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July 22, 2012

The Journey to Mysore, India: Lighting the Sacred Fire through Ashtanga Yoga.

Nine hours in a tiny seat to a cold European airport; two hours in a layover where you stumble from coffee to cakes, another fourteen hours on an airplane bound for Bangalore and finally, a four-hour taxi ride through cows, honking, Indian traffic, rickshaws and pollution, lead you to a small South Indian city called Mysore.

A city famous for the Mysore Palace, sandalwood, silks, masala dosas, the best coconuts on earth and…the reason I have returned there twelve times over the last fourteen years…yoga.

Mysore is the home of my teacher, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, who spent his life sharing the message of Ashtanga Yoga, with every student willing to commit to the hard work of the practice. In the three years since he passed away, his grandson, R. Sharath Jois, has taken over the directorship of the K. Pattabhi Jois Institute, in Mysore.

I always miss the Mysore coconuts and the endless chai when I am back in the U.S.!

The decision to travel to Mysore to study with R. Sharath Jois at the K. Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute is something that marks a crucial turning point in a Ashtanga Yoga student’s journey—diving right into the heart of the method. It is not something that students should force themselves to do—but something that comes as a yearning from deep within.

Anyone seeking to teach Ashtanga Yoga certainly would benefit from spending time in Mysore, the birthplace of Ashtanga Yoga. Not only does the city of Mysore itself have a certain magic but there is also a deep connection to the lineage that develops. It’s hard to put into words exactly what happens when give your heart to the experience of the practice in Mysore—but it is precisely because of that slightly ineffable experience that I return.

Not everyone needs to go to Mysore—anyone who feels an attraction to the experience and craves a deeper dimension of the Ashtanga Yoga method would do well to place their doubt aside, buy an airline ticket to India and go practice.

A really good way to get a glimpse of Mysore is to check out the documentary created by Angie and Jim of Upward Spiral Films who created the Mysore Magic film. Alex Medin does the interview and the footage is all from Mysore. When you watch, you will get a sense of the depth of the practice, the daily life of the Mysore yogi and the feeling of immersing yourself in Ashtanga Yoga at its source.

One of the most common questions that students ask me is about the journey to Mysore.

What’s it like so far away from home? How do you deal with long hours on airplanes and in airports? What was it like to discover Ashtanga Yoga and meet Guruji?

My first book called Sacred Fire: My Journey Into Ashtanga Yoga is an answer to these questions. You can find it online on the following websites: www.kinoyoga.comwww.ashtanga.com and www.shop.theyogashop.co.uk.

 

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Editor: Bryonie Wise

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