Whenever I see a class advertised as yoga for beginners, well, let’s just say, I’m not really keen on presenting yoga in this way. I understand what the teachers are after here. They’re trying to take some of the intimidation out of yoga for the newcomers.
But I think that carving yoga up into so-called levels like beginner, intermediate, and advanced really is not painting a very clear picture of what yoga is really all about … especially because mostly what we’re talking about when we use these terms is how physically challenging the class will be … and certainly not really how advanced in the science of yoga anyone in the class necessarily is.
In fact, I rarely meet anyone who is not a yoga beginner … and that goes for most teachers and high-flying yoga personalities on the yoga scene today too.
Ok, I know a lot of you already think I’m a bit nuts ;o), but before you start thinking that now I’ve definitely gone off the deep end, let me ask you this …
What makes someone advanced in yoga? Is it how flexible their body is? Is it how graceful they move through a sequence of asanas, and how perfectly aligned and firmly stable they can hold difficult body positions?
Well, if it is then there are hundreds of world-class gymnasts, ballet dancers, and circus performers who must be borderline yoga masters too, even if they’ve never heard the word asana before.
No, my friends, perfection in the physicalities of yoga alone doesn’t mean didly squat! I continually meet folks who can do amazing things with their bodies, yet can’t seem to control their cravings and desires to save their life. I watch people demonstrating their physical expertise and then in the next frame see them mucking up their personal relationships like hormone raging adolescents. I’ve seen contestants in a “yoga competition” argue and nearly come to blows!
Yoga for beginners needs to start, not just with some basic physical practices, but also with some basic introduction to just what yoga really is all about … and I’ll let you in on a little secret. It doesn’t have anything to do with how far you can bend your spine backwards.
What do you think yoga for beginners means? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below …
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