Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My first Mysore class experience

So I recently went to my first ever Mysore class. It felt sooooo different from a led class. It was so hard to concentrate on my own practice when everyone around me is doing something different! I kept miscounting my surya namaskara Bs (accidentally making some of them into surya As). I would also skip a pose, then realize it a few poses later, do that pose, then go back to what I was doing, totally re-ordering the Primary series. I was also totally not used the teacher's adjustments. My usual teacher normally starts with a gentle push, and then deepen the adjustment, holding it for 3-5 breaths, for both sides. The teacher at this shala would give me a 1-2 second squish one side only and walk away. For Mari D I got a non-gentle double shoulder grab - upper body deepening twist that was neither painful nor unsafe, but still left me kind of surprised. I guess I've been too pampered and spoiled in my regular led primary series classes. Supta kurmasana was a towel grab rather than a bind, but this teacher gave a pretty strong adjustment that got my feet crossing above my head, and that felt good. In supta padangusthasana A, usually I pull my leg down to my face, but this teacher held my leg straight in the air and made me come up to meet it. Made the pose feel totally different (ie. much more challenging, which is probably exactly what I needed).

I guess the idea of Mysore classes is to go at your own pace, spending a few more breaths in poses that need more work, and even repeating things that need work. However I felt totally insecure without a teacher verbally going through instructions on things to watch out in each pose, or what was supposed proper pace. I'm too used to being told what to do, so I ended up rushing through the entire series due to nervousness. I think I caught up and surpassed several people who started much earlier than I did. I might have also completely skipped a few poses by accident, but there would be no way to know because I had no memory of what I did and did not do 2 poses earlier, and the teacher wasn't really watching me (the shala was pretty happening). I think I also might have started counting my breaths while I was still getting into each pose, so probably I only held each pose for about 3-4 breaths.

Overall it was a very rushed practice at the fault of no one but myself. It was fun watching people do intermediate poses at close proximity. Hey, don't judge me for my drishti violations; it's my first time experiencing this so I just had to check out poses I'd never seen in real life before. It'll probably take awhile before I get used to Mysore style practice; for now I will stick to led Primary classes (and my regular teacher's handholding style adjustments, hehehe).

Update: I want to stress I'm not dissing Mysore style of practice. This is just my personal experience after over one year of led primary practice with the same teacher. I would happily switch to a Mysore class if my regular led class 5 minutes from where I live no longer becomes available to me.

11 comments:

  1. Kudos to you Yyogini for venturing out to try a Mysore class!...and thanks for sharing your experience in your first Mysore class...I'm always curious what students think the first time they try a Mysore class.

    I'm pretty passionate about practicing and teaching in the Mysore style because in my own practice I've felt that the benefits far outweighed the initial feelings of strangeness when Mysore style practice was new...it for sure looks likes chaos initially...lol! :)

    I wouldn't judge Mysore practice in general by the adjustments you received...they sound a bit abrupt as you described them. My experience with adjustments by Mysore teachers has been much more as you describe your led primary teacher doing...starting gently, then deepening the pose for 3-5 breaths each side.

    Thanks for sharing...look forward to hearing more when you try another class!
    :)

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  2. Thanks for sharing your mysore experience! I'm happy you finally gave mysore a try :-) Yes, it's bound to feel strange in the beginning, as Christine says. It takes a while to find your own rhythm and to feel at home in your own self-guided practice. Yes, I am very familiar with the drishti violations you described, as well as losing count of Surya Bs; when this happens, I usually just do one or two more Surya Bs, for good measure. Losing count in navasana is less pleasant, since you can only do so many extra navasanas :-)

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  3. Hi Christine, thanks for your comments. If I've never taken an Ashtanga class before, this teacher's adjustments would have totally felt fine. It's kind of like having had a spectacular massage therapist for years and then trying out a new one who is good but not outstanding. Also like you said, I'm sure it just takes awhile to get used to. When I get into the intermediate series I will probably try out some more Mysore classes.

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  4. Kudos for taking a Mysore class! I adore them and dislike being in led classes now. Mysore style really imprints on you the sense that the practice is your own and not dependent on a teacher. Learning the sequence is part of that. After 4 years of Mysore practice I still sometimes forget a pose and only realize it later (whoops, where did that pose go?) Oh, and sometimes I go a whole class with no adjustments until assisted back bends. Depends on the teacher and how much they want to let you just be with your own practice.

    I will admit it's pretty scary in there at first though! Yay for you even venturing in!

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  5. Hi Nobel, I never lose count in navasana. If anything I semi-unconsciously skip a whole set and just move on :) I definitely need to find a personal rhythm. I practiced as if I was about to be late for a major job interview happening right after class.

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  6. So Y, Your regular teacher does not offer a Mysore practice? Or does that teacher's schedule conflict with yours? I bet you would not have been nervous at all if your Mysore practice had been at the regular site with your regular teacher minding the room. I do have to say you just described EVERYBODY'S first Mysore experience if all they have had is led.. Only with better humor.

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  7. @Loo, thanks for your comment! I need to learn to not be so attached to adjustments and verbal instructions and just direct my attention to how my practice feels. I think Mysore class would be a good place to learn that.

    @Sereneflavor, my sense of humor is still a work in progress but thanks for the complement :) My teacher currently does not offer Mysore classes. He might not even offer led classes at my yoga studio any more in a few months :( :( :( I plan to get as many class practices into muscle memory as I can, because I may have to switch to a home practice soon. If it weren't for all the yoga and breathing exercises I'd be having a huge anxiety attack right now.

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  8. It's interesting that you felt that way about the Mysore class, though I guess it makes sense! Somehow I recognize the feeling, but I don't know how that's possible since I learned Ashtanga in Mysore style from the very beginning. I think it really is just the first few times that you'll feel like that though - as you get used to Mysore style I think you'll love it - I passionately believe it's the best possible way to practice (though I'm not one for push anything on anybody), I think it's much more meditative and inwardly focused, very nice :) Though it certainly would take some time getting used to I highly recommend trying it some more - if you have the occasion of course. As for the adjustments it sounds a bit odd...but every teacher is different and not all teaching methods can be enjoyed by all students, that's just life. Anyway, good luck with it, whether it's Mysore or led, the most important thing is to enjoy it! :)

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  9. Thanks Bibi! Led primary was very intimidating in the beginning, when the counting seemed way too fast and with so many poses packed into 75 minutes. I got hooked to the class when the teacher seemed to keep track of my progress after a few weeks and worked with me personally on a single pose for weeks at a time. In a way it felt like a Mysore class after awhile, but with someone providing a very steady counting for me.

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  10. I really enjoyed reading your thoughts and feelings about experiencing Mysore style for the first time.
    I haven't been to any Mysore style class or leading ashtanga class yet, because I simply can't afford them (they cost a fortune here in London), but i practice at home 6 days a week and attend some hatha yoga classes where the teacher corrects the asanas. I'm dying to be able to go to a studio and finding the benefits of both Mysore and leading and see how I feel. I can imagine it must feel strange at the beginning, as everyone is doing different things, but since I'm practicing at home on my rhythm already i might enjoy it a lot. I like not being pressured to go too fast or too slowly and the Mysore style has the benefit of emancipating the student, instead of creating a dependency, which is very wise and unique in a way.

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  11. Hi Anonymous. It's amazing how many people have the discipline to maintain a 6 day practice on their own. I admire you for doing that. I can see that if you are used to your own practice, then Mysore style classes would be very suitable for you. I would go to one too if it were available and convenient to me, but right now I am happy with what I have.

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