Mysore Style is the traditional way of teaching the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, as taught by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. In Mysore class, everyone works within his or her own breathing rhythm and capabilities; growing slowly with the practice to ensure a life-long sustainable practice. Once you have the sun salutations memorized and the general format of the beginning of the standing sequence we encourage you to attend the Mysore practice. We have cheat sheets available and a teacher is always present to help if you forget something. The teacher gives personal advice that isn’t always possible in a group led class. Each person comes and starts and finishes their practice at their own time (within the time limits specified on the schedule).
What does Mysore Style mean?
Mysore is the name of the city in India where Krishnamacharya started to teach in the Mysore Palace. You could call him the ‘grandfather’ of modern day hatha yoga. He was the teacher of BKS Iyengar, TKV Desikachar, Indra Devi, AG Mohan and Sri K Pattabhi Jois, among others. Now you can call Pattabhi Jois the ‘father’ of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. He took over the teaching from Krishnamacharya in Mysore and continued to teach up until his passing at age 92 in 2009.
Gérald studied with Pattabhi Jois from 1991- 1998 where he was taught up to third series and was authorized to teach personally by Guruji. Linda studied with Guruji in 2003 in Mysore and twice during his visits to New York City. All the Mysore teachers have trained with Gerald and Linda and most have also studied with Sharath, the grandson of Pattabhi Jois.
In Mysore, India all the yoga students were taught ‘individually’ within the group. You may ask yourself: How can each person be taught individually when there are only one or two teachers and several students? Each person practices the portion of the Ashtanga Vinyasa series which has been advised to them by their teacher. The teacher will observe the practices of the yoga students and give hands on adjustments, verbal advice and explanation of the poses and practice as needed. It is great because then the teacher can focus on giving you personal attention for the postures you need improvement on.
How to embark on the Mysore practice?
We ask that each new student memorize the order of the standing sequence (including sun salutations). If you take our beginner classes or intro workshops, watch the Podcasts and use the practice sheets you should feel comfortable enough to come to Mysore practice. We also have a Beginner’s Mysore class on Wednesday mornings to get you started. Each person can come and go as needed so long as they are finished at the time indicated and there is no need to reserve your place. Just come!
Traditionally the practice is done in the morning before you start your day, as the sun rises. When you start the day doing something to nourish the body, mind and soul you will notice that throughout the day you will tend to make choices that also nourish.
Why bother memorizing the practice?
The main benefit of this is that you start to bring the senses and the mind inwards. When taking led yoga classes the mind needs to stay outward, concentrating on the instructions of the teacher. Once you know the asanas you can bring the mind inwards concentrating on the inner workings of the body and the breath more deeply and observing the quality of the mind. What’s happening there? Are we judging? Are we letting our ego push us? Are we letting the mind be negative or lazy? Are we calm and quiet inside or restless and impatient? Is the mind clear and concentrated on the task at hand or is it drifting? Is the breath laborious or serene and smooth? Is the body moving fluidly, finding balance between strength, stability and release or is it trembling, tense and blocked?
The next main benefit we see is that it gives the opportunity to have each individual work where each individual is; following his/her own breathing rhythm rather than following a guided class which must take into consideration the needs of the entire group.
Another of the many benefits is bringing the mind directly into your practice. Yoga technically means Union; some of the things we are aiming to unite are the body, breath and mind. Memorizing is a healthy activity for the mind and connecting the mind to the inner workings of the breath and body lead to awareness and mindfulness in all aspects of your life.
Tailoring Your Yoga Practice
Think of the difference between buying a suit off the rack at the shop or having a tailor design you a suit according to your body measurements and needs. With years of teaching experience Gerald and Linda will guide your ashtanga practice and give extra ‘projects’ to help you understand the posture before attempting something that may injure you. Pattabhi Jois gave Gerald some of these over 20 years ago when he was first learning the ashtanga practice to help him open his hips and lengthen the hamstrings.
Both Gérald and Linda are authorized to teach by their pranayama teacher, Sri OP Tiwari from Kaivalyadham in Lonavla, India. After a consistent, long time practice in the asanas they advise that the yoga students bring their practice to the subtler level of pranayama and will teach it to those who are ready either before or after their ashtanga asana practice in the Mysore room. The breath is the link to the mind; therefore, if you can calm and control the flow of the breath this is next step to refining the mind.
Why are we personally so committed to the sharing
of this Mysore Style Ashtanga Practice?
Simply this is what we both feel changed our lives for the better and we are inspired to spread the benefits to anyone willing to put in the effort.
The other reason, is when Linda moved to Paris in 2000 she had been practicing with Eddie Stern in New York. At Eddie’s she found friends, support, security, peace, love and compassion. She was eager to find the similar environment in Paris but surprisingly there wasn’t one. There were a couple of Mysore classes available but nothing in the morning and nothing to support her 6 day a week practice. So, for a couple of years she mostly practiced on her own and tried to get to a group Mysore practice when she could but when she decided to stay in Paris she was determined to build a community here.
She was the first one in Paris to organize a regular morning Mysore program (at her friend’s yoga studio in the Marais in 2002).
Then when Gérald moved here from Auroville, India, they continued to teach together at Ashtanga Yoga Paris. It has been a slow progress and of course, led ashtanga classes will always be more “popular” but they are still steadfast in their devotion to this practice and are dedicated to sharing it with as many people as possible. Guaranteeing that if you put your heart and mind into it, it will make major positive changes in your life!