Picture taken during the Paramaguru tour, Sharat Jois – December 2018.

A little bit of History

Mysore is a city located near Bengaluru, India, in the State of Karnataka.

Sri Pattabhi Jois first established the “Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute” at his home in 1948, at Lakshmipuram. In 1964 he built one extension to it, in order to develop the yoga practice. That is during this time that Andre Van Lysebeth, from Belgium, start practicing under his guidance.

In 2002, as the popularity of the Ashtanga Yoga Vinyasa start growing, Sri Pattabhi Jois opened a second school in Gokulam, located in Mysore.

That School is still active, and thousand of practitioners from all over the world, come yearly to practice under the guidance of Sharath Jois, grand son of Pattabhi Jois.

It is important to understand that no one can authorise anyone in the teaching of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, unless your name is Sharath Jois. Sharath is the only one authority in the world to authorised Ashtanga Yoga practitioners. To reach that level you need commitment, and a lot of practice, that is why all 200 Hour Ashtanga Yoga Vinyasa are absolutely useless and have been created only for marketing.

Also please note that Yoga Schools providing 200 Hour Ashtanga Yoga Vinyasa are most of the time led by non practitioners, who haven’t been practicing at the main shala. Even if the school is located in Mysore, with Indians “teachers” wearing a dhoti and counting in Sanskrit.

The only reason why they are doing it, is because they are just surfing on the ignorance of westerners practitioners, who most of the time have no clue of what they are practicing. Real practitioners will never ever attend any 200 Hour Ashtanga Yoga Vinyasa Course.

Please find the list of real authorised teachers in the all world.  I really doubt that any 200 RYS “so call” Ashtanga Yoga School will be part of it…. 

What is a Mysore Class?

It’s a non led class.

Each student practice their own series.

Wether the primary or secondary series.

In traditional shala, with authorised teachers, classes start on Sunday and end on Friday.

Friday will generally be the led class. Days off are full moon and new moon day. Women can take 2 or 3 days during the “lady holidays”.

While practicing at the main shala with Sharath, there are 2 led classes, one on Sunday when the week starts and on Friday, when the week ends.

What do we learn….

How to practice…

Beginner will be first introduced to the Suraya Namaskara A & B, until the complete sequence is assimilated. It can last up to 30 mins of only Suraya Namaskara. Then the practice will stop there and he will be guided to Padmasana toward Shavasana. The teaching is progressive.

As you go, the standing postures will then be taught. For instance, the beginner will be guided until the Prasaritta Padotanasana series, then will be required to start the sequence from scratch one or two times. 

That is one of the difficulty. If the student is receiving the process correctly, he/she will do whatever the teacher is asking. If not then the ego can start playing with the mind.

Some of the beginner have the desire of going faster than the music.

They will start jumping front and back only by imitating what they see in the shala from others practitioners.

In Mysore classes there is no level, some people practice the primary, secondary or third series. Therefore beginner can be influence from what they are witnessing on the other yoga mat.

There are three categories of beginner.

Beginner Number 1 – He/she does not understand why he has to stop

Or, shall I say, does not want to understand.

If the teacher is stopping the beginner at Prasaritta Padotanasana, then asking him to redo the sequence, it is first of all to build the stamina and second thing to make him understand that he/she needs to know the series by heart. No paper sheet is allowed in the yoga shala. The series should be printed into the brain cells.

Some new bees just want to perform handstand toward Chaturanga Dandasana, because he has the ability to do and also probably want to impress the teacher.

It does not work like this…… Teacher will temper and asked him to stay for 5 breathes in Trikonasana for instance. Breathing should be long and effortless.

Two options arise.

First, the student is understanding the process and will continue to learn the series.

Second, he/she won’t come back, and will choose instead a 200 Hours yoga course where he will be able to use props, yoga belt to satisfied his/her ego for posture that required time to learn, but can be perform without any effort as soon as you grab the yoga blet. 

Beginner number 2 – The one who has attended a 200 Hours Yoga Teacher Training Couse

That is from my personal experience.

Most of students who are attending a 200 YTTC in Ashtanga Vinyasa, are learning DURING their course the existence of Sri Pattabhi Jois and accessory Sri Krishnamacharya…… They will also discovered that series are existing and will hope to visit the secondary series, in one month…

Hopefully they would have learn the “vinyasa” counting by heart, even thought they won’t have no clues where to stand in “Ashtao”.

They would have been taught how to do Supta Kurmasana with yoga bricks and yoga belt, and for Marichyasana D, the variation will do.

