Of late I have been practicing mysore style ashtanga yoga. Mysore classes usually start around 06:30 in the morning and last for about 2.5 hours. You’ll start off with the Primary Series, possibly doing about one hour and stopping a quarter way through the series. The longer your practice the more poses in the sequence you’ll do and in this way your practice time increases. Everybody in the room is doing their own sequence at their own pace. The teacher isn’t leading the class; you have to remember your own sequence. If you forget the teacher is there to help.
I have very mixed feelings about this style, and most of them aren’t positive.
Firstly, the teachers seem to actually worship the late Shri K. Pattabhi Jois, who is known as the ‘founder’ of the ashtanga style. They go to Mysore to practice with his grandson, Sharath, their new guru ever since Jois Snr died. Photos abound on the internet showing Jois’ ‘followers’ lying at his feet, kissing them. Yes, really. The room in which they teach is supposed to have an altar with a framed photo of Jois, some candles, perhaps a few flower, you know, like in church. Am I the only person who finds this odd? What kind of people build an altar to another flawed human being?
Secondly, no water is allowed in the yoga room. No matter how desperate you get, and it gets hot and sweaty in there, no water is allowed. This does not seem healthy to me.
Thirdly, adjustments can look violent and scary. Some of the poses look downright dangerous. Are they really necessary to have a healthy body? I don’t think so. It’s also worth noting that Jois Snr himself didn’t practice his own style of yoga. Alarm bells anyone?
Fourthly, the teachers have to get the ‘blessing’ of the Jois family in order to teach in their style. They consider it the biggest honour ever, I just wonder how much it costs…
Still, it’s nice to practice in the early morning, and a quiet yoga room has many benefits over a led class. I think I’ll stick with it for another little while, but ultimately I think I think too much for it to be for me.
What do you think? Have I got it all wrong? Am I right? Anything to add? I’d like to here your thoughts.