A" and "B" sun salutations are then just ask!)
Feel free to ask the teacher (or any of the assistants / advance trainees) for clarification on a posture if you cannot figure it out.
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.
After the warm up, continue with standing postures and conclude them with one challenging posture before continuing your practice on the floor.
Always challenge yourself with at least one standing posture, one balancing posture, and one sitting posture.
Do all standing postures before seated postures in order to maintain heat in the body.
Try to integrate resistance into every stretch you do; though the strecth may not start out that way. In other words, first find the position and alignment, then add resistance / contraction.
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; soon before going into Shavasana.
No Headstands are allowed unless or until you have been given traning and permission by Will, the trainer. This is because about 60% of the people doing headstands 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:
(Much of this is stated in relation to teachers in training, but applies to everyone)
go safely at ones own pace
look at ones own needs rather than defining ones practice by what others are doing.
feel less intimidated about what a whole led class may be directed to do
go more intensely or more softly; in relation to how one is feeling that day
stay more meditative and less distracted by a constantly talking teacher
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
allow for self modification
allow for creativity
practice and increase confidence in figuring it out; this requires connecting your mind deeply to your body -aka- yoga.
learns how to learn
learns trial and error from experimentation on ones self before trying it on a group (re: teacher trainees)
enables the Mysore Teacher to work individually with students, thus giving them more adjustments and more individualized instruction and suggestions
often find better ways for ones self in how to work a posture than any teacher has ever been able to do
Below there is more and more to be added. It will mostly involves the insights of others who enjoy this style/method; and most of those comments may come from myself and those in the Vishwa Yoga teacher training, who approach the Mysore style in a way that very well be the vigorous, fiery, tiger-like approach; which can also be a valid and helpful method when applied to the right person at the right time. But many people in training approach Mysore in a much gentler, totally un-tigerly, way.
In short, the purpose for so much of this page being dedicated to this topic is to raise awareness that Mysore is not just for tigers; and it is in hope that tigers will think twice before dictating any unsubstantiated ideas about what they believe Mysore Style is supposed to be; especially when it begins to exclude others from partaking in the many benefits of this awesome personal practice within the support of a group setting.
To get this started, below is an except from another website about the history of yoga. The full story is here: http://jfdeters.wordpress.com/2014/06/18/the-myth-of-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.
Yoga / Workout 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: FitDay.com
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 in real time; but with more of a hands-on approach that is done primarily in silence.
What is Mysore Style?
Depending on who you talk to the answer to this question will vary, and with some people it will be very stern. The stern one’s would likely be followers of a method of practice known as Astanga, as taught by GuruJi Patabhi Jois of Mysore, India. They utilize a set of postures known as the Primary Series, Second Series and, sometimes, a Third Series (...3rd is useful for circus acrobats). Astangians may be of the most physically flexible yogis you will ever find. And it is of no surprise that you will also find that many of them are clearly of Pitta Dosha. In other words, their Ayurvedic or elemental constitution holds extra degrees of the Fire Element. One thing about Pitta (that I can say as an insider because I am a bit Pitta myself) is that -if we dont make an effort to consciously control ourselves- we strive to be right, we like to dictate how things should be, and we strive to excel. And that all may sound well and good, but for this type of person it would be better that they cool it a bit; perhaps a lot! This will be good for them and everyone around them. However, this practice [as it is usually done today], is often Not the style that is best for them. It is a style that builds a lot of Fire. It is a Fire approach that approaches the Fire! However, what i have just described is not really true to the true guru of Mysore style, Sri Krishnamacharya (not Patabhi Jois). What I have described is only the Pitta style of Mysore Style practice. The Pitta Astangian who only knows how to approach the Primary series or any series of postures in a yang, firey, aggressive way often ends up creating imbalances in their being and character. They are adding fire to fire. Nevertheless, their flexibility, concentration, perseverance and endurance is often quite awesome! But this in turn adds to the often self-righteous personality that is often attributed to the Pitta Astangian as well; not just to those of other doshas/temperaments, but also amongst the Astangians themselves. Pitta is described as a Tiger type in Ayurveda, and too many tigers trying to prove themselves right can become a rather bloody battle. But try to understand, the Pitta Astangian has seen many fruits from their discipline. They actually have some claim to a bit of their self righteousness. And yet, probably due to this, they are also known to be quite stern and rigid in their beliefs about what asana practice should be, and how it should be done; and nine times out of ten it is the Astanga yoga teacher that students will refer to as that Nazi yoga teacher.
