Mysore-style is the traditional method of learning Ashtanga yoga. Mysore-style classes are suitable for all levels of practitioners, and this method takes into consideration individual differences, fitness levels, learning abilities and injuries.
The Six Series in Ashtanga Yoga
Ashtanga yoga consists of six series of postures. The Ashtanga Primary Series (Yoga Chikitsa or yoga therapy) purifies the physical body, and the Intermediate Series (Nadi Shodhana) cleanses the nervous system.
The Advanced Series A, B, C and D (Sthira Bhaga) are progressively more and more challenging, and few practitioners have reached C and D series. Most students can spend years studying the Primary Series alone.
What Happens in a Mysore Style Class
In Ashtanga yoga, the postures are always practiced in the same sequence. In the self-practice method each student practices at his/her own pace and within his/her limits.
Postures are taught one by one, and new postures are added to the practice only when the student can do the previous ones and remember the sequence.
Difficult postures are not skipped and postures are not modified or changed in order to be able to complete the series faster. Each posture is a gateway to the next one and students must be able to do previous postures in the series before attempting more difficult asanas.
In a Mysore-style class, complete beginners can practice next to advanced practitioners. A beginner can come to a Mysore class without any previous knowledge of Ashtanga yoga and start learning the basics, and students with previous experience in this form of yoga can build up on what they have learned before.
A Quick History of Ashtanga Yoga
The roots of Ashtanga Yoga are said to be in the Yoga Korunta, an ancient text written by the sage Vamana Rishi.
The teachings were passed on to the famous yoga teacher T. Krishnamacharya in the early 1900s by his teacher, Guru Rama Mohan Brahmachari. A student of Krishnamacharya, Shri K. Pattabhi Jois, founded the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute (now called Shri K Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute or KPJAYI) in the South Indian city of Mysore in 1948. Pattabhi Jois, or Guruji, passed away on the 18th of May 2009 at the age of 93.
How to Find a Mysore Style Ashtanga Class
Authorized and certified Ashtanga yoga teachers are required to teach traditional Mysore-style classes. The KPJAYI in Mysore is the only body that can authorize or certify Ashtanga yoga teachers and lists authorized and certified teachers on its website.
Authorized teachers have made at least four trips of minimum of three months each to the KPJAYI. Certified teachers have usually made at least eight trips to the KPJAYI and are advanced practitioners in the Ashtanga yoga method. There is no other Ashtanga yoga teacher training that is approved by the KPJAYI.