This Summer we at The Yoga Circle are very excited to offer a series introducing the Mysore approach to Ashtanga Yoga. Many of you have studied Ashtanga Yoga with myself, Shannon Hancock and Kerry Burgess and/or Caroline Russell here at The Yoga Circle in a led class setting. However, Ashtanga Yoga was originally taught in Mysore, India in a setting with a teacher present but one posture, or Asana, at a time. Ashtanga Yoga has a consistent sequence of postures in which the practitioners attempt to find a balance between ease and effort, strength and flexibility and each movement leads beautifully and organically to the next, helping to build a foundation for the required understanding of the body to attempt the following posture safely.
The consistency of the practice allows for the memorization as well as internalization of the movement and spirit of the discipline. It creates a setting in which you are able to continuously deepen your physical and meditative yoga experience at your unique pace with instruction that is directed specifically to you and intended for your body. This allows the teacher and practitioner to develop a deep understanding of where you are in your practice and a relationship of trust. With a better grasp of where you are in your practice, the teacher can then assist you with the next posture or the postures you are grappling with, as you progress through the series a posture at a time.
This approach gives a sense, not only of a more personalized practice, but the instruction feels more one-on-one (almost similar to a private lesson) as each person moves through the sequence following their own pace of breath and learning modifications and receiving adjustments, if desired, which are tailored to their body and current level of experience. When lost or in need of guidance on the sequence or specific aspects of the practice there will be a teacher present to assist you. But Mysore, if practiced consistently, can also help you to increase your own confidence to begin or continue to build your personal home practice with what you learn in the public classes as you memorize and better understand the sequence, so that you can take this with you where ever you go.
I like the analogy of when you learn how to ride a bike. First, perhaps you have someone assist you in finding your balance and walking or running along side you as you master peddling and build your confidence, or you use training wheels to help you stay stable as you learn the basics, but ideally you work toward removing those training tools and ride without their assistance. Similarly with yoga, if a led class is like allowing the teacher to guide you and hold your hand in the process, Mysore would be the next step of still having someone or something there to provide accountability and guidance but allowing you to take more control of your practice and working toward a consistent self-led, life-long practice with or without your teacher.
I am honored to be able to serve as the primary teacher for the series with Kerry Burgess as an assistant whenever he is able and available to help. I look forward to sharing with you what I have learned while working closely with and practicing under Akasha Ellis over the past 5 years. This class series will be perfect for anyone who is just beginning their Ashtanga practice, or who wants to explore a self-led or home practice, but does not know where to start.
Mysore can be a truly empowering and life-changing practice. I know that it has been for me. Please consider signing up to join me on this journey. The series will be offered twice a week on Mondays and Fridays to start and it will be a two-hour window when you can come and go as you please and practice Ashtanga Yoga in the Mysore style with instruction available when you need it. You do not have to stay the entire time. There is no prior knowledge of the sequence required. That being said, if you have already been practicing Ashtanga for a long time, you are also welcome to join us and request assistance as desired.
This is a safe space to deepen your practice, one of my favorite quotes about Ashtanga Yoga is from Kino MacGregor's book the Power of Ashtanga Yoga, and I think she says it better than I can,
"Within the boundaries of a sticky mat, yoga practitioners repeatedly perform challenging movements while uniting their breath, pose, and gaze. Krishnamacharya described yoga as the process by which the impossible becomes possible and the possible over a long period of time becomes easy. The place where many practitioners fall off the path is when they try to go straight from impossible to easy. If you experience a movement at impossible and want it to be easy immediately, you will certainly fail, because change does not happen quickly.
Instead, you need to start with the impossible and allow its difficulty to teach you. Stay in those ugly places where learning happens, and soon the impossible starts to show you how it may one day be possible. Almost no one gets it right on the first try. Held within the outward form of every light, free, and easy pose are often years of difficulty, failure and even pain.
When you embark on the inner quest of yoga, it is the very process of starting at the bottom of a seemingly unscalable mountain and climbing it with slow, steady, perseverance against insurmountable odds that holds the power of transformation. By conquering the unconquerable and confronting the terrifying places within, you necessarily gain access to a place within yourself that is beyond the struggle, the experience of a place within yourself that is eternally peaceful, powerful, and loving.
That is what yoga is all about. The light, free, and easy asana is just a matter of seduction. Yoga teaches that only by transcending the illusory world of limitation can you actually move past these false boundaries in your practice and in your life. Every pose, every movement, and every breath along the way redefines the very essence of your being."