Ashtanga Yoga coordinates breathing and movement. You have to move consciously, initiating each movement with breath to create a strong and graceful practice, connecting each posture to the next. This is called Vinyasa.
To this base, we cultivate a steady gaze (drishti), initiate subtle internal locks (bandhas) so that the poses can bloom, one at a time, into moments of depth and stillness that foster physical and mental wholeness. Applying these techniques with discipline, subtlety and skill in a daily practice might forge physical and mental strength and nurture perception and clarity. It might even be an antidote to the modern world.
Ashtanga yoga is learned in what’s called a “Mysore Style” class where you develop an individualized practice with the support and guidance of a teacher who has spent decades steeped in the tradition and engaged in serious practice. In a Mysore style class you memorize the Ashtanga sequences by learning one posture at a time in a manner similar to learning a traditional chanting or music practice in India. As you repeat and master the postures within the given sequences, you gradually increase your knowledge and create an independent, mature personal practice. YES, the practice can and will be modified to suit you.
Your class time will grow as you integrate your learning into your practice, the series becomes committed to memory, your breath deepens and the teacher’s role gradually shifts. On an on-going basis, the teacher is there to make adjustments and corrections, monitor alignment and breath, modify poses as your level changes, give new poses and answer questions.
During Mysore, students of all levels practice at their own pace and the instructor is available to help with the postures by means of hands on adjustments and reminding students of sequencing. A common misconception about the Mysore practice is that you need to know the Primary Series to attend. Mysore is appropriate for beginners as well as students of all levels and is the traditional method of learning ashtanga yoga. Mysore classes are ideal for beginners because they are carried by the group energy created in the room as students breath and practice together at their own pace.
Video of morning mysore at AYCD
(This video was filmed at our original location – all classes now held at 2218 N. Roxboro St.)