According to Sanatana Dharma, or Hinduism, the ideology containing the science and practices of yoga, time is perceived to be cycling through 4 different epochs, or yugas. We are in the last epoch: Kali Yuga, the material age. In the great Indian epic, believed to have originated around 3000 B.C, The Mahabharata, the sage Vyasa says, “In the Kali Yuga, the duties of the respective order disappear, and men become afflicted by inequity.”
As a species, we have lost touch with our higher selves, our subtle selves, our spiritual selves. Our minds are distracted, confused. We spend our time following various desires, obtaining one thing after the next trying to satiate ourselves, but still, we are unsatisfied because our true desire is to connect back to our source.
The connection to our source is attenuated. Yoga is a path and set of practices which give us the tools to reopen that divine connection. I constantly stray from the path but my curiosity and the benefits from my practice get me back on track again and again.
Since 2016, I have been traveling to India to train with my yoga teacher, Sharath Jois, who’s established his yoga shala (school), Sharath Yoga Centre, in India’s city of Mysore. I have studied with him in India for six and a half months in total across five separate trips. These trips have included a half-month journey through Northern India into the Himalayas, two trips to the current shala, and two trips to his grandfather’s shala, KPJAYI. Prior to studying with him, I went to India two other times and have done numerous week-long workshops with him here in the US. Needless to say, India and this wonderful teacher hold a huge place in my heart.
The majority of yoga students go to Mysore, India because they want to get authorized to teach Ashtanga Yoga by Sharath Jois himself. See, in Ashtanga Yoga, unlike other disciplines of yoga, there is no yoga teacher training. One is only authorized to teach a portion of the system of Ashtanga once they have received Sharath Jois’ blessing along with a piece of paper to prove it. Worldwide, there are 685 authorized teachers, 136 of whom are in the US. Two of us, Sammy Brown and I, reside in Utah and work at Front Yoga Shalas… The Front is the only place in Utah with an authorized Ashtanga Yoga program but there are a lot of great Ashtanga teachers and practitioners in Utah.
Sharath Jois generally teaches twice a year for a few months at a time. Depending on how many students show up for the month, the shala groups them by practice start time. In January, 130 students were split into five batches with starting times between 4:30a – 8a. In February, we had roughly 250 students, with batches starting as late as 8:30a. These students come from all over the world: India, Iran, Egypt, UAE, Taiwan, China, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Russia, Poland, Ukraine, Turkey, England, Scotland, Germany, Italy, Spain, France, Switzerland, The Americas, & more. Ordinarily, there may be around 300 students, but amid a pandemic with many countries having strict laws and bureaucracy surrounding travel, there were fewer this year. Sharathji is such a great teacher that many want to practice under because he grew up surrounded by yoga, learning from a young age to be both a student and teacher from his grandfather, who was also a yoga guru that passed the tradition onto him. He is disciplined, as a real yogi should be- waking up at midnight to begin his own practice before he teaches. He is also extremely aware and present with his students, has a gift of helping people into asanas that are impossible or difficult for them to do by themselves, and has a very sharp wit and sense of humor.
Students are not supposed to ask for authorization from Sharath Jois, rather, they should wait for him to offer it. So, prospective teachers of Ashtanga return year after year in hopes of receiving authorization. Often it takes three to eight years. The minimum amount of time one can study at the shala is a month and the max tends to be three months per year. This is the method—it’s not your typical 200-hour teacher training. People train for years as a student, then possibly get authorized and can essentially become an apprentice for a month or two – or possibly numerous times while they are there practicing as a student, if they so choose, assisting Sharath Jois at the shala. There are quite a few authorized people who don’t teach much, if at all—some just love to visit Mysore to be with Sharath Jois, soak up the vibes of India, and work on their personal practice. Not everyone there wants to be a teacher and yet they may still be authorized to teach.
If you’d like to learn more about this experience, I have written a summary of my latest trip to Mysore and some insight into what takes place there. It is an itinerary packed with details I hope to be informative and interesting to amateurs and yoga nerds alike. Read my full blog post below!
Mysore India Yoga Training at Sharath Yoga Centre, 2022
Midnight, New Year’s Eve: arrive at Bangalore airport after months of planning and dealing with the various soul sucking events leading up to travel during a global pandemic.
