Karnataka’s most-visited tourist town, Mysore, is also home to Gokulam, India’s urban capital of deep breathing. In the years since the legendary Pattabhi Jois set up his first yoga institute near this leafy neighbourhood, over 40 yoga schools teaching Hatha, Vinyasa, Ashtanga and meditation have sprung up, as well as innumerable cafés and stores to cater to students and teachers-in-training.
To mark International Yoga Day (or is that happy mudras day?) we asked our favourite yogis for recommendations on how best to navigate Gokulam and its surrounds. You’ll wake up My-sore tomorrow!
K Pattabhi Jois Yoga Institute: Also known as The Shaala, this is the fount of Mysore’s yoga mojo. The focus is on Vinyasa and Mysore-style Ashtanga, initiated by the guru himself. Anyone can sign up for practice if they find place in the main hall, to be guided by Guru Sharath Jois or Guru Saraswathi, the 75-year old daughter of Pattabhi Jois. Pro-tip from Chennai instructor Shanthala T Medappa, who has been visiting Mysore since before it become yoga-cool: start queuing up at 5.30 am.
#235, 8th Cross Rd, 3rd Stage, Gokulam, call 09880185500.
Mystic Yoga: Also known as Nirvana Yoga Shala, this place was founded by Swami Deva Arato, and teaches Hatha, Ashtanga and Pranayama practices. The Mystic school also provides accommodation and has a cute in-house café called Om.
100, 3rd ‘A’ Main Road, 2nd Stage, Gokulam, call 09886647772.
Ayuryoga Eco Ashram: Sign up here if you’re looking for a simple healing retreat, as well as for tough 30-to-45-day teachers training programmes. One of their retreats includes “connecting with nature” through yoga and art, which we’re told is less waffly than it sounds. But for a truly juicy experience, volunteer to work on their 18-acre organic farm.
JP Hundi, Kannenur, Hulhalli Hobli call 09986699849.
Jeevana Yoga Training Centre: The Hatha yoga training courses here are taught over 300 hours and include “Sukshama yoga,” an all-around body warm up; and vidya or theory classes.
# 829, 36/3, 1st Main Rd, 3rd Stage, Gokulam, call 9901537939.
To mark International Yoga Day (or is that happy mudras day?) we asked our favourite yogis for recommendations on how best to navigate Gokulam. You’ll wake up My-sore tomorrow!
IndeaYoga: Founded by Yogacharya Bharath Shetty, here you’ll get to learn an amalgam of Ashtanga of Patanjali and Panchakosha of Upanishads. “Bharath Sir’s classes are not just about postures and techniques, it is also about self-healing,” says Susmitha Shreedev of Tattva Yoga Bangalore, who has trained at IndeaYoga over the last three years. Also see his new initiative Yoga Bharata, which makes the practice more accessible to the local community in Mysore and to students who aren’t necessarily looking to become masters.
144/E, 7th Main Rd, 3rd Stage, Gokulam, call 09886091291.
Prana Vashya Yoga Shala: Yogacharya Vinay Kumar believes that pranayama is the key to astute practice, and will watch every breath you take.
605, 1st main road, Gokulam, call 09480487550.
Yogadarshanam: Guru Santosh Kumar’s Ashtanga Yoga practice is complemented by his extensive knowledge in nutrition, both of which are part of his learning modules at this institute. Yogadarshanam is also the only shala to conduct pre-natal yoga classes in Mysore.
77/A, 4th Main, 3rd Stage, Gokulam, call 99017 60846.
Badri Yoga School: Often described as a homely family-style practice, this relatively new institute was founded in 2011 by Badrinarayana Iyengar, a student of BNS Iyengar. An “intimate” set-up allows one-on-one training in Ashtanga Vinyasa practice. Badri teaches primary practice classes in fundamental postures, as well as more intense teachers’ training courses.
13th Cross Rd, 2nd Stage, Gokulam, call 09901219615.
Anu’s Café: You can’t study yoga in Mysore without going to Anu’s for simple home-cooked meals that chase away any lingering bendy blues. The vegetarian buffet opens at 1 pm and usually runs out in 40 minutes’ time. If you miss lunch, be sure to try one of their vegan smoothies for tea.
2nd Stage, Gokulam, call 09845279513.
Tina’s Café: Tucked away in Vani Vilas Mohalla, this is where the yoga crowd goes when they finally break and plumb for a rare meaty treat. Protein-cravers, look no further than Tina’s traditional chicken biriyani.
3rd Main Rd, Vani Vilas Mohalla, call 09449818668.
Santosha Café: This cozy place serves healthy vegetarian breakfasts to sweaty morning-class students. Make friends over chai and asana-ne conversation. PS. When we called, we were given the happy information that Santosha’s menu now includes both a light dinner service and a pre-booked buffet lunch.
No.398, 2nd Main Road, 3rd Stage, Gokulam, call 08904349771.
The Old House: Organic Italian yummies for a change of pace. Started by international yoga students several years ago, The Old House has just opened its second branch in Gokulam, dishing out twice as much red rice salad and pesto pasta as before. Tuck in for a boost before round two at the Shaala.
# 451, JLB Road, Chamarajapuram Mohalla, 0821 2333255.
Depth N Green: On days off, yogis come here to cram for theory exams and eat carbs in the form of light pastas, which are remembered fondly by many cheat-treaters.
831, 1st Main Rd, 2nd Stage Gokulam.
Shaila’s Tiffins: You’ll need to book in advance to make it to Shaila’s breakfast and lunch lists. Your reward is a hearty, home-cooked tiffin you can carry to class, feeling special joy when you realise most of the other serious kids around have done the same.
Call 821251226 to order.
Khushi Café: For “soul stirring milk chocolate,” as well as the odd decadent cookie, plus a list of healthy baked treats. Khushi Café also holds occasional talks on yoga and wellness.
192, 1st Main Rd, 3rd Stage, Gokulam.
Anokhi Garden: Some yoga schools offer campus accommodation and students otherwise make their own arrangements in other neighbourhoods. To stay off-campus but in Gokulam, slide in to this beautiful bungalow with a garden, which doubles up as a spotless hostel with long and short-stay options.
408 Contour Road, 3rd Stage Gokulam, call 0821428892.
Sudha’s Yoga Shoppe: This tiny store in Gokulam will brighten up your day with its happy yoga mats and bags. Enlightened souls are allowed retail therapy once in a while, we’re assured.
215, 9th Cross, 1st Main Rd, 3rd Stage, Gokulam, call 09243512189.
Dhatu: Mysore yogis all come here to fulfill their quest for organic goods. Dhatu Organic and Naturals retail fresh fruit and vegetables for those cooking at home (or eating raw, as you do). Also come here for malts, energy drinks and natural make-up. At their restaurant Rasa Dhatu, you’ll find a menu with a wide range of millet dishes.
1st Floor, 10th Cross Road, Vani Vilas Mohalla, call 08212411108.
Sapna Book House: Mysore’s most venerated bookstore in Devaraja Mohalla near Gokulam. Find here a solid collection of books on wellness and yoga studies, but also pop in for that Sunday afternoon Agatha Christie, of course.
1433, NS Road, Devaraja Mohalla.
Coconut Corner: This is the crossroads at Gokulam that you’ll come to at the end of an intense practice, both physically and otherwise. Here, find coconut water stalls where all the students of the Gokulam schools gather to hydrate and eyeball each other. (Don’t worry, it all ends in respectful namastés.)
Thanks to yoga instructors Susmitha Shreedev, Shantala T Medappa, Adithi Matthews and Tanvi Mehra.
Image Credit: Instagram / deepikamehtayoga
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