As a teacher, I often get this question from students: How do I do Advanced Yoga?
There is a wrong understanding in the very question itself
Lets first understand what the word “advanced” means to most of us
For us, it means Doing more
If you are a beginner at cooking, you may make 10 items, when you get advanced you will make 100 items
If you are a beginner in sports, you may score 100 runs or goals. As an advanced player, you score 1000 runs or goals
This mindset carries over to Yoga also.
As a beginner I know 10 asanas as an advanced student I should know 100 asanas
In addition to this, there is an expectation of rising difficulty.
It gets more difficult to play with advanced players. It’s difficult to cook an advanced disk.
And hence in Yoga, more “difficult” the asana is, more it is assumed to be advanced.
This goes against the very definition of asana given by Patanjali in Yoga sutras ie sthir sukham asanam or only a steady and easy pose qualifies to be an asana
In fact, the very next sutra says “prayatna shaithilyam” ie effort should be relaxed
Advanced in Yoga is more about intensely experiencing the Self than doing more
From Human doing to Human being
Our doing is a rajas activity which is driven by our desires and hunger for more and more.
Our being is sattvic where stillness and equilibrium are the main qualities
The more you experience calmness, stillness, more intense the experience is and more the advanced practice is
The sole aim of asana, pranayama and kriyas was the yogi wanted a still physical and physiological system so that he could direct and hold his attention on the inner world for as long as he could hold.
If we don’t intend to be yogis and want Yoga for well being and health, then this advanced approach should appeal to us even more.
Our life is full of distractions where our senses and mind run behind the next exciting idea or task.
At the end of the day, we feel drained and tired and we accept this as a fact of life.
An advanced yoga practice should create a calm and still mind on demand.
When you can summon this mental state at will, you can rejuvenate and re-energize your physical, physiological and psychical system at will and on demand.
This is how advanced yoga helps regular householders like us.
After all, we all seek happiness and peace in life.
Both are mental states which already exist inside us.
An advanced yoga practice should help us access these mental states on demand any time anywhere.
Is your yoga practice advanced to deliver these experiences to you?