Coming to Mysore has always been surreal and at the same time coincides with a much needed reality check after months of teaching back home.
I noticed Gokulam getting more busy than before with more cars, more businesses, more cows and shalas opening up. It is a good sign. Ashtanga Yoga is spreading and more people are attracted to the practice.
Ashtanga Yoga has gotten a ‘bad’ reputation for being tough, demanding and boring for some. On the other hand there are over 5000 practitioners all over the world applying to practice at the main Shala every year.
What is it about Ashtanga Yoga that is both intriguing and intimidating? What makes the Mysore pilgrimage a must for all Ashtangis although some people never want to visit India ever? It’s a love-hate relationship that is at times distinctive as well a gray area.
Ashtanga Mysore style is one where each student practices within a group with the same sequence given to them. However, each student will practice at their own pace and to the point of the last pose that was given by their teacher.
The act of stopping students at a particular posture in the Ashtanga system is not to force everyone to conform to a set standard, but to make sure that each individual develops the posture to their own maximum potential, in a way that is healthy for them. ~ Iain Grysak
Practicing in the Shala with 70-80 practitioners is mentally and physically challenging. Everybody is moving, shifting, adjusting and breathing at their own pace. It calls for your utmost focus and concentration. You literally mind your own business on your mat. It trains you to be self aware of your own body and breath.
That’s the beauty of this practice. You are competing with no one but yourself. You learn to hear your own inner voice and critics. You learn to watch your own mind and apply self control and mindfulness.
Anyone can do asanas (poses) but to practice (real) yoga it take more than just touching the toes, having the leg behind the head or floating up into a handstand. It takes many years of uninterrupted practice, devotion, dedication, discipline, determination to self realization. Simply put yoga is for self transformation.
My personal favourite story of all time comes from David Swenson – ‘Jump back, I am a good person. Step back, I am still a good person.’ Your asana practice doesn’t define you, your actions do.