About Mysore Style Classes

“Mysore Style” classes are the backbone of the Ashtanga Yoga Method.

Pattabhi JOis, far right, assisted by his grandson Sharath, teaches a class in Mysore. Photograph by Dayanita Singh
Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, far right, assisted by his grandson Sharath, teaches a class in Mysore. Photograph by Dayanita Singh

We call them Mysore style because this is the way that Sri K. Pattabhi Jois used to teach in the south Indian town of Mysore in India. This is also the way that his grandson R. Sharath Jois teaches there until today.

In a Mysore class the teacher doesn’t lead the class (except once a week). Every beginner starts with learning the Surya Namaskar sequences. Once certain level of proficiency has been reached and the student develops certain level of strength, flexibility and stamina, the standing poses are taught one at a time. In the same manner, once the teacher decides it is time, the Primary Series and the finishing sequence are taught one pose at at time. And then the Intermediate Series and then the Advanced ones (A, B, C and D) Each one of this series may take up to 3 or 4 years to learn depending on the student.

Each student is responsible for learning the sequence he has been given and practice only to the last pose she/he was taught.

In a Mysore room you might find students of different levels all practising next to each other. The teacher watches everyones practice very diligently and helps, sometimes verbally and many times with hands on adjustments, each student in the key points of her/his personal practice. In a way, it is like a private class for each student in a group setting.

Once a week, usually at the end of the week, there is a led class in which the teacher counts the vinyasas for each pose for the group as well as the number breaths that each pose is to be held.

Mysore rooms are usually very quiet conducing to a space of meditation and most times the only sound you can hear is what I like to call a beautiful “symphony of breaths”.

Mysore Etiquette

These are a few guidelines to follow in aΒ Mysore room:

  • On your first class introduce yourself to the teacher and let him know what your regular practice consists of and who your regular teacher is. Also inform the teacher about any injuries.
  • Always be on time and if possible just after having washed.
  • On your first class, only practice Primary series.
  • Bring:
    • a Yoga mat,
    • a cotton rug or mat towel
    • and a hand towel.
  • Wear light clothes that allow free movement throughout your body.
  • Be silent at all times.
  • Only practice the Ashtanga sequence as it is currently taught by Sharath Jois in Mysore. Do not add or skip poses. Please let me know If you have any doubts about the sequence
  • Do not attempt any poses that have not been given to you by a qualified teacher.
  • It is advised for female practitioners to rest and abstain from practice on the first 1-3 days of their menstrual cycle. Please ask me if you have any doubts about this.