I want to try Mysore Style Ashtanga, but I’m terrified…by Sharon Floyd

What is Mysore-style Ashtanga yoga?
The Mysore style is unique in the world of yoga; it is not a teacher-led class with verbal instruction or music. You come to class to do your own individual practice in a group setting. You show up when you like–it’s courtesy to come earlier rather than later–and do your thing.

It is named after the town in India from where Pattabhi Jois, the founder of Ashtanga yoga, hails. It’s pronounced like it’s spelled: My-sore.

I don’t understand what I’m supposed to do once I get there!
1. Enter the room and introduce yourself to the teacher if it’s your first time. Inform him or her of any injuries or limitations you may have and that it’s your first Mysore class.
2. Put your mat down and step onto it.
3. You can go right into your practice beginning with Sun Salutation A, or begin by centering with the breath or mantra.
4. Enjoy your practice.
5. Repeat.

Taking Intro classes is a great way to get started with confidence. Balance offers several Introductory Series’ that are perfect for beginners!

I feel bad because I’m taking up so much of the teacher’s time.
The teacher is there to assist you with your concerns and questions, and to help refine your postures with verbal and physical adjustments. Don’t worry about the time you require because teaching is what teachers love to do! Practice as frequently as possible so that you require less attention as you go along.

The other students resent that I’m taking up so much of the teacher’s time.
Not likely! The other students are focused on their own practice and are potentially deep in a moving meditation.  And remember – they were all beginners at some point, and totally get how you are feeling.

What if I forget the postures or don’t know what comes next?
The instructor is there to help so don’t be afraid to ask. Practice and the memorization will come.

Will I be expected to do all of Primary Series?
Short answer: no. Ashtanga champions a gradual progression of the postures. The idea is to learn them as your body is ready so you are never expected to perform postures that are beyond your capabilities. That said, the way to progress is to accept and embrace challenge.

I feel like I will be judged if I’m not flexible/advanced/knowledgeable enough.
Ashtangis know better than anyone how much dedication and practice it takes to develop flexibility and strength. You will find them to be an empathetic bunch!

I am self-conscious about practicing with advanced yogis in the room.
Doing an advanced posture does not make you an advanced yogi. Think more about – can I put my attention into what I am doing, can I focus on my breathing, can I become a more kind and compassionate person…this is how one becomes an “advanced yogi.”

I am terrified of going to a Mysore class!
Why fear? (or as Guruji would say, “no fear!”)  The biggest challenge is showing up on your mat. Do that first step and everything that comes after takes less effort as time passes. Don’t worry, you got this.

Did we miss anything? Share your questions or concerns in the comments below.

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