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A Yoga Student's Travel Guide to Mysore (Mysuru)

Updated: Jun 20


In this Yoga student's travel guide to Mysore, we will cover everything you need to know to plan your trip to the yoga capital of South India and the birthplace of Ashtanga yoga.



CONTENTS




I Dream of Mangoes with Tibetan Singing Bowls in Mysore
Learning how to play Tibetan Singing Bowls in Mysore

 


A Yoga Student's Travel Guide to Mysore



About Mysore


Mysore, or Mysuru, is a city in Karnataka - which is a state in the south of India. It is not normally on the international tourist trail, with most holiday-makers to south India rather choosing the shores of Goa or Kerala.


Mysore is however, extremely popular with yoga students, as it is the home of Patthabi Jois, the father of modern Ashtanga, and disciple of Krishnamacharya, who is largely considered to be the person who introduced yoga to the Western world.


You do not have to be a hardcore Ashtangi to practice in Mysore - as lots of different styles of yoga are on offer, however, most of the yoga students you find here are on their annual Ashtanga pilgrimage.



Gokulam's famous coconut stand Mysore
Gokulam's famous coconut stand

 


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How to Get to Mysore


The closest international airport to Mysore is Bangalore (Bengaluru) – which is a city 3 hours by road from Mysore. After you've landed, you can take the Flybus directly from the airport to the main bus stand in Mysore, which is a comfy, air-conditioned coach, a ticket is 800 rs.


If you're feeling fly you can grab an UBER instead, where the trip will cost about 4000 rs.


If you're coming from another part of India, you'll be pleased to know that Mysore is very well connected. You can take the train from Kerala, the bus from Goa, and so on.


For most booking platforms you will need an Indian bank card - except 12go Asia. They do charge a small commission, but they tend to be really reliable.



The goats of Mysore
Cute goats roam freely in Mysore

 


Where to Stay in Mysore


Mysore is a really big city of 1.3 million peeps, some of it is nice, and some, not so nice. As a yoga student, there is really no point looking any further than Gokulam when choosing where to stay in Mysore.


Gokulam is broken up into 1st Stage, 2nd Stage, 3rd Stage and 4th Stage, which indicates at which junction you are near. This whole neighbourhood has evolved with the yoga craze, and you will be surrounded by fellow yoga students, organic stores, vegan cafes, artisan coffee shops and juice stands. The area feels quite affluent, it's clean, and there is very little hassle here.


The local people are so used to Western yoga students that they do not blink an eye at people wearing gym shorts and crop tops. This is NOT the case in other parts of Mysore, which by all means is a conservative city.


You can find accommodation on booking.com - the cheapest monthly rate for a room in the Gokulam area is something like 15,000rs.



Sunrise over the rooftops of Gokulam Mysore
Sunrise over the rooftops of Gokulam, Mysore

 


Where to Practice Yoga in Mysore



SYC


I do practice Ashtanga, but I am not dogmatic about its purity and devoted to the traditional Ashtanga teacher lineage, which is why I do not practice at SYC. You can thank 'Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice' for that – this book deep dives into the history of modern yoga in such a way that will make you question everything you think you know about yoga.


If you would rather go on believing Patthabi Jois is a master and a saint, do not read it, and also do not read about what many of his former students are saying about his sexual misconduct. (I still can't believe people practice with Bikram Choudhury, either).


Anyway, he is dead now, and it is his grandson Sharath who now runs the only 'official' Ashtanga school in Mysore, SYC. If you want to practice here, it is akin to getting tickets to Glastonbury, as the student applications are released at a specific time (normally in June) and the site often crashes as so many people are desperate to get on and learn with Sharath in his Mysore teaching season.


The issue is, that you are not really receiving any personal guidance from Sharath, as there are 500 of you in the Shala at any one time, he probably will not even learn your name by the time your month's practice is up. I overheard some of his students complaining that they had to wait 45 minutes to be assisted with drop-backs, by which point their bodies had gone cold.


You will however be brushing shoulders with the likes of Kino and Laruga during your DDs (I saw them both about town this season)– which is kind of cool.


In my opinion, the main draw of practising with Sharath is if you want to make a business out of teaching Ashtanga. This is because once you've practised with him for 6 months – and that is spread over a minimum of 3 years e.g. 2 months each year – then you can apply to have your name added to the Authorised Ashtanga Teacher's list.


