January 24, 2013

What Type of Class is Best for a Beginning Ashtangi?

Should Ashtangi beginners go to a Mysore-style class or a Led Primary class?

I posted the above photo on my Facebook wall earlier today and was amazed at the discussion that ensued. I was inspired by Kevin Macku’s comments about Mysore-style classes in his recent article:

On an added note, there’s a subset of Ashtangis that have a specific practice you’ll see called Mysore. This is for advanced students only. Think of it as a club, complete with secret handshake and everything. When you’ve been taking enough Ashtanga classes to get in to Mysore, your teacher will let you know.

It was interesting to see some of the comments from those who felt Mysore was better than a Led Primary class for a beginner. In case you have no idea what I’m talking about (and have kept reading anyway) here’s the deal:

A Mysore-style class is an Ashtanga class in which students go at their own pace and receive instruction and adjustments one on one.

A Led Primary class is more similar to any other style yoga class you’d take, where the instructor guides the entire class through the each of the postures.

But typically, those students who would be in a Mysore practice are not just looking for a little one on one time to up their game; it’s about being committed to a practice. A Led Primary class might be a once a week thing to help keep your home practice focused, but for many Mysore adherents, it’s a way of life. Some people feel that Mysore is better for beginners because of the one on one. Some people felt it would be a better fit for those who are already fairly established and committed.

And the discussion continued, but I like the way my friend Colleen summed it up best:

No, no, no! Mysore is perfect for beginners, as long as you’re willing to commit to more than just a drop-in, every-now-and-then schedule. It’s not for only the advanced, but it is only for the committed…I’m just paraphrasing Sharath when he lists all the people who can do it (old, young, et al.) and says the only people who can’t—lazy people. Sadly, I am one of the lazy ones who can’t get to bed early enough to have a consistent Mysore practice!

It’s interesting to contrast the ideas of skill versus commitment.

How skilled do you have to be at something to fully commit to it? Can you truly begin from a place of dedication and dive right in to the deep end?

Time, money and location have solved this issue for me for the time being. I am taking a led primary series class geared towards people who are new to Ashtanga and will continue my home practice at “please don’t let my alarm go off yet” o’clock in the morning. To drive two-hours daily to the Jois Shala in Greenwich is beyond dedication into insanity territory.

I am curious to hear from more people on this! Let me know which way you’d send a newer Ashtangi in the comments.


What was your practice like today? Are you doing #yogaeverydamnday this month? Check back for my updates and follow along on Twitter @kate_bartolotta and Pinterest.

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