Mysore Yoga and Yoga Rugs

What is the Mysore style of Ashtanga practice?

Mysore is a self-guided style for practising Ashtanga yoga. Instead of attending a class where everyone practices the same postures at the same pace, Mysore style allows the instructor to help guide you through the series at your own pace.

If you’re a beginner, your instructor will begin by leading you through the sun salutations, the first postures in the standing sequence and the closing sequence. As you become familiar with the postures and memorize the sequence, the instructor will introduce the next part of the series.

Eventually, you will understand the series and your movements will become natural, following the rhythm of your breath. You will then guide yourself through the practice – with encouragement and support from your instructor.

Your instructor will always be available to help you if you forget the next posture, and they may help you to make small adjustments to ensure your body is in the correct alignment.

Mysore is named for the south Indian town where K. Pattabhi Jois originally developed and taught this style of Ashtanga practice from the late 1930s until his death in 2009.

 

What is a Mysore yoga rug?

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Yoga rugs are the original yoga mat.

Yoga mats as most of us know them are ‘sticky’ mats – they are designed with extra grip to help you hold your postures, especially in the standing sequence.

Yoga rugs may seem more slippery than yoga mats, especially when you’re first starting to use them, but there are many benefits to their use:

  • Using a sticky mat under your rug when in a studio with slippery, hard floors will help to keep the rug in place and will act as an additional soft barrier between your body and the floor.
  • Using the rug alone on carpet or grass is a natural and spiritual experience.
  • A rug will absorb sweat and will actually grip better than a sticky mat when it gets sweaty.
  • Rugs are handmade using natural fibres, which is ethical and environmentally friendly.
  • Using a rug can help you build natural strength in your legs and feet to hold the postures instead of relying on a sticky mat to hold you up.
  • It’s easier to jump back and jump through on a rug than it is on a sticky mat.
  • A rug is more spiritual and closer to nature than a sticky mat.

Some people opt to use a yoga towel, but the experience is not the same as using a rug. It is lighter and doesn’t stay in place as well as a rug. Plus, towels are often made of microfiber, which is very harmful to the environment.

 

How do I care for my Mysore rug?

When you first get your rug, to keep it nice and bright add ½ cup of salt to enough cold water to cover the rug. Let it sit overnight.

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After this initial soak, you can then wash the rug in a machine separately and in cold water. Use mild and natural detergents.

The rug should be hung to dry, away from the sun to prevent fading. You may wish to pull the corners of the rug to stretch it out before hanging.

Because the rugs are made from natural materials, they may shrink slightly and colours may fade over time.