Yoga is tricky. A couple of months ago an ill-advised head stand knocked me out of commission for a few days and I started paying more attention to the yoga I was doing. How many other people were in the class with me? How closely was the instructor watching us? I also realized that a lot of the time, I was following along like I knew what I was doing, without asking questions when I wasn’t sure. When you’re in a class of 25-30 people, moving at a relatively quick pace, sometimes you fake it ’til you make it.
I totally understand that this is not what yoga is all about. When I first got into yoga, it was as close to a one-on-one experience as you can get. I felt like I truly understood how to fully move in the sequences but somewhere along the way, the classes got bigger and I got careless. And if I’m going to pay $20 for a class, I’m not about to go back to basics – I want a work out!
What I’m getting at is, like I said before, yoga is tricky. I want a workout but I don’t want to get hurt. Enter Mysore Yoga. Mysore is the parent of Ashtanga yoga – the style of yoga mimicked in most “flow”-type classes (think: many sun salutations). Here’s the difference though: you practice on your own.
Intimidating, right? Actually, not at all. Mysore is the best yoga program for beginners. When you begin, an instructor will teach you a pose or sequence. They work with you until you’ve nailed it and then you repeat the sequence on your own (under their watchful eye) until you’ve learned how to perfectly sync your breath with the movements. Once you master one sequence or pose, the instructor will return to teach you the next one. The next time you return, you kick off with the sequences and poses you’ve already learned. Once complete, you learn the next and so on. Eventually, you’re entering the space with your practice completely internalized in your mind. The best part, you’re always being watched. If you’re struggling or not working hard enough, you’ll feel hands behind you, gently urging or correcting you. It’s almost like a meditation, except for the fact that it just might be the most challenging yoga class you’ll ever do. I’m not sure why, but I sweat harder in Mysore than at any hot yoga class, and the room isn’t even that warm!
I discovered that I’ve been doing my upward dogs totally wrong. Nobody ever corrected me before! Having someone walking you through each movement is really incredible. You feel supported and encouraged, but maybe that’s just David Robson, the Ashtanga Yoga Centre of Toronto‘s awesome director.
The only catch is that Mysore isn’t cheap. It costs $80 a week to practice six days out of the seven (except on full or new moon dates when practice is suspended. Cool.). Devotion is a big part of this practice and, while it’s flexible (you can stop in to practice whenever you’d like – there are no set class times), you need to be able to commit.
I still think it’s worth checking out, even if it’s just for a week or two to master the sequences and poses you always thought you had down pat (but you probably don’t. sorry.).
Check out the pop-up studio at 214 Bathurst St. (just north of Queen). You can register online or call 647.342.6550.