ASHTANGA YOGA MYSORE PROGRAM:
MONDAY – FRIDAY 8-10am
Saturday 9-10:15am Led ½ Primary Series
Sunday 8:30-10am Led Full Primary Series
MONDAY 5:30-6:45pm Led 1/2 Primary Series with Amy (moderate to active)
WEDNESDAY 5:30-6:45pm Led 1/2 Primary Series with Amy (moderate to active)
“I began my Ashtanga Yoga practice at Sruti 9 months ago, never having done any type of yoga practice. At Sruti, I found a quiet haven to connect deep within myself while strengthening and toning my physical body. This Mysore style practice allows a student to practice and progress at his/her own pace with the support and encouragement of wonderful teachers. I have experienced healing and awakening on the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual levels just by showing up to this practice daily. I feel truly blessed to be a part of the Sruti community. If you want to shift your life and return to health, the door is always open.” – S.L., June 4, 2012
Our main program is traditional Mysore style Ashtanga Yoga. Mysore practice is held weekdays and led classes are held on weekends. Come to observe, meet your teachers, receive an intro packet, and if you’d like, begin a short practice. All welcome.
Please contact Amy with any questions: 413.717.5058 or firstname.lastname@example.org
All information below was published in a booklet by Jois Yoga on the occasion of the opening of Jois Yoga in Greenwich, CT entitled: Astanga Yoga, An Introduction to the Fundamentals of Astanga Yoga. The text was assembled by Andrew Hillam, David Miliotis, and Aliya Weise and comes from information that has been handed down through paramara, through our studies and conversations with Guruji, Sharath, Saraswati, Manju, and Shirmila Jois. Reference was also made to published information from Yoga Mala and Suryanamaskara, by Shri K. Pattabhi Jois and published by Eddie Stern and Ashtanga Yoga New York. “Our gratitude goes to Guruji for teaching us the Astanga Yoga method, which he gave with such love and enthusiasm, and to the Jois family who, with joy and dedication, continues to tread in Guruji’s footsteps.
With gratitude, love and respect, thank you,
Amy Webb, Tom Rosenthal, and the Berkshire practice community.
ABOUT & FAQ:
The Ashtanga Yoga method is built around the ‘Mysore Class,’ so named because yoga was taught this way by Shri K. Pattabhi Jois, in Mysore, India, and continues to be taught this way in traditional schools of Ashtanga Yoga. Indian disciplines rely on building a one-on-one relationship between teacher and student and it is considered extremely important in learning and understanding the discipline correctly.Hence, the Mysore Class is built around a one-on-one relationship between teacher and student. In Mysore Class the student is taught the sequence of asanas step by step, along with the correct vinyasa, breathing, drsti, and bandhas.You are expected to memorize each aspect you have been taught before being instructed further. You work on your practice at your own pace but in a group class environment, while the teacher assists each student individually.
Observing a Mysore Class
When starting an Ashtanga Yoga practice, it is recommended that one commence in a Mysore Class from the very beginning. The best way to answer any questions about the Mysore practice and how it works is to come and observe a class for half an hour or so. Most questions are answered by observing the class and anything unanswered can thenbe discussed with the teacher. All our teachers have learned Astanga Yoga using this method and have great faith in the results gained from its practice.
Your first Mysore practice
In your first class you will be taught the basic techniques fro breathing and vinyasa (movement) and then shown surya namaskara A, which you repeat 5 to 10 times in order to memorize and internalize the sequence of movements and posture with breathing and correct drsti. You will then sit with your legs crossed and focus solely on deep even breathing for five to ten minutes, followed by lying down and taking a shortrest. Your first practice may only be 15 to 20 minutes long. It is important not to learn too much in the beginning as this method relies on memorization and becoming proficient in what has been taught before progressing further.This also allows time to adjust to a new daily routine. In subsequent classes,you are expected to have memorized what was previously learned before adding more postures to the sequence. Thus, over time, the length of the practice will gradually increase as your system is ready.
Why begin with such a short practice?
Ashtanga is a very concentrated and to obtain the best results it should only be learned directly from a qualified teacher. There are many aspects of this practice that can only be imparted directly from the teacher to the student, and the teacher should have mastered and understood the system thoroughly, through practice, over along period of time. It should be learned gradually and built up over time,paying close attention to the different elements of breathing, posture, vinyasa,and drsti. Learning gradually allows you time to adjust as you build strength and flexibility, and purify the nervous system. Learning too quickly, or doing too much at once brings the risk of injury and can create too much ‘heat’ inthe body, which can cause imbalances. For that reason, students are taught individually, and at a rate appropriate for them. This will depend on age,general health, the level of strength, flexibility, and the ability to memorize or retain what has been learned.
