I recently taught a Yoga Teacher Training class and asked my students: what makes a Yoga practitioner advanced? As expected, the majority of the answers revolved around the ability to do challenging poses. We all have the tendency to fall into this trap, but we all also know that really challenging poses can be unattainable to certain people or in certain circumstances. Yoga is so inclusive, how can the definition of advancement be so narrow and exclusive? The more I think about this question, the more I conclude that an advanced practitioner is one who has a regular practice of their own, regardless of what poses they can or cannot do.
When we attend classes on a regular basis, we feed our practice, keep it alive in our bodies, reap amazing benefits, and feel so good. However, one thing that we might not notice is that we’re actually practicing our teacher’s practice and not our own. Yoga was originally designed that the student studies with a teacher and then goes and practices what they learned on their own. In this way, they can explore the landscape of their being and nourish themselves in a deep, personalized, and intimate way. The relationship with a teacher is an integral part of the practice and not to be dismissed, but that’s not where the education and the practice ends, it’s merely where it begins.
Our modern Yoga practice looks completely different than what it looked like when it was originated. However, the heart of the practice remains the same: Yoga is a practice that is meant to empower you and to provide the means to rediscover the wonder of who you already are and the richness of what you already have.
Practicing Yoga on your own at home is an invitation to simplify your practice while advancing to a whole new level.