Teaching in Beirut

Yoga is about connections.

For some time I’ve been watching how our neighbouring Beirut’s program has been growing with various teacher friends coming to hold space there. It’s been a pleasure to see Yoga Souk’s Mysore program evolve much like our own in Cairo.

So, it’s a great pleasure to be here now in Beirut teaching at Yoga Souk in Saifi Village. Should you be in Lebanon, I am teaching Mysore-style ashtanga classes Monday to Friday 6:15-10:15 and led classes (for regular practitioners) on Saturdays at 9:30am.

We’ve also started a Yoga Sutras introduction course, which is a rich of exploration of the yoga philosophy that powers our practice. We have four sessions left and there is still time to catch up.

If you are in Cairo, Mysore Zamalek classes are continuing as scheduled at Nūn Center.

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March Madness

We have a full schedule once again in March. We are had a retreat in Upper Egypt, more on how it went in a future post.

There’s an International Women’s Day Event at Nūn on March 8 where I will teach a led class and speak on Yoga for a Balanced Life, and we’ll be raffling off a month pass. Money from raffle ticket sales will go to Tawasol, Marwa Fayed’s Toy Run and Heya Masr, all helping to empower women/young girls.

Also, we’ll be staring our next Intro course on March 22.

Please message mysorezamalek@gmail.com for questions or to register for the month-long course.

Led Primary Time Machine

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Who has never wished to slow time down, or speed it up, or stop time altogether? It might be the stuff of science fiction, but what if I were to tell you that the ultimate time machine can be found on your yoga mat? I know, I know, it might seem like I’m peddling some strange siddhi, or yogic super power like time control. Well…yes…and no. It’s much more down to earth than all that.

Primary Series is the first series of the astanga method (there are 6 in all). Mostly, ashtanga is practiced in a self-paced setting. One performs their postures according to their own breath and abilities. In such a room, you can have beginners doing just the most basic postures while others twist, fly and contort themselves into shapes that one might not think humanly possible. This way of teaching is supplemented by what we call Led Classes. In the later, students practice together led by a teacher who is calling out the asana names and brief but key instructions while counting each vinyasa (breath and its corresponding movement) so that students can develop a steady rhythm and a clean, undistracted yoga practice. It is a class where one’s mental and physical stamina is tested, while one is harmonized into one collective moving breath.

When I really started studying the count of the first series of ashtanga yoga, I become fascinated with how it played with units of time broken down into units of breath/movement or breath/stillness, and how it moved between the two states, each beat with its own number. Until that point, I’d never truly observed time. I didn’t even like numbers. Time happened to me. I waited for it sometimes. It escaped me at other times. Time is and was always there, while I engage in some activity, conversation, even while doing nothing at all. Led Primary changed my relationship with time.

The succinct sanskrit count which is seamlessly coordinated with vinyasa (movement and breath together), drishti (gazing point), and āsana (posture)–what we call tristāna, the three pillars of the practice–allows us to simply be in the moment, to be in time. As we experience time in such a focused and deliberate manner, we learn to just be: be in the inhale or the exhale, be the posture, be in the challenge if its difficult, be in the comfort if it’s easy. We learn to change, to shift quickly, to experience time which is always changing. We learn to drive ourselves, to get past the potential distractions in order to focus on the moment. We learn to be imperfect because we might not always be able to breathe as long, or move as quickly as is asked of us–and because that moment/breath/posture passes in a flash, we also learn to let go, to take things easy, to move on because there’s no time to waste. Every moment is really precious.

Moreover, when we learn to breathe evenly in both the inhale and the exhale, the speed in which time passes become immaterial. The pace of the count can be fast or it can be slow, but it little effects the steadiness of mind when we are breathing in a balanced way. In that way, we also overcome time.

The ashtanga yoga method as a whole has done so much for me, it’s hard to explain how transformative this odd succession of postures strung together with breath can really be. It’s scope is so very wide in my life. But with led primary, learning to count, learning to surrender to the count is a very specific and concentrated experience. I love it more now than ever. The more time I spend with it, the more time it gives me. Time really slows for me between the beginning and the end of each breath, so much happens, and yet the whole series can be done in a flash. In that hour and a half, we can learn to expand and compress time. Ok, not time itself, which is constant, but definitely our experience of time evolves. We learn to be present, which in this day and age is pretty challenging.

