How to become an ‘advanced’ yogi

What really intrigues me with WordPress is that you can see what people put into Google to find you. Strangely enough, many readers find this site after googling ‘can I stretch my tongue?’ (I know…who would have thought that so many people wonder about that?). All these people end up clicking on the post about lion’s breath. Probably not what they had in mind!

The other thing that many people want to know is ‘how to get better at yoga’.

Advanced gymnastics...

Advanced gymnastics…

When I was still teaching, students would ask me almost weekly if I was able to see a difference (mostly, the answer would be no – these things just take so long…). In my own practice, I was pretty lucky I guess. I hit the yoga mat with a background of 13 years of gymnastics and pretty much aced the first series of Ashtanga yoga straight away. I felt I had really much nailed this yoga thing. I was a very smug yoga snob. The kind of person who simply could not believe that there were people out there who *gasp* could not touch their toes.

I went on to second series, got stuck, got injured (too much, too soon), and had to go back to the beginning. Suddenly the quote I had read once (and not understood) made sense:

The quickest way to progress at yoga is to take it slowly.

I then spent another few years battling with SI joint issues, hyper mobility, and telling teachers in class that I really did not want to stretch further, even though it was physically possible for me. Most of what I have left of that time are a few nice profile photos – and recurring discomfort in my lower back. It’s under control now, but was totally unnecessary in the first place.

My SI joint particularly loves this one...

My SI joint particularly loves this one…

So far, so bad.

Now that our little one has crashed into our life, I really do get a sense of ‘advanced yoga practice’. I have a PhD in patience. He threw up three times and wears his fourth outfit, and it’s not even noon? Oh well, that’s fine. He spoilt his bed twice last night? Never mind. Hungry at 1am, 4am and then ready for playtime at 6.30am? No problem.

You get what I mean.

There is no such thing as ‘me time’. Before he was here, there wasn’t any ‘me time’ either – because everything (apart from work) was ‘me time’, I just didn’t realise it. Now, after feeding, cuddling, washing up, bathing, pram outings, oh, and work – there’s no time left. I don’t really have set times for yoga or meditation. But my entire day has become a continuous practice (think: Take a deep breath now. Don’t freak out. Keep smiling.). It’s really pretty much in line with how Swami Sivananda defines the highest practice of yoga: selfless service. 

I’m very stiff now. I can’t do a full wheel, and Kapotasana is light years away (maybe gone forever). There won’t be any new profile photos any time soon. But strangely enough, I don’t have the feeling that I’ve regressed. In some ways, my practice has gained a very solid foundation, something to draw on, no matter what life throws at me. And one thing is for sure:

The skills I’m getting now are more useful in everyday life than being able to do full wheel!

~ Andrea

13 replies »

  1. This is so great to read Andrea, thank you. It really resonates with my experience of the first time I tried Ashtanga yoga – I approached it so aggressively and as a result hated it and what it did to my body. It was only that I came to it later, with a completely different, more humble mindset that I found the beauty in the practice. I wrote about it here: http://wp.me/p5ynLo-K


  2. Yes, the yoga of motherhood or the path of the householder. It’s the most challenging one of all. Take a deep breath, keep smiling and roll on 🙂


    • Hi,

      It’s almost impossible to give a remote diagnosis. I’d definitely recommend talking to an experienced teacher who takes time to watch your practice. If the pain is persistent it might be necessary to see a chiropractor or physiotherapist.

      I do get wrist pain from time to time and simply make a fist to support my body weight, for example in plank. But it’s not a long term solution.

      I hope you feel better soon!


      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a great post thankyou. So true in many ways. I have practiced yoga for many years and it has changed and evolved as I have. The lesson I have learnt time and time again, is to accept and nurture my body and spirit through these changes and learn to love what yoga exposes!! I did laugh at the tongue story. They are lucky to find you Andrea. 🙂


  4. A very refreshing perspective, Andrea! Thanks for sharing! I creaked my way into yoga later in life than many (not all) after a lifetime on inactivity and sometimes feel I have some catching up to do. This reminded me that ‘progression’ is not necessarily what we think it is. Nor is ‘yoga’ for that matter!


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