If you happen to search the internet for Yoga, you might get confused with the number of Yoga styles out there! Each style has been developed over a period of years and has a certain science to back it up. The Mysore Style of Yoga is named after the city of Mysore in India, where K. Pattabhi Jois, taught Ashtanga Yoga from 1930s. He taught at the Sanskrit College in Mysore for 37 years.

Mysore city

Mysore city is located in south India and is a popular tourist destination, increasingly so for health tourism as well. People who are interested in yoga, find their way to this city – both local and foreigners.

Ashtanga Yoga and Pattabhi Jois

Ashtanga Yoga was developed by Pattabhi Jois and have a unique way of learning. The key factors of this style of Yoga are:

  • It is almost like a private session of yoga. Instructions are given to each individual on a one – to – one basis.
  • Every student is given a series of asanas and they practice them at a pace best suited to them.
  • The teacher guides and instructs each student with adjustments in posture and verbal instructions.

These factors are in sync with the belief Pattabhi had – “Yoga is 99% practice and 1% theory”

Each asana flows from one to another is a sequence with continued breathing – specifically referred to as – Ujjayi Breathing. It is a specific breathing technique which is practiced when following the fixed order of asanas taught. The asanas are lined up in such a way that the previous posture builds up the next one and so on for the successive ones.

When a new student begins to lean the Mysore style of yoga, he is assigned asanas which are specific to his ability. It usually starts with learning the Sun Salutations or Surya Namaskar. This is done primarily to warm up the body and to steady the mind. Since the teacher explains the sequence of postures to the student, they can focus on only the asanas. It helps to increase the attention within, rather than at the teacher or surroundings.

These beginner sessions are short and help in increasing the flexibility, stamina, concentration and strength of the students, before learning the next series of postures. Another unique feature about these yoga sessions are how quiet they are. Everyone is focussed on practising their sequence and breathing sound is the only one that’s heard. The teacher can keep an eye on everyone and if someone is going wrong, can correct them. It is also possible that if a student is facing difficulty in performing a certain asana, the teacher will modify or improvise it without changing the intention of it. This way, the student can practice all the asanas.

Once the student finishes the sequence taught to him and is stable in the last asana performed, the next asanas is taught to him. The sessions for beginners can last for only around half an hour and the more advanced ones can go on for 1 hour 45 minutes. The Mysore style of Yoga has 6 different series or sequences of asanas, which are learnt gradually. Every series has a different significance and begins with the Primary Series which is Yoga for Health. The Second series is the Nerve Purifier and works mainly at strengthening the organs and the spine. There are very few people around the world who can claim to be proficient in Series 3 and above.

Most of the people who plan to learn the Ashtanga Yoga, do no go beyond the Primary series. It works well because the Yoga taught is as per that individual’s capacity. Pattabhi said that “Yoga is possible for anybody who really wants it. Yoga is universal…. But don’t approach yoga with a business mind looking for worldly gain.”

Ashtanga Yoga is practised six days a week – except Saturdays and full moon and new moon days, which make up of two days in a month. If you have commitment, patience, are in no hurry, feel lost in a yoga session where you are rushed to complete a posture before getting it right and just not satisfied at the end of the session, you know where to head.