One great thing about this type of yogi, however, is that their capacity for discipline and their love to be right, can also work for them to the greater good. The love to be right can be re-aligned to be a love for truth. And when made conscious of their tendencies to get caught up in the above mistakes, they are then able to use their powerful discipline to hold themselves open to seeing other viewpoints, and perhaps even protecting other viewpoints; whether they agree with them or not. And if they take it a bit further they may also be able to muster the discipline to suspend their own beliefs and take an honest look at the possibility of having been wrong in some of their own rigid beliefs.
Unfortunately this is not always the case, but as I said, it does not have to be; and this is one of the reasons I am writing this. The main reason, however, is so that everyone can enjoy and be comfortable with the Mysore style of practice, not just the tigers. The rigidity of philosophy among many who practice Astanga has completely infiltrated the “Mysore Style.” But Mysore style did not evolve for only Astangians nor for just the Astanga series of postures. It was around long before then; only unnamed (and most likely came from the Swiss and/or the Danish and simply coupled to the Indian knowledge of nadis (meridians or energy channels).
The ark was built to carry every creature, but when the tigers came on they hoisted the tiger flag and souped up the engine. Many of you know this teacher. They shout, “Full Steam Ahead! If you’re not with the program you had better jump off!” They have mistaken that beautiful series of postures, wrongly called Astanga, 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...
the tigers should go about asana practice in a slower, less aggressive, calming, elephant-like approach - they should really be in an elephant style class if they can find one - in order to maintain or bring back balance to their dosha.
History of Mysore Style
Popular Mysore style's devolution into strictly a Pitta Astangian’s preference is unfortunate and untrue to its roots. Its deepest root being that the ancients of asana and other yoga practices did the practice alone. Group practice is a modern and western notion that eventually turned into a reality in India as well as the west. Nevertheless, commercialized group practice is still more of a western additive and approach. However it is easy to see how a money or power exchange could evolve from this, especially in a poor country, or in a countryies that feel a need to redefine and institutionalize in order to capitalize profits. …but that’s another topic.
Today, especially in the west most people who practice yoga only do it when in a group. It is rare to find someone with a consistent personal or home practice. This is not to say that this group / led thing is bad. It was quite natural that it came about and there are obviously many benefits to group practice that one may miss in an entirely personal practice. The problem is that there is very little personal practice these days. By personal I mean alone (all-one), but not necessarily away from other people practicing al(l)one as well. But this is where the importance of Mysore style practice can help tremendously; if only we can reclaim it from the hands of the unconscious tigers; and which can most easily be accomplished by actually enlisting the more conscious tigers into this cause; just as the most effective advocates for women’s rights are men, the most effective advocates for racial minorities are the majorities, the most effective advocates for the poor are the rich! ...i digress...
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, elephan-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 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. As Masterji Vishwanath has taught that Hatha yoga is the first 5 limbs and Rajah Yoga is the remaining 3. However 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 inflates their ego instead. MasterJi has been teaching for many years, since he was a young boy as an assistant to Sri Patabhi Jois. Often he would express his dismay at how many come to yoga, usually unknowingly, to build up their ego. Popular pitta-like Mysore style classes can surely do this! -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 the most effective and beautiful approaches to spiritualized movement and higher consciousness.
Mysore and Astanga...
