FreeStyle Friday: Advancing Your Yoga Practice
For Fridays in the Summer, I’m blogging about topics YOU want to hear about. Recently I received the following question:
“I take a Vinyasa class twice a week, but how will I know when to advance and take an open level Vinyasa class? “
This is a bit of a tough question to go about answering. I wish I could provide a quantitative formula for when to advance to different levels of fitness and yoga, but the best marker is not always numbers. It’s good to start with a beginner yoga class to get a solid base of vocabulary, body movement, positions, form and strength. Learning each yoga move in a slow, controlled environment will help ensure you don’t injure yourself when you enter into the higher level classes….But how do you know when you’re ready to advance? If you’re going to a class regularly, the best thing to do would be ask your instructor! They’re always watching you and will be able to tell when you appear ready.
If asking your instructor is not an option, follow this rule: When you feel comfortable with general yoga movements/flows/form; and know what to do when the instructor shouts out “chaturanga,” or “utkatasana,” then I say go for it! Challenge yourself. You can always try an open level Vinyasa class and go back to the beginner class if it feels too tough, but give it a shot! Step out of your comfort zone, there’s no failure in trying. Just be sure to go at your own pace – if the class is moving faster than you feel comfortable, slow it down for yourself. Remember, it’s always yogi’s choice. Also, tell the instructor at the beginning of class that you’re new so she know’s to keep an eye out for you and assist if needed – the instructors are there to help you!
If you try a higher level yoga class and it feels a bit too taxing for now, don’t give up. The body adapts well when it’s challenged. Try going back to your beginner class for twice a week and maybe throw in one intermediate level class towards the end of the week.
I know I say this a lot, but in yoga, other forms of fitness and in life – the main thing is to continue to listen to your body and respond truthfully.
Kristin McGee is a celebrity yoga and Pilates instructor in New York City. She is currently teaching yoga with Peloton. She is the star of over 100 videos, seen in several magazines and tv shows and is a spokeswoman for many brands and causes she believes in. A proud mom to three, she sure keeps herself busy!