I got married recently, and it’s true what every one says that the build up to a wedding can be so big and then the whole crazy thing is done in a flash. I wanted very much to be present and to enjoy this incredibly special day in my life. I remember when I started walking this incredibly long beach aisle to our odd shaped ceremonial arch, I decided to just breathe and take it one step at a time, there was nothing else to do, no one else to be with, nowhere to be other than right there and then. It did go by all too quickly as all greatly lived moments do, but I can also say that I savored it. I can’t imagine I could fall so easily in that space, slowing myself down, without having that blueprint from the practice.

It must be said that led primary can be very difficult and it might take a lot of practice to even start to observe each breath especially when someone is leading you through it. But that too comes with the practice.

So, no, you can’t dial back to whatever year and redo whatever wrong. It’s not that kind of time machine. But Led Primary does help us tune into the world in front of us, into that precious yet fleeting present so that we can simply enjoy it. It helps us live our best possible moment, one we can happily look back on. And it helps us to continue to move on.p with grace and contentment.

Led Primary this Friday at 8:30am at Nūn Center, 4 Shafik Monsour. Mysore Zamalek has led classes twice a month. If you aren’t familiar with the series, please message us to find out the best way to start an ashtanga practice. 

October Schedule Up

September has had us hopping here in Mysore Zamalek and we are happy to welcome back returning students and introduce a whole new group of students to the practice.

Due to some irregularities in our schedule, we won’t be taking in new students until 14 October. And we thank incoming students for their patience. We are also starting our next Intro Course in the October 26, this special month pass for beginners and refreshers include 3 special classes where we speak more on the theory and foundational principles of the practice.

Please note that between September 30 and October 11, I will be teaching from 7am to 9 only, the room is however open for self practice until 10:30am. October 3, 4, 7 and 8 we have no instruction though the room is open for self practice. October 9 is moon day and there is no class.

For more info on joining Mysore sessions and/or the Intro Course, message us at mysorezamalek@gmail.com. We are located at Nūn Center, 4 Shafiq Mansour, Zamalek, Cairo.

And We Are Back

Classes are back in session here in Cairo. We are happy to get things started this September. It’s a full month.

On top of our regularly schedules classes, Sunday to Thursday 7-10:30am and our two led classes on September 14 and 28 at 8:30am, we are starting our second Ashtanga Yoga Introduction Course, a 4-week course that includes 3 workshop weekend classes and unlimited Mysore classes for the month. It’s a great program for starting or refreshing your yoga practice.

We’ve added “Mysore+”, additional self practice sessions on September 7 and 21, these classes are for quiet exploration of your practice. I will be available in the room while self practicing myself. It will be a nice time to practice together.

Mysore Zamalek classes are at Nūn Center, 4 Shafik Mansour, Zamalek, Cairo. We accept drop ind from experienced practitioners, please contact us to make an appointment if you are a new student. Our email is mysorezamalek@gmail.com.

The Thread of Practice

Parampara, the unbroken line of lessons from teacher to student, is one of the most striking things about our yoga practice. It is a thread that runs through the practice, that holds it together. Many question this, especially these days. But to say that this has no part in modern day Ashtanga yoga, I think, would be a step in the wrong direction. While I often have long stretches of solo self-practice, I could not do this without a teacher.

Is this system perfect? Well, is our practice perfect? It is all just a process. We’re constantly learning, constantly evolving and innovating.

As I take time off from teaching my own students for the next couple of months to visit my own teacher at the source of Ashtanga yoga in Mysore, India this thread becomes ever more present, ever more felt, ever more experienced.

Yoga becomes alive in such learning spaces. I learned long ago that I had to give up my aspirations to teach. Period. To be a student is one of the greatest gifts, to be in a position to receive, to learn, to grow, and to be guided when undergoing such a precious journey is such a blessing. And while I feel the separation between myself and those who I meet daily on the mat, I know that for now it is time for me to learn, to nourish my own practice, and that the long arms of these two months ahead will extend far longer than one might imagine.

Mysore Zamalek is closed from today till early August. We look forward up restarting with you then!

This May in Mysore Zamalek

So excited to start Ramadan sessions, one of my favorite teaching seasons in Egypt. Unfortunately, I will be unable to complete Ramadan to full term this year as I am traveling back to India for short period of study.

But I am still happy to kick off the season and hopefully can prepare our students for self-practice time ahead. For more info on how to join the program, email me at mysorezamalek@gmail.com or we@nuncenter.com.