I read an article in elephant journal today that is making the rounds on all my yoga Facebook groups. The writer, Theresa Pauline, says “If I had a nickel for every time I saw a posted photo of a yoga teacher in handstand, I’d be a millionaire.” This sentiment is something that I have experienced myself. I have seen countless photos of teachers and yoga practitioners who are able to contort their bodies into spectacular poses. On one hand, I feel it’s not my place to judge. Every body is different. Perhaps that teacher studied gymnastics as a child or is naturally flexible. Perhaps they have practiced that pose daily for years. Who knows. On the other hand, I have gotten intimidated and shied away from practicing with certain teachers because of the photos I have seen of them. Hello Raghunath! I was so afraid to take his class, Flight School, for years. Sure, I heard friends rave about him but I was still nervous since I felt his practice was way more advanced than mine. When I found out he was leading a spiritual pilgrimage to India, I felt I had to take his class. Turns out that while he seemingly is able to do inversions and arm balances blindfolded, he was a “normal” person and a great teacher. I took a class with Kathryn Budig at the 2013 Yoga Journal Conference. I hadn’t realized her class was on advanced yoga poses. One thing I remember her saying was that her life didn’t change when she was able to get her foot around her neck. One of my favorite yoga teachers never posts photos of herself in advanced poses. Another favorite teacher recently posted a photos in advanced poses. I was impressed. I have taken her class many times and she has never introduced these poses in class.
I don’t consider my poses to be “advanced” at all. The photos that I have on my website are rather tame. Downward dogs and tree pose. I’m also aware after having taught yoga, these “tame” poses may be advanced to certain yogis. My definition of an advanced practice has nothing to do with yoga poses, but more about taming the monkey mind. In that aspect, I’m a total newbie.