From Mysore - Ghent to Mysore - India
For those who don’t know my story yet, my name is Emmy and I have been practicing yoga on and off since 2013. In 2020, I decided to take yoga more seriously by practicing on an almost daily basis. One and a half years later, I became a yoga teacher, spreading the beauty of yoga to others through Hatha and Vinyasa classes.
Even though I had read some books covering Ashtanga yoga, I only came into close contact with Ashtanga yoga when I joined some classes in 2022. My real first steps into Ashtanga were with Sophie Mahy who is teaching classes in Ghent, Belgium (www.ashtangamysoregent.com) and I still remember the emotions I had after the first class with her. After the first sun salutations, I was already “head over heels” with what I saw. She moved so smoothly into every move and made it seem all so effortless, like she was floating on her mat. From those first moments, I realized she would be able to teach me so much and my love for Ashtanga only grew from then on.
At first, I only joined her half primary led class. After a few led classes, she introduced me to her Mysore program. The Mysore style programme is very different to a normal format of a yoga class as in every Mysore class you complete the exact same series of poses without any queuing so you can fully focus on achieving the different asana’ s. Something that seemed kind of boring to me as I always wanted to try new poses, new challenges. However, Sophie made me change my mind in a heartbeat as every single class I started appreciating the primary series more and more and believe it's a challenge to complete it. And so, from joining one Mysore class and one led class weekly, I changed my schedule completely and woke up almost daily before 05:00 am in order to take the bus, train and tram to get to her studio as early as possible to make sure I could get the most out of my practice with her. I even got my husband so far to join led classes twice a week, something I (and him) could have never imagined a year ago.
With some incense burning at the entrance to her shala, it feels like I’m entering a completely different world, away from all the hustle & bustle from the morning commute I experience on my way to Ghent. Her welcoming smile calms my mind before starting the practice. She never pushed me over my limits but always encouraged me. Sometimes, teachers can forget that their students might have a lot of things going on outside of the yoga class. But with Sophie I never feel that way. She gives everyone the space they need and is always happy after your practice, even if your practice was not going as well as you might have liked.
The shala itself can have around twenty mats and usually it’s quite full as she has built a nice community. I am always amazed at how dedicated people are who have a full-time job and show up at her shala almost on a daily basis to practice. Everyone is supportive, friendly and for sure loves Ashtanga.
Sophie has made her way to Mysore six times already and three times she has practiced with Sharath Jois Guru himself. Over the past year I had been looking for yoga training in India and the experience with Sophie and my dedication for Ashtanga & Mysore classes made me realize I wanted to follow in her footsteps. Over the past months I have been practicing intensely with Sophie and because of her I was able to join Sharath Jois Guru’s shala this year! She was so excited for me and got me into contact with her local fixer, Mahesh who arranged accommodation, transportation etc. before for her and who is now helping me.
As I'm writing this on my tenth day in Mysore, I can only look back and be happy that my first experiences with Ashtanga were with Sophie as a teacher. She made Ashtanga accessible for me while also keeping its authenticity and is the best mentor I could ask for!
Sending my greetings from Mysore to everyone in Ghent, especially Blanche (Sophie’s dog) - the amazing assistant in savasana. A big thanks to Sophie for everything. I cannot wait to be back in your shala and having you guide me through the practice and of course to enjoy your massage after all the back bending.
If you are interested in my experience in Mysore, feel free to check out my Youtube channel that I only just started (https://www.youtube.com/@touraneyoga ). On there you can follow my experiences in Mysore with a new vlog every week.