Operating out of Metta Yoga in downtown San Rafael we offer Mysore-style teachings M,W,F 6:45am-9am (closed in observance of moon days).
Registration can be made online prior to class or onsite with front desk staff upon your arrival.
Drop-ins are welcome if students have an established, series-based practice. Students interested in cultivating a regular Ashtanga practice (3 days a week minimum) are invited to contact Matt via the contact page on this website. The shala (yoga school) encourages the use of props and modifications to support all levels of practitioners to progress through the series, but also promotes non-dependency on props. We help students to experience the internal forms of the postures as a way of directing them towards the correct and organic external form of the pose. The teacher works with students one-on-one, at the pace appropriate to them. The self-paced class is based on the student's needs and is as much a dialogue as it is a direct transmission of knowledge and method. Our spacious approach to the practice respects lineage and yet employs the cutting-edge dimensions of postural inquiry (props and application of physiological knowledge) to support your evolution as a practitioner.
Matt Champoux is the Director of Ashtanga Marin. He has been practicing Ashtanga Yoga since 2000 and teaching the method since 2005 (in both led and Mysore-style settings). He took his first class with Richard Freeman at the age of 14 and has been a devoted student since. As a result of his long-term studies with Richard and his wife, Mary Taylor, he is considered one of the few senior teachers internationally respected for having an advanced command of Freeman’s methods and inquiry process. After 14 years of intense study in Boulder, and completion of the Third Series with Richard and Mary, Matt moved to the Bay Area to teach full time in 2014.
Location: we are based out of Metta Yoga located in downtown San Rafael, CA. We conveniently located 30 minutes north of SF and just minutes walking from the SMART train stop and transit stations of San Rafael.
Series Info (does not have to be memorized before coming to your first Ashtanga Mysore-Style class):
What is Ashtanga Yoga? Ashtanga literally means, "eight limbs" and refers to the eight-limbed path of yoga study prescribed to envelope ones life in the study of yoga. While the use of "Ashtanga" in much of the West has become synonymous with "Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga" the word is free from sectarian ownership and instead refers the the nobel eightfold path echoed in the principles of the Buddha and the sage Patanjali.
If one is to become a student of Ashtanga yoga, in the general sense of the word, then they are to become a student of life. The practitioner views all components of their life as an opportunity for practice with the end goal being the best human being the possibly can be. The eight fold path is as follows: 1) Yama - ethical precepts 2) Niyama - discipline and observances 3) Asana - posture practice 4) Pranayama - breathing practice 5) Pratayhara - meditative withdrawal of the senses 6) Dharana - concentration 7) Dhyana - meditative awareness 8) Samadhi - one pointed focus with correct view, meditative bliss
By allowing the study of asana to be contextualized by this framework, our efforts at postural mastery can be directed to the highest level of self mastery and discovery.
While not often considered of value in the modern schools of yoga, lineage is of utmost importance when one is interested in using yoga as a tools for self discovery and awakening. If your teacher is secretive about where they learned their practice, or who they have studied from it should immediately raise a red flag in your mind. Your teacher should always be willing to share where they learned yoga and who they learned from. The lineage is what establishes a) legitimacy of the teacher, and b) the effectiveness of the practice, since it is the ground upon which this journey bares fruit. Lineage is the fertile soil in which the seed of yoga study is planted for without it, how can you trust a teacher is guiding from a place of selflessness as opposed to appropriating your practice for their own good? A brief search on the internet will show you how common cults and egomaniacal teachers take advantage of their student interests, which is sad to behold.
As a student it is important to be weary at first to determine if your teacher is worthy of your time and attention. Ask your teachers questions and investigate to see if their motivations are pure. But also watch them. It is often in action that teachers reveal their true self and whether their relationship to the practice is skin deep or as vast as the ocean. In this era with 200hr trainings left and right, and new styles of yoga emerging by the day, you have to be an educated consumer.
Lineage keeps the practice alive and relevant to each successive generation of practitioners. It can be argued that practicing a form of yoga not linked to lineage is like cutting a flower from the plant - very soon the flower withers and dies, cut off from the vital sap that nourished it to blossom.
What's Special about Mysore at Metta? It's a stronghold for Ashtanga yoga as taught by Richard Freeman, and is directed by Matt Champoux, a senior student of Richard. We use props to support incremental deepening into poses and for alignment. We welcome students to practice therapeutic sequences. Our students range in age from 20s to 70s!
I'm a total beginner; will I be ok in a Mysore-style Ashtanga class? Most definitely. From the very first day of your practice the instructor works individually with you on the foundations of yoga practice: breath, gaze, and internal core dynamics (bandha). The advantage of the Mysore-style format is it teaches yoga according to one's individual capacity, which can help reduce risk of injury. In the West, people are accustomed to learning a lot of postures at once, as in most led yoga classes.
Do I have to know the sequence before starting a Mysore Practice? Nope! Actually, Mysore it the best place to learn the sequence of the Ashtanga series.
My memory isn't the best; how will I know what to do? If you get confused about the correct sequence of postures or need help with a particular posture, let the teacher know at any point during the practice. We are happy to help, no matter how many times you ask. If you are new to Ashtanga or accustomed to led classes, the Mysore-style setting can seem strange at first. But with commitment and a little patience you will be amazed at how quickly you can learn to do yoga as a self-practice! We also provide a cheat sheet that you can bring to class for easy reference to help you grow and become more familiar with the sequence.