The real problem of those 200 Hour Course, is that teachers leading those course are NOT practitioner, but really not, and you can trust me on that one as I have been working with two of them.

I think the worst and comic part of it, is that one of the “so call” teacher had proudly posted a picture of himself on Instagram, performing Supta Kurmasana, for which he clearly can not bind anything, with a quote saying something like that “one day I will do it”……  And this guy is leading 200 Hour Ashtanga Vinyasa Course….

It’s slightly pathetic don’t you think?

Beginner number 3 – The one who listen

This practitioner is humble. He knows that the road will be long and he is ready to take it. 

He will acknowledge everything from the teacher, without commenting the fact that he should stop or not.

He will do the posture with his own capacity, without cheating, and as time will pass, will progress slowly but surely.

On November 2018 while practicing with Iain Grysak, there was a man in his mid-forty starting his journey with the Ashtanga Yoga Method. In one month I witness his evolution.

At the end of the second month, he was stopped at Marichyasana D, smiling, and full of joy. He was never ever argumenting about anything. Just following instructions from Iain.

A young lady, also started her journey, and she did her first drop back in less than a month…. I have to admit I was jealous as for me it takes a lot of time until I felt confident to drop back on my own. 

Those practitioners will stay and will continue their practice.

Asana Practice

A posture has to be practiced 1,000 times to be fully assimilated by the body.

It takes approximately one year and a half to learn, practice and understand the Primary Series.

It is a real commitment. Once the Primary Series has been printed into the body, then slowly student start practicing the Secondary Series.

At the beginning of the practice, we only feel and see the physical body. Once we start coordinating the breathe to the movement by repeating the same sequence daily, for 6 days in a row on 52 weeks, only the practice becomes more yogic.

Part of the body will close while other will open. Loosing flexibility is something very common. Such as loosing asana. One day you will be able to do Supta Kurmasana, then the further you go in your practice, you will loose it. 

It always comes back, but muscles need to be reorganise. As well the mind, when deep backbend start to be introduce into the practice, some of us cry, laugh or just renounce in order to come back stronger.

That is where we start practicing yoga.

Being able to develop a self-practice

Practitioner should be able to unfold their mat on their own.

Learning the series by heart, allow all practitioners the will power to unfold their mat daily.

Beside, since you don’t need to think what is after Janu Shirshasana C, it is a good moment to start practicing as well Pratyara (the withdrawing of the senses), drishti will come easily and pranayama will be followed.

The five breath counting

Asanas are kept 5 breathing, when you reached the closing series it goes from 10 to 15 breathes, for Shirshana it can go until 15 deep breath, followed by half Shirshasana for 10 breathes.

The breathing is not that fast. It is “only” 5 breathes, but if you give a slow motion breath, then the practice will last at least 1h30. For 70 asanas. So that is a very long daily practice.

Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, the root of all Vinyasa Yoga Classes

Vinyasa is everywhere, not only in the Chaturanga Dandasana, Urdhva Mukha Svanasana, Adho Mukha Svanasana.

As soon as you are going into one asana, and dismounting the asana, there is a Vinyasa, as it is the breathing.

All others yoga class such as Power Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Flow Yoga, Warrior Yoga, and all “new style”, takes its root from the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga.

No one has created something, they are just changing the order of the posture, mixing everything, and give a new name.

All asanas come from Hatha Yoga. There is no special posture for “Hatha”, “Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga”, “Vinyasa Krama”, “Flow warrior Yoga”, “Flow something yoga”……

As soon as you start jumping front and jumping back, the source is and will remain the series of the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga.

In short

There is no 200 Hour TTC course who will certified anyone in Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. It takes more than 200 hours, to understand the series.

You won’t become a Yoga teacher by doing so. First you have to develop your practice and the discipline.

If you want to learn the series, you should practice under the guidance of an authorised Ashtangi. 

It takes a lot of commitment to practice the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. Mysore classes are full of practitioners and you should learn from them.

The regularity is essential. You should at least practice daily, if not then 4 to 5 times per week.

In the case you are interesting in following that path, here are some good teachers you should go:

  1. Iain Grysak
  2. Mark Robberds
  3. Deepika Metha
  4. Sharmila Desai
  5. David Swenson
  6. David Guarrigues
  7. Kino Macgregor

and of course, once you have been practiced at least 6 months continuously, buy a ticket and travel to Mysore to practice at the main shala with Sharat Jois.