This week I taught my first Mysore-style Ashtanga yoga class. For those of you who don’t practice Ashtanga, you should know that Mysore, India is the place where the Ashtanga Method was created. “Mysore-style” describes the way classes are taught there. The students know the sequence of asanas by heart (or they are learning to know it by heart), so each student works through the series at his/her own pace rather than being led by a teacher.
This experience was so powerful for me. I was moved by the simple fact that my community showed up. The steadiness of the regular practitioners’ practices blew me away–the fact that I was holding space for them instead of my teacher didn’t seem to affect anyone at all. My teacher practiced the primary series (her regular practice is a mix of second and third series) and it was the calmest, most beautiful primary series I’ve ever witnessed. Six days later… I’m still in awe.
I loved the intimacy of assisting individuals with gut-wrenching postures like Marichyasana C and D. Witnessing their internal dialogues as they worked through their daily struggle poses was humbling yet uplifting. I felt like I was finally able to serve the people who have been lifting me up for the past 9 months. I am honored that they trust me to help them.
I also got to help two folks through their first ever Mysore experience. This involves showing them sun salutations, a few of the standing poses, and the final three postures. It’s important not to overwhelm them with too much at first because you want them to be able to remember the sequence and eventually add more.
I can’t help but feel a little flutter in my heart as I practice these same asanas daily. I think of how special it is that I’ve had the pleasure of passing on what I’ve learned from my teacher (Dhawi Pienta), who learned it from her teacher (Taylor Hunt), who learned it from his teacher (R. Sharath Jois), who learned it form his teacher/grandfather, K. Pattabhi Jois, who developed the Ashtanga Yoga Method. I’m so grateful to be part of this parampara, which is the foundation of Ashtanga yoga and denotes the unbroken transmission of knowledge from teacher to student.
More next week.