- Take a 4.5 hour car ride to Gokulam, Mysore, where I will stay for the coming 2 months.
- Arrive at the last house I stayed at last season, pick up my trunk of belongings stored there, head over to the house I will be staying in this season, and settle in. This house contains 3 apartments. The family who owns it lives on the bottom floor, a different family lives on the second floor, and the upstairs houses yoga students, myself and another student /yoga teacher from Russia, (@sanata108 on IG) in the adjoining apartment.
Mysore class days, M-F:
2:10- 2:30 am wake up, maybe hit snooze a few times.
- Once or twice a week join video conference work meeting at 2:30 am (2:30 am in India is 3 pm in Utah)
- Play vedic chanting during morning ritual…my daily usual is “The Holy Vedas” by Ved Vrind
- Turn on iphone light & look for my roommate; an inch long cockroach. Watch where she hides, hoping it’s not under my yoga mat, so I can avoid her, because she gives me mini heart attacks on the daily. One time I found her in my underwear drawer….
- Tongue scrape with copper scraper (if you don’t have one, may I recommend that you get one, it’s a game changer – you will be amazed at all the stuff that comes off your tongue in the morning that you probably don’t want or need).
Yogic practices are made up of various physical and mental purification rituals; according to the philosophy, we should be content, make do with less & allow what naturally resides inside us to radiate. What we each are, essentially, is a spark of the divine, so we are truly all One. Over our lifetimes, we accumulate different habits, reactions, and identifications based on our circumstances. We hold onto ideas and emotions. All of these accumulations are called samskaras. Yogic practices help us let those go, enabling us to see the world through a crystal clear lense. Then we make decisions & act from a place of true understanding with less samskaras separating us from our “true self” (atman) and the “supreme or universal self” (paramatman, the “divine”). When we have this clarity & purity, our relationships with the rest of the world become more pure. We are able to operate more harmoniously.
- Make instant coffee in a pot with a little electric burner. Add freshly made coconut milk from the Chocolate Man down the street. He and his wife run an amazing shop with freshly made chocolates and other treats geared toward yoga students.
- Get back in bed, drink coffee and hot water, make an IG post or stories for @frontyoga, @frontyogaloft, or myself; @purnamevavasisyate.
- Stretch in bed. Assess the sore muscle and tendon situation.
3:30 am: Get up & ready for the day; hot shower, brush teeth, dress. Pack rupees, shala ID card, clothes, yoga mat, mini Bhagavad Gita, & printed Sanskrit chants for chanting class.
4:05 am: Go outside, admire the moon, take Rickshaw (tuk tuk) to Sharath Yoga Shala in Hebbal. Siddhu, the rickshaw driver, is always waiting early for me. We become friends over the course of my study. I highly recommend his services!
4:20 am: Arrive & sit outside shala, waiting with the other students. We are in the earliest batch.
4:25 am: Guruji arrives. We stand in respect & anticipation of what comes next. Our dear shala caretaker, who has a house on the grounds, unlocks the massive doors, & we rush in quietly, putting our yoga mats & Shala ID cards in our spots. Spots are marked with yellow tape & are socially distanced. During the pandemic, there was an empty row between practitioners. Over time, everyone in the first batch gets used to being in the spot every day.
Take bag to the locker room, strip off sweats, beanie and jacket but keep long sleeve shirt on, as it is still cold in the shala. Change, use the restroom, lock things in locker & head to the yoga mat.
4:30 am: Asana practice begins. We come out of the locker room as we are ready, stand at the front of our mats, silently chant the opening mantra to our practice, and do what we have done so many times before. We all begin at slightly different times, and though we all are doing the same asanas and movements between them, they are not physically in sync with each other. Everyone has memorized their sequence, started at different moments, we move in time with our own breath.
Asana practice is outlined below in italic. Some of the most experienced practitioners only do primary series. Perhaps they have done the other sequences in the past, but as their bodies become old, or they experience injuries, they may go back to Primary Series, as it is the most therapeutic, balancing and healing sequence.
