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The Mystique of Mysore
by Peg Mulqueen, RYT




Editor's Note from Brooke Nisbet:  What IS Mysore Yoga anyway? Peg Mulqueen, Ahstanga Yoga Teacher, gives us some answers and clarifications on what it is, what to expect if you attend and ideas on how to proceed. This is a clear, simple and short resource that gives you a concise idea about what Mysore is.


There’s been a lot of buzz here in DC (maybe elsewhere too?) about the Mysore way of practicing Ashtanga yoga.

It took me 8 years before I took my first Ashtanga class – and another year before I would find the courage to Mysore with the big dogs because I thought Ashtanga was scary and the Mysore-way was just for people who knew what they were doing.

I was wrong.  I didn’t know what I didn’t know – yet just enough to stay away.

So to save you some trouble and perhaps a few years, I’ve put together a little FAQ.  It is not complete and others have been written that are probably far better.  But hey, much like my kapotasana … it’ll do.  

What is Mysore?  First, Mysore is a place in India where Sri K. Pattabhi Jois first began teaching the Ashtanga yoga method in the 1930’s. Today, R. Sharath (Rangaswamy) Jois continues the tradition there in his grandfather’s footsteps.

Ok … so then, what is Mysore?  It’s the same method Pattabhi Jois introduced and is still practiced in Mysore that is self led – but NOT self-taught.  Students learn postures in a fixed order from their teacher, using a breath-movement technique called vinyasas. Everyone practices at their own pace according to their ability, strength, and stamina.  (Read more here about led class vs. Mysore style)

Truth be told, it’s probably the ONLY practice that is truly ALL levels.

But what if I don’t know the postures?  Funny, but new students never ask this question but those who know “just enough” always do.   So in the beginning, you learn some choreography – no big deal.  Seriously.  No.  Big.  Deal.  As Keith Moore has said, if a student knows everything then there’s nothing for him to do.  Postures are given for the most part, one by one by the teacher, and practiced every day.  You didn’t learn the alphabet nor your multiplication table at one sitting.  Nor will you the primary series either.  And btw, did I mention, it’s no big deal?

Who is my teacher?  Here’s what I know about Ashtanga teachers – the ones who are authorized or certified generally spend at least a few weeks to a few months a year practicing in the motherland with their teacher.  But even the ones who aren’t ALL remain committed students, practicing nearly 2 hours, six mornings a week in addition to the 3-4 for hours they teach.  Your teacher knows dedication and commitment.  He/she knows what it’s like to struggle and work through challenges – and knows first hand the transformation possible through a daily practice.

Your teacher is definitely someone who walks their talk.

What can I expect from my teacher? 
This is a really special part of the Mysore style practice – the relationship you develop over time with your teacher.  Ashtanga teachers are known for their hands-on adjustments as they help you explore poses and possibilities – only after they get to know you and your individual needs and strengths.  It’s an intimate partnership that requires communication, trust, and commitment from both.

Can I just drop in to a class?  The answer is, of course, yes.  But given everything you’ve just read … why?  Commit to a month, at least four times a week.  That’s fair.

What else?  Try to come to class already hydrated (no water bottle), clean (read this), and with a “we try” (not “we do” or “we can’t do”) mindset.

But most of all – just try to come.  And like they say, the rest will too.

Right now in the DC metro area – there are at least 5+ programs to choose from.  Find a location and teacher that works for you.



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About the Author

Peg Mulqueen has a master’s degree in psychology and more than 500 hours of yoga teacher trainings. She has been leading yoga classes and workshops since the year 2001. Though she enjoys all styles of yoga, she has found her home and daily practice within the tradition of Ashtanga. She remains grateful to ALL her teachers, who have each offered her unique inspiration and guidance along this path. Peg’s class. The Rocket Series as taught to her by David Kyle, welcomes students of all levels and disciplines. For more information about Peg, please visit her website at www.pegmulqueen.com. Also view Rocket Yoga here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QzMl4GY4RRc





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