Staying positive in an advanced yoga class


Credit to: https://www.fissosworld.com/om-my-yoga/

I have done yoga for some years now. I have attended a lot of foundation and intermediate classes and feel that I’m ready to step up my game and attend an advanced class. I bravely sign up for a class whose description says “Level 2 vinyasa flow practice, open to all levels. Variations are offered for both newer and advanced students. Expect a challenging and well-rounded practice that will leave you feeling relaxed, rejuvenated, and inspired”

It says open to ALL LEVELS…so it must be fine. “I’ll be OK” I think.

Right in the beginning, I feel a sense of mental stress creeping in. As the teacher takes us through sun salutations, I hear feet thudding behind me as Chaturanga Dandasana is mentioned and I see all these people jumping back into the low plank position. I am the lone dissenter who actually :gasp: WALKS back into low push up position, and WALKS forward instead of leaping forward to forward fold.

From here on, the saga continues…

In every pose around me, the students are moving with so much confidence, grace and perfection. No one seems to be using any yoga props like blocks or straps!

The teacher mentions Bakasana (crow) and they’re up and raring to go and hold the pose for a while as I struggle to find placement on the back of my arms. Everyone else is gracefully lifted and ready to fly off into the sunset. All I can think about is how not to face plant. My face is red, and sweaty as I work to find my balance and withering confidence.

After another 40 minutes of multiple Chaturanga Dandasana’s, Warrior series, and other challenging standing poses, we are in Balasana (child’s pose).

I think “Oh good – the cool down begins!” Then the teacher mentions, inversions. LAWD NO. PLEASE NO INVERSIONS. I CAN’T DO THEM. My instructor says “All right everyone, let’s try Sirsasana (headstand)” I’m ready to cry. I look around as people just lift into headstands as if it’s easy as counting 1,2,3. It’s all one,  smooth motion for them. And then there is me, the black sheep of the class. I lay my forearms on the mat, make a cup with my hands and walk my feet in. I try to kick up a couple of times and fall…the thudding noise interrupting the otherwise serene headstand-holding room. The teacher comes over to help and I feel worse because I’m clearly the only who needs assistance.

As the teacher walks away and we come out of headstand, the lady next to me gives me a smile. She must be thinking “Oh poor thing – it’s OK grasshopper. One day – you shall get it. Maybe you should check out the fundamentals or yoga 101 class. This class is for us who do everything perfectly.” CURSE YOU WOMAN WITH THE LONG LEAN BODY AND FANTASTIC HEADSTAND. WHY ARE YOU GIVING ME A COMPASSIONATE SMILE. GO AWAY. I WANT TO BE ALONE IN MY MISERY.

In the middle of my meltdown, the teacher mentions shoulderstand – YES SHOULDERSTAND. I CAN DO SHOULDERSTAND YEA WOOHOO THANK GOD. I FINALLY BELONG IN THIS CLASS.

After riding this nice and long emotional roller-coaster, I end the class in Savasana. I walk out. The teacher smiles at me, gives me a hug and tells me I did great. You’d think I never would want to go back, but I do. I do get intimidated sometimes, but I don’t stop myself.  Why? Because yoga is more than asana. Yoga is about practice. Yoga is individualistic. Yoga is about working to ease all that extra and useless chatter in your brain. Furthermore, I’ve learned to practice some of these rules below to help me stay calm, focused and POSITIVE.

1. Our thoughts are all coming just from us. No one else is judging!

2. It is YOUR practice and YOUR journey. Some days, your hips are nice and open. Some days body parts just don’t cooperate. Despite a group of us following a standard set of poses, we are all on different paths.

3. It’s about practice (Sadhana). We all know the familiar adage: Practice makes perfect. The more times we come to the mat and work on our body and mind, the more in sync we are with what yoga has to offer. The challenging poses will become easier and so will the quieting of the mind.

4. Most importantly, yoga’s ultimate goal is not about attaining the perfect asana, but rather to unite you with your own true nature.

I apologize on the delay in writing, but thank you for your patience and thank you so much for reading!



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7 Responses

  1. he he — I had a wry grin reading this. thanks for sharing your experience — something I definitely identified with (even tho I’ve never been to L2 class). You are so right in your comments at the end about what yoga practice *really* is about!

  2. Sarah

    This is exactly what happened to me the first time I went to the advanced class in Wake forest. I’ve grown so much going to her class though. I don’t know how I lived without it now. 🙂

    1. fishgoesblub

      Agreed! It’s the challenging ones that push us to go beyond what we can do. But, we just have to hush that inner critic and give it time. I’m glad you see that class as such a good influence on your practice!

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