What does advanced asana mean to you?
Asana as the physical practice in yoga.
What is the definition of an advanced pose?
Is it a challenging pose which is not accessible to everyone and requires strength and flexibility? In fact there is no definition to ‘advanced asana’, it clearly depends, some people find one pose challenging, others don’t. We are all different, our bodies are different, we all live different lifestyles, so don’t get frustrated and don’t compare yourself.
Advanced asana doesn’t mean necessarily being in a challenging arm balance, inversion or other kind of ‘fancy’ pose. Advanced asana to me means being aware of my body, accepting the limits of my body at that moment and honouring my body’s needs.
All those photos on social media give us a wrong picture about being advanced in yoga and we think if we are not able to twist, stretch or bend even deeper in a pose we are not good enough in yoga and we are not doing it properly. But yoga comes from the inside and it’s more about how we feel in a pose. Those photos also keep us from trying as we afraid of failing or we think we are never able to achieve it. But through a consistent practice and finding the balance between trying and letting go, you’ll be surprised.
We can be practising for years and we are still not be able to do a certain pose, maybe because of compression of bones, maybe because of lack of strength or flexibility. This doesn’t mean that your are not an ‘advanced’ yogi. Being advanced means in that sense you know your ‘weaknesses’ and you know where to work on, but also you know not to overdo it and you give yourself that break your body needs to recover, just respect your body, it’s smarter than you. It will teach you the lesson if you are not listening.
While it’s important that we know our limits and we respect our body, we also need to move out of our comfort zone and challenge ourselves. Feeling the fear and doing it anyway.
This is how we can grow – on a physical and spiritual level – , finding the balance between effort and ease. Challenge yourself, try out new or unfamiliar poses, put yourself on the spot, but find the right moment and know when to let go. Again listening to your body’s needs, being mindful. Feeling sensation is good, feeling pain is a bad idea.