Tag Archives: mysore royal palace

Warrior heritage of Yoga

In this context, I mean yoga as the modern physical practice of asana. There is a belief in the growing community of yoga practitioners that the knowledge of this physical practice passed down to them is millenia old and unchanged. This comes from the disconnect between the source of such knowledge and the learners. Currently the context of practicing asana is completely lost or hazy at the best. Some do it to get flat abs, some to cultivate gratitude, to stretch like a rubber band, to feel the energy of the universe and so on. Also there are furious attempts to map every aspect of the physical practice to what’s laid down in Yoga Sutra. Regardless, these attitudes lack a clear roadmap, context and origin of modern yoga and confuse someone who doesn’t participate in the ecosystem of yoga studios and balancing a warrior pose III on a 6ftx2ft mat. It had me confused for a long time too. Till I started going deeper into my martial arts training, especially Indian styles of wrestling.

one of the pages of illustrations from Sritattvnidhi
one of the pages of illustrations from Sritattvnidhi

Turns out, most of the asanas were practiced by wrestlers in Mysore in their vyayamshala (gymnasium) for strength, flexibility and endurance. This practice was sustained by the patronage of the royal palace in Mysore. Such training included equipment like clubbell, ropes, bars and not just bodyweight exercises. I read the book The Yoga Tradition of the Mysore Palace by Norman Sjoman. He unearthed a 19th Century text Sritattvanidhi compiled by the then king of Mysore, Krishnaraja Wodeyar III that had an exhaustive list of postures, exercises and sequences with hand drawn diagrams. These diagrams are included in Norman’s book and it is fascinating to see a definite starting point of a complete system of exercise and health. If you want to explore further down on this path, read this thoroughly researched article on Yoga Journal and learn how this got popularized by the famous icons of Yoga from Mysore: Krsnamacharya, Iyengar, Pattabi Jois.

Coming back to the wrestlers, the tradition of wrestling is a descendant of battlefield training in breaking limbs and skulls converted to a sports format. This had two benefits – the civilian population was able to benefit from the health benefits of physical training and the warriors would be able to continue training while being in society and remain battle ready. The core of this training is a unique series of 20 interconnected sequences that work the body from head to toe and develops muscles, senses, breath et al. It is called Malla Vinyasa or Wrestler’s Sequence. These movements codify tons of wrestling techniques for throwing, joint locks and submissions. I have experienced just the tip of this rich system of martial art and health. These sequences are an integral part of our training. Call 8308252872 immediately and start training. It will be infinitely more rewarding than anything you’d have ever learned.

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