What is Mysore?
Traditional Ashtanga Yoga is taught to students in the Mysore style. In a Mysore room many students will be practicing the Ashtanga Yoga method together, but separate. Each student doing the practice at their own pace, working up to their own level, according to their ability with the teachers guidance. The teacher's role is to transmit the knowledge of the practice to the student. In the beginning the students will only be given a few postures, then as one gains more strength, stamina, flexibility and concentration, additional asanas may be added by the teacher. Asanas are given, one by one in a sequential order - the theory is that the next asana in the sequence should be learned only after attaining stability in the previous one. The Ashtanga method is intended to be a 6 day a week practice, giving one day to let the body rest and recover. Ashtanga yoga practitioners also honour the cycles of the moon resting on the full and new moon.
History and Lineage
The Ashtanga system is comprised of six series beginning with Primary Series, Yoga Chikitsa (yoga therapy), the Intermediate Series, Nadi Shodhana (nerve cleansing) and Advanced Series A, B, C & D, known collectively as Sthira Bhaga (strength and grace).
The Ashtanga practice stems from an ancient system of yoga outlined in the Yoga Korunta, written in Sanskrit by Vamana Rishi and imparted to Tirumalai Krishnamacharya by his Guru Rama Mohan Brahmachari. Krishnamacharya passed this knowledge down to his student Sri K. Pattabhi Jois during the duration of his studies with him, beginning in 1927. These teachings were the basis Jois used to create the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga system.
In 1948, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois (fondly known by his students as Guruji) established the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute in his home in Lakshmipuram where he taught locals who came to him to be treated for their ailments and some of the first Western students. Ashtanga yoga slowly spread across the globe, and the number of students coming to Mysore steadily increased. Jois eventually relocated to Gokulam, a suburb of Mysore, opening a new much larger yoga shala in 2002.
Jois passed away on May 18th, 2009 at the age of 93, leaving the institute to his daughter Saraswathi and grandson R. Sharath Jois, who both studied and apprenticed with Jois for most of their lives. Sharath is now Director of the Institute and both he and his mother continue to guide students in the traditional Mysore style.
Parampara: Knowledge Through Direct Transmission
Parampara is knowledge that is passed in succession from teacher to student. It is a Sanskrit word that denotes the principle of transmitting knowledge in its most valuable form; knowledge based on direct and practical experience. It is the basis of any lineage: the teacher and student form the links in the chain of instruction that has been passed down for thousands of years. In order for yoga instruction to be effective, true and complete, it should come from within parampara. Knowledge can be transferred only after the student has spent many years with an experienced guru, a teacher to whom he has completely surrendered in body, mind, speech and inner being. Only then is he fit to receive knowledge. This transfer from teacher to student is parampara.