Every year, thousands of people flock to study yoga in Mysore. 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.
Apart from being an excellent place to study yoga, Mysore is also a charming city, full of stately palaces and temples.
What Style of Yoga is Taught in Mysore?
The main style of yoga that's taught in Mysore is Ashtanga -- infact Mysore is known as the Asthanga yoga capital of India. Ashtanga yoga has been taught there by the revered guru Sri Krishna Pattabhi Jois since the 1930's.
Ashtanga yoga involves putting the body through a progressive series of postures while synchronizing the breath. The process produces intense internal heat and profuse sweating, which detoxifies muscles and organs.
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.
Where are the Best Places to Study Yoga in Mysore?
Many of the better yoga schools are found in the upper-class areas of Gokulam and Jayalakshmipuram.
Understandably, the classes run by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois at the Ashtanga Yoga Institute are extremely popular (and can be difficult to get into). You'll need to apply at least two months in advance.
Other well regarded schools include Mysore Mandala (in an old traditional Indian home, surrounded by beautiful garden), Atma Vikasa, and Yoga India (run by Bharath Shetty who studied with BKS Iyengar in Pune).
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 aren't very 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. An initiation fee of approximately $650 is payable for the first month, then $415 for each additional month.
Other schools charge around $150-$200 per month, $35-$60 per week, or $6-10 for drop-in classes.
Where to Stay in Mysore?
Some of the places that teach yoga have simple accommodations that are available for students. Alternatively, a popular choice is to stay independently, in the many flats or rooms in private homes that are rented out to foreign students. People come and go all the time, so vacancies often arise.
You can expect to pay around 5,000 to 14,000 rupees ($120 to $330) per month for a flat, depending on size and location. A room will cost 100 to 200 rupees ($2.50 to $5.00) per day, or 3,000 to 6,000 rupees ($70 to $140) per month.
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.
Some popular places are Anu’s Bamboo Hut (which has rooms for around $150-$200 per month and is within walking distance to the Ashtanga Yoga Institute), Anokhi Garden (which is a great family place), and Chez Mr Joseph B & B (operated by the delightful and knowledgeable Mr Joseph). Those who don't mind paying $50-$140 per night should try the tranquil and eco-friendly Green Hotel.