Mysore is a place in Southern India where Ashtanga yoga developed. Ashtanga means eight limbs in Sanskrit, an ancient language from India. Its greatest exponent was Pattabhi Jois who was the main teacher to those that teach this form of yoga in the world today. He passed away in 2009. The term “Mysore style” refers to the method of Ashtanga that he taught in his home in Mysore.
The method, which constantly evolves, includes guiding the student through set asana sequences over time. This allows the student to develop a self practice using the Ashtanga Yoga method. This means independence from having to practice with a teacher every time one does yoga practice, and is one of the many benefits of this form. The students start with surya namaskar, the sun salutation, which forms the basis of the practice, and from there postures are added one by one to allow the student to properly learn and integrate a posture before moving onto the next one.
This process can be frustratingly slow at times, with the benefit of teaching patience and contentment, two highly sought after qualities on the path of yoga. It might also be fast so that a student can experience the benefits of coming to a place where they will be challenged with their physical prowess, or meet their “edge”. This slope is precarious, but can teach humility and non-attachment to the physical, or help develop an inflated ego. Thus the practice becomes individually oriented and each student can work without the guidelines of their own needs while following a set sequence.
The sequencing in the Ashtanga system allows for 6 series to be taught, each with a different emphasis. The postures are strung along a sun salutation like the beads in a mala, or rosary. The first sequence is called yoga chikitsa (yoga therapy).
Together with nadi shodana (the “nerve cleansing” second sequence) they form the two main sequences that are taught to practitioners.
Working on the asanas, or postures, forms a solid foundation upon which one can build. It provided one with a healthy constitution, as well as the energy and strength necessary to practice the higher limbs leading up to meditation.
It is usually assumed that students practice the asanas as a way to prepare for meditation, and therefore do not see the asana practice as an end in itself, but as a means to a higher end, which is to practice meditation.
Important to remember that the artificial restriction of a set sequence creates boundaries and this is essential in the creation of tension, or the inner heat (tapas) necessary for the process of purification, which forms part of the growth and progress needed to attain a higher consciousness
Post by: Francisco Neri Bonilla