I’m going to bust a myth about the Mysore room right now: everyone in that room started at some point!
Whether it was 15 years ago, or two days ago, everyone has stepped into that room, feeling excited but bewildered. It’s so amazing to see new faces enter the room for the first time, whilst you’re slogging away on your 25th chaturanga (do we do that many??). I always feel excited for them about the journey they are about to start, but also empathise with them.
I empathise with them because I know the three stages of Mysore that they are about to go through:
Stage 1: ‘Everyone is looking at me’
“Oh my god, I’m not as good as everyone else.”
“I can’t remember the next pose.”
“I don’t know the chant.”
“I don’t fit in here.”
“EVERYONE IS LOOKING AT ME!!”
I can guarantee anyone who has ever stepped into a Mysore room, anywhere in the world will feel this way. And it can be daunting: you are starting something new, and starting it in a room full of people who’ve been practicing Ashtanga for one, five, ten years!
This is completely normal, but when you make it part of your regular routine, you will get past this phase.
Just remember: everyone in that room has been in your shoes at some point. No one was born a yogi!
Stage 2: ‘I’m just here to focus on ME’
Once you get used to the dynamics of the room, and more established in your practice, you’ll start to be given new postures by your teacher. And then your ego will kick in:
“Oooh I can get further in this posture.”
“I want to get to the end of the Primary series in the next two months.”
“My backbends feel easier.”
“Maybe I could just add the next posture myself.”
In this stage, you’ll start to see a difference in your practice: you’ll be progressing through asanas, won’t feel so breathless in Sun Salutations and have more confidence in the closing sequence. You’ll start to become more internalised: the Mysore room is for you, your teacher and your mat.
The other people in the room are just getting in the way… in fact, are they encroaching on my outer mat space?!?!?
Again, this phase is completely natural and you WILL come out of it. Your teacher and the practice will keep your ego in check.
Then you’ll be ready to enter the next phase…
Stage 3: ‘We’re all in this together!’
At this stage, you’ll feel at home in the Mysore room: you’ll recognise some familiar faces and the practice will become more automatic.
You will see people in advanced postures and feel inspired rather than intimidated.
And you will see new people enter the room, feeling empathy towards them working through Stage 1!
You will start to really feel the community vibe of the Mysore room, and realise your teachers are students too.
The Mysore room is about learning: physical, mental and emotional learning.
So whether you are new to this style of practice or have it ingrained deep into your soul, just remember that this is a process full of peaks and troughs. Take advice from your teachers, enjoy the adjustments and keep showing up on your mat.
That’s how you get through the three stages of Mysore.