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Class Act: Mysore

If you're checking out classes at an Ashtanga yoga studio, you may come across a class called Mysore.

In a Mysore style yoga class, you lead yourself, following your own breath and a series of memorized poses, either First Series or Second Series. If you are an advanced practitioner, you may even do Third Series.

No one speaks - they only breathe. Sometimes the instructor may whisper to someone to give them help, but for the most part, there is only the ebb and flow of the breath. It's really powerful.

Want to know more about Mysore? Then

As you move at your own pace, moving from one pose to the next in First, Second, or Third series, the instructor walks around and adjusts or assists you. She or he may gently fix your shoulders or your hips in Warrior 1, they may press on you in Downward Dog (which feels so good), or they may help you drop back into Wheel pose from standing. The assists you get in a Mysore class really help you to improve your yoga practice tremendously.

The class is usually open for 2-3 hours, so people will walk in and start whenever they want. This may seem a little weird, but it's actually nice not to have the pressure of following the instructor's breath count. For me, it's easier to bring my awareness inward when everyone is doing their own thing.

The reason it's called Mysore, is because Mysore, India is where Sri K. Pattabhi Jois (the creator of Ashtanga Yoga) originally taught this practice. Traditionally, students would learn a pose and master it before moving on to the next pose in the series. That way, the student would memorize the entire sequence and would be able to practice them on their own.

Fit's Tips: If you can find a Mysore class or workshop, I highly recommend taking it. You'll learn a lot about your body and your personality. It will also help you to begin a home yoga practice, so you won't have to rely on going to a studio to do yoga. Since you've memorized an hour and a half of yoga postures, you can lead yourself in your own living room!

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