What is Ashtanga Yoga?

Ashtanga Yoga is the system of hatha yoga taught by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois of Mysore, India. This system includes a number of series, each series consisting of a set sequence of poses or asanas. Ashtanga Yoga uses a powerful and dynamic practice in which poses are linked to one another through the synchronization of movement and breath.

How does Ashtanga Yoga differ from other types of yoga?

The primary difference between Ashtanga Yoga and other forms of hatha yoga is the use of vinyasa, the principle of flowing movement synchronized with the breath. In addition to creating strength, flexibility and a purifying sweat, using vinyasa as the foundation of the practice, draws the mind inward, towards the Self, which creates a meditation-in-motion, a state of well-being, mental clarity and an open heart.
Another difference is that Ashtanga Yoga follows prescribed sequences of asanas (postures). Each asana grows out of the one before it and is preparation for the next. Adhering to the sequence also prevents the practitioner from focusing only on his or her individual strengths while avoiding his or her weaknesses. When practicing in this way, ample opportunities arise to develop the virtues of patience, faith, acceptance and non-attachment.

Is this practice like Power Yoga or Flow Yoga?

Power Yoga and Flow Yoga are very recent forms of yoga that have been introduced only in recent years by Western practitioners. Some are derivatives of traditional Ashtanga Yoga, but they are in no way related to the Ashtanga Yoga practice offered at Ashtanga Yoga Shala.

Why are the Mysore classes not held on the Full and New moons?

Traditionally, Ashtanga Yoga is not practiced on moon days because the lunar cycles have a strong affect on our personal energy. The Full and New moons are the strongest points of the lunar cycle and it is said that because our energy is strongly affected on these days, there is a greater risk of injury and that injuries suffered on moon days take longer to heal. On the New moon, our bodies strongly feel the effects of gravity. They are very grounded, but usually feel very heavy and inflexible. On the Full moon, the body is full of ungrounded energy which creates physical instability. For these reasons, yoga practice is not recommended. Stay home, rest, honour the moon and enjoy the day off.

To view a list of Moon Days, visit our Schedule page.

How do I start classes at the Shala?

We sell Monthly Passes for $185.  Full-time students can buy a Student Pass for $140.  We also sell a 12 Class Pass for $155. These passes expire after 30 days.  New students who live in the GTA have the option to take either their first month of classes for $100 or their first week for $35 if they are not ready to make a month commitment. Students with an established Ashtanga Yoga practice can drop-in for $22. Pre-registration is not necessary but please contact us before your first class as space is limited. Please arrive between 6:30 and 9:30 am on weekdays and at 9 am on Sundays. Our Sunday morning class is a Led Primary Series class that runs from 9:30 to 11 am with a discussion following. The led class is not suitable for beginners. Some ashtanga yoga experience is necessary. Please ask us if you are unsure whether to attend Sunday’s class.

How often should I practice?

Ashtanga Yoga is designed as a daily practice under the guidance of a qualified teacher with rest taken on Saturday and the days of the Full and New moon. Women are also encouraged to rest during the first three days of their menstural cycle. This consistency and commitment allows students to see progress in their practice and to experience the profound benefits of yoga in their lives. Sporadic and inconsistent attendance usually leads to frustration and disillusionment with the practice.

Is a Mysore class a self practice?

This is a common misconception about Mysore classes. While Mysore classes cultivate a grater level of self-sufficiency and independence in students than led yoga classes, students are still taught by the teacher who moves about the practice room giving each student individual attention, adjustments and support within the group setting. The teacher is always available to students in Mysore classes and maintains a high level of supervision and control over the classroom to ensure students are practicing safely.

Am I being taught or am I doing "my own thing" in Mysore classes?

In Mysore clases, students are taught the Ashtanga sequence of postures by the teacher. Students are advanced through the Ashtanga sequence, by the teacher, pose by pose based on their individual abilities.

How will I know what postures to do?

Ashtanga Yoga consists of a progressive series of postures that is repeated each practice. Each pose is a preparation for the pose that follows it and grows out of the pose that precedes it. Students are taught this sequence by the teacher methodically over time.

Will my practice be 4 hours long!?

No. Mysore classes are scheduled in blocks of time where students can arrive at their own convenience provided they are finished by the end of class. Therefore, each student will practice what they have been taught of the Ashtanga sequence. New students learning from scratch can expect to be practicing between 45 and 60 minutes for their first few classes. Over time, the practice becomes longer as the student learns more postures. Eventually, students should expect to have a practice of approximately 90 minutes.

Should I practice at home?

While Mysore classes empower students to develop a level of independence, it is highly recommended to practice under the guidance of a qualified teacher. Home practice is an option for students who have developed a level of proficiency in the practice on days when they cannot attend classes at the Shala.  Practicing under the eyes of a teacher encourages growth and prevents the development of bad habits such as poor alignment and incorrect breathing.

Do I have to be fit and flexible?

There are no pre-requisites to starting or practicing yoga. If you can breathe, you can do yoga. It is a personal, non-competitive and non-performance oriented practice. It doesn ?t matter at what age or fitness-level you begin. Through the practice of yoga, you will develop the strength, endurance and flexibility you need to be fit and healthy. All you need to do is show up. As Guruji says, "Do your practice and all is coming."

Where is the Shala located?

We are located at 460 College St #302 in Toronto’s Little Italy neighbourhood. Click here for a map.

What should I bring?

As this practice produces a purifying sweat, for hygenic reasons, we recommend that you bring your own yoga mat and a towel to practice. If you don’t have your own yoga mat, we can loan you one for your first few classes. Please arrive having showered and wearing clean yoga clothes.

Wear flexible, lightweight and non-binding clothing such as shorts and stretchy workout wear. Yoga is done in bare feet so you do not require footwear or socks.

We have filtered water for rehydrating after practice.

Can I drink water during class?

It is best to drink plenty of water before and after yoga practice.  It is not recommended to interrupt the flow of your practice and your concentration to have a drink.  It is also uncomfortable to do yoga asanas with water in your belly.

Should women practice during menstruation?

Some light stretching may help to alleviate menstrual cramps and lower back pain.  However, it is not recommended for women to do the Ashtanga practice during the first three days of their cycle (affectionately referred to as "Lady’s Holiday").  It is important to allow the body to rest during these days. The use of mula & uddiyana bandhas and inverted poses work against the natural rhythms of the body during menstruation. Rest and you’ll be ready to resume practice in a few days.

If you have any other questions please email us.
We will reply as soon as possible.

  • © Rachelle & Paul Gold