Dancing on the Mat


First, lets make it clear that I’m not a yoga teacher. I am a student and practitioner of Ashtanga yoga and a Mysore style practice is what speaks to me the most.  I stumbled across my first Mysore class 15 years ago, and it seems that I unknowingly fell in-love because I still love dancing to the choreography of Pattabhi Jois and the sound of my own breath.

My journey with yoga has been mostly inconsistent! When I moved to Gouna, my practice slowed down because yoga classes here are not always available and Mysore style classes are non-existent. Luckily, we have had some great teachers passing through. But while I enjoyed the classes offered, they reminded me how much I missed walking into a Mysore class, moving only to the sound of breathing that filled the room without an instructor guiding my every move. I longed for the focus it took to remember the sequence, the breath counts, the asana and where I’m suppose to place my gaze. Ashtanga Mysore was something else and every time I fathomed the energy to practice on my own, I was filled with gratitude that I was taught how to self-practice rather than just follow. So my practice may have been inconsistent, but even miles away from my teachers, I learned enough to continue practicing whenever and wherever I liked.

Yes, in Ashtanga Mysore, you always follow the same sequence. No, I don’t find it boring. I find it fascinating.

The more the sequence became familiar, the more it felt like a beautiful choreography to the rhythm of my own breath. It’s a dance with myself; a dance between my thoughts, my body, my soul. Every time, they sway to the same movements yet the interaction between the them feels completely different.

Realising that yoga has been one of the most rewarding learnings I have come across, about two years ago I naturally found myself wanting to deepen my practice and take it more seriously. I booked retreats in Egypt, Bali and Thailand with fantastic teachers. I became more invested in understanding the practice and consequently myself. When my most recent Gouna-based Vinyasa yoga teacher left she, along with friends, convinced me into continuing our morning yoga tradition by teaching the classes. Knowing how much of a student I still am, I hesitantly started guiding friends through the Ashtanga sequence. Though I still don’t think I have the skills required to teach a proper Mysore class, I know first-hand the value of establishing a self-practice, even if its simple, and the importance of motivating each-other.

So what do I have to offer? I have the intention to share what I know and hold the space for my own self-practice as well as yours. What I also do have are wonderful, supportive teachers who are willing to come out to Gouna and give us all a helping hand. For that, I am very grateful.

If this speaks to you, come dance with us! Stay tuned for upcoming workshops with visiting teachers, and/or if you're already familiar with the Ashtanga sequence, you're welcome to  join our self-practice group. Our first workshop with the wonderful Kaz Castillo starts this weekend.  

Sarah El Sawi