What makes a yoga class ‘advanced’?
I’ve noticed a lot of yoga classes being labelled with ‘levels’ 1 - 3. It seems that typically, level 1 is any kind of Hatha or yinyasa flow class, while 2 and up is Ashtanga. In fact, I suspect the whole concept of levels of asana practice probably comes from the Ashtanga school, where asanas are explored through strict series through which you must advance to get to the next one.
A few reasons I think that this labelling of classes is misguided.
- It’s off-putting! Intimidating to beginners and experienced yogis alike… what is ‘level 2’? Do I qualify? I don’t want to be out of my depth. I just won’t go.
- Teachers should be offering modifications as necessary. One Ashtanga class I go to is often attended by an elderly retired professor; his range of movement is extremely limited and he spends much of the class just sitting upright, yet obviously enjoys the class very much.
- It suggests that more physically demanding yoga is more advanced yoga, thus missing the point. Asanas are an aid to meditation and a way of understanding and controlling prana. Samastitih is just as good for that as Pincha Mayurasana.
- The level 1 classes might be overlooked by those with some experience of yoga, whereas really they could be fantastic classes.
- By all means differentiate between your classes so people can choose which is best for them. Say that an Ashtanga class will be fast paced and physical, while Hatha might be slower with emphasis on a different set of poses each week. No need to use language of levels.
I know I’ve been wanting for a while to try a Jivamukti class but am put off by its ‘level 3’ rating! Conversely I’d not bothered to try any of the level 1 classes on offer until recently, but have found them much more rewarding than my usual level 2 Ashtanga class because they mix things up and offer me new sensations.
Missing my yoga
I have had nothing to blog about recently because I’ve had a couple of weeks with no yoga due to ill health. It’s amazing how addictive it is - I am dying to get back on the mat. Am also a little worried as I am leaving Manchester and the fantastic www.yoga-manchester.co.uk and will have to source out some new teachers!
Here’s a friendly reminder:
-You cannot be sexist toward men. Sexism is based on a system of oppression. You CAN be discriminatory, rude, inconsiderate, and/or prejudiced against men but you CANNOT be sexist toward them.
-You cannot be racist towards white people. Racism is based on a system of oppression. You CAN be discriminatory, rude, inconsiderate, and/or prejudiced against white people but you CANNOT be racist toward them.
This is not difficult.