Traditionally yoga is all about self-practice. Through the history practices have been passed down from teacher to student on a one-on-one basis. Led classes have become popular all over the world, and they have their role and place, including in Astanga, but in terms of learning, it often becomes more like learning backwards. Once you start a Mysore practice you may need to unlearn many things and concepts you thought you knew from led classes.
Here are some reasons why jumping into Mysore class and building up a self-practice is a good idea:
- One size doesn’t fit all. We are all different, and hence no guided class can fit the needs of everybody. In fast paced led classes people often end up doing postures they are not ready for, with poor or minimal instruction, which in turn has caused way too many injuries, frustrations and misunderstandings. In the Mysore room you progress gently at your own pace, and learn how to approach the practice skillfully and patiently.
- Your teacher will address you by name. Your teacher knows your practice inside out. You will receive adjustments to guide you to correct alignment and learn new postures when you are ready. If you forget something or have questions, the teacher is there to assist you. All this helps you to improve and grow where you need it most. As a bonus, it comes without the price tag usually attached to private teaching.
- The teacher isn’t counting the practice for you, but inviting you to focus, and to listen to yourself, to move towards stilling the mind, which is the ultimate goal of yoga after all. By building up a self-practice you slowly and safely learn the sequence by heart and develop an ability to focus inwardly. This allows the deeper meditative aspects of yoga to unfold naturally.
- Memorization of the sequence means you own your practice, and you can take it anywhere you go. You can also spend more time on things that need extra attention and practice good self care by slowing down when needed. Building up independency is the best way you can apply all you learned from your teacher. Learning to be self-reliant and mindful on the mat helps over time reveal how to take it off the mat.
- You don’t have to listen to anyone talking and there’s no new age music. The practice is quiet, it’s all about you and very little about the teacher. Instructions are down-to earth and the practice is your space for exploration and research. It becomes your personal meditation in motion.
The best news is that anyone can practice. No preparation is needed, just get started as you are and be consistent. When facing the challenge of stepping onto the mat, remember that the practice doesn’t have to be perfect, it doesn’t have to be super deep or to even last long. It just needs to happen often enough. Start with 10 minutes. Keep breathing. Keep focusing. A regular routine builds up a positive inertia that drives towards the mat again and again. You may even become hooked, which is an addiction with only positive side effects.
Some more general benefits of Astanga practice inlclude:
- Light and energized physical feeling
- Makes physically fit, and keeps both body and mind youthful, fresh and powerful
- Replenishes lost energy and life force to the body
- Calm mind, improved concentration, focus and awareness
- More positive and balanced outlook to everyday life and life situations
Well-tested therapeutic tools for stress and pain
- Improves quality and consciousness of breath
- Offers an effective and supportive practice for any activities and goals in your life
- Helps to manage the ups and downs of life with equanimity
- Functions as an effective supplementary practice for sport and physical activities
- Regular practice is a genuine path towards meeting your true self, where you are happy and already content with the present moment, as it is