Often an advanced yoga practice is considered one that is full of pretzel poses, one armed-inversions, backflips and various contortions. But, as our fantastic instructor Jean Hall explains, being good at yoga (if there is such a thing) is not determined by whether we can ‘do’ complex asanas, fancy handstands, or for how long we can or cannot sit in full lotus!
Although challenging or physically demanding poses may indicate a limber, strong body, they do not necessarily indicate a balanced and authentic, or indeed an “advanced” yoga practice; therefore, we need to be mindful not to be drawn in by these appearances!
How we practice rather than what we practice is key to cultivating a deeper, truer level of awareness and understanding of yoga. That is not to say that we do not endeavor to reach further, release deeper and open more, but it is our inner intention, approach and quality of breath, of movement and of mind as we flow through the practice that is of most significance.
Yoga is about connecting to and befriending who we are, so we can open to ease and space within the body and mind helping prana – vital energy – to flow freely and lift our consciousness.
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If we get caught up and bogged down in the superficial view of yoga we risk never realising its, and our own, power and potency…
5 tips to cultivating a deeper more ‘advanced’ practice without injury:
1. Always start quietly by bringing awareness to your breath and letting it be your guide.
2. Gently warm + prepare your body – never jump into the deep end of practising strong asana straight away – warm up safely.
3. Follow your breath always and let it be your inspiration to move, flow and open to new realms of being.
4. Take time to listen – to your body, breath and heart – they are full of wisdom and will speak to you if listen.
5. Never force your body – in the beautiful words of Vanda Scaravelli: ‘never kill the instinct of the body for the glory of the pose.’
This post was written by Jean Hall, who has been teaching in London for 18 years. She is loved for her soulful and challenging classes, which help lead students and teachers safely beyond limitations and closer to their true potential and confidence. Jean’s love of yoga began in her teens, leading her to countries far afield and diverse studies in yoga and bodywork. Her classes pay homage to the ancient yogic system whilst always being inspiring, creative and full of mindfulness to help create ease of breath, movement and health.