The other 7 limbs of Astanga, yama and niyama (virtues), pranayama (breath work), pratyahara and the other meditative limbs, for some strange reason are just called limbs. But asana was the limb most people liked the most. And therefore it rules as the great misnomer to define Yoga. And this wrinkled language that continues to lose the deeper meanings in its folds, becomes wrangled even further as we look at these 3 modernized series of postures (that have nothing to do with Patanjali’s third limb (asana) except that the series fit’s the category of asana in general) and we call it Astanga yoga.
We mis-name this one limb as the entire Yoga in and of itself, and the remaining 7 limbs are simply limbs. It is no wonder that those new to yoga get so completely off base with so many of their unfounded assumptions. Likewise, it is of no wonder that Mysore style practice has completely lost the roots of its intentions.
Its naming was a very natural unfoldment that happened in the city of Mysore, India, but is certain to have occurred long before this in other parts of India; or anywhere there is a master teacher and students. The difference may only be that in other places a name or term for this approach never emerged. But in Mysore it did; and the only definition for this term that can be given without imposing any degree of unsubstantiated bias is as follows:
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 it comes to toning and balancing their muscles and meridians in 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.
Now if we were to say that the object is to go hard like a tiger, and only apply a certain set of postures, and in only one order of doing them, then we are saying what many Astangians claim to be as the ony true form of Mysore. However, if we say this, then we cannot simultaneously claim that the goal of this yoga practice is harmony/wholeness. It negates the right to use the word Yoga in the practice. For the tiger only approach is proven to imbalance many people who try it this way.
We can further qualify this definition by pointing out that the term Mysore style did not even come from Patabhi Jois. It actually came from western students who, upon describing it to others, described it as “as what they do in Mysore city.”
"GuruJi" (Jois) himself spoke little English. It is certain he did not englishize this term Mysore style. We can be certain however that he mimicked the teaching techniques of his teacher, Sri Krishnamacharya. And Sri K didn't even teach the primary series or any of the "Astanga" series. He certainly taught postures that you will find in those series, but many other postures and practices as well, and in varied order, as he saw fit. His way of teaching was to meet students who came to him from all over the world, with their varied bone sturctures, proportions, doshas and temperaments, where they were at. Sri K also spoke little english and had to resort to teaching from having the students begin with whatever they know [..which is also how my Astanga teacher, MasterJi Vishwanath, taught me; who is the nephew and former assistant to Patabhi Jois]. 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 this master was sure to know that the Vedas declared there to be as many postures as there are living beings ...and the symbolism that is meant by that! But it is not practical or necessary to know thousands of postures. It is good to work with a set, but to apply one set approach for every person is proven time and again to be inappropriate and often even dangerous. If you read Kaushtbub Desikachar's biography on his grandfather Krishnamacharya you will get the feel, as i did, that the way Krishnamacharya would work with individuals would often vary considerably from one student to the next, according to their capacity, constitution and temperaments.
So 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 back to him (including Iyengar) and the masters of these styles/methods practiced with Krishnamacharya in a way that was unnamed, but truer to what we call Mysore Style today.
New Requirement For Yoga Trainees:
As of January 2016 Yoga Teacher Trainees must attend a minimum of 1 Mysore class per month (no less, but more would be great! :). Ideally i would make the minimum Mysore requirement 2 times a month. However instead of shooting for the minimum i would like to encourage you to Aspire to the Optimum; which would be Mysore 3 to 4 times a month, as well as two regular classes per week, and a home practice at least 3 days a week. 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 learned teaching a whole class for 60-90min before 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 deep inside of an asana practice -developing authentic insight. The former teaches from a book or what they were told. The latter teaches from real and deeply internalized experiences.
Truly, once you have gotten to the point where you smoothly and deeply lead yourself (which is best done by doing it - and usually begins to happen in just 3 consistent Mysore practices) 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 the most valuable thing you could have learned and practiced during your training (in regard to asana) will have to come after your training - in hindsight.