There are 2 types of surya namaskara: A & B (we do 5 of the A and 3-5 of the B). These are the famous Sun Salutations, honoring Surya, our sun, which serve to connect us mentally and even physically to the Sun (as we begin to feel the warmth of energy provided by the sun being burned in our bodies by the process of moving through these), Surya is considered as a deity by many humans now and probably most of those leading up to our generation.This entire practice is meant to be done as an act of worship, or at least a meditative act of connection to the “divine”, or the “supreme”.
There are 12 fundamental asanas that everyone does. Asanas are assigned in a specific order, strung together on a choreographed pattern of breath and movement. The order of the asanas is important, as each prepares the body for the next. The entire sequences are intended for specific purposes; Primary Series is designated as Yoga Chikitsa (yoga therapy), for instance. It’s purpose is to bring balance to all the systems of the body in order to clear away disease and bring health.
Primary Series has 33 asanas, 14 are asymmetrical, meaning you do it twice-once on each side
Intermediate Series has 33 asanas, 10 are asymmetrical, meaning you do it twice-once on each side
Advanced A, or Third Series has 36 asanas, 27 are asymmetrical, meaning you do it twice-once on each side
Backbending Sequence has 3 Urdva Dhanurasanas until you finish primary.
If, and only if you finish Primary Series, you stand up from the backbend and add 3 dropbacks: drop back into and stand up from Urdva Dhanurasana 3 times.
Then we do 3 dips with the assistant’s or Sharathji’s help
Then catching (holding) the ankles or legs (from the backbend), with the assistant’s or Sharathji’s help
Then paschimattanasana (seated forward fold) with a “squish” from whomever has been assisting you, to balance out all the backbends.
Finishing sequence has 14 asanas plus Nadi Shodhana, alternate nostril breathing and rest, lying down on our backs and often taking a short nap, inadvertently. We do not call this rest position Shavasana as many other schools of yoga do, because shavasana is a very advanced practice that almost no one actually knows how to do.
Adding on: This asana practice is the main reason most of us are here, although there are many more… This is what most people think of when they hear of Ashtanga Yoga. There are 6 sequences of postures, but only two of them are usually done; primary and intermediate. The first few days, everyone has to do primary series only. Then, those on their first visit continue with primary series only until Guruji tells them (individually) to add asanas one at a time from intermediate series. This is the process of adding a sequence, only one to a few asanas at a time. This usually begins after a week or so.
In order to qualify to add on to primary series (which may take 10+ years to do well, so one may learn quickly to be invested in the process more than the outcome), one must be able to stand up from and drop backward from a standing position into the common backbend, Urdva Dhanurasana (many call it wheel or bridge pose). Urdva Dhanurasana means upward bow, and not wheel or bridge. But different lineages often have different names for the same asana. Anyway, once you do 3 of these on the floor, laying down on your back between them, you must stand up from & drop back into this backbend 3 times. The Guru or assistants are there to help people learn how to do this when they are ready.
Once a practitioner is able to begin the add-on process, they continue doing all of the previous sequence (until told to “split it” by the Guru) and add the new postures onto the end, before backbends and finishing sequence.
With over 100-300 students there, it may seem like one could cheat the system and just add on asanas as they wish. Some are under the mistaken impression that the best yoga practitioners do more asanas and more difficult asanas. (But we learn in philosophy class and conference that the most advanced yogis may only sit in lotus and meditate, and chant one word, “OM”, over and over…)
Many of the Mysore students already know how to do some or all of Intermediate Series, but Sharathji (Guruji’s other acceptable name) pays a surprising amount of attention, and many times I have heard him call people out for trying to cheat the system. He of course preaches ahimsa (non-harming) as the foundation of yoga practice, but he says he must scold us students from time to time, so we will remember the rules. One thing many people don’t know is that you only have to practice for two months minimum with an authorized teacher in order to qualify to apply for the school. So some of the students are relatively new and may not have completed Primary Series when they begin practice at the Centre.
After 3-7 days, the students who have already attended the school in prior seasons go back to doing the same asanas as the last time they were there. Eventually they too, will have more asanas added to their sequence by Guruji. Slowly we grow our practice, doing the same sequences day after day refining, stretching, strengthening; we do this to our minds as well as our bodies. There are people practicing primary, intermediate, and advanced A & B sequences, all together. We each go at our own pace, but may be scolded if going too fast or too slow.
