A new rule appeared on the KPJAYI website a few days ago, and the Ashtanga world is aflutter about it. If you haven’t caught wind of the fluttering, good. It’s all a little unnecessary. If you have, I’d like to add my two cents (flutter flutter) and lay out what this does and does not mean.
First, the rule: “Students who are applying for Sharath’s class must have studied at least 2 months with any of our Certified/Authorized teachers (mentioned in our teachers list) before coming to study with Sharath in Mysore Shala.”
It actually seems pretty redundant to state what this rule means, but I will anyway because it’s being misinterpreted: If you want to go to Mysore and practice with Sharath specifically, you must have already spent two months practicing with an authorized or certified teacher.
The reasons for this rule are not stated on the website, but I think it’s fairly clear: the shala is getting busier every year, and this rule ensures that the people who can come study with Sharath have already put in some effort to learn from one of his students. Parampara. Direct transmission of knowledge through a lineage. Zoe Ward wrote a couple of good posts (here and here) about what this all means so you can read more about that if you like.
So now, the questions that I’ve seen popping up:
1. I live somewhere where there is no authorized teacher. Does this mean I can’t go to Mysore?
No. You can go to Mysore and study with Saraswathi! She is wonderful, a powerhouse of knowledge and experience. I studied with her my first trip, and I was lucky to do so.
2. Does this mean I can’t ever study with Sharath?
No. If you study with Saraswathi for a couple of months, then on your next trip you could register to practice with Sharath.
3. Does this mean I won’t ever be authorized?
If you’ve never been to Mysore and you’re already thinking of getting authorized, then you’re putting the cart waaaay before the horse. Go to practice, not for some end goal. (But ok, if you want me to answer the question, I will: I studied with Saraswathi my first trip, and I was authorized on my third trip.)
4. Does this mean only advanced students can go to Mysore?
No no no. Two months with an authorized teacher does not make anyone an advanced student. What does being “advanced” mean, anyway? It’s often thrown around that anyone who can put their legs behind their head or whatever is an advanced student. No! An advanced student is one who has maintained a daily practice for a long period of time. Regardless of ability to bind in Marichyasana D or stick their toes up their nostrils from behind. So this rule has NOTHING to do with how advanced (in asana or in yoga) you are.
5. If I never want to go to Mysore, or if I want to but I just can’t make it work because of my life, does that make me a less dedicated student in the eyes of the Ashtanga world?
No! Seriously I have never encountered anyone who goes to Mysore who would say that a student who can’t or doesn’t want to make a Mysore trip is less of a sincere practitioner. But, like, also why do you care? If you have a practice that has a positive effect on your life, why worry about whether someone else, someone you’ve never met, thinks it’s enough?
That’s maybe a good place to end. AYM students who are thinking of a trip to Mysore: no idea if this means I send you with a letter or you just tell them my name when you register on your first day. I’m sure more info will come out before the season starts.