Ashtanga Yoga
Ashtanga is the classical form of Vinyasa Yoga. It is a dynamic and flowing practice consisting of six series of postures, beginning with the foundational "Primary Series", which is called "Yoga Chikitsa" in Sanskrit, and can be translated to "Yoga Therapy." Regular practice of the Ashtanga Primary Series helps to effectively develop a balance of strength, flexibility, and concentration without tension. The Mysore-style approach (named for the city in India where it's founder, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois lived and taught) to Ashtanga is unique in that instead of leading the entire group through the same practice, the teacher instead gives the practice to each student individually. Beginners are given a smaller portion of the series to start with, offered appropriate modifications, and asked to eventually memorize what they've learned. Over time, more poses are added.
The spirit of the Ashtanga methodology is that the practice is and should be infinitely modifiable and adaptable to the individual. When taught in this way, it is an ideal practice for both beginners and experienced practitioners. Beginners (both those who are new to Ashtanga and those who are new to yoga in general) are never given more than they are ready for, and experienced practitioners have a practice environment in which they can safely learn more advanced practices. It is also uniquely suited to people with preexisting injuries and physical conditions, as these can be appropriately accommodated in the individualized setting of a Mysore practice.
There are a few "traditional" elements to the practice that may be new to you. We begin and end each class with a Sanskrit chant, which we do call-and-response. The opening chant honors the lineage of teachers and practitioners who came before us, while the closing chant is a dedication of our efforts towards the well-being and upliftment of all beings everywhere. We don't play music in Ashtanga and instead listen closely to the rhythm of our breath. We also don't drink water during practice as there is a lot of dynamic movement and having water in the belly could be uncomfortable.  So it's best to hydrate well before and after class. After your practice you are welcome to stay for an extra long shavasana or spend some time in seated meditation.
If you are interested in trying out this class, just come! You don't need to know anything at all to get started. You don't need to wait until you're stronger or more flexible or healthier—just show up and begin at the beginning.
“Do your practice and all is coming.”
"Yoga is 1% theory and 99% practice."
Sri K. Pattabhi Jois
Ashtanga Mysore F.A.Q.
Q: What is Ashtanga Yoga, and what is “Mysore-style”?
A: Ashtanga is the classical form of Vinyasa Yoga. There are two types of traditional Ashtanga classes:
1. Mysore Style (all levels). In a Mysore class, students practice in silence, working at their own pace as the teacher (or teachers) go around the room giving adjustments and instructions. Over time, the student works to memorize the sequence and the teacher may adapt the postures or the sequence to meet the unique needs and abilities of the individual. “Mysore” refers to the city in India where Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, the former guru of the Ashtanga lineage, learned the method from his guru, Sri T. Krishnamacharya in the 1930s.
2. Led Primary (intermediate). Recommended only for students with an established Mysore practice or strong, experienced Vinyasa practitioners. In Led Primary class, the teacher leads everyone together through the entire Ashtanga Primary Series, including the traditional 20 minute Pranayama (breathing) sequence at the end.
Q: How do I get started?
A: In your first class, you will be asked to observe for about ten minutes.  Notice how the teacher works differently with each student. Feel free to ask questions and share any concerns or insights you might have.
After observing, your teacher will show you the beginning part of the sequence. Then you will be left alone for some time to practice it. You may be given more poses if appropriate. Your first practice will probably be about 45-60 minutes long. It’s a good idea to write down what you learned so that the next time you come in you can get started on it right away.
Over time, as you memorize and grow into your practice, your teacher will continue to give you more poses and together you will create the practice that’s right for you. Remember that it’s a learning process—you don’t have to be perfect, and it’s ok to mess it up. It will get much easier over time.
Q: What if I have an existing injury?
A: Tell your teacher about any injuries or conditions that may affect your practice. You will be given modifications, props, and assistance as needed. Everything can be adapted!
Q: I think I’m too stiff / weak for Ashtanga. What if I can’t do all the poses?
A: Ashtanga helps you develop strength and healthy flexibility over time. Things that seemed impossible begin to change with steady practice. The primary series is wonderful for opening up tightness in the hamstrings, neck, back, and hips. It can be incredibly effective because the emphasis is on building strength and flexibility concurrently.
Q: How many days a week should I practice?
A: Try to start with at least twice a week and eventually work up to five or six times a week. Consistency is key. Feel free to practice at home! Traditionally Saturday is a rest day. You can also abstain from practice on the new and full moon or choose to do meditation only on those days. Ladies are welcome to take the first three days of their cycle off for resting if they wish.
No water bottles in the room. Be sure to hydrate an hour before practice, and then immediately after. It is best to practice on an empty stomach.
In Mysore class, begin your practice at the front of the room and move to the back for finishing postures. You are welcome to stay after your practice to observe or meditate.
When the teacher calls “Samastitih” towards the beginning of the practice, please come to the top of your mat for the opening chant.
Do the practice you’ve been given and communicate with your teacher about how things are going. It’s normal to feel stuck sometimes, but remember that it’s supposed to be fun.
Be kind and welcoming to each other.
You may use the cheat sheet as you learn the series. Some people memorize faster than others—let your teacher know if you’d like a copy for home study.