Adventures in Mysore India,  Uncategorized,  Yoga Philosophy,  Yoga Sutras

A.P.P Goes To Mysore: Dazed and Confused

The 411

Mysore pushes my buttons. I love structure. I am a straight forward person who lives a straight forward life. I like things to be scheduled and regimented. I love having a clear straight forward path to follow. That is why I love Ashtanga. It is clear, straight forward and regimented….or so I thought. This is the first time in my 14 years of practice where I feel like I don’t know what to do or what to expect (not counting when I first started of course). For a person who loves adventure, it is exciting. For a person like me, who has every moment of their day planned on Outlook, it is disorienting.

I read the book Guruji which has stories of practicing in Mysore. I talked to plenty of people before I came here about the Mysore experience.  It seemed logical. However, what I didn’t factor in was that they were telling their story through hind sight. Now that the experience was over, they could look back and see where Guruji or Sharath was taking them. There is no doubt in my mind that there is a method to this madness, but while I am in the middle of it, I cannot see it LOL. I hope one day to be able to see the method again. Until that time, I have to let go.  Some days, I can do it easily and find beauty and grace in this experience. Some days, I struggle with it and question everything about this practice.


The Yoga Sutras  talks about the obstacles to obtaining Yoga, which are:


Predictable Obstacles (1.30)
Illness Dullness Doubt
Negligence Laziness Cravings
Misperceptions Failure Instability

Companions to those Obstacles
Mental and physical pain Sadness and frustration
Unsteadiness of the body Irregular breath

Table from:


Sometimes, I feel like I go through all of these in one practice!!!! For instance, this morning, I did not time my arrival properly so I had to set my mat up in a spot that was cold. I did not sweat and my body didn’t warm up. Add to that the fact that it was 4:30AM so I was already stiffer then normal.  My whole body ached which created illness, mental and physical pain, unsteadiness of my body, sadness and frustration, failure to maintain a firm ground, dullness, doubt, and  negligence. I was close to the toilet so my brain would not stop sending signals that I had to pee which is sensual craving. The only thing I did not have is irregular breath. After doing Primary series for 14 years, it is on auto pilot.

Which brings up another sensual craving, Second Series.  I miss it. Don ‘t miss Third. I can pass on that one. Second, I have been “feemin” for. However, since I don’t know what to expect here, a part of me has trepidation about starting it.

This trip is also teaching me that I don’t have as much emotional control as I think I do. At one moment, I am super happy to be here. In the next moment, I am ready to go home. In one moment, I am like, “I get to be here for two months!!” In the next moment, I am like, “For the love of God, I have 6 more weeks here. What was I thinking?”

At the end of the day, Mysore is a great place to learn how to control the mind or to learn that you have no control at all. The biggest lesson though is  surrender. I am having to totally and completely surrender to not knowing. If you are not willing to surrender, you will be miserable here. If you are that person who gets mad when you do not get assisted, think long and hard before coming to Mysore. If you are the person who gets mad when you get stopped, think long and hard about coming Mysore. If you are the type of person who likes to have long discussions with your teacher about how you are feeling, think long and hard before coming to Mysore. If you like to negotiate with your teacher, think long and hard before going to Mysore.  If you like a set schedule, think long and hard before coming to Mysore. Or, you can go and surrender all of that. If you want to hold on to it, it is cheaper and less frustrating to stay home.

Shanna Small has been practicing Ashtanga Yoga and studying the Yoga Sutras since 2001. She has studied in Mysore with Sharath Jois and is the Director of AYS Charlotte, a school for traditional Ashtanga in Charlotte NC. She has written for Yoga International and the Ashtanga Dispatch. Go here for more information on AYS Charlotte. For information on workshops, please e-mail