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A few differences….

Posted by on February 9, 2012

So, I was warned that practicing in Mysore would be different than practicing at home in Boston. Not surprising, but it was still overwhelming to come here and really feel the difference. Every day I wake up at 7am, have breakfast, some coffee, and what feels like a boat load of time to kill before heading down to the Shala around 9:30 (9:45 shala time – they are 15 minutes ahead, as a rule). The experience of practice in the Shala deserves a blog post all its own (it’s coming), but here are a few differences I’ve noticed in how the Primary Series itself is handled (not how I am handling it).

  • No opening invocation unless you are in the first batch of students to practice (the 4:30am crowd); all the later students just scramble into the room, put down their mats and begin. We do all chant together, however, during led practice (Friday & Sunday).

  • Only 3 Surya Namaskar B’s are expected (at least, only three were queued during Led practice…woot! Don’t think I can bring this habit back to the cold Boston winter, but 3 is plenty in the hot, humid practice room. Seriously, there is sweat rolling into my eyes before my mat even hits the ground.)

  • Sweeping your fingers on the ground while lifting the arms for Surya Namaskar B = not correct.

  • Don’t rush in Pandangustasana (Why are you rushing!? Sharath will say…); there is an extra breath between jumping and grabbing the toes. (Inhale jump, Exhale reach down grab toes, Inhale again – head up, Exhale)

  • Ardha Baddha Paschinmattanasana = the hand that reaches forward for the foot grabs the heel, NOT the side of the foot.

  • In Navasana, make sure there is no space between the fingers, and hands are pointing up at the feet, not straight forward. Also, Sharath has a joke he does in the fifth Navasana…everytime: he almost says five, but drags out the fffff….ffffff…then chuckles a bit, more fffff delaying, then finally we do. IT’S SUPER FUN!


  • We practice only the first 2 Baddha Konasana variations (again, only the first 2 were queued in Led class, so I’m going with it…I do miss the third one though).

  • Toes point when coming up in Upavishta Konasana.

  • Often, the person next to me has grabbed my shin/ lower leg when it is off to the side in Supta Padanghustasana; they press it down into their chest – it’s nice…and weird, but nice.

  • In Urdhva Mukha Paschinmattanasana, grab the sides of your feet only – not your heels. (Saraswati insisted on this my first day: “Not there! There!” accompanied by a foot slap…)

  • Only 1 set of backbends (3 total) is queued during Led Primary (!!!!)

  • Chakrasana comes right after backbending (instead of holding the knees and rolling up).

  • Salamba Sarvangasana is held for only 10 breaths.

  • Sirsasana is held for 15 breaths,then halfway for 10, then one inhale back up, exhale down…short, short.

  • Utplutih = He only counts to ten, but I’m pretty sure we hold it for at least 30 seconds…or maybe a minute…or a year. Oh lord it’s hard.


  • NO SAVASANA in the Led Classes (boo hoo) – there are too many people, if you are not in the last batch – you leave and do Savasana at home (difficult with the coconut stand and lots of chatting yogis right outside); in Mysore-style Savasana and all of the closing postures are done in the locker rooms!

More to come (Internet willing!) Enjoy your practices Ashtangis – and those pics of baby Sharath demonstrating the asanas. Start challenging yourselves in Utplutih now – you’ll need it when you get here!

- Cyndi

9 Responses to A few differences….

  1. Rochelle

    Cyndi, these shala-crib notes are priceless. I think I let out a little audible squeal about the one backbend…but usually it takes me three to feel human in that posture. Win some, lose some.

    • ashtangicyndi

      Rochelle! So glad you are enjoying them…!! One SET of backbends – so do your three and feel human, but I’m used to 6 (two sets) – by the third I’m feeling good – by the 6th…I’m mush. So happy I get to move into my forward fold sooner over here! ;)

  2. Tara

    Wait a minute…NO SAVASANA?! I can’t even express what I’m feeling about this right now…I might cry a little, lol.

    I also need at least 3 back bends before it actually starts to feel open, I like doing 6 (2 sets). Karen has also been cueing the chakrasana after backbending. Gotta say, I’m not a fan of it, feels like too much immediately after the backbending. But, oh well, I’m rolling with it (pun definitely intended, lol). I could get used to only doing 3 Surya B’s… :-)

    Glad you two are having such a good time out there, I love all the pictures and the blog posts :-)

    • carashtangi

      Tara, we take Savasana in the changing room on self practice days, but there are three led primaries back to back on Friday mornings. After uth pluthi the next class is already coming in, so it’s pack it up and get out! Head home for Savasana on the living room floor.

  3. Rochelle K

    Thanks for sharing this! It’s really interesting to see how the practice, which is so standard, has all these tiny differences depending on who’s teaching!

  4. Sandra

    I love that you are learning all this…Saraswathi (there is an appreciation club for her on Facebook that my friend started – it’s so awesome. We had to practice with her when Sharath was out of town)! Yes, I am practicing with Monica Marinoni (old teacher of mine) and she told me the same in Navasana – Your fingers to your feet Sandra (it’s like having India in the house yo!). Also she had me closing my open hand (non grabber) in my Marichiasana B bind hmmmmmm.
    I fell on my stomach twice yesterday attempting jumping out of Tittibhasana (post baby bandha strength coming – but not there yet)-I am embracing humility and thinking of you two.

    Peace and love – Sandra

  5. Maureen

    Very interesting! I’ve been doing some of these things all along , like taking the extra breath in Pandangustasana. The extra breath always made sense to me and I wondered why it had changed. Now I don’t have to feel bad for sneaking it in. :)

    I love the picture of Sharath in Navasana! For years I was told that toes were at eye level, and I’ve never been able to accomplish this because the bottom half of my body is longer (and heavier) than the upper half of my body. The only way I can get the toes at eye level without falling over is to bend the knees (which is also frowned upon). Perhaps this won’t be my most dreaded asana anymore?

    • carashtangi

      Maureen, sharath says to look at the toes in navasana, maybe that is how the toe – eye relationship came about!

      • Maureen

        That makes sense! I’ll be sure to paint my toes (see today’s post) so they’re nice to look at in Navasana. :)

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