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Practicing Yoga in Mysore

September 22, 2015

Are you headed to Mysore to practice yoga for the first time? In a yogi’s life, a trip to Mysore is a huge milestone and a very special pilgrimage to the birthplace of modern yoga.

While the most famous place to practice is undoubtedly the Krishna Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute in Gokulum, there are several others shalas around town where one can practice either Hatha or Ashtanga yoga and receive more personal attention from the teacher.

At the KPJAYI, students begin practice as early as 4:30AM and cram into a very crowded and intense practice room. Once your practice is finished, your day is free to spend as you like. In other programs, especially within Teacher Training Courses, your day is filled with supplemental classes on adjustments, theory, Patanjali Yoga Sutras, pranayama and anatomy.

Mysore is a small city where the main attraction is yoga and only yoga. There is little else to do or see in the immediate city and its surrounding environs. Unlike Rishikesh, which is home to activities like rafting on the Ganges, mountain treks and various dances / musical gatherings, Mysore is a more serious, somber place with traffic, pollution and uncomfortably warm weather in the summertime.

But if you’re serious about deepening your practice in the birthplace of modern yoga, Mysore might the only place for you.

Where to Eat:

Depth & Green

This Western-style café serves up a combination of Indian and Californian cuisine. You can get an “Ashtanga” green smoothie, made from a Vitamix blender, a delicious veggie burger or a gigantic Indian thali comprised of beans, rice, roti and the works. The pastas are tasty, as are the oats for breakfast.

Om Café

When Depth & Green is closed on Mondays, Om Café receives the spill-over from the Western yogi crowd. Featuring a larger menu with both Indian and Western options, you can get fresh juices, banana pancakes, and eggs any style if you’re missing your home-style breakfast. 

Olive Garden

This isn’t your American chain restaurant despite the name. Located within Windflower resort on the other side of town from Gokulum (a twenty-minute drive), it’s a “fancier” spot with alcohol on the menu, along with a range of oriental and non-vegetarian options.

Groceries:

Nature’s Nectar

Westerns will balk at the prices ($7 for a jar of Ragu), but this little imported grocery shop is clean, organized and carries a range of products hard to find anywhere else. Next door is a bakery with cakes and other indulgences.

Green House Organic Shop

This is your one-stop shop for Ayurveda supplements, imported grocery products like almond milk (!), cereals, pastas, and a selection of spiritual and yoga books.

Spend a weekend:

Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel

This used to be the palace where the Maharaja of Mysore housed his distinguished guests. It is now a quiet hotel, catering mostly to touring Indians. The hotel and its grounds could be the setting for a Wes Anderson movie – inside are vaulted ceilings, emerald green walls, gorgeous marble flooring and spectacular verandas. Living like a maharaja will set you back the cost of a Motel 6 stay back at home – deluxe rooms can be had for around $50 per night on weekdays. It’s worth it if you’re craving a staycation from the noise and pollution of Mysore where you can avail yourself of the pool, a large bathtub and air conditioning.

Getting around:

Forget rickshaws with their predatory price gouging and asphyxiating rides through smog-belching traffic. Uber has made its way to Mysore and often rides in a comfortable, air-conditioned sedan are less expensive than an open-air 3-wheeler.

Books:

Over at the Mystic School, which is just a few blocks off of the main road in Gokulum is an Osho book store. Deepen your spiritual understanding by picking up a few tomes that will awaken your consciousness.


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