Question: I’m a Level 1 student. How do I know when I’m ready to move on to a Level 2-3 class? What’s the difference between the two levels?
In the beginning level classes, students experience yoga primarily as a form of exercise or stretching. The asanas are often difficult and tiring for the beginner and beginners often like this since they equate exercise with exertion.
In Level 1 classes, students are learning about their body and its gross movements. As students gain experience through practice, they become aware of more subtle shifts in the body and the breath. Beginning yoga students must learn the asanas and develop sensitivity in the body before I can introduce higher aspects of yoga.
In more advanced classes, students develop sensitivity and awareness of their bodies and are able to respond to and understand more complex postures. For example, when Level 1 students learns Warrior I, they are not expected to understand the more subtle movements of the placement of the internal organs which are referred to as the “organic body.”
A beginner’s yoga class will often have up to twenty or more poses in one hour. This is because the beginner’s mind is in a wandering state and is often restless. Doing many poses in quick succession leaves little time to calculate and think. In the more advanced classes, there are fewer poses and they are studied more in depth and held longer.
Question: How will I know if I am ready to try the more advanced class?
There is no one answer to the question. If you feel you have learned the postures taught in the Level 1 class and have practiced for some time (months or years), try a Level 2 class. You will be introduced to Sirsasana (headstand), but you should have had a lot of experience with Salamba Sarvangasana (shoulder stand).
When you attend a Level 2 class, you may like the more in-depth understanding of different postures. Classes are usually focused on a particular action or awareness.