Attending Mysore style yoga classes is a little different from going to a Western led yoga class. Here are some guidelines to clarify the “rules” and expectations:
A Mysore class provides a rare opportunity for quiet focus and meditation in motion. The room is largely silent, except for the steamy rhythm of breath filling the space like ocean waves. As a student you are expected to maintain the focus and austerity of the room by keeping silence. If you need to talk to another student, take it into the entry area. If you have a cell phone, keep it on silent. If you need to talk to the instructor, keep your conversation minimal and to the point. If you have an injury or practice issue, talk to the teacher before you start. You can thank your teacher at the end, you do not need to interrupt your flow to say thanks. Especially do not stop your practice to apologize! Not “getting” a posture is not an offence and requires no apologies. We NEVER want to hear you are sorry, unless perhaps you accidentally run into a teacher or another student. For your own benefit and for others, once you start your practice, minimize distraction by staying on your mat until your practice is done. If you need tissues, etc, try to supply yourself before you start. We understand sometimes students need to use the bathroom, but we encourage you to stay on your mat as much as you can.
2.Be clean and considerate
Arrive freshly showered, in clean clothes, and on a clean mat. The room is often filled with sweating breathing bodies, and uncleanness can be very displeasing to others around you to smell. Saucha, cleanliness, is one of the Niyamas, yogic principles for living. This is a spiritual practice, not just physical, and we want to greet the day and salute the sun with a fresh clean body and mind, not wearing yesterday’s funk. If you arrive clean, you do not need to shower after your practice. Especially after you have practiced yoga for awhile and eat a wholesome yogic diet, your sweat will be light and odorless….unless you wrap it up and roll it into a bag for tomorrow!
3.Do your practice as your teacher has prescribed for you
Do not add postures you have not been given in the Mysore class. Similar to dosing medicine, your teachers will give you postures as they feel you are ready to assimilate them for your best therapeutic result. It can appear to be a hierarchy of advancement, with some students ahead of others. This is sometimes but not always the case! Be patient, over time and with diligent practice you will be able to complete more asanas.
4. Respect everyone in the room
Don’t get caught up in other people’s dramas. Keep your eyes on your own mat and nose tip, resist the temptation to watch others. Sometimes students watch others and feel ego and self esteem issues and make unrealistic comparisons. You don’t know the other students story! They may have been practicing 10 years longer than you, they may be overcoming cancer, they may have a ligament disorder! If you are watching others you have lost your own heat and focus. The only yogi in the room you should be watching is you.
5. Attend every day, or nearly every day
This practice is intended to be 6 days a week, minus full and new moons. It is too demanding a practice to attempt casually. Beginners often need some time to get to 6 days a week, but once you are deep into the practice it is extremely helpful. It isn’t fair to your body to expect it to put your legs behind your head part time or occasionally. That would just be shocking and not therapeutic. If you experience pain with your practice, ask yourself if you are practicing often enough. If you have, ask yourself next what other things you do with your body, like excessive sitting, driving, lifting, intense sports, running, working, etc.
6. No water bottles or other tripping hazards on the floor
Drink before and after your practice, not during. Put rings, valuables, and breakables away, not on the floor by your mat.
7. Typical Intermediate series requirements
Maintain a regular practice (4-6 days/week), be able to stand up out of a backbend, completion of the bound postures of primary series, 1 year or more of consistent practice, Instructor permission.