Mysore is the Yoga capital of India.
Before going into further details, a quick idea of what is yoga for those who are new to this concept. Basically it is a discipline originated in ancient India. A discipline of both body and mind.There are many branches to Yoga, based on its philosophy and practices. They all known with different names.
The most popular (often referred simply as "Yoga") of it includes practicing physical postures (called asanas) with breath control.
Back to the topic again. Mysore is home to many traditional yoga centers where yoga is taught in the traditional way.
There are many reasons. Most decisive of all, it is home to one of the legendary yoga teachers in the world - Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. The yoga center found by Jois - Shri K Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute ( KPJAYI ) - is the flagship institute for learning yoga. Till his death in 2009 , Shri K Pattabhi Jois was teaching his students in Mysore, and also around the world. The tradition continues with his daughter and grandson teaching the students at this Yoga institute in Mysore.
In KPJAYI they teach a special school of yoga called Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga or Ashtanga Yoga or even sometimes called as Mysore Yoga.
Many come to Mysore to learn yoga as a personal pursuit. Also there are a number of aspirants joining the classes to get themselves as qualified yoga instructors.
Apart from the Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute, there are many yoga schools in Mysore teaching various streams of yoga.
That's mainly because yoga is practically taught by the teacher with individual attention to each student. So that restricts the number of students that can be accommodated in one yoga class or yoga course.
That brings to another speciality of yoga taught in Mysore. Though there is a structured plan to learn, each students are allowed to follow their own learning curve. What it means is everyone learns yoga - the way it is intended to be - but at their own pace. This stands in stark contrast with the mass aerobic style training, typically practiced in Yoga centers abroad.
According to their taste and want students opt for learning under different yoga teachers (called Gurus or Guruji).
Almost all the yoga training institutes in Mysore have varying training plans to suit the needs if individual yoga students. Some even offers yoga certification programs as part of their yoga teacher training courses.
It is difficult to classify, thanks to the complexity and depth of yoga as a practicing discipline. However in short , you will be find three types of courses in these yoga schools - basic , intermediate and advanced.
The duration of a basic yoga courses could be of a few days. The advanced could be of a couple of weeks to 1 or 2 months . An advanced course could be anything from 2 months upwards.
A 'Full Course' typically takes two months of yoga practice. As a discipline it takes many years to master. So mannier a times, those learned it at Mysore returns at regular intervals to advance themselves to the next levels. This could go on for many years.
Serious yoga aspirants tends to stay at a stretch for many months in Mysore to learn yoga. At the same time some yoga centers in Mysore allows drop in students for shorter sessions.
The more popular institutes would expect you to apply a few months in advance and to ensure your registration is accepted. So it all depends on the set policies of the individual yoga training centers, though the reputed ones always ask for advanced registrations.
The fee structure too varies with duration, type of course and also with which yoga institute you are going to learn from.
A one month yoga course at a premier institute can cost anything upward from Rs 20000 (USD 400 +) per month. Smaller yoga schools of Mysore charges anything from Rs4000 (about USD100) per month.
Also when you are opting for a particular school, be sure that you landed up in the 'right' yoga institute you intended to join. That's because there could be many with resembling names in yoga training, than can create some confusion.
Now where are the yoga centers in Mysore located?
Most of them are located well within the Mysore city limits. And surprisingly , the popular yoga centers are located in and around a residential areas of Mysore. For example many yoga centers , including the K Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute is located in Gokulam, a residential suburb located a few kilometers northwest of the Mysore Railway Station.
Another area where some of the centers are located is Kuvempunagar, again a residential block a few kilometers south of the Mysore city center.
Those coming to Mysore for learning Yoga tends to stay at accommodations available around the yoga centers, rather than staying at the hotels that are generally located around the city center. A nearer accommodation is preferred (possibly at a walkable distance) among the students as the yoga training starts early in the morning. Long term learners of the yoga centers go for rented apartments , many times on sharing basis.
In other words, there is a 'floating' community of yoga aspirants living in areas where the training centers are located.
You can find a large number of people from around the globe in Mysore's Yoga centers. And of course English is the defacto training language, for those who can not follow the local languages.
Doddakere is the place located right in front of Mysore Palace. Dodda Kere in Kannada means Big Tank or Big Lake. The fact is you would not find any such tank in front of the palace. All you can see is the creeping urbanization and some 'modern' structures on the lake bed of an erstwhile sprawling water body.