Voor Nederlandse versie: Ashtanga Yoga / Mysore Lessen
Ashtanga means “eight limbs’’ in Sanskrit, and it refers to the eight paths of Yoga. These eight paths of Yoga are written in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. If you want to know more about Ashtanga Yoga, then you can use this link. And via the next link you can read more about the history of Ashtanga Yoga, if you are interested.
But in my view, Ashtanga Yoga can be shortly described with the 4 following features.
(1) Ashtanga Yoga consists of a fixed pattern/sequence of postures (asana’s) which are performed one after the other during a ‘’flow’’, or “vinyasa’s’’ (as is named in Sanskrit). Every movement goes together with one inhale or exhale.
(2) The “Ujjayi” breathing is used. This is a very powerful way of breathing (making an “ocean-sound in your throat), which allows you to be focussed, and tends to keep your strength and energy floating throughout your body.
(3) Engaging bhandha’s”. On specific areas in your body you engage several muscles when doing the postures, and sending your energy towards those specific areas when breathing.
(4) Using “dristi’s” when performing the asana’s. Dristi means having a focuspoint, or having your gaze directed at a certain point when being in an asana.
What are Mysore classes?
Traditionally Ashtanga Yoga is taught according to the “Mysore-style’’, and is named after a place in India where Ashtanga Yoga had been “born”. Hence, the name Mysore. In a mysore class you will be guided and helped into the postures individually while being with other ashtangi’s. Everybody can start with the practice whenever he/she pleases. Due to this Mysore method everybody can practice in his/her own speed during the class. You do not have to listen to a teacher who sets the tempo. Everybody can breath at his/her own speed. Because ashtanga is a more dynamic form of yoga, it is very important that one can move in and out an asana whenever he/she is ready.
Another advantage of Mysore classes is that everybody can follow the class despite the level. A student who is new to Ashtanga will be taught the Sun Salutations, some standing postures, and maybe some sitting postures as well, while a more advanced student can do the full series. In addition, there is time to focus on injuries. As soon a posture does not feel right or causes too much pain, the teacher will have the space to have a closer look to see if other adjusted postures might work.
The only thing that might seem inconvenient is the memorize the sequence of postures. But this is only a matter of time. As soon a new-ashtangi will start, he/she will be guided by the teacher. The yoga teacher will continue guiding until the teacher notices that the student starts understanding the pattern; and slowly the student will be able to practice without guidance.
Eventually everybody is able to learn the pattern. And learning the sequence is something that is a part of practicing Yoga; it is also way to stay focussed, and to be in the present moment. When finally knowing the sequence then you can start do your own practice your way in your own speed; which is truly the most pleasant way to practice.