Yoga Life in Mysore, India

I am in Mysore, South India for an intensive Hatha Yoga training with one of the best teachers around – Sr. Bharat Shetty. It feels special to do yoga in a place with such a rich yoga history.

Until 1947, when the modern state of India was founded, India consisted of several kingdoms ruled by maharajas. These kings were known for their unparalleled wealth and often ruled with an iron hand. But Mysore had several generations of enlightened kings who did much to improve the living conditions of the people, protect wild animals ánd promote spirituality and yoga.

Yoga in the footsteps of old masters

Maharaja Krishna Raja Wadiyar IV (1902-1940) had a special interest in yoga and invited the famous yoga teacher Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya to teach at the majestic Mysore Palace. Raja Wadiyar IV organized yoga demonstrations in the garden of the palace where Krishnamacharya and his disciples showed their skills. Krishnamacharya reportedly caused a stir when he allegedly stopped his heartbeat during one of the demonstrations by means of a special yoga technique.

Sri Tirumalai KrishnamacharyaRevival

Much of the yoga we do in the west today can be traced back to Krishnamacharya’s pioneering work to make yoga more accessible for common people. Krishnamacharya developed extensive study material for his students and was the first to teach yoga to women. Previously, yoga was often seen as a secret spiritual practice reserved only for men. Krishnamacharya also designed the first yoga series in which asanas were strung together through a specific way of breathing. Thanks to Krishnamacharya, Hatha Yoga has undergone a true revival. He had a number of famous students such as Pattabhi Jois, the founder of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga and B.K.S. Iyengar who became a specialist on the alignment of the yoga postures.

Sir Bharat Shetty & B.K.S. IyengarTechnique, discipline and lots of love

My teacher Sr. Bharat Shetty learned yoga directly from B.K.S. Iyengar, which gives me the feeling that what I’m learning here is closely tied to the knowledge of the old masters. These weeks I am taking yoga classes ‘Mysore style’ together with about fifteen other yoga teachers and practitioners. Mysore style means everyone does their own practice, at their own level and at their own pace. The teacher walks around and gives personal guidance.

The first lesson has hardly begun when Sir, as the teacher is called here, has discovered my weakness, the overextension of my lower back. He gives me an elaborate explanation about abdominal and back muscles, instructions in various postures and finally an encouraging pat on the shoulder and a big smile. This is why I love coming here; at this school a wealth of knowledge about yoga is always combined with a loving approach.

Are you breathing?

The teacher constantly encourages us (“Two things can always help, smile and breath”), but at the same time insists on discipline (“If you’re tired just show up and sit in a chair. We are in this together”). He also constantly emphasises that we shouldn’t compare ourselves and when he helps me to progress in an posture, often much further than I thought possible, he continuously repeats his mantra : “Are you breathing? Are you sure you are breathing?” Sometimes he comes to check if I really am ..

I feel at home here, my body gets stronger quickly and sometimes when we do pranayama (breathing exercises) after class, I enter a kind of no brain zone. I experience nothing but space and peace in my head. That feeling is so wonderful that I want to hold onto it. The biggest pitfall of course… try again tomorrow.

 

Indea Yoga, the school of Sir Bharat Shetty in Mysore

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