The reason this list is gold dust is, if you are a travelling Ashtangi like me, you'll look up 'authorised teachers in Nepal', for example, on the SYC list – and go straight there to practice, and so other schools do not even get a look in.


There is also a handful of students who are 'Certified' – this is a step up from Authorised, as they were cleared by PJ himself. People normally travel to a country specifically to practice with these teachers.


So enough about SYC. You want to go to Mysore, to practice Yoga, maybe not at SYC, so here are other places to practice yoga in Mysore...



I Dream of Mangoes doing backbend practice at NYS, Mysore
Backbend practice at NYS, Mysore


There are more than 300 yoga shalas in Mysore! You will have no shortage of places to choose from. Some require booking in advance and some allow drop-ins.



Schools I know of in Mysore, that are of great renown:


Ashtanga Sadhana – Ashtanga Sadhana is headed up by Vijay Kumar, a yoga teacher who is pretty famous in these parts. Vijay teaches traditional Mysore-style Ashtanga and requires a minimum of 1 month commitment.


Jan and Feb are very busy, he often turns students away these months. If you want to further your practice I highly recommend Vijay, he is an excellent teacher and his adjustments are pretty epic.



Prana Vasha Yoga – Prana Vasha Yoga is run by Vijay's brother; Vinay, they are known as the back-bending brothers! Vinay offers courses throughout the year which are normally a month-long, comprising a combination of pranayama, strength and flexibility classes, and Vinay's own spin on the Ashtanga series.



Mysore Mandala – This is another well-respected yoga school that offers Ashtanga and Hatha classes morning and evening, as well as extra short courses on anatomy, pranayama, and kriyas. You can pay a drop-in fee or stay for the longer term.



KPJAY – KPJAY is run by Patthabi Jois' daughter, Saraswathi. She is 82 years old and conducts classes from a chair at the front of the room, and her daughter Sharmila does most of the assists. This is a traditional Mysore-style Ashtanga practice where you pay by month.



Nirvana Yoga Shala – Nirvana Yoga Shala is run by Dr Shashi Kumar, who is an Osho disciple (the place is practically a shrine to Osho). Shashi leads meditation but does not teach yoga, he has very qualified guest teachers leading classes in Hatha, Ashtanga, Yin, and Acro.


This studio is best for those who want to mix it up, as they offer fantastic packages for accommodation, meals, and access to all classes.



Meditation class Gokulam Mysore
Dr Shashi leading meditation at NYS

 


Travel Tips for Yoga Students Going to Mysore


  • As far as I know, you cannot buy Indian Rupees out of India - so it is best to bring in cash (USD, Euros, GBP, AUD) to change as you go. There are money changers everywhere.


  • It is 100% worth it to buy a SIM card, however since Feb 2024 the Indian government has made it very difficult, and technically you need to have proof of address in India to do it. Some SIM shops are not yet enforcing this rule, but when they do you'll need an Indian person to buy your SIM for you. E-sims are also currently banned and it is unknown when they will be reinstated.


  • India is very accustomed to tourism and the infrastructure is all in place – transport, wifi, great health care etc. There is really nothing to worry about here.


  • I wouldn't bother trying to walk on pavements in Mysore, they are all a bit crumbly, walking on the road is normal practice here.



 

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I Dream of Mangoes with Goats and Chai on a rainy day in Mysore
Goats and Chai on a rainy day in Mysore

 


Other Things to Know about Mysore



THE SCAM


Mysore is known for essential oils like Sandalwood, and beautiful fabrics, especially silk - and there is a huge network of shops selling fake products. If you want to be certain of the quality, go to a government shop, which should also have a fixed price.


If at any point you're looking a bit lost, beware of the 'friendly' rickshaw driver who offers to help you reach your destination for a very cheap price. He may convince you to go to all of these private fabric stores where he earns a commission on anything you buy.


He may also take you to his 'cafe', whose walls are covered in graffiti and messages from other 'tourists' who have had a great time with him! He may then get you stoned, sell you loads of fake essential oils, then tell you he is taking you to Mysore Palace and actually abandon you in the middle of nowhere.


This is something that happened to me when I was a baby-faced traveller in my early 20s. Okay, accepting the cigarette laced with Cannabis Oil was my choice, and luckily apart from spending a bit too much on oils, no real harm was done. We live and we learn.


