Mysore Style is the method of Ashtanga Yoga taught by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois in Mysore City, India. Nowadays, the system is transmitted by his grandson Paramaguru Sharath Jois. In the Mysore style, poses are taught gradually based on the capacity and needs of each student, with an emphasis on correct breathing, asana, and drishti.
What is a Led Class?
To remember and master the entire “choreography” of breaths, movements and postures, at the end of each week, a counted Led Primary Class is conducted in place of the
regular Mysore Style practice. In this class, the teacher calls out the names of the poses, along with the counts, and the students move together, in synchronocity
with the counts.
The Led class reinforces the proper vinyasa system you learn in the Mysore class – when to inhale and when to exhale as you enter in and out of each asana.
Ashtanga yoga is a physically demanding style of yoga, developed by T. Krishnamacharya and Sri K. Pattabhi Jois in the 20th century. Sometimes referred to as Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga, the style was derived from a system of Hatha yoga described in the ancient text, the Yoga Korunta.
Ashtanga is a Sanskrit term meaning “eight-limbs,” referring to the eight limbs or eight-fold path of yoga as outlined by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras.
8 Limbs of Yoga was first used by sage Patañjali, the writer of a treatise on yoga sutras, over 2000 years ago. The 8 limbs listed by Patañjali are:
- Yama: Self restraint
- Niyama: Personal observances
- Āsana: Seat or posture
- Prānāyāma: Development of energy
- Pratyahara: Withdrawal of the mind
- Dhāranā: Concentration
- Dhyana: Meditation
- Samadhi: Enlightenment
Nowadays the accurate way to refer to the breath used in the Ashtanga practice is “breathing with sound.” Not Ujjiya. Just deep free breathing. (rather than shallow breathing which won’t purify the nervous system in the same way)
This caused a stir at a conference in 2013 that Sharath Jois (paramaguru/lineage holder) held in Mysore, informing students that the breathing they were doing in their practice is not actually called Ujjayi. He explained that his grandfather Pattabhi Jois (torch bearer of Ashtanga yoga) did not speak English well, and a student misunderstood his response about the breath, and that’s what led to the initial mislabeling. Sharath says that Pattabhi Jois never referred to the breath we do in practice as Ujjayi and in his very important book ‘Yoga Mala’ doesn’t say anything about Ujjayi during asana practice and, while teaching, he only said to ”Breathe freely”[In fact Ujjiya Breath is one of the Pranayama techniques (breathing exercises) of Ashtanga yoga and is begun only when a practitioner has started the Advanced Series. And, because of the length of breath, and the fact that it is retained, it is not even possible to do Ujjayi Pranayama during practice]
Rather than ujjayi breathing, Sharath recommended when I trained with him, that our inhale and exhale sound “resembles the wind passing through the trees”. This is still through the nose, but without constricting the throat and making the distinctive ‘Darth Vadar’ sound that used to be prevalent….
Sharath says, as long as “In our practice we are not forcing the breath. We should inhale and exhale smoothly as this will help to activate our digestive fire. We should not hold our breath in asana and instead try to have a flowing breath to help our circulation and nervous system.”
And of course we don‘t breathe into the belly during our Ashtanga practice as we engage bandha, the light contraction of the core muscles. This in turn supports the diaphragm and a full deep diaphragmatic breath, using the whole of the lungs.
And remembering it’s our practice and our breath. Free and natural, and always what is comfortable for the practitioner….
Dristis are gazing points that we use to keep us focused in the practice. There are 9 Dristis in Ashtanga, and each pose and vinyasa has a prescribed Dristi.
The 3rd eye (Broomadhya), the tip of the nose (Nasagrai), the navel (Nabi Chakra), the hand (Hastagrai), the toes (Padayoragria), the thumbs (Angusta Ma Dyai), up to the sky (Urdva) and to the side (Parsva), both left and right.
Throughout the practice we maintain control of 2 energetic seals or “Bandhas” in the body.
Moola means “root” and Moola Bandha is located at the based of the spine. We activate Moola Bandha by squeezing the anus.
This should be subtle. With practice, you will be able to squeeze the anus and slowly relax the sphincter muscle, while still feeling this upward lifting energy.
Moola Bandha helps to prevent the life force (prana) from escaping out of the body.
Uddiyana means “to fly up” and Uddiyana Bandha is located just below the navel. We activate Uddiyana Bandha by drawing the abdomen inward, toward the spine, and upward.
We don’t do belly breathing in Asthanga, and the Uddiyana helps us to draw the life force upward, flooding the heart and lungs with prana. Uddiyana also protects the vital organs and helps to create space for forward bends and twists. It is the combination of Breath and Bandhas that creates the magic in Ashtanga. Strong intention
In our breath and continuous awareness of our bandhas allows us to activate our core strength. We then discover this lightness that allows us to defy gravity and float through the practice.