Shirley’s intention of taking a few day yoga lessons in Mysore stirred up our idea of taking some yoga classes here. Alex suggested that we should consider staying in Mysore for a month. Why not? Since we are rather worn out, sightseeing is no longer hold our breath, it indeed a superb idea. Furthermore, Mysore is famous for Ashtanga Yoga and we should take advantage of being here. Searching for a suitable yoga guru is then soon begun. At the same time, we are also looking for a suitable short-term accommodation for one month.
After a few day searching around various centers and spoke with yoga teachers, we realised that it wasn’t that easy to find a good teacher with reasonable price. Nearly every places claim themselves not commercialised and their prices are ridiculously high for local standard.

The 1st guru that we encountered is Yogacharya Raju K.R. (Sree Sudharshana Yoga Shala) who is introduced by the travel agency in The Green Hotel in Mysore. Alex and Shirley took a class with him and the evening Alex came back with an uneasy face, “We better don’t eat too much tonight because we don’t have enough money…” Apparently Raju refused to give a price until they finished the class… He charged Rs700 (US$15.56) for each of them. We overheard that he charges US$300 per course per month.

The 2nd guru we met was Yogavisharada B.N.S. Iyengar, Sri Patanjal Yogashala (R), contact given by our guesthouse owner from Hotel Srikanth. B.N.S. Iyengar looks like the typical yogi perhaps in his 50s, and his approach is rather straight forward. “I am no commercial, Rs5000 (US$111.11) per month per course. And you only need one month with me.” There all together 4 courses – Asana, Pranayama, Theory and Teacher’s course. It means, we would pay Rs20,000 (US$444.44) for all his courses. We poor backpackers could barely afford it but we keep this option opens.

We went back to our guesthouse owner from Hotel Srikanth and he introduces another Yogi which located 8km away from Mysore – Balakrishna Murthy (the 3rd guru) has his yoga centre Sri Mata Yoga Kendra. Murthy is a rather soft spoken man and his training hall is on the 2nd floor of his own home. He offers a few packages which give us enough options to play around. Packages such as ‘with accommodation’, ‘with food and accommodation’, ‘without food nor accommodation’ etc. For the accommodation offer, we like neither the room facilities nor the price (double of what we pay now) plus the distant between the neighbourhood and city turns us off. His training fee is even slightly higher than B.N.S. Iyengar. So, we write him off straight away.

Our search also goes to our local friend Harsha and he was kindly brought us around his neighbourhood Lakshmi Puram where close to a few famous yoga schools. We instantly love this quiet place as it is only 1-2km away from the busy Mysore city. We drop by Mysore Mandala Yogashala where it conducts a wide range of courses from yoga to Ayurveda to cultural drumming for foreigners. Its core yoga teacher is V. Sheshadri (4th guru), student of B.N.S. Iyengar. Mandala has and its Asana course costs Rs7500 (US$166.67) per month. Some students took this course for their basic asana and move on to take private lessons with Sheshadri which cost Rs600 (US$13.33) per class.

Next is Ajay Kumar from Sthalam 8 Ashtanga Yoga Shala (www.sthalam8.com). Ajay is young and we call him young punk as the first time we saw him, he was wearing a trendy sunglass and dressed punky. Apparently he is also a student of B.N.S. Iyengar and his fee is Rs6500 (US$144.44) per month. When asked about teacher’s training course, his price suddenly jumped to Rs25,000 (US$555.56), compatible to the founder of Ashtanga Yoga Sri. K. Pattabhi Jois charges Rs26,900 (US$597.78). Ajay is pleasant to talk to but in this casewe found his prices are not consistant.

Up to this point we were quite disappointed as the prices don’t seem to go lower than Rs2000 ((US$44.44). We only survive through a fixed monthly budget and unwilling to over stretch it. We were sitting in Harsha’s mom place with our faces full of despair. Harsha’s mom is a gentle lady with small frame and speaks little English. But somehow we are incredibly fond of her. We even find her cute! Perhaps she couldn’t stand our bitter faces, out of the blue she told us to check out a nearby local yoga class for locals. It sparks our new hope. For 15 minutes Harsha and his mom were busy making contacts and we got an apointment to meet Mdm Lakshmi B.S. in the afternoon at the center of The Divine Life Society where she conducts her daily yoga class.

At the center of Divine Life Society, we met Mdm Lakshmi from Sarvodaya Yoga Kendra for the first time. She has a small frame but extremely energetic and we like her instantly. She speaks little English and her daughter acts as translator between us. Mdm Lakshmi was straight forward too with the price Rs750 (US$16.67) per month inclusive of Rs500 registration. We took the chance having a glimpse of her training with the locals. We were stunned to see her demonstrating asana to her students. Her asana is not only good but crisp! At this point we knew we found our yoga guru!!!!!!!!!!!!! Her daughter Nagashree is also a yoga practitioner and extremely flexible in her Asana too. Two days after started our training with Mdm Lakshmi, we met her teacher Sir Mahadev who emphasizes we should build up a firm fountation as well as we shouldn’t over stretch our bodies. We love his teaching philosophy! At the end, we are overjoy of having two yoga gurus and a guru assistant and we can attend as many classes a day as we like, though not recommented by our gurus… “Doing yoga is aimed to preserve your energy and not to drain it.” Sir Mahadev had said.

However, our search didn’t just stop here. We seize every opportunity of new contacts for the sack of curiosity. Our search finally goes to the big guru of Ashtanga yoga Sri. K. Pattabhi Jois and his school Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute. It charges first month Rs26,900 (US$597.78) inclusive administration fee Rs9900 (US$220) for its pen, ink and paper. Us17,000 (US$377.78) subsequent month. One afternoon out of boredom, we hopped into an auto rickshaw head straight to Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute just like to see why does it cost so much. Unfortunately the Institute was close for afternoon rest and we saw nothing more than a fancy modern building. Emm… We will be back!

To date, our last contact is a namecard given by an Ayurveda shop owner down town in Mysore. P.N. Ganesh Kumar, the president of Vivekananda Yoga Education and Research Center (R). We showed the card to Mdm Lakshmi and Nagashree, they cried out with joy, “Oh! He is our president!”

Jing

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