Interview with 2017 May Mysore Challenge winner, Chris Mckeown


Chris To what do you credit your May Mysore Challenge success?
For me the most important thing is to recognise the benefits of completing the challenge for my health and well-being, and to allocate a priority in my schedule accordingly. 

Do you have any tips you can pass on to your fellow practitioners?
I find having a regular sleep pattern and getting to bed before 10:00 means I get my 8 hours sleep and am ready for the next morning – no excuse!  Once I wake up then its straight of to the shower before I have time to think about it. I would not be too concerned if I missed one morning – you can catch up in the evening or on the next Saturday. I was able to swap one Sunday morning for a Saturday to allow me to get to a brunch.

Did you have any moments of doubt you would complete the month?
I have completed all the previous challenges and never had any doubt about completion then, as I was practicing all the normal days.  This year I wasn’t entirely sure as I had a virus mid-April and wondered whether I had sufficient endurance.  I think I hadn’t attended a Friday led class since December last year.  Fortunately the moon days gave a gentle start to the Challenge and it turned out well. 

Can you share what your typical morning schedule looks like?
My alarm is set for 6:10 ( I’m a late starter) but I usually wake 10 minutes or so before the alarm.  Then I have a quick shower get dressed, pack my bag and head to the train station.  I’m only 8 minutes from the train station and the train gets me to Flinders Street Station in about 18 minutes.  Its quicker than driving and much more relaxing. I’m usually on the mat shortly after 7:30.

What do you have for breakfast post practice?
Invariably its homemade Bircher muesli with berries and chai (made with a tea bag and not as good as the Friday chai).  I mix the muesli the night before and eat it at work catching up on emails and preparing for the day’s meetings and activities.

Do you do any preparation for practice the night before? eg. pack bags etc.
Preparation is the key for a quick get away. Everything is laid out next to my bag so I can pack and leave quickly.

Do you have a favourite and least favourite pose?
The favourite is easy – its sirsasana (headstand).  I did yoga when I was at Uni and so I have always found sirsasana straight forward.  My least favourite or perhaps more difficult, would be any asana requiring hip flexibility.  I would really like to be able to sit properly in padmasana.

How long have you been practicing Ashtanga yoga?
This is my 5th year of practicing Ashtanga.  I was doing Hatha yoga one day a week at work and a colleague encouraged me to come to the intro classes at Studio Cirq.  We both completed two intro series and a workshop with Christian and then started doing Mysore with Karyn, which I found really suited me.
Did you feel any benefits from completing the May Mysore Challenge? If so, please explain.
The challenge provided me the incentive to get back into a more regular practice at a time of year when seasons are changing and I might otherwise have found it easier to stay in bed. The benefits that a consistent practice gives you – a settled mind, healthy body and strong sense of well-being are invaluable.  I think my Urdhva Dhanurasa also improved.

Will we be seeing you for the 2018 Challenge?
Yes – I hope so.

Thanks Chris!

2016 May Mysore Challenge!

Are you ready?  Alarm set?  Yoga clothes packed?

Join us this May for our Mysore Challenge…. and be in the draw to win a free monthly yoga pass!

In Ashtanga Yoga, ‘daily’ practice means one rest day per week and no
practice on new and full moon days. Women also rest for 3 days during
menstruation. Practice ‘daily’ during May and you will be eligible for a chance to
win 1 Month of Unlimited Yoga.

To participate simply show up, sign-in and do your practice. To qualify for the drawing,
men must practice 25 days, women 22 days between May 1st – 31st.  All
morning and evening Mysore classes (including Saturday, Sunday & Friday led
class) can be included in your tally.

Everyone who signs up and successfully completes the Mysore Challenge will receive 20% off their next Monthly Pass !
After the completion of our Mysore Challenge we will get together to celebrate
our accomplishment, drink chai & a draw the winner.

‘Practice becomes firmly established when it is cultivated
with a positive attitude and continuously for a long time.’
Yoga Sutra of Patanjali 1:14

You may like to refer to the interview with last year’s winner Andrea Cranstoun for some tips on how to pace yourself over the month….

Part 1: Pilgrimage to Mysore

And the end of our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.

T.S. Elliot

You may have noticed that I haven’t been teaching or practising at Ashtanga Yoga Melbourne lately. That’s because I’m in Mysore. Yes, again! It’s my third visit to Mysore and my sixth trip to India since 2012.

So, why do I keep returning?

Every year many yoga students from all over the world, make the annual pilgrimage to Mysore in South India to study Ashtanga yoga with teachers Sharath and Saraswati (daughter of Sri K Pattabhi Jois  and also Sharath’s mother). Sharath took over teaching at KPJAYI after his grandfather, Sri K Pattabhi Jois passed away in 2009. Saraswati teaches at her own shala, a few minutes away from the main shala.

Pilgrimage is a significant aspect of spiritual tradition in India. Sri T. Krishnamacharya also made a pilgrimage in the early 1900’s, to the Himalayas where there are many sacred sites, therefore a popular destination for pilgrims seeking spiritual knowledge and experiences. There he found his Guru, Rama Mohan Brahmachari and studied with him for 7 years, learning as much as he could. He later returned to Mysore and began teaching what he’d learned. One of his students was Sri K Pattabhi Jois and rest is history.

At one of my first conferences at KPJAYI this trip, Sharath spoke about pilgrimage and parampara. I will talk about parampara later but for now I will talk a little more about pilgrimage.

There are many temples and sacred sites in India where Hindus regularly make their pilgrimages. These sites and the spiritual stories that are told there contain powerful vibrations. Sharath says one of the important elements of pilgrimage is the journey itself. He says, it shouldn’t be easy, like when you go on a holiday or if you go to the Himalayas, there’s no point if you make the journey by helicopter. It’s meant to be a journey of hardship from which you will eventually reap the benefits that come, once you overcome the obstacles and challenges along the way. Although Mysore is not known as a pilgrimage destination for Hindus, it has become ‘The Mecca’ for thousands of yoga students from all of the world. I feel that it’s a great privilege be here in Mysore studying with Sharath and I can assure you it’s no holiday. For some, practice starts at 4am!

In Ashtanga yoga there are 8 limbs of the practice. The third limb is asana where the practice begins for most students. Sharath says, the main purpose for starting with asana is to prepare the mind and the body for self-realization. In order to recognise the yoga that is already within you, your mind and body need to be stable and clear. In some ways, the yogi takes a metaphorical pilgrimage inward on a journey towards self discovery.

This is expressed succinctly in one of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra’s from in the first chapter.

1.3  tada drastuh svarupe-avasthanam

Then, the seer is established (or re-established) in its true nature.


Part 2: Parampara:The Jungle Doctor

Coming soon…..


Tina 🙂