Can you air float from astavakrasana to eka pada koundinyasana? Can you stand on your head for the entire length of Sharon Gannon’s Loka Samastah? Are you a human pretzel? Then you just might be an advanced yogi…
Just kidding… (also, that’s not me, I cannot get my back leg up if my life depended on it)
Physical asana is an important aspect of the yoga practice. It’s the gateway between the mind and body. It enables us to channel energy and (hopefully) learn something about ourselves and how we move through the world.
But it’s not the posture that makes you the advanced yogi, it’s what brings you to your mat.
The most advanced yogis practice yoga to experience the conversation that happens with their bodies. An advanced yogi lets the body speak…and she listens. An advanced yogi shows up to learn from the practice and remain present throughout.
The most advanced yogi is focused on his own practice, not his neighbor’s. The most advanced yogi takes child’s pose, despite the fact that her classmates are in forearm stand. Advanced yogis modify and intensify as their own practice demands (and that can change from day to day). They are free from the intimidation of keeping up with the rest of the class, because they are concerned only with their own practice.
The most advanced yogi knows that all that matters is this breath and this moment. They practice to be here now, and they carry this philosophy with them off the mat. The most advanced yogi practices the yoga of life to remain focused on present moment experiences.
Mastering the mind to stay present is the greatest asana. That’s why physical asana is the first limb of yoga, while meditating and achieving enlightenment is the final goal.
So I’m a shitty yogi because I don’t meditate!? I suck at meditating in the traditional sense…I probably sat in that posture long enough to get a good picture. I’m basically only good at nature walking and coloring mandalas and calling it meditation. But I do it so I can quiet my mind…and I do try to always be focused on the here and now, so I guess I kinda do meditate.
Sometimes I’m an advanced yogi. Other times, I’m still a beginner. But that’s the beauty of the ebbs and flows of an ever changing, ever growing practice.
Share your thoughts on what makes an advanced yogi…