Here are some frequently asked questions about Ashtanga yoga. Please also check the “General practice advice” before coming to class. If you can’t find the answer to your question here then please send us an email.
1. I’m new to yoga – what class should I attend?
The best way to start your practice is to attend a beginners course in Ashtanga yoga. It will give you a proper foundation and a good insight into what the practice is about. After or in combination with the course you may attend Mysore Style classes.
2. What is Mysore Style?
Mysore Style is the traditional way in which the practice of Ashtanga Yoga is taught in the city of Mysore, India. A set sequence of yoga postures is memorised by the student and each student moves through the sequence at their own pace. The teacher doesn’t “lead the class” but instead individual instruction is given by the teacher as and when needed. A beginner will naturally be given more instruction than an advanced practitioner but both practice in the same class. Since there is no need to “keep up” with the other students it can be a much safer and less stressful way to learn. Mysore Style classes are NOT only for students who have already established a regular yoga practice. Instead the Mysore style format is for everyone because it teaches yoga according to one’s individual capacity. The setting allows the student and teacher to work together at a much more personal level, which is ideal for beginners.
3. How do I learn the sequence?
In the beginner’s course you will be taught a basic introduction to the first steps of the Ashtanga Yoga Primary series. Thereafter each student is taught the practice (their part of the sequence) according to their ability, one pose at a time. Therefore beginners will have a much shorter practice to start with. At first the practice may be less than an hour long, but with time it could build up to 2+ hours.
4. What if I forget/can’t remember the sequence?
Ask your teacher. At the very beginning you may also use a so called “cheat sheet”. Through repetition you will slowly begin to remember until the sequence becomes so natural that the yoga practice becomes like a moving meditation. Beginners are also welcome to stay after practice and observe the other practitioners in order to learn.
5. What if I can’t get there for the beginning of the class?
Then you can come later. Mysore style is drop-in and open for a few hours. As long as your practice is done by the finishing time, you can turn up when you like. Only if you attend a beginner’s course or workshop you need to be there “on time”.
6. What’s the ‘mantra’?
At the start of class the teacher recites a mantra to offer To express appreciation to the lineage of teachers in general, and specifically to Patanjali who is said to be the founder of Ashtanga yoga. The chant is done in Sanskrit. You find more information about the chants here .
7. I’m injured – can I still practice?
Injuries can be accommodated much more easily in a Mysore Style class as you don’t have to keep up with the rest of the students (like in a led/guided class) and you can work with your yoga teacher on an individual basis. Let the teacher know at the beginning of class if you have any injuries or illnesses.