When it comes to backbend time, when those of us that are doing dropbacks (the backbending previously mentioned) are finished doing our self- backbending routine, we cross our arms over our chests, and either Sharathi or one of his assistants come to help with the next part; dipping and catching. This is often the most intensely physical, mental and emotional part of the practice. The guru or the assistant stands closely facing us, & physically supports & manipulates our bodies into shapes we never imagined possible for most humans, let alone our own selves.
Then, often in an emotional daze, as this may have released inner holding patterns, (again, these practices are meant to purify the subtle body, where we carry our emotions, as well as our nervous systems, both gross and subtle. Sometimes the effects may reach deep into the psyche or the heart of a person) we go to a different part of the room to do our finishing series which includes shoulder stand and headstand sequences as well as special meditative breathing, seated asanas and a nice relaxing rest. Many times we fall asleep and take a nap.
As each student is about to finish their backbending in the main part of the shala, Guruji calls someone from the waiting batch to take their place, until all the students have finished their asana practice for the day. The guru and his assistants are all there until each and every student is done.
4:50 am: Sharathji comes to the front of the class and leads us in opening chant, he only does this once a day with the first batch. Then we continue with our practice.
7:30 am: Done with practice and rest, I gather my things from the locker room. As I walk toward the doors, past the current batch doing their practice, I wait to catch Guruji’s eye, place my palms together in namaskar, and bow to him. He smiles and nods or places his hands together and bows back, depending on what else he is doing. I go outside to greet the rising sun.
7:30 am: on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Siddhu takes me back to my apartment in Gokulam. On MWF, I stay. There is a canteen on the grounds, a large hall with metal walls and ceiling in which are tables, chairs, and the Depth and Green crew. Depth and Green is a restaurant in Gokulam owned by Pushpir, who often brings his family around. He is a wonderful human, and really went out of his way to help me out this last trip with a bus ticket. They make yoga friendly food, all vegetarian and made from scratch, and they are stationed in the canteen…they offer coffee, chai, smoothies, and delicious baked goods. I like to get chai and chocolate/coconut/chia pudding or vegan apple pie. I take my breakfast outside and bask in the rising sun, reading Bhagavad Gita, or chatting with the other students while I eat. Then I roll out my mat, stretch and possibly take another little nap.
After a couple weeks, the super nice guy that sells us coconuts returns. I feel bad I forgot his name but I do remember him from years prior, back to when he helped us rehydrate at the KPJAYI shala. Last time I was there, he disappeared at the end of the season because he got hurt in a traffic accident. I am so happy to see him again. He has a little truck filled with green coconuts. You pay him 30 rupees (40¢) and he opens a coconut for you to drink. You give him back the coconut, he cuts it open with a huge knife, and prepares the soft coconut meat for you to eat. I believe this fresh coconut water and meat is a key factor in our bodies’ flexibility. This is also a great time to socialize with other students. It’s always fun to see familiar friends from years past, and to meet new people from all over the world that are brought together by this practice.
10 am: on MWF, we have Sanskrit chanting with Laskhmisha Bhat. Lakshmisha is one of my favorite people on Earth. He is super funny, an excellent storyteller, and a Sanskrit scholar. He knows infinitely more about all things yoga than we do. We go back into the shala after everyone is done practicing and have chanting class. We have a number of papers with the chants printed out. Lakshmisha calls out some words in Sanskrit, and we repeat, reading the words on the paper as we do so. We do the same chants all month. These link us to people in the yoga lineage that handed these shlokas down verbally from guru to disciple for thousands of years, even before written language came about. Thus, pronunciation and tone are very important. This also is a yoga practice. It leaves me feeling mentally cleansed, with the vibration of the chants permeating my body and brain like a wheel set in motion with nothing to stop it from going on forever. We also do japa, the repetition of a short mantra. Japa practice is often done with a mala, the set of beads strung in a circle you often see yoga practitioners with. These malas are meant to be used for counting the mantra, keeping the practitioner focused on the practice. They should be kept hidden away in a special place, when not in use. Japa, like asana practice, has specific rules within the Indian culture. After japa, Laksmisha closes the class by telling stories or explaining philosophy and then we all do the closing chant together. Sanskrit is an integral part of yoga, it is considered to be the name of yoga. We learn all the asana names in Sanskrit and learn how to pronounce the sounds correctly through listening and repetition. It is an important part of honoring the lineage of yoga.
