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Yoga Practice Tips: Let’s Redefine Advanced Yoga

1312946603332248614In 30 years of teaching, I can’t even begin to relate how many times I’ve heard people say that they can’t do yoga because they’re not flexible. Similarly, I wish I had a dollar for all the times I’ve heard a longtime student declare himself/herself to be “just” a beginner because in all these years he/she has never touched toes in a forward bend or done Upward Bow with straight arms. A few days ago I read a blog lamenting the yoga cultural emphasis on “advanced” poses and how all the social media photos of yoga practitioners in these poses is likely scaring people away from practice. This is probably true, and certainly a valid concern. But I want to take the discussion a step further and pose the question: “What is advanced yoga anyway?” Is “advanced yoga” the ability to slip easily into full Pigeon? Is it the ability to wedge your ankle behind your head? Is rocking arm balances on the beach advanced yoga?