Recently some practitioners asked me whether they should attend an advanced yoga class at the studio I am practicing at. The studio offers multi-level classes which include Hatha and Yin Yoga which is termed to be for beginners onwards while the advanced classes are Flow, Ashtanga Led and Dynamic.
I find that usually practitioners who have just started their yoga practice for a few months are curious about what is being taught in the advanced classes that is different from the beginners class. And to them going to an advanced class means they will get to do the more difficult and challenging poses like arm-balancing and inversions such as headstand and handstand.
I have often seen these practitioners going into an advanced class without realizing that they are not yet ready for the advanced class. This is not because they cannot do the difficult and challenging poses as they have the flexibility in their bodies, but because they have not learned to use their breath. Their practice ends up being all over the place as they could not concentrate on the teacher’s instructions when their breathing starts to get shallow.
On the contrary, they are practitioners who have been practicing for quite some time, who feel pressured to go to an advanced class as they feel that they should be able to do the difficult and challenging poses although they feel comfortable just going to the beginners class.
So, when do you know you are ready for an advanced class?
When you have been practicing with awareness – concentrating on your breathing in the poses as the breath will be the most vital element to take you through a 90-minute advanced class.
When you want to deepen your practice as the challenging poses in the advanced class will help you to confront your insecurities and learn to overcome your fears as doing the poses will make you realize how you deal with the challenges in your life.
When you are well-versed in the poses especially the Sun Salutations sequence if you are going to the Ashtanga Led class, as you will be doing five Sun Salutations A and three Sun Salutations B at the very start of the class. If you don’t even know the sequence, you might end up feeling lost and it will affect the rest of your practice.
And having the humility to go down into child pose when you are tired and cannot keep up to the pace of the class.
Going to an advanced class does not mean that we are an advanced practitioner as our yoga practice is constantly evolving to change and transform our lives.