Doing a quick Google search of “advanced yoga poses,” it seems the going definition is contorted-like positions or very hard yoga poses. To me, this is absurd for two reasons:
Firstly: Now this simply may be semantics, but considering the personal nature of yoga, labeling a yoga practice “advanced” is absurd. Take an acrobat who can easily perform any yoga pose; this does not make this person an advanced yogi. Take a yoga practitioner of many decades who cannot do any contortions who is a full-on, advanced yogi if “advanced” meant experienced. Truly, if you measure your progress by your physical prowess, you have no choice but to digress, as the body will age and change and will no longer be able to physically achieve youthful degrees. This does not make the person less healthy or less of a yogi, less advanced or enlightened. For more on this, see my previous article on advanced yoga poses.
Secondly: There is no enlightenment at the end of a pose, and truthfully, there is no such thing as an end to a pose. The poses continue to change and evolve as we change and evolve. No white light descends upon us as our head touches our legs, and you most likely will not feel kundalini shoot up your asshole if you can stick your legs behind your head. The enlightenment comes not by getting somewhere further but by loving and accepting yourself just the way you are. Yoga was not created to change you, because there is nothing wrong with you! It is practiced to care for our selves! The only way to care for anything is to touch it gently. This mentality is the polar opposite of contortionism. Remember, the harder you are on anything, the faster you destroy it. If the goal is wellness, then it does not make sense to push the body hard, which is necessary for contortionism. What makes sense is to be gentle.
Stepping back to “The harder you are on anything, the faster you wear it out.” Me and many of the people in the yoga world I’ve grown old with are paying a physical toll for the aggressiveness of our youth. All the contortionism wears out the body, kind of the opposite of aging comfortably, which would be really nice. Judging someones yoga practice “Advanced” is absurd! This is because we do not know their starting point and the multiplicity of things that are affecting them. I like the word “mature.”
A mature yoga practice is the practice that quiets the mind and tunes into the unique nature of our experience and all we are feeling (which is why we have feelings, to guide us). Then, according to the feeling, we make intelligent decisions and find the perfect pose somewhere in between too much and not enough. This place is called moderation, which is another word for gentleness, which is a quality necessary for all healthy relationships, including the one we have with our selves. This is the foundation of an advanced yoga sequence.
So according to Power Yoga, an advanced yoga pose is the pose performed with a quiet mind which is able to discern that sweet spot in between too much and not enough (moderation).
Stop measuring yourself on the quantity of your action, and start measuring yourself on how little you measure yourself.
Welcome to Power Yoga.
This content was originally published here.