What Qualifies as Advanced Yoga?

Apr 3, 2013 | Upper back & shoulders, Yoga practices, Yoga Sequences, Yoga teaching  | 4 comments

Supta virasana
I’ve been asked by a couple of yoga students to teach them some ‘advanced’ asanas in a private session. These days I teach so cautiously that I rarely give advanced poses. Besides, I don’t practice them much myself, as I try to fit in all the categories of poses in a sort of holistic approach .
I do standing poses because they keep me grounded, which is good for my airy vata constitution.
I like up-side-down poses because, well, they give me new perspectives on the world, no matter how many times I’ve done headstands or shoulderstands over the years.
And, I can count on twists to be therapeutically joyful.
There are so many preparations for poses and the basic postures and variations on them that I never run out of things to do. Not to mention pranayama and meditation. Not advanced work, but constant and mindful, that’s my aim and challenge enough
So what will I teach tomorrow? A session that is hopefully intense enough and at the same time thoughtful….

Warm-up for hips and upper back:
Lying down, block pose
Supta Virasana
Pelvic lifts
Standing, urdhva hastasana
Adho mukha svanasana
Step-back lunges
Virabhadrasana 1
Ardha Chandrasana
Prasarita Padottanasana
Pincha Mayurasana
Adho Mukha Vrkshasana
Dhanurasana/Parsva Dhanurasana
Chair – Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana & Ekapada V.D.
Urdhva Dhanurasana
Parsva Uttanasana
Winding Down:
Sarvangasana, +variations
Marichyasana 3
Janu Sirsasana & Paschiomattanasana
Here’s some tips for the “simple backbends” you do lying in the prone position:
  1. Make sure you use your deep neck flexors to lift your head.
  2. Hollow your abdomen as you lift up, but keep your bottom ribs on the floor.
  3. Squeeze your thighs lightly.
  4. Keep your buttocks firm but not clenched.
  5. Use your mid-back muscles to strengthen your shoulderblades.
  6. Keep your shoulderblades down toward your waist.
  7. Move your groins away from your kidneys and your kidneys toward your head.
  8. Most of all, don’t be pushy!



  1. ‘Advanced Yoga’ is an interesting concept. I am always reminded of Michael Stone’s comment in his book, ‘The inner tradition of Yoga’:
    “Yoga practice matures, not by adding more and more spectacular postures, but simply, by paying attention to the movement of the breath in the space of the heart, and the role of the mind with the body, not apart from it.”
    I usually recite this to students after more advanced poses, and don’t usually teach them advanced asana until they understand this quote.
    With love, Gina

    • Thanks, Gina. I love this quote from Michael Stone’s book, which it seems would be a great addition to my library.
      BTW, I taught the ‘advanced’ session today, finding my own instinctive way of teaching it. Nowadays, my way involves teaching as much as I can to individuals, even when there are several or many in a class. That’s the challenge, being present to each, and I guess it entails ‘paying attention to one’s own breath in the space of the heart….” Namaste, E

  2. You certainly managed that well eve! The three of us loved it. However you interpret ‘advanced’ I very much agree is an individual thing. The exciting thing about practicing with you is that there is always something new to take away- this is my advanced practice.

    • You are wise beyond your years, Ash. And, that’s the truth 🙂


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent posts

The Archives