Multiple Asana Families: Intermediate / Advanced Students
What is challenging varies by student, of course. Perhaps a student who finds arm balances extremely challenging relaxes completely in deep forward folds while the person who flies into Bakasana (Crow) dreads Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend). Some find backbends liberating and others get anxious in anticipation. Rarely will a student be expert in everything so if you include some challenging poses in each asana family, you are likely to challenge every student. See Asana Categories for more information.
Another effective approach is to progressively teach the steps that lead to the full expression of a typically-challenging pose. For example, teaching a preparatory sequence for Hanumanasana (Monkey/Splits) to include working progressively deeper from Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge) will give many students the opportunity to go to their edge. Another example is teaching Standing Splits, a challenging pose for many students, followed by hops to put weight into hands and ultimately the opportunity to kick-up into Handstand (assuming students cannot fall into others around them).
Please note that Hanumanasana (Monkey / Splits) for instance, isn’t challenging for a very flexible student. In her case, the challenge is in stabilizing and containing during such poses. While teaching her stabilization is critical to her safety and overall balance, she won’t of course feel the same type of challenge as she might feel in a strength-based pose. So of course, your student profile and mix of students is of primary importance as you choose your sequence and approach.
Here are a few relatively challenging poses you might consider and, of course, this list could be endless! See the Asana Index to choose poses to study.
- Ustrasana (Camel Pose)
- Bakasana (Crow Pose)
- Natarajasana Lord of the Dance Pose)
- Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana (Extended Hand to Toe Pose)
- Eka Pada Galavasana (Flying Crow Pose)
- Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Balance & Dolphin Pose)
- Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana Half Bound Lotus Standing Stretch
- Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Handstand)
- Marichyasana Poses
- Hanumanasana, Anjaneyasana (Monkey / Splits) & Low Lunge Pose)
- Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (Pigeon Pose)
- Plank, Chaturanga Dandasana
- Vasisthasana (Side Plank Pose)
- Halasana (Plow Pose)
- Salabhasana (Locust Pose)
- Urdva Mukha Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog Pose)
- Parsvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch / Pyramid Pose)
- Supta Virasana (Reclined Hero Pose)
- Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle Pose)
- Upavistha Konasana (Seated Wide Angle Pose)
- Parsva Bakasana (Side Crow Pose)
- Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow / Wheel Pose)
- Virabhadrasana I, II & III Poses
- Yin Frog