Mysore Practice



5:30 AM Stepping out the cold dark night, I go up the stairs. In a dim studio, with lovely blond wood floors. I unroll my mat and step onto the grey surface. One or two friends are also stepping onto the mat as our Mysore assistant lights candles around the room. My toes push into the stickiness of my mat, grounding me and sending a rebounding energy upwards. Clasping my hands in prayer position, I silently recite the opening chant and send lovingkindness to those on my mind.

5:42 Sun salutations have begun to send energy through my body. I am counting breaths, and thinking only of breaths. (This is because my inner Dorothy Parker–the wise-cracking red wine-drinking dame I’m just not, except sometimes in my head—isn’t awake yet. Wine swilling glamour girls rarely are, at this hour).

6:04: In Ardha baddha padmasana (standing half lotus) Dorothy Parker suddenly jolts into life. As I painstakingly go into half lotus on the right, she wise-cracks….”some people are cool, and some people are Tragically Un-hip!” (Get it? unhip in a hip opener?)

6:31 In Marichyasana D, my teacher patiently helps me bind on the left side. My right obliques are on fiiiiyaaaaahh but I persevere. She calmly and safely holds me in the bind, and is kind enough to suggest I’m making progress.

6:36 I get my right hand and most of my left through in garbha pindasana, and roll clumsily up to my version of kukutasana, lifting my whole seat up as I press into my hands. Suddenly I feel strong. Dorothy Parker, however, would like to point out that it’s really probably only a 3 on the Kino-Index (Where 1 is a pile of kindling and 10 is Kino’s version of the pose, a joyful expression of strength and surrender to the Divine.)

6:52 Dropping back with my teacher’s help, I have an epiphany—LEGS! If you engage them properly they take the weight out of the lower back. Not sure if all of my dropbacks reflect this, but at least the penny has dropped. Or the nickel. Or whatever we’re calling that now. During the squish, my breath deepens. I am a sweaty but happy mess.

7:03 A fragile headstand, again with help. But held a full 12 breaths.

7:10 Clean mat, roll it up, go shower and go teach.

Why do I go to Mysore? Because it’s the heart of the practice, the best way to come to know yourself and the philosophy of yoga—compassion, truth, discipline— in your very bones.

Because the energy of the room is soothing and powerful, an ocean woosh of gentle breathing. Because my friends are all around me learning these same lessons, perhaps never suspecting how inspiring and graceful they look on the mat. Because our teachers and assistants are just the right amount of wise and demanding.

Because it has made me stronger in body and mind than anything else in my life. Because it works. Try it.

p.s. You may have noticed that the blog header got a little makeover. From now on, I’ll be trying to post more frequently, about three times per week. The poll below will help me figure out what sorts of topics you’d like to see here on

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