The Basics Of Mysore Yoga – An Ashtanga Yoga Style

If you're intrigued about what Mysore yoga is and wondering if it could benefit you, I wrote this for you.

I remember when I first heard about Mysore yoga at an Ashtanga studio. 

At the time, I was still a beginner, and the way these ‘Ashtangis’ were talking about Mysore, I thought it was an exclusive class for only the most advanced yogis. 

It wasn’t until years later, when I asked my teacher about Mysore yoga, that I realized this wasn’t the case at all.

Sure, a Mysore class may be unsuitable if you've never practiced Ashtanga yoga before. But it's not reserved only for those with years of experience practicing and teaching yoga.

Keep reading to learn more about the benefits and basics of this Ashtanga style of practice.

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Mysore yoga is a form of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, a dynamic style that synchronizes breath with movement. 

The key difference between Mysore and other yoga styles is that you practice independently, going through the sequence at your own pace. 

Instead of following the instructor, they are there to give individualized verbal instruction and physical adjustments. 

Mysore is a traditional yoga style named after the city of Mysore in Karnataka, India, where it originated. It stems from Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, which Sri K. Pattabhi Jois developed in the same town. 

Mysore yoga is a structured sequence of postures (asanas) you learn and master over time. You work on the sequence at your own pace, receiving instruction and adjustments from the teacher. This self-practice style aims to develop a deeper, more personal spiritual practice.

Mysore classes take place in a quiet and focused atmosphere. This helps you cultivate mindfulness and focus on breath and movement synchronization.

Mysore practice has many of the same incredible benefits as other yoga styles, including:

  • Physical benefits – Increased strength, enhanced flexibility, improved balance, and better posture.
  • Mental benefits – Enhanced focus, stress reduction, and increased mindfulness.
  • Spiritual benefits – A deeper connection to self and others and more alignment with your life purpose.

Mysore yoga and Ashtanga yoga are closely related but not the same. Essentially, you practice the same postures and sequences in both styles. However, the key difference is that Ashtanga is a guided practice led by the teacher, while Mysore is a self-led practice.

The self-led style of Mysore yoga can help you go deeper into your practice as it gives you more time to work on asanas you find challenging. Many Ashtanga practitioners naturally follow a Mysore yoga practice alongside or instead of guided Ashtanga classes. 

While you practice at your own pace, a teacher is still there to help you. A good teacher will offer plenty of individualized guidance and adjustments. And because they are not leading the class, they have much more time to offer help.

Incorporating the Mysore program into your Ashtanga practice can:

  • Increase your understanding of alignment and posture
  • Enhance consistency and discipline
  • Foster a more meditative state throughout the practice

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Ashtanga Mysore features all the same components as other traditional yoga styles. In a Mysore session, the instructor will encourage you to focus on your:

  • Breath (Pranayama) – In Mysore-style classes, you synchronize your breath and movement (known as the vinyasa method). 
  • Posture (Asana) – You learn the Ashtanga system gradually. First you master the postures in the primary series before progressing to the next series.
  • Bandhas (Energy locks) – While holding the asanas, you engage the bandhas to channel and control the flow of energy (prana) within the body. This enhances stability, strength, and focus.
  • Drishti (Gaze) – You fix your gaze on one point while holding specific asanas, such as standing postures. This helps to cultivate concentration, balance, and internal awareness.

In a Mysore class, you follow the Ashtanga Vinyasa set sequence. You start with the primary series and progress to the more advanced ones when your teacher feels you are ready.

The primary series starts with the opening sequence of sun salutations (Surya Namaskara A and B). 

You then work through the standing sequence involving forward folds, lunges, and balances.

After the standing sequence, you will work through the following postures:

  • Seated Poses like forward bends, twists, and hip openers
  • Core Strengtheners such as Navasana (Boat Pose) and Utkatasana (Chair Pose)
  • Backbends like Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose) and Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)
  • Inversions such as Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand) and Sirsasana (Headstand)
  • A finishing sequence of backbends, forward folds, and inversions
  • Savasana (relaxation and meditation)

The second series features challenging postures that build upon the foundation you've established.

It incorporates more advanced poses, deeper backbends, and arm balances, such as:

  • Pashasana: Noose Pose
  • Krounchasana: Heron Pose
  • Shalabhasana: Locust Pose
  • Bhekasana: Frog Pose
  • Dhanurasana: Bow Pose
  • Ustrasana: Camel Pose
  • Urdhva Dhanurasana: Wheel Pose
  • Bakasana: Crane Pose

In the advanced series of Mysore-style yoga, students practice four separate series. Each one builds upon the previous one.

  • Third Series (Sthira Bhaga A): This includes advanced backbends, arm balances, and deep hip openers like Kapotasana (King Pigeon Pose), Eka Pada Sirsasana (One-Legged Headstand), and Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Balance).
  • Fourth Series (Sthira Bhaga B): This includes advanced variations of arm balances, inversions, and deep backbends, such as Vrischikasana (Scorpion Pose) and Karandavasana (Duck Pose).
  • Fifth Series (Sthira Bhaga C): This delves deeper into the subtler aspects of yoga, including pranayama, meditation, and spiritual philosophy. 
  • Sixth Series (Sthira Bhaga D): The final series represents the culmination of years of dedicated practice and spiritual discipline, leading the practitioner toward self-realization and enlightenment.

I recommend that beginners start by going to an Ashtanga-led yoga class first. Once you've done a few Ashtanga-led sessions and are familiar with the primary series, you'll feel more comfortable attending a Mysore-style class.

Here are a few more tips to get the most from the Mysore program:

  • Don't forget your breath! Stay focused on your own breath, trying to link it to each movement. Inhale to prepare for a pose and exhale as you move into the asana.
  • Ask your teacher for as much guidance as you need. Let them know if you're unsure about your alignment or are struggling with a particular asana.
  • Remember that progress in yoga takes time and consistency. So be patient with yourself and trust the process.

One common misconception about Mysore yoga practice is that you must practice daily. But this is not the case at all. 

I don't recommend cultivating a daily practice right away. Instead, ease into it slowly, extending your practice and adding more postures when you feel ready.

Another misconception is that the Mysore style is only for advanced practitioners. 

While I don't recommend it to complete beginners, you don't have to have mastered all the poses of Ashtanga yoga before you practice Mysore. Instead, a Mysore practice will help you master those poses!

Moreover, I've found the Mysore yoga community is a welcoming place for new students. Everyone is at different levels and working at their own pace, so there is no sense of competition or comparison.

For many Ashtanga practitioners, Mysore yoga is a natural progression from led classes. Mysore-style classes provide the space and time to explore those challenging asanas, perfect your alignment, and discover the awesome meditative flow that comes with a self-paced practice!

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Gemma is a Certified Yoga Teacher of over 5 years. Aside from being a CYT 200, Gemma is also certified in Yin and Yoga Nidra. Gemma is passionate about sharing her expertise of yoga and wellness through words, guiding others along the path of personal and spiritual development. She is in LOVE with everything related to personal-growth and psychology. Aside from helping others find more peace and stillness, Gemma runs a kitten rescue project in Thailand, where she is currently residing. Gemma can be reached at, or you can connect with Gemma on LinkedIn.

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