How many days a week should you practice?
Ideally, you should begin by practicing five to six days a week, even at the beginning, taking one or two days off per week to allow the body to rest. If possible, your practice should be at the same time every day. You will appreciate the routine and respond better to the practice. Although you may find that you are a little sore in the beginning, the regularity of a daily practice removes the soreness in the muscles and invigorates the body each day.
In the practice of asanas there are three places for attention and effort (‘tri,’ meaning three and ‘sthana,’ meaning place): asana (posture), breathing, and drsti (gazing place). These foundational actions form the basis of purification and stability derived from yoga practice. Asanas increase strength,flexibility, and circulation to all parts of the body and thereby make a lighter and stronger body more capable of doing good works.
Breathing should always be done freely, through the nose only (breathing through the mouth is weakening),and with a smooth, sonorous sound inside the throat and chest. Furthermore, both puraka (inhalation) and rechaka (exhalation) should be of equal duration. Long,smooth and even free-breathing balances and strengthens the body’s internal functions, and ensures a balanced state of mind. Breathing unevenly or too rapidly, will disturb the mind and bring imbalance to the body.
‘Drsti’ means looking place and controls the
wandering tendency of the mind. There are
nine places used in the various asanas: nasagra (nose), bhrumadhya (between the eyebrows), nabhi (navel), angustha (t
humb), hastagra (hands), padagra (feet), urdhva (upwards), daksina parsva (right side), and vamana parsva (left side).
In order to obtain the full benefit of yoga practice and to aid in establishing the mind in atman (theSelf), these three foundational actions of tristhana must always be engaged simultaneously and continuously during the practice of yoga asanas.
A necessary component of breathing and engaging the body correctly in the asanas is mula and uddiyana bandha. ‘Bandha’ means lock or bind, and refers to holding the body’s strengthand energy together with mula bandha, located at the anus, and uddiyana bandha,located inside the waist. Correct application of these two bandhas significantly increases the benefits of both the asanas and the breathing. Without the bandhas yoga practice is far less effective and can lead to a host of problems.
‘Astanga Yoga’ means ‘eight limbed yoga,’ and it is an authentic practice that can be lead to liberation and greater awareness of our spiritual potential. The eight limbs of AshtangaYoga can be described as eight disciplines. They are yama, niyama, asana,pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, and Samadhi. Of these, the third limb, asana (the practice of yoga postures), is the most important for us topractice, and through it we can understand the other limbs. Though in appearance an external and physical discipline, through consistent effort we find many layers, more and more subtle, which need to be experienced directly and can lead to the experience of the last four limbs. Yama (restraints) andniyama (observances) should be observed at all times, otherwise yoga asana practice is reduced to a purely physical pursuit. Pranayama (breath control)should only be taught after mastering asanas, when the nervous system is strengthened and prepared for more rigorous practice. The last four limbs are pratyhara (withdrawal of the senses), dharana (concentration), dhyana(meditation), and samadhi (blissful union). These final four are considered‘internal limbs,’ meaning that they arise spontaneously as a result of practice of the first four and lead to the experience of ‘union.’
Through asana we can access higher levels of yoga and, over time, bring both the body and mind to a state of stability, a state of peace. With consistent practice of asanas, changes become apparent on many levels, physical and mental. A deep sense of contentment and inner peace arises, and it is only then that we can understand the other seven limbs of Ashtanga Yoga.
‘Parampara’ literally means an uninterrupted succession and
denotes the direct and unbroken transmission of knowledge
from Guru (teacher) to Sisya (student). In order for yoga to be
effective, true, and complete it should come from within
parampara. The bonds of teacher and student reach back
many thousands of years in India and are the foundation of a
rich, spiritual heritage. Within the Astanga Yoga tradition the
lineage in rooted in Shri K. Pattabhi Jois (Guruji) and his family.
Guruji was born in 1915. At age twelve, he attended a yoga demonstration and met Shri T. Krishnamacharya, one of the most distinguished yoga practitioners of the 20thcentury. Krishnamacharya agreed to take Guruji on as his student. At age fourteen, Guruji left home to study at the Sanskrit University of Mysore. In 1932, he reconnected with Shri T. Krishnamacharya and recommenced his study with the great master. Guruji’s study under Krishnamacharya would total twenty five years.