11 am: Philosophy class. We sit on the floor in the corner of the shala, and Lakshmisha teaches us philosophy from various sources; Hatha Yoga Pradipika, The Vedas / Upanishads, Yoga Sutras, Puranas and other sources. Many of these teachings entail memorization of lists. Yogic philosophy encompases what we current humans may think of as psychology. The ancient yogis were able to view the mind, body and nature in an extremely sophisticated way. They broke down these ideas scientifically, piece by piece.
Lakshmisha offers Sanskrit classes as well as the philosophy and chanting classes. 2022 is the first year I didn’t take the shala Sanskrit classes just because of limited time and energy. I did miss taking them, as Sanskrit takes me continuous practice to learn, but I have enough tools to continue to study on my own at home.
Noon: Catch a rickshaw back home with another student to share the cost. Usually these cost 200 rupees, or $2.65 each way. Arrive home, eat lunch. After lunch, there are various duties depending on the order of need:
Laundry: there is a washing machine out on the terrace that the other yoga student and myself share. We dry our clothes on the clotheslines which we also share with the 2nd floor apartment, so we often get to chat with the lady that lives there. Her name is Sharon, and she is very friendly. She has a golden retriever named Honey who is wild! (Dogs are very popular in India. They live outdoors with no “owners”, roaming the streets in rivaling packs. Cows also roam the streets but do have owners. Once I went to a house in Varanasi which had a big space inside where the cows slept. They wandered the streets during the day and came in at night. People have a large flat rock in front of their houses where they put food scraps to feed the dogs and cows which walk from house to house looking for tasty treats. There is no food waste here. Many people also put out dog food, bowls of milk, or fresh fruit to feed the animals. Nowadays, many people have pet dogs which stay in the house, and golden retrievers are seen as very bougie! The street dogs seem to mostly be the same type of feral mixed breed.)
Work: The Front generously allows me to work remotely. This season I need to focus on staff reviews and social media. The social media is easy because there is so much to write about and take pictures of…the staff reviews are a little more tricky because of the time difference. I need to meet with each teacher over facetime or IG calls, and they are kind enough to meet me super late or super early. It is great to touch base with them all, and get feedback and ideas for our yoga programming.
Oil bath: This entails coating the entire body in Ayurvedic oil loaded with herbs. You give yourself a rub down, massaging the extra sore spots, let it sit for 15 minutes on up to a few hours (I keep an oil bath towel handy to sit or lie on), then take a hot shower. This is great for sore muscles and connective tissues. According to Ayurvedic theory, the longer the oil sits, the deeper it penetrates.
4 or 5 pm: Dinner. This is the first year I utilized the Zomato app, which is similar to Doordash or Uber Eats. I was pretty paranoid about covid so I didn’t want to eat out, and as my “kitchen” was a single burner with the sink being in the bathroom, and as I had very limited energy left after practice, classes and work, I didn’t feel like cooking much. The Zomato app was a lifesaver. You can get food delivered fast and cheap from many different local restaurant. I wouldn’t do it much again though, because of the waste from the disposable containers the food is delivered in though. There is very limited recycling available.
India is a blissful playground for me, as a vegetarian who loves to eat. Much of the population is also vegetarian. I love the flavors of India, they really know how to cook delicious and nutritious food. I also buy fresh fruits from Shubu, who sells fruits and vegetables in the neighborhood, rolls his cart around the neighborhood. My favorites are pomegranate and chikoo, which is similar to a soft pear. Shubu is as sweet as the fruit he sells.
7 pm: Time to get in bed and sleep. It can be difficult to get my body to cooperate with this, especially with the yoga practice deeply affecting the nervous system. It was actually pretty easy to sleep the first couple weeks. I got covid the 3rd week which threw my sleep schedule off, and for the rest of the trip I had a really difficult time sleeping.
