We hope you find useful information here on yoga, ashtanga yoga, and our shala community.
Are you curious about Ashtanga yoga, Mysore practice, and what differentiates this system from other yoga classes? To help you, we’ve put together a few A’s to your Q’s about how it works.
We hope the information below not only demystifies this practice for you, but also inspires you to START your path to healing through the power of this transformative practice.
To view our class schedule and to sign up for classes head on over to our shala page.
Still have some questions? Send us an email. We do receive quite a lot, so it may take a little while to reply. Please be gentle.
(Image © Danielle Tsi)
Ashtanga yoga is most commonly translated to eight limb yoga. Ashtau which is the root of this word stands for eight. As a practitioner of this system you will study and actively practice the first four limbs: Yamas, Niyamas, Asana, and Pranayama. The last four limbs— Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi— will arise as a result of your practice.
In the West it is more common (though not always the case) that students enter this path through the third limb - asana.
Why? Because our body, senses and our mind are what allows our spirit and soul to experience this world and this plane.
It is how we perceive and experience our own reality and life as we know it as the body and mind collects, informs and stores our experiences. We work with the body through asana along the path of karma yoga (yoga in action) as we move everyday.
To begin practice in the ashtanga yoga system the student will encounter the tristhana method, or three focal point approach to practice. This three pronged approach include first asana - the postures, second - the breath through the cultivation of a steady and easeful breathing pattern, and third - drishti or gazing point at which you pinpoint your awareness. There is a saying, where your gaze goes, prana flows. Once you begin to build your focus in practice, this focus will flow over into other areas of your life.
A Note to Beginners
As a dedicated practitioner of ashtanga yoga, students will be asked to honor two main principles that are the primary hallmark of this system, differentiating it from other traditions.
The first principle is that the student practices within the sequential set series of postures linked through vinyasa (the breath) and two, the student practice these series of postures daily 3-6 times a week. The best way to learn the series is through Mysore style classes.
What is Mysore style and how is it different from a led class?
Mysore style is a self-paced practice where you work in relationship with your teacher. This is the best way to learn Ashtanga Yoga, and the perfect starting point for beginners. Rather than being led through the sequence within a group as with most guided classes, you will learn the system at your own pace, gradually to cultivate a consistent self-practice.
In this class, all experience levels practice together, creating a dynamic and harmonious classroom community. This allows the teacher to support and assist each student where and when they need it.
New postures will be added gradually. Your own practice time will vary depending on your pace and the number of postures you’ve learned. As you learn new postures, your practice time will lengthen.
* A note to beginners. Anticipate that your practice time will be anywhere from 20-40 minutes on your first visit to the shala.
** Need a visual? Check out this video with Fiona Stang, Ekam Inhale and Ashtanga Yoga Vancouver on Mysore Ashtanga.
Great. So what’s the difference between Led Primary & Mysore Style Practice?
Led primary is for students who have an established regular Mysore Ashtanga practice. In this class, the teacher will call out the names of the poses in Sanskrit according to the classical vinyasa count. This class is a complement to regular Mysore practice and will allow you to work on efficiency in your practice and refine what you have learned in Mysore style classes.
As the full sequence of poses are meant to be learned gradually, if you have not yet completed the sequence you may stop and observe or simply stop at where you are in your Mysore practice and finish on your own. Visitors who have an established Ashtanga Yoga practice may join this class. If you have not studied at the shala, please contact us prior to your first visit.
Most Mysore programs are five days a week. Why is your program only three days a week?
As we open up our new yoga home for the community, we’ve made the decision to start simple with a three day a week program. Generally speaking, three days a week is a minimum for cultivating a new practice, and some students may find it difficult to begin with five or six days.
Our intention is to expand into a full program. As our yoga community grows over time we will accommodate the need for an expanded program.
* A note from Charina:
It is my personal belief that if you learn how to cultivate a home practice, especially within the first few months of learning this system, your practice will naturally become self-driven, rather than teacher or environmental-driven. There is a beauty, but also great challenge to cultivating a home practice. Beauty—in your ability to intentionally set aside time for your own breath and moving meditation and empowerment— in cultivating the discipline to overcome the internal and external challenges of distractions and obstacles you may face in setting up a home practice.