Introduction: Intermediate / Advanced Students

Inviting Discernment

You may wish to invite Intermediate students to consider their role in discernment as it relates to their practice. While some students may be overly dependent on a teacher’s perspectives, some may be overly suspicious. Invite students to find a balance for themselves through exploration both in the outer world, and of course, in themselves through self-inquiry and self-study. See also Yamas & Niyamas: Svadhyaya and Theme: Inner Attention.

The beginner may not yet have the experience to know bullshit when she sees it. She may be inclined to believe everything she is fed in a yoga class. Or, on the other end of the spectrum, the beginner may be overly skeptical and suspicious. The intermediate practitioner finds the balance between open-mindedness and asking intelligent questions. She explores various perspectives—perhaps testing different styles of yoga, checking out a variety of studios or online options, or reading material from a wider range of credible authors. Or she delves in by participating in workshops, immersions or retreats. She knows too that each body is unique, and ultimately she is responsible for shaping the practice that will best suit her own needs. – Liz Huntly

A Member Question

We received this question from a member:

Help! I’ve been teaching Hatha Yoga to beginners for almost three years. Many of my students are older and enjoy an easy, slow pace. Recently, I began teaching a group that is younger, more fit, have experience but have been away from the practice for awhile, and are quite flexible and strong. I’m feeling challenged to challenge them a bit more. Any suggestion? Books? DVD’s? Sequences?

In response, we offered the considerations you find here.

Summary of Considerations

  1. Challenge may be increased through faster pacing (vinyasa / flow), slower pacing (longer holds) or both.
  2. Pose variations are a way to increase challenge.
  3. What is challenging varies by student so if you include some challenging poses in each asana family, you are likely to challenge every student.
  4. A common practice for challenging students who are relatively experienced in asana is to focus the class on building up to a peak pose.
  5. As students become more advanced in asana, their practice—and life—can open to whole new dimensions by expanding their experience of yogic tools through such practices as pranayama, meditation, mantras and chants and philosophy study.