Do I have to get there at 6am? What time do I come? Do I have to stay for the whole time? The studio is open between 6:00am and 9:00am during the week, however, the instructor arrives at 6:45am. If you are new, it is best to arrive after 7am so that the teacher can introduce you to the sequence and the core dynamics of the practice. Once you've learned the start of the practice, you can come earlier and start your practice before the teacher arrives, should you choose. You begin (and end) your practice at any time during the window that class is offered. Come even for 20 minutes that's all you have and you'll see that it makes a difference in your day. Since each posture is designed to prepare you for the rest of the series, beginners tend to have a much shorter practice than more experienced students. As they gain strength, stamina, flexibility and concentration, the student is given additional postures. At first, your practice may only be an hour long, but with time it could build up to 2+ hours should you choose to do more than one series on a given day.
I'm an advanced student; will my practice grow? Yes. Yes. and Yes. The container of the Ashtanga series is the ideal springboard to deepen your practice physically, psychologically and spiritually. The nature of the Ashtanga practice leaves no stone unturned, allowing your strengths to reach new heights. By committing to a regular Ashtanga practice you'll find increased levels of energy, clarity of mind, enthusiasm for life, and raw strength that seems to emerge out of nowhere. The step-by-step process supports organic, integrated advancement in the asana practice.
Why practice Mysore-style Ashtanga? Students gain flexibility, strength, stamina, concentration, and general well being. Each series (there are 6) works on a different aspect of the physical and energetic body. Primary Series, the first series undertaken in Ashtanga yoga, is considered to be a therapeutic practice (Yoga Chikista) and works on purifying the organs, toning the core of the body, and opening the hips and shoulders. Since the practice is self-paced, students can tailor each day's practice to their needs and the changing conditions of life.
What makes the class Mysore-style? A Mysore-style Ashtanga class is an all levels, self-paced Ashtanga practice. It is also the 'traditional' forum for learning the practice and is so named because of the city where the practice originated, Mysore in the state of Karnataka, where it has been taught since the 1930's. Students are taught the classic Ashtanga sequences pose-by-pose and the teacher assists/adjusts practitioners individually. Functionally, the class unfolds like a group private with everyone working at their own pace and level appropriate to them.
Why is it called "Mysore-style"? Mysore is a city in the south of India where Ashtanga yoga has been taught since the 1930's. This traditional style of Mysore has students learn postures in a fixed order using a special movement-breathing technique called vinyasa. The vinyasa links the postures together through breath and movements. While the systematic sequence of yoga poses initially taught by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois has adapted and evolved with the support of practitioners throughout the world over the course of the last 50 years. The city of Mysore is still a stronghold for one facet of the tradition, (i.e. Sharath Jois) but this is not the penultimate source of authority since the modern tradition is now evolving outside of a monolithic traditional framework of one guru. Teachers all around the world are continuing the innovate the Ashtanga practice in the context of new findings in movement science and the grounds of their own therapeutic practices. Ashtanga focuses on synchronization of breath with the continuous flow of movement. It is a strong practice that builds heat, endurance, flexibility, strength and meditative awareness.
How do you learn the sequence? Each student is given their practice (their part of the sequence) according to their ability, one pose (OR FAMILY OF POSES) at a time. The sense of the word given in this context comes from how the practice is taught in India, where a yoga practice is something that a teacher gives to a student as a spiritual practice.
I have injuries; can I do Ashtanga; is Ashtanga just for the young and athletic or Type A? Because there's the time for the teacher to speak with you individually, if you have trouble with a particular posture, the teacher can offer you a modification that is consistent with the intention of the practice. At The Mindful Body, we are especially keen to help you find ways to not only continue practice but to aid in the body's healing.
What's the 'mantra'? Before starting the asana practice, the teacher and students together offer a chant of appreciation to our teachers in general, and specifically to Patanjali, a sage who lived in India around 200 B.C. and who wrote the "Yoga Sutras," widely considered to be the most authoritative text on classical yoga. The chant is done in Sanskrit, and copies are available at the front desk for reference. The first part of the chant is from the Yoga Taravali, a text from which Ashtanga yoga method was derived, and the second part, a description of Patanjali is of unknown origin.
If Ashtanga is meant to be a daily practice, when do you rest? Why practice daily? The Ashtanga method is intended to be a daily practice and students are encouraged to commit to practice at least 3 times a week to insure progress. Traditionally, we practice every day except for Saturdays and Moon Days (full & new) which occur about twice monthly. It may be very difficult at first to commit to a daily practice, and it often takes one or two years to establish this, so don't be discouraged if you're "only" practicing a few times at first. Drop-ins are fine for brand new beginners in addition to any out-of-town visitors with an established practice.
Why not practice on Moon Days? We traditionally don't practice on new or full moons due to our organismal sensitivity on these days (look at how the moon effects the oceans of the planet) and the risk of injury that this entails when doing a strong asana practice, but also it is nice for the body to have an extra day to rest when we are so often practicing 6 days a week. The moon days are considered times to reflect on life, meditate, and to practice pranayama. If you a practicing 6 days a week, the respite of the moon day is a welcome opportunity to rest and reconnect with larger cosmic cycles at play in our life. The moon days help to keep our views broad and properly contextualized, which brings happiness and wellbeing.