It always starts with “Where are you from?” It is hard to ignore this question because it feels rude, but this is how they suck you in. Now if passing rickshaw drivers ask where I am from, I shout MARS and then completely blank them from that point onwards.


It is worth noting that it is very rare for this to happen in Gokulam. The drivers have their own 'patches' across the city, and Gokulam drivers get plenty of business without the need to scam people.


In Mysore, as in the rest of Karnataka, the local language is Kannada. Many people also speak Hindi, English, and Tamil.


Indians love to party! Check out this article which runs through all of the biggest festivals in Mysore.


If you're looking to try lots of delicious Indian food while practising yoga in Mysore, you will not be disappointed. There are numerous small restaurants and food stands offering tasty treats, which you will only find by wandering around.


For those looking for healthy food and the best places to hang out, check out my article: The Best Cafes and Restaurants in Gokulam, Mysore.



I Dream of Mangoes and a dosa
I love Dosas!


Yoga students in Devaraja Market Mysore
New friends at Devaraja Market

 


Things to Do that are not Yoga in Mysore


  • Hike Chamundi Hills.

  • Visit Mysore Palace.

  • Swim some laps at Gokulam Eco-Pool.

  • Grab a beer at The Barge – Mysore's first microbrewery.

  • Tantalise your senses in the bustling Devaraja Market.

  • Wander through the beautiful Mysore Palace (avoid weekends).

  • Visit the Government Sandalwood factory + silk factory.

  • Visit the Ranganathittu bird sanctuary (day trip).

  • Spend a night in the dreamy coffee plantations of Coorg Hill Station; 'the Scotland of India' (overnight trip).



Mysore Palace lit up at night!
Mysore Palace lit up at night!


Inside Mysore Palace
Inside Mysore Palace

 



Mysore Trip Combinations


As a yoga student in Mysore, you may want to tag on other destinations in India to your stint in Mysore, and this travel guide has you covered!


All of the following Indian destinations can be reached by overnight bus or train from Mysore, and I can personally vouch for the fact that they are well worth considering.



GOA


Goa has 35 beaches, where you can find anything from hedonistic, all-night trance parties, to secluded coves only visited by local fishermen. Choose your beach wisely! I like quiet, clean, and chill, so I would opt for the south Goa beaches of Agonda or Patnem.


Goa is cheap, beautiful, and the perfect place to unwind after a couple of months of rigid Ashtanga practice.



A friendly beach dog on Palolem Beach
A friendly beach dog on Palolem Beach


HAMPI


Hampi is an ancient kingdom and a site of pilgrimage for Hindus. Many of the ruins have not been fully excavated and the whole place is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a super interesting place and I think the best way to experience it is with a guide.


When I went, I did Krishna's bicycle tour and had such a fantastic time that I did Krishna's Royal Enfield Tour the next day, and Krishna's walking tour the following day! It was all brilliant. We did not book this online, Krishna approached us the first morning we arrived near the main Shiva temple.



NORTH KERALA


Kerala is like a dream. I have a personal fondness for Cherai Beach, a fishing village near Fort Kochi where you are warmly welcomed by locals and you can spend your days cycling around the backwaters, having ayurveda treatments, and watching dolphins play in the Arabian Sea.


People on a higher budget can have the unique experience of staying on a houseboat in Allapphuza. Kerala is the land of coconuts that “God himself declared his own” - as it is so beautiful.


Kerala tops every list. It is in Nat Geo's Top 10 paradises in the world, it has a 100% literacy rate, the highest life expectancy in India, it is the only state in India whose capital city is completely beggar-free, and it is repeatedly featured in Lonely Planets top 5 holiday destinations. Need I say more?



I Dream of Mangoes cycling kerala
Cycling the backwaters near Cherai

 


Thank you for reading my yoga student's travel guide to Mysore! I hope you enjoyed the read, and if you did, please consider subscribing to my blog where I post new articles each week about my current travels around the world.


 If Mysore does not take your fancy, check out my article: Where to Practice Yoga in India - to give you a run-down of where is best to visit for which type of Yoga.


If you would like more India travel inspiration, check out the entire 'India' archive here!


Happy Travels

xx



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Disclosure:
I Dream of Mangoes is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, which means that if you purchase anything from Amazon.com through this site, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. This is the only way I make any money through my travel blog, so I appreciate all of your support! That being said, I only link to products I use and love.

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