Led Primary and Conference Days:
3:45 am: Wake up and do the same morning routine, but sleep in a little later.
4:45 am: Siddhu picks me up in the rickshaw and we head to the shala. With all the students coming to practice at the same time, I head out early to be able to have time to do japa practice and relax before we start.
5 am: The shala doors open and we file in. There is an extra excitement in the shala on these days, with all students coming together to practice, & the ritualism about to take place. There are more flowers in the puja space, and on the stage where Guruji sits.
5:45 am: Guruji sits on the stage, and we all sit quietly together.
6 am: Led Primary Series. This is a special day where all students practice together at the same time, led together as a group by our Guruji. We start with our opening chant, in Sanskrit. Then Sharathji calls out asana names & vinyasa counts in Sanskrit and counts each breath to encourage a seamless, meditative, guided flow of movement and posture. Everyone is breathing in and out at the same time, as well as moving into and out of the postures at the same time. It is almost like a school of fish or a military formation. It takes about 90 minutes. We do our closing chant together, led, of course, by our Guru. Afterward, we rest for about 5-10 minutes.
7:45-8:10 am: Have a snack or a coconut, change clothes and get back into the shala for conference /satsang. Sharathji rings the big bell outside of the shala when it’s time to come in.
8:10-9:15 am: Sharathji sits crosslegged on the stage. We do the same on the floor in front of him. Fun fact: the word “upanishad” means “sitting near”, referring to students sitting near the Guru to receive ‘jnana”, or knowledge. The Upanishads are some of the most widely known literature from the Vedantic knowledge coming from India. It is traditional to sit in front of the guru and ask questions, soaking up the knowledge the guru offers. These sessions are called satsang.
Once everyone settles in, we sit quietly together for a bit. Then Sharathji offers a mantra to the lineage of gurus, acknowledging the wisdom tradition that he will draw from to share with us. He offers various other mantras, then a lecture about a different topic every Q & A session. Topics include being in tune with nature, living a healthy lifestyle, or what elements ashtanga yoga is composed of. After his lecture, we may ask questions. He encourages practical questions about yoga. This question and answer session may go on for 1- 2 hours, depending on different circumstances. These sessions are one of my favorite parts of going to Sharath Yoga Centre. Guruji often tells stories of his childhood, growing up learning yoga under his grandfather, who was the guru that made Ashtanga famous throughout the world. It helps us know him and yogic philosophy better.
In January, we had 3 weeks of weekend lockdowns due to the rapid spread of Omicron, so Guruji held conferences on thursdays instead of Saturdays.
Sundays, Moondays, and Ladies’ Holiday: Sundays are rest days. Ladies’ holidays (first 3 days of a woman’s menstrual cycle) are also rest days. Twice in a moon cycle we get a bonus day of rest, unless the moonday falls on a Sunday or ladies’ holiday.We don’t practice on any of these days, and the students are gratefully free to sleep in. We are encouraged to rest, and not go on excursions on these days. Ashtanga practice requires a lot of physical exertion, and we are tired and sore. However, we are in India, and adventure beckons…thus, many people return to practice after a rest day more tired and sore than they were before!
Some popular things to do on moondays and rest days are visiting mandirs (temples), getting a massage (there are many types of therapeutic massages popular in India through Ayurveda, but Sharathji says it may damage our subtle nervous system to get deep massages and advises only to get gentle ayurvedic oil massages), going to a swimming pool, wildlife safaris, going shopping, eating out with friends, or even going to a movie. I had to learn the hard way that it’s better to wait until the end of the season to hike up and down Chamundi hill, the beautiful and historic hill which has famous temples on top.
India was a bit behind the US as far as the spread of Omicron. Toward the second week of January, it inevitably started to spread amongst the students at the shala. Even though I was fully vaccinated before I went to India, I got covid and had to miss the last week of class, but I still had another month. I recovered, and started fresh in February.
Authorized students may apply to assist Sharathji during Mysore classes. He has two batches of assistants splitting the time. Since he teaches around 4 hours, each batch assists for two hours a day for a month at a time.
