What Is A "Mysore Ashtanga Yoga" Practice?
When you hear the word “yoga”, it usually takes you to India — where it was originated. But have you ever heard someone talking about a “Mysore” practice? Mysore is a city in India where the practice of Ashtanga originated. Each asana in the Mysore Ashtanga style comes from the traditional Hatha style, however, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois popularized it in Mysore in a set sequence in 1927. Every posture that you notice from Ashtanga comes directly from Hatha, but it became its own style for a couple of reasons.
All boy boarding schools were taught the series of Ashtanga as a form of disciplinary action to help guide the young boys to a more yogic filled life. While this might seem effective, and it was, the practice of Ashtanga comes with very much discipline and consistency. The young boys would wake up at the same time every morning (around 4:30 am) and move through the series in silence. You cannot advance in a series until you have mastered the one prior. Without direct teachings, the boys would be accountable for their own practices and diligence while everyone moved in silence together. This would happen every single day except on the new and full moons. Because of its consistency, it does offer an amazing opportunity to completely meditate and zone in on your practice because you have every series memorized. You can completely lose your physical body and dive into your breath. Which is how “Mysore Ashtanga Yoga” came about — allowing students to practice at their own individual pace while being supervised by the teacher.
The next reason follows on why the experience with the boy’s boarding schools was so efficient — it showed persistence and dedication. From there, people were incredibly drawn in into such a powerful experience that lead them into deep meditations. This practice can be divided into traditional Mysore or Ashtanga Vinyasa, which focuses more on connecting the breath and body. Any fully integrated approach to yoga, including Ashtanga Yoga, follows the Eight Limbs Of Yoga which can be seen here:
1. Yama – Restraints
Ahimsa – non-violence
Satya – truthfulness
Asteya – non-stealing
Brahmacharya – sublimating sexual energy
Aparigraha – non-greed
2. Niyama – Observances
Shaucha – purity within & without
Santosha – contentment
Tapas – discipline
Svadyaya – Self / scriptural study
Ishvarapranidana – surrender
3. Asana – Posture
4. Pranayama – Control of breath and prana
5. Pratyahara – Directing the senses inwards
6. Dharana – Concentration
7. Dhyana – Meditation
8. Samadhi – Unified consciousness
Following these 8 Limbs so intensely and with such commitment is believed to help you reach to Samadhi. In the Ashtanga style of Yoga there are set sequences which guides you through a cleansed body and mind. The intention is that when we know the sequence in muscle memory, we don’t need to use our mind, which leads us into a moving meditation.
So if you’re a person curious about this yoga — I am here to tell you to go for it and experiment. It’s a great way to gain strength and consistency within your practice! You can find local classes anywhere and if you have any remaining questions, don’t hesitate to ask the teachers there. Just be mindful of how often you practice it because it can create a new wave of energy inside you!