Here’s a common scenario: you’ve been taking the yoga basics class for several months, and you know your way around Downward-Facing Dog and Tree Pose. Now you’re curious about the intermediate class offered after the basics class, but you wonder if you’re ready.
It certainly helps to chat with your teacher to get their honest observation about your level of practice. But if you’re still on the fence about making the leap from basics to intermediate, consider these clues, too.
1. You’re stronger.
The prospect of more than 10+ vinyasas* in one practice doesn’t make you squirm with unease. And after your dedicated practice, you can breathe and move into poses with much less effort.
2. You’re smarter on the mat.
You know the names of common poses, and you don’t always need to look around the room to figure out how to move. The verbal cues are increasingly comprehensible.
3. Sanskrit words no longer scare you.
You’ve decided it’s just another language, and the human brain is capable of holding more information with practice.
4. The word alignment doesn’t sound like jargon anymore.
Anatomical terms no longer make you roll your eyes. You actually take mental notes to remember for the next practice.
5. Your curiosity moves beyond your class.
You might start asking more questions after class, and a mini-collection of yoga books, DVDs, and magazines might be starting to pile up at home.
6. You trust your inner teacher, YOU.
You’re no longer blindly following the teacher up front, but you listen mindfully through each pose and transition to monitor how the practice feels for you. So if you need to take Child’s Pose during class, you take Child’s Pose, no cue from the teacher needed.
7. You’ve got more flexibility.
And I don’t mean just physically. You are more comfortable and open to the infinite possibilities on your mat, and you don’t even blink when the teacher says the class is going to try something new.
8. You’re more courageous.
Along the lines of #7, you don’t balk at the prospect of safely trying an arm balance or inversion, sitting in meditation, chanting a mantra, or refining the breath.
9. Your practice is moving off the mat.
You begin to see that yoga isn’t just about postures, but there is much more to glean from the practice and much you can take into your life outside the yoga room.
10. You still appreciate a beginner’s mind.
Even if you take a basic class or an intermediate class, you still get something valuable out of the practice, whether it’s a new perspective, an alignment cue, a new pose, a creative transition, or meditation technique. You realize that the learning will never really stop.
Truthfully, as soon as I started writing these down, it was hard to keep the list to just 10, so this will more than likely be a growing list. Do feel free to share your scenarios, too. And please note: there is nothing wrong with staying in the basics class for as long as it nourishes you.
If you’re looking to advance your practice to ensure it doesn’t feel stale, it might be fun to try an intermediate class or two every so often. Who knows, you might surprise yourself with how advanced you already are!