Thursday, June 13, 2019

Going to Mysore to get authorisation to teach ashtanga yoga?

Ashtanga yoga changed your life. Your body changed. Your mind changed. You stopped being depressed. You began to eat better. Your relationships evolved. Your sex life improved. You don’t even know how all this came true, but when the alarm goes off at 6:00 a.m. you happily get of the bed in the dark with your yoga mat to embark to the most challenging hour of your day. You love the practice. And love is a starting point for the rest of your life.

Recently, you become a yoga teacher almost by accident. You finished 200 hours of the yoga teaching training program at local yoga studio, you can do flying pigeon. Jump back and jump through became easy as well as other asanas of your ashtanga yoga primary series practice. You feel like a hero, you found that being a yoga teacher is by far the best job you’ve ever had.

But you are not satisfied with that. You want to STUDY ashtanga yoga. You've build impressive resume, the list of important yoga teachers (celebrities) you have met, practiced with, attended yoga conference classes, done a workshop with.

And naturally, you start considering a trip to India to practice yoga at the Shri K. Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute (KPJAYI) in Mysore, in order to attain ashtanga yoga teacher authorisation/certification...

It is possible to be authorized by Sharath to teach ashtanga yoga, though the process is vaguely defined and ever-evolving. You may be a long-time practitioner and a yoga teacher back home, going there year after year and not obtain anything. That's perfectly fine. But going to Mysore for the first time with the intention of getting authorized, regardless of how well your practice is, is the ridiculous. If you go, go with no expectations in that regard.

The Shri K. Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute is dedicated to the education of yoga practitioners. Practitioners should come with the sole purpose of studying the tradition from its source. Students traveling to Mysore should not come with the expectation of obtaining Authorized or Certified status.

The list on this website constitutes the official record of teachers approved by the KPJAYI, which is the only authority able to authorize or certify individuals to teach the ashtanga yoga method as taught by Shri K. Pattabhi Jois and R. Sharath. There are no teacher training programs approved by this Institute under any name (e.g., Ashtanga Teacher Intensive); teachers that are listed on this website are experienced practitioners and dedicated students who have shown a considerable degree of proficiency and appreciation of ashtanga yoga in its traditional form and who continue to study regularly at the KPJAYI.

Teachers are required to teach the method as it is taught by Shri K. Pattabhi Jois and R. Sharath at the KPJAYI in Mysore, India. They should maintain a yoga room or shala to allow for daily, preferably morning, Mysore-style practice and should honor Saturdays and the full/new moon days as rest days.


When you arrive to Mysore and start practicing ashtanga yoga with Sharath, leave your ego at the door, because you are about to be no big deal. You’ll be told what time to come to the shala, anywhere between 4:30 a.m and noon. You’ll be told when you may start the practice. You’ll be told where to put your mat. When you reach a troublesome asana with which you do with difficulty, you’ll be told to stop. At which point you’ll roll up your yoga mat and head to the changing rooms to take your closing sequence, because that’s what you’ve been told to do...

Try not to judge, remember, your ego is left at the door. If you think you’ve got a pretty good handle on things in ego-department, you’ll be tested. The ashtanga practice will challenge you. People will challenge you. Mysore will challenge you. You will experience ego panic on your way into the shala for a packed 6:00 a.m led Primary Series. And eventually you may swear... you might surprise yourself.

On the floor, you will be unnoticeable. With several hundreds of ashtangis coming to the shala during teaching season, there is no much personal attention from Sharath to go around. You’ll be on your own for the most part. Which for you as an inquisitive student can be glorious. Or not, if you’re expecting other sort of things.

May I ask you... What do you study anyway? People do asana practice according to abilities of their physical body: strength and flexibility. Is there any deeper  philosophy behind ashtanga yoga? Sharath doesn't allow anymore that students take notes or videos from his conferences. That is so sad. I enjoy reading those notes. They are better than Monty Python and South Park together.

Sharath's message is simple, just do your asana, read Bhagavad Gita, be nice and say you are sorry when you done wrong. Do not eat meat and don't kill spiders, give couple cents to beggars, hope for transcendental bliss, cosmic consciousness, supreme love... be quiet, make babies, smile, breathe deeply, keep moola bandha, be good, don't ask questions, don't use your mind, don't make a disturbance ...

"No one owns yoga", said Sharath but ability to carry on and convey the teaching of ashtanga yoga is assessed by Sharath and Sharath alone. Chain of command is very important, try to trust his judgement in these matters, and keep going to Mysore, authorization or no. Good luck.

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