The word “Advanced” has been discussed a lot this month, in part due to my upcoming 6 week series workshop at Yoga on High. I have had some wonderful conversations with many students and teachers about it means to have an “Advanced” yoga practice. Questions like “Am I advanced enough to take your workshop?” “Am I an advanced student?” “What level is my practice?” Good questions to contemplate, as long as they serve you as a way of self discovery, not judgement!
The word Advanced in yoga seems to be misunderstood as a definition of abilities – as in Can I? vs. I Cannot. And as we are all unique, beautiful people with our own set of physical and mental strengths, I would say that then we are all Advanced practitioners! My viewpoint as a teacher gives me an opportunity to witness the practice in each of my students in the studio, and I am continuously inspired and humbled to watch your practice unfold. My definition of an Advanced student is one who comes to the mat and is present in their practice and in life- living their practice and life ON PURPOSE. An advanced student is aware of their body and mind and recognizes their limits– but is not contained by them. Always open- learning, absorbing, expanding- breaking boundaries without force. Practicing with dedication for a long time. Who knows? Maybe after a length of time you will have more space in that pose? Taking the practice off of the mat- being ambassadors of kindness, love and compassion.
What are Advanced Poses in the yoga practice? Some of the most challenging poses are the ones you do daily (think Chatturanga!). To stay present, mindful, aware and practice those poses again and AGAIN with good alignment is hard to do! Fundamental poses, like Trikonasana, are challenging. As a beginner, you start by learning the gross shape of the pose. That takes up your entire mental capacity. As your practice deepens, you learn nuances of the pose, and how the pose best fits on your body. Also hard to do. That takes lots of practice and often guidance from your teacher. Advanced poses can also be those that require more strength and openness in the body. For example, at some point, Anjanyasana plus a Runner’s Stretch can turn into Hanumanasana. Why practice Hanumanasana? Well, why practice a Runner’s Stretch? Continuing to challenging both your body’s capabilities and your mental focus is part of the practice. When your body and mind become open to it, the pose will become more accessible. This takes time. Also, at some point, you may need more openness and strength in a part of your body, and “challenging” poses may provide the balance you need.
The practice is so awakening! We all have this incredible body, capable of things we don’t know we can do. How cool is it to dive right in and explore the possibilities? I am a believer that you will never be able to do the things you do not practice. And by practice, I mean practice! Anything in life requires time, presence, dedication, practice and compassion. We learn this practice slowly. The practice is the greatest teacher. It teaches us about ourselves. We are all the same on this journey. All having an experience in the practice, together, unique, but connected. Keep practicing!
6 Week Advanced Vinyasa Series
Monday, July 25th- Aug 29th at Yoga on High (TTI location)
7:30 – 8:45pm