“People in D.C. have been practicing yoga for years now. To an extent, a Mysore practice is a natural progression. [The self-practice] forces the student to be more involved in his or her own practice,” said Jen Rene, a Mysore teacher at Flow Yoga Center.A Personality Fit
Mulqueen, Rene, Steiner and Moore all agree that Mysore’s self-practice style fits D.C.’s “Type A” personality.
“D.C. has a vibe, very achievement-oriented and efficient. People are very scheduled and on-the-move. That’s why we need yoga. If any city needs the balance, it’s D.C.,” Mulqueen said.
Moore agreed. “Mysore fits with the goal-oriented nature of D.C. It gets behind the idea of being able to do something and then being able to do the next thing,” he said, referring to students receiving additional yoga poses as their practice progresses. And even the busiest Washingtonians can make time for it. “You can’t say you have something else to do at 5:30 a.m.”Challenges of a Growing Program
The rapid growth of yoga has not been a welcome adjustment for everyone. In May 2012, Ingalls closed AYC, the original local Mysore studio.
Ingalls acknowledges the growth of both Mysore and yoga overall. He believes the additional yoga studios (both Mysore and other yoga varieties) were part of the reason AYC closed.
“We still had our core Mysore program but we stopped getting the influx of new students, who were going to other studios.” The other studios promoted teacher-led yoga through deals such as Groupon, said Ingalls, who now runs the Mysore program at Buddha B on U Street. Ashtanga and Mysore classes, citing the required level of commitment, rarely use such marketing techniques.
“Groupon and other deals tell the consumer that a yoga class is worth less than a cup of coffee,” Rene said. “As a teacher and a student, I have a problem with this.”
Moore had been Ingalls’ principal co-teacher at AYC, and when that studio closed, many of the students and assistant teachers came with Moore to open AYSDC. Moore has seen strong attendance, despite not doing any marketing. “No one is selling anything or trying to make people come,” he said. “It just happens.”
Ingalls acknowledged that Moore may have better luck retaining students at AYSDC, which is nestled in a corner of the Palisades not accessible by Metro. “Keith has an adult group with not as much turnover. There is a lot of turnover in Washington, D.C.”Future of Mysore
The expanding popularity of Mysore may mean even more studios could offer the option. “I would imagine every yoga studio out there wants a Mysore program because they see how it is growing and everyone wants a piece of that pie,” Steiner said.
The district’s Mysore offerings still pale compared with New York City. “I’m not sure we’ll ever have as robust a community as New York,” Rene said. “There are some really special teachers in New York who had the unique experience of spending a lot of time with Guruji, something that can’t be replicated.”