In 1937, Guruji began to teach yoga at the
Sanskrit University. He established its first yoga department, which he directed until his retirement in 1973. In 1948, Guruji established the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute. Andre van Lysebeth, a Belgian, arrived for two months in 1964 and soon after wrote a book, Pranayama,in which Guruji’s photo appeared, thus introducing him to the world. Over thenext several decades, word of Guruji and Astanga Yoga slowly spread across the globe and the number of students coming to study with him steadily increased.In 2002, Guruji opened a new sala in Gokulam to accommodate the ever-growing number of students.
After seven decades of continuous teaching, Guruji gradually retired from his daily classes, leaving the Institute in Mysore in the hands of his daughter Saraswathi and grandson Sharath. The lineage of Astanga Yoga continues at the Shri K. Pattabhi Jois Astanga Yoga Institute and with other Jois family members teaching throughout the world.
Saraswathi began her formal study of Ashtanga Yoga at the age of ten and assisted her father at his yoga sala from 1971 until 1975. She taught yoga on her own until Guruji moved his institute to Gokulam, at which time Saraswathi returned to teaching with her father.
Sharath, Saraswathi’s son,learned his first asanas at age seven. He began his formal yoga study at age nineteen, waking every day at 3:30 AM to practice, and then assist Guruji, a routine he would follow for many years. Sharath’s devotion and discipline to the study and practice of yoga continues today as he rises six days a week at1:00 AM to practice and then teach at the Shri K. Pattabhi Jois Asthanga Yoga Institute, where he serves as Director. Sharath is Guruji’s only student who has studied and continues to practice the complete six series of the Ashtanga Yoga system.
Beyond Mysore, India, other Jois family members carry on the parampara. Manju Jois, oldest
son of Gurujiand brother to Saraswathi, started teaching alongside his father when he was fifteen and has since shared G
uruji’s teachings all over the world. Sharmila Mahesh, granddaughter of Guruji and sister to Sharath, has been an Astanga Yoga practitioner since the age of eighteen, when she started teaching alongside her mother, Saraswathi.
Guruji passed away on May 18th, 2009 at the age of ninety three. His death was a profound loss to the worldwide yoga community. His entire life was an endeavor to imbue his students with commitment, consistency, and integrity. His legendary work will remain alive in the many students that seek to follow in his lineage, to carry on that parampara. The Jois lineage is a strong thread in Ashtanga Yoga. Surrendering to the parampara, to this potent lineage of Astanga Yoga, is like entering a river of teachings that has been flowing for thousands of years, a river that masters, past and present, have followed into an ocean of knowledge and wisdom.
The Ashtanga Yoga method taught by Shri K. Pattabhi Jois focuses first on the practice of
asanas in order to establish health, to correct imbalances, and to strengthen the system,thus stabilizing the body and mind, without which we are unable to control oursense organs. The mind is said to be
The method of asana practice as prescribed by Shri K. Pattabhi Jois was taught to him by his teacher, Shri T. Krishnamacharya, and is said to have come from an ancient text, the Yoga Korunt
a. It relies on the linking of asanas through prescribed vinyasas(movemlike a monkey. It is ‘cancala,’ meaning that it jumps from one place to the next, never staying still. Through the discipline of asana practice, done consistently over time, we are able to bring ‘sthira’ (stability) to the body and mind. We then come to a state in which wecan experience the true meaning of yoga. In this way, asana practice is the foundation for the other limbs of yoga, and without its practice we are notable to obtain the necessary sthira.To understand the profound effect of this asana practice, it must be experience directly, through regular practice, over a long time. Then, in yoga, we become like the driver who can see the rich and vast beauty of the ocean beneath the surface, while the sailor who remains inthe boat
sees only that which appears on the surface.
ents) and incorporates deep, even breathing and steady gazing the eyes,or drsti. The ‘vinyasa,’ or movement between asanas, encourages the blood to circulate properly in the body, while the deep breathing supplies a rich source of pure air, oxygenating the blood and allowing the removal of unwanted toxins through the lungs. Int
ernal heat is produced, and is described as burning up the impurities in the body, the toxins are liberated from the tissues by each asana. The sweat that results also serves to remove toxins through the skin.‘
Drsti,’ or steady gazing in different places during each vinyasa and asana, isan important element of the practice, which over time facilitates dhyana (meditation), having a profound effect on the steadiness of the mind.When all of these elements are incorporated into the practice, having been learned correctly under the guidance of a qualified teacher, we are able to purify and strengthen the system, making the body light and strong, and the mind calm and peaceful. We are then able to realize the full benefits of the
practice and dive deeply into the ocean of yoga.