I planned on applying to assist guruji but by the time I arrived in Mysore, he had already selected his assistants from the students that arrived before me but after 2 weeks when Omicron started to go around, and some of the assistants got ladies’ holiday, I did get to assist because they couldn’t… until covid got me too! But when I tested negative at the beginning of February, Guruji kindly let me assist in class that month.
Still I arrive with the first batch, but now I am assisting them. There are many asanas that are better done with assistance. Some students don’t need any assistance, or very little. Some people only want Guruji to assist. He doesn’t like that, and asked people to stop waiting around for him at one of the conferences…if he had to assist all of his students every day, we would have a very short season, and he would be very sore and injured. There is only so much one body can do. Plus, we assistants watch and learn from the master himself, and get his feedback, and lots of experience with different bodies & personalities so that we can go back to our own shalas and be better teachers to our students.The art of assisting in Ashtanga is a big topic, I do it every time I teach a Mysore class but assisting under Guruji was much more intense and a massive learning experience. I will definitely apply to do it every time I go back.
I stay the month of February with much the same schedule as January, except that I move into a different apartment (sans cockroaches) and instead of taking a rickshaw to the shala, I ride with my friend Chandana, who has brought her car from Pune. She drives like a racecar driver and puts cardamom oil on in the morning, so the smell of cardamom will now remind me of her. Her yoga practice is goals. Follow her on IG to have your mind blown by her beautiful asanas! @chandanabhowmick
After assisting the first few batch, I practice with the second half of the students. I am absolutely exhausted and only get 4-6 hours of sleep most days. After recovering from covid in February I was also able to spend more time with friends for meal times, temple visits, moto adventures, and weekend afternoons at the pool. The friends I practice with, the locals who we depend on for housing, food, transportation, and our skilled and kind teachers really make these trips special. As Lakshmisha likes to tell us, none of us can get where we are by ourselves, we are all interdependent on each other. I am so grateful to the tradition of yoga, and all those that share this tradition. I have so much to learn & would like to keep going deeper and learning more for the rest of my life.
We have Ukranian friends that are still in Mysore after this season because it was unsafe for them to arrive home. Please follow my wonderful friends Irina (@pan_ira_yoga) and Tanya (@shalakyiv) to keep up with their situation and to find out how you can support them by taking their online classes from Mysore.
Ashtanga at The Front
I hope you enjoyed learning about the Ashtangi Mysore life. Come visit Sammy and I in Mysore class. If you are new and want to learn the method, please attend Sam and Ashlee’s Intro to Mysore classes before you come to the full Mysore classes so that our system works the way we have planned it. We recommend attending the Intro classes at least 4 times before you attend the full Mysore class. Intro to Mysore classes are held at both the SoMa and SLC locations 4 days a week. Check our schedule for details.
- Full Mysore classes are held at the Front’s SLC location every day except Saturdays and moondays.
- We offer it both morning and evening on weekdays.
- Led Primary series is recommended once a week once you have learned at least half primary in the Mysore class. We offer the led class on Sundays at 9 am.
- We also offer the Ashtanga Exploration class at SoMa, which Sammy teaches. It’s a class led as a group with extra exploration into the asanas. I must give a heartfelt shoutout to my dear friend Sammy, (@sammy_j2) who I am so happy is my teacher and coworker here in Utah. You will have to ask him about his adventures in India too. He is super laid back but kind of a genius at the same time. We are super lucky to have him and ALL our other yoga teachers and coworkers at The Front, many of whom are amazing Ashtanga teachers and practitioners as well.
- Check out Sam (@metal_daisy) and Ashlee’s (@ashtangaash) Intro to Mysore classes and Mysore class if you are new… they are wonderful and will show you the ropes. Take Michelle (@michelletaylor4661) and Kathi’s (@kyogini114) Half Primary Series in Ogden too, they are super talented and fun teachers to learn from. Take Charese’s (@charmony_yogi) Mysore classes too, they are super informative, and just an all around great human. Meet other students that can support and guide you as well, and let us know what you think about this style of practice after you’ve given it a go.
If you are interested in learning more about ashtanga in Mysore, India, you can visit Sharathi’s page here: Sharath Yoga Centre