What is Mysore Yoga?

Mysore is a city in India from which some of the more significant yoga styles, including ashtanga vinyasa yoga and Iyengar yoga, originated from. Mysore yoga is the quintessential yoga practice of the city of Mysore. As the birthplace for ashtanga vinyasa yoga, the popularity of this city and these practices has immensely grown over time.

As a branch of ashtanga vinyasa yoga, Mysore yoga uses the same sequence of poses but emphasizes deeper introspection, breath awareness, and moving meditation. Rather than being guided by a teacher, in a Mysore yoga class, each student is driven by their inner wisdom and the strength of their personal yoga practice.

However, since Mysore yoga classes are not led in detail by a teacher, these classes are typically reserved for the more regular yoga practitioners who already have a strong familiarity with the yoga poses and how to find the proper alignment for their bodies. Regardless, Mysore yoga can provide immense benefits for the body, mind, and soul no matter where you are in your journey through yoga!

Definition of Mysore Yoga

Ashtanga vinyasa yoga and Mysore yoga are intimately linked because they are essentially variations on the same practice created by K. Pattabhi Jois. The only main difference is the teaching style. These two yoga styles utilize the exact same sequence of poses, and the main differing factor is that Mysore yoga involves practicing at your own pace with possible personal guidance or adjustments from a teacher as you practice.

Instead of synching up with the teacher’s instructions or the rest of the students in the yoga studio, Mysore yoga encourages you to flow at your own rhythm and move into the deeper yoga practices of profound introspection.

As an active and flowing style of yoga, Mysore yoga is better suited for individuals with stronger physical fitness who are looking for more advanced practice. If you are a beginner, it is best first to begin practicing ashtanga vinyasa yoga under the guidance of a trained teacher and then eventually transition into a self-led Mysore yoga practice.

In this way, you can ensure that you practice the poses correctly to avoid injury before jumping in on your own. However, there are certainly some beginner students who immediately start with Mysore yoga, and with the help of a teacher, they can adjust their practice over time.

Benefits of Mysore Yoga

As they are both active practices with the same sequence, ashtanga vinyasa yoga and Mysore yoga share many of the same benefits. But there are some crucial differences in how Mysore yoga provides many more benefits to the mind and soul due to the focus on introspection, the breath, and moving meditation practice. The primary benefits of Mysore yoga may include:

  • Improves cardiovascular strength
  • Calms the mind
  • Strengthens the muscles
  • Eases chronic pain, especially back pain
  • Increases focus and awareness
  • Improves respiratory health
  • Promotes weight loss and healthy metabolic function
  • Enhances physical fitness
  • Increases positivity and a growth mindset
  • Relieves anxiety, depression, and stress
  • Builds inner tranquility and peace
  • Guides you to your inner self and a higher truth

To gain the benefits of Mysore yoga requires a dedicated effort and consistent practice, allowing you to delve deeper into the layers of your body and the intricacies of your mind. Mysore yoga gives you a profound opportunity to turn inwards and use yourself as your higher guide, perhaps even becoming your own guru.

The Top 5 Mysore Yoga Poses

In both an ashtanga vinyasa yoga and Mysore yoga class, the students flow through a set sequence of poses in a specific order. There are six sequences of these poses, but most people only practice the first sequence since it is already quite complex. The ashtanga vinyasa or Mysore yoga primary sequence contains around 75 poses. Some of the most popular Mysore yoga practices include:

  1. Downward Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
  2. Warrior 1 Pose (Virabhadrasana I)
  3. Four-Limbed Staff Pose (Chatturanga Dandasana)
  4. Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)
  5. Boat Pose (Navasana)

For beginner practitioners, it can be helpful to print out a visual representation of the sequence of poses to guide you through the practice and remind you which pose to flow into next. It is also advised to create a strong foundation in the primary sequence of ashtanga vinyasa yoga before moving on to any of the other series to prevent injuries.

How to Practice Mysore Yoga

Mysore yoga and ashtanga vinyasa yoga are very similar because they use the same sequence of poses. The main difference in these practices comes from the teaching style. In a Mysore yoga class, you are encouraged to flow at your own pace and tune into your breath, using ujjayi pranayama or the victorious breath to guide you deeper into each pose and into the depths of your mind.

As you begin to practice Mysore yoga, it can be helpful to keep a visual guide of the poses near the top of your yoga mat to cue you throughout the practice. Eventually, you may not need this at all, and you might consider practicing with your eyes closed, delving deeper into the inner layers of your being.

Ultimately, Mysore yoga is a moving meditation that guides you into the philosophical depths of yoga and brings you in touch with your inner truth. Each class may take around one to two hours to complete but remember that it is not a race, and you are encouraged to practice at your own pace.

Start Mysore Yoga at Home

Mysore yoga is an inherently self-led practice, so it is an excellent yoga style to do on your own at home. However, when you attend a Mysore yoga studio, you also receive the added benefit of personalized recommendations from a qualified teacher. But regardless, if you cannot make it to a Mysore yoga studio in person or want to try it at home first, check out these follow-along videos.

30-minute practice of Ashtanga Yoga Mysore Style for beginners to intermediates

Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series Full Class at Samyak Yoga Mysore

Primary Series Ashtanga with Sri K. Pattabhi Jois

Teaching & Practising Mysore-Style Ashtanga Yoga Asana (guided self-practice) with Philippa Asher)

Use these practices to navigate your self-flow at home, but ultimately you may consider practicing without a video and tuning into your body and breath as your guide.

Mysore Yoga FAQs

Why is Mysore Famous for Yoga?

Krishnamacharya, often called the father of modern yoga, taught yoga to the king of Mysore in the early 19th century. One of Krishnamacharya’s central students during his time in Mysore was K. Pattabhi Jois, the founder of ashtanga vinyasa yoga and Mysore yoga. Due to its ties to these famous yoga teachers, Mysore has remained a significant destination for yoga seekers, and there continue to be many ashtanga vinyasa yoga teachers in the lineage of K. Pattabhi Jois teaching in this area.

What is the Difference Between Ashtanga and Mysore Yoga?

Ashtanga yoga, or ashtanga vinyasa yoga, is the exact same practice as Mysore yoga. The primary difference between these two practices is that in an ashtanga vinyasa yoga class, the teacher will lead the students through the sequence of poses. In contrast, in a Mysore yoga class, the student leads themselves through the practice. This creates more space for introspection and allows the more meditative practices of movement to shine forward.

How Does a Mysore Yoga Class Work?

In a Mysore yoga class, each student will flow through the ashtanga vinyasa yoga sequence at their own pace and in rhythm with their breath. The teacher may also move around the room and provide some support or instruction as needed for each individual person. But primarily, a Mysore yoga practice is self-led, creating a unique experience for students to dive deeper into their personal yoga practice and inner self.

Important: Check with your doctor before trying Mysore yoga for the first time if you have any type of injury, illness, pain, or you are pregnant.

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