It’ll be quiet when you enter the Shala, maybe even still dark outside. Slipping your shoes off at reception you might start to hear the steady waves of ujjayi breath coming from the Sun Studio, the first signs of activity in this otherwise quiet space.
You’ll sign your name and leave your belongings downstairs, along with the stream of thoughts that have already started to fill your mind even this early in the morning.
Sliding back the door the warmth of the room hits you first. There’s a lot of movement, that wave of ujjayi breath, everybody moving independently, there’s no music. You’ll find a space in the room (or a teacher will help you) and roll out your mat – you have arrived! You’ll begin your practice as you were taught in your beginners course, either sitting quietly, with some Pranayama or straight to standing to start a peaceful opening chant:
vande gurnam caranaravinde
sandarasita svatma sukhava bodhe
samsara halahala mohasamtyai
sahasra sirasam svetam
Cards are available if you aren’t familiar with the opening or closing chant, or you can wait until 08:00 and 10:00 when the whole room will be called to join in with the opening invocation.
And now you move. Each person starts their practice with the same Suryanamaskar & standing sequence but if you don’t remember, someone will always help you. You move to your own breath and everyone in the room will be at different stages. This is part of the beauty of the Mysore style… you practice for yourself and for your own breath, and there’s no room for comparison. Focus on the breath and maintaining the steady transition and vinyasas between postures; there’s always a teacher or assistant who will remind you of what comes next in the sequence. You won’t be led through each part of the sequence as in a vinyasa class (unless you are totally new to the Mysore style), but you will be adjusted in certain postures which can help to move you into correct alignment, a deeper version of the posture or a modification to better suit your body.
Although the Ashtanga series are the same for everyone, each practitioner is at a different stage, so while you may be practising to the end of the standing sequence in the Primary Series, you may be next to someone who is practising Third Series. Your teacher will advise you at what stage to wrap up your practice, and as you continue over the weeks and months you will be given new postures as and when you’re ready.
Keeping your focus on your breath, you’ll settle into a rhythm and everything else melts away for that 45 minutes, one hour, two and half hours of the day that you’ve dedicated to your personal practice.
When you’ve moved through your last given asana and completed the closing sequence, your body warmed and weary, your mind clear and light, you’ll come to stand for the final closing chant:
nyayena margena mahim mahisah
gobrahmanebhyah subamastu nityam
lokah samastah sukhinobhavantu
om shanti shanti shanti
And now you move through a final vinyasa to your Savasana. Lying on your back you can feel your body melting into the floor, processing the information it has received, and sealing your practice. This is important for your body and your mind – don’t skip this!
After your Savasana as you quietly leave the room, shower, gather your belongings and prepare to leave the Shala, the hardest part of your practice is just beginning. No matter if you’ve had a difficult or easy practice, or received a new posture, or conquered a challenging transition… or fallen flat on your face, you leave it all behind. The practice is sealed and the only thing that you carry forth into your day is your intention to practice yoga in all aspects of your life through the teachings that support the asana practice, including the Yamas and the Niyamas. You’ll endeavour to carry these ethical and moral guidelines though your daily life, using your practice on the mat as an opportunity to clear the mind and body ready to best serve these intentions.
You will learn more through your own regular practice than any book or blog can teach you, the first step is always making it on to the mat. If there are any questions that you still have or anything that we can do to help you start your practice, please do not hesitate to contact us firstname.lastname@example.org or speak to one of our Mysore teachers, Sarah, Karen & Emma.
Please see below for all upcoming Mysore 4 week beginners courses and Mysore weekend beginners intensives.
We look forward to seeing you on the mat!