Morning Mysore Guest Blog - Jesse Cook

About 6 years ago I found myself in a place of self hate, feelings of low self worth, and my confidence was in the shitter. Coming from a background of disordered eating, disordered body image, and constantly overexerting myself with exercise, I was searching for a place to realign and focus to liberate myself from internal demons. I was lost and I could not be found. That is until I found yoga (I know it sounds cliche but hey, its true).

I started off my yoga journey trying out all the wide variety of classes, ranging from hot flow vinyasa to a hatha flow class and occasionally an Ashtanga 1-2 level class. With a busy schedule of finishing graduate school, working 3 jobs and balancing family/friends, I found myself coming back to the structure, flow, breath and focus of the Ashtanga practice. As the years progressed, my on again/off again relationship with yoga began to transform. Initially alternating my practice with training for various half marathons, my mind would constantly crave the calmness, focus and release I achieved with my Ashtanga practice. I was slowly developing an ability to leave the constant turning of wheels in my brain and come to a place where mind, body and spirit connect as one.

I had started Crossfit at Fit Club in German Village and met one of the girls there, Kandi, who I bonded with almost immediately over yoga. She told me about this style of practice called Mysore where they practiced in the mornings anywhere between 5-8 am. She explained to me how the class was a self-led style of Ashtanga where you progressed through the various series as your practice developed. At this time, I was practicing 1-2 times a week in between my busy work and Crossfit schedule. She gave me 2 free class passes and said “just give it a shot."

I held onto those class passes until about 3 month ago. I was rummaging through my wallet and found the free Mysore class passes. I had decided in January to start my journey of yoga teacher training and said to myself, now's the time to give this Mysore a go. The first day I walked into the Mysore room, I felt the rush of energy flowing from the bodies in the room. The close mats, the low lighting, the incense burning, the harmonious breath coming from all directions; I knew right away I had found a place where it just felt right. I had heard stories of Taylor Hunt, most recently about his travel to Mysore, India and his Ashtanga practice. I was most definitely intimidated...... however my fears were quickly put to ease. Taylor immediately came over and asked if I had practiced Ashtanga before and I gave him a quick snippet of my practice. He stated what he wanted me to do and I started my flow.

In the room, I felt the calming I had once experienced in my previous practice, however this time it was overabundant. I now crave my practice in the mornings from 5-7am (even though I can only make it 3 days/week due to work). Over the last 3 months, I have been able to cultivate a self led practice that allowed me to transcend into places I had never been before. With the help, motivation, push and support of my instructor Taylor, my practice and overall self worth has grown exponentially. So far I’ve laughed, fallen, tripped, cried, pouted, and glared at Taylor during my practice, all while progressing, focusing, and smiling with my breath.

Ashtanga yoga and Ashtanga vinyasa practice has taught me to love myself again, to value my abilities, to use my breath to calm myself, to appreciate my thoughts and let me pass by as needed, and to get away from the negative self talk that clouded my mind for so many years. Taylor has truly tested me in ways I never thought possible during my practice and I’m every thankful for every minute of it. My confidence in myself is ever-growing and yoga has made that possible. As my journey into the world of yoga teacher training begins (leaving for Norway in 10 days for three extensive weeks of training!!!!), I will constantly channel the Mysore room, the community of yogis and the energy I receive during class. Ashtanga is my best friend. It listens to me. It's always there for me. It knows what I need. I cannot picture myself without it.