Every year, thousands of people flock to study yoga in Mysore, in South India's Karnataka state. It's one of the most popular yoga destinations in India, and over the years has achieved world-wide recognition as a center for yoga. Those who want to become yoga teachers usually study in either Rishikesh or Mysore. Apart from being an excellent place for yoga, Mysore is also a lovely city with stately palaces and temples.
What Style of Yoga is Taught in Mysore?
The main style of yoga in Mysore is Ashtanga, also known as Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga or Mysore Yoga. In fact, Mysore is known as the Ashtanga yoga capital of India. The style was developed by Sri Krishna Pattabhi Jois, who founded the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute (now known as the K Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute) in Mysore in 1948. He was a disciple of Sri T Krishnamacharya, who's regarded as one of the most influential yoga teachers of the 20th century. Sri K Pattabhi Jois passed away in 2009, and unfortunately numerous claims of sexual misconduct with students have since surfaced. His teachings are now carried on by his daughter (Saraswati Jois) and grandson (Sharath Jois).
Ashtanga yoga involves putting the body through a progressive and vigorous series of postures while synchronizing the breath. The process produces intense internal heat and profuse sweating, which detoxifies muscles and organs. It's renowned all over the world.
The yoga classes aren't led as a whole, as is common in the West. Instead, students are given a yoga routine to follow according to their ability, with additional postures added as they gain strength. This makes the Mysore style of Ashtanga an excellent style of yoga to accommodate people of all levels. It also eliminates the need for students to learn a whole range of postures all at once.
Classes can initially look chaotic, with everyone doing their own thing at different times! However, there's no need for concern as this isn't really case. All postures are done in sequence, and after a while you'll notice a pattern emerging.
Best Places to Study Yoga in Mysore
Many of the better yoga schools are found in the upper-class areas of Gokulam (where the Ashtanga Yoga Institute is located) and 15 minutes away in Lakshmipuram.
Understandably, the classes at the Ashtanga Yoga Institute (commonly referred to as KPJAYI) are extremely popular and difficult to get into. You'll need to apply between two and three months in advance. Expect the classes to be packed with at least 100 students!
Other highly regarded schools include:
- Mysore Krishnamachar Yoga Shala (the primary teaching place of BNS Iyengar, the oldest living teacher of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. He was a student of Sri T Krishnamacharya and Sri K Pattabhi Jois).
- Mysore Mandala (teaches Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga in an old traditional Indian home, surrounded by beautiful garden and an organic cafe. A variety of other classes are offered, including Ayurveda and pranayama).
- Atma Vikasa Center of Yogic Sciences (run by Mysore's back-bending specialist, Venkatesh, and his wife Hema. Offers small and authentic Hatha style yoga classes, as well as meditation, kriyas, pranayama, philosophy, and strict yogic lifestyle).
- IndeaYoga (run by Bharath Shetty who studied with BKS Iyengar in Pune, and combines Hatha, Ashtanga and Iyengar styles of yoga).
Also recommended are:
- Yoga Masterji (run by M.S. Viswanath, the nephew of Sri K Pattabhi Jois and a yoga teacher for over 40 years. Both Ashtanga and Hatha styles are offered, as well as yoga philosophy and lifestyle, pranayama, mantra and japa).
- Sachidananda Ashtanga Yoga Shala (one of the teachers, M V Chidananda, is very popular. He's a disciple of BNS Iyengar and has been practicing yoga since the age of eight. His father also conducts classes at the shala).
- Sthalam8 Ashtanga Vinyasa Yogashala (founded by Ajay Kumar, who studied with BNS Iyengar and has nearly 20 years teaching experience. There's a range of classes for beginners to advanced students, plus an Indian fusion cafe).
- Prana Vashya Yoga (sought-after teacher Vinay Kumar has his own style of yoga called Prana Vashya, which emphasizes the asanas following the breath and not the other way around. He conducts renowned back bending classes).
- Ashtanga Saadhana (run by Vijay Kumar, the younger brother of Vinay Kumar, with emphasis on slow deep breathing).
- Patanjala Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga Shala (founded by Sri V Sheshadri, a disciple of BNS Iyengar. He and his son conduct the classes).
- Mysore Three Sisters (if you'd prefer a female yoga teacher, Shashikala trained under Sri K Pattabhi Jois and conducts traditional Ashtanga classes. Her sisters also provide massages and home-cooked sattvic lunches).
- Mysore Ashtanga Yoga Shala (promotes teacher training courses. It's a branch of the Sri Panduranga Patanjali Yoga Shikshana Kendra, an organization dedicated to providing free yoga classes to society).
Some very useful information about the yoga schools and teachers can be found on this website.
In addition, guest Ashtanga yoga teachers from around the world come to Mysore from time to time to run special workshops and intensive yoga weekends.
How Long Do Yoga Courses in Mysore Run For?
A minimum of one month is normally required to study yoga in Mysore. Many of the classes run for two months or more. Drop-in visitors are allowed at some schools, although these are less common.
Most students who come to learn yoga in Mysore start arriving from November and stay for months at a time, until the weather heats up around March.
How Much Do Yoga Courses in Mysore Cost?
If you want to study with an organization such as the Ashtanga Yoga Institute, you'll need to be prepared to pay almost the same amount as yoga courses in the West. The fee depends on the teacher selected.
For foreigners, the cost of advanced classes with Sharath Jois at the Ashtanga Yoga Institute is 34,700 rupees for the first month, including tax. For the second and third months, the fees are 23,300 rupees per month. This includes 500 rupees per month for the compulsory chanting class. A minimum of one month is required.
Classes for all levels with Saraswathi Jois (daughter of Sri K Pattabhi Jois, and mother of Sharath) cost 30,000 rupees for the first month and 20,000 rupees for the following months, for foreigners. A minimum of two weeks is required although a month is preferable. The cost for two weeks is 18,000 rupees.
(Fees for Indians are less and are available by contacting the Institute).
At other schools, fees start from around 6,000 rupees per month or 600 rupees for drop-in classes.
Where to Stay in Mysore
Some of the places that teach yoga have simple accommodations that are available for students. However, most don't offer accommodations. Students stay independently, in the many flats or rooms in private homes that are rented out to foreigners. People come and go all the time, so vacancies often arise.
If you're planning on staying in Mysore for a while, Gokulam is definitely the place to be. It has a very community orientated vibe where everyone knows each other, along with lots of healthy cafes and other wellness activities. It's a peaceful neighborhood that's convenient to walk around. However, something to keep in mind is that there have been growing incidences of groping and molestation by miscreants in the street who target western females.
You can expect to pay between 15,000-25,000 rupees per month for a self-contained apartment. A room will cost around 500 rupees per day upwards, or 10,000-15,000 rupees per month, in a paying guest house or homestay. Many homes in Gokulam have started offering paying guest accommodations.
If you're new to the city, it's best to stay in a hotel for the first few nights while you check out the options. Definitely don't book somewhere for a month in advance, or you'll likely end up paying way too much! Most of the places that rent out rooms don't advertise online. Instead, you can find them by driving around or getting in touch with an enterprising local who helps sort out accommodations for students. Anu's Cafe is a great spot to meet people.
Two popular places to stay when you first arrive are Anokhi Garden (French-owned in Gokulam) and Chez Mr Joseph Guest House (operated by the delightful and knowledgeable Mr Joseph, who escorted Sri Pattabhi Jois around the world for many years). If you're on a budget, the Zostel backpacker hostel in Gokulam is a good place to land up in initially. Those who don't mind paying 3,500 rupees per night upwards should try the tranquil and eco-friendly Green Hotel in Lakshmipuram. Alternatively, Good Touch Serviced Apartments and Treebo Urban Oasis offer conveniently located serviced apartments. Do check out the listings on AirBnb as well!
Ayurveda in Mysore
Ayurvedia is popular accompaniment to yoga in Mysore. If you're interested in having a consultation with a qualified Ayurvedic doctor, Doctor Kumar of Ayurveda Mysore is recommended. Various workshops and courses are conducted there as well.