There are many different opinions about advanced practice. I was taught that advanced practice is precision in practice; that is, advanced practice is alignment based vinyasa that is intelligently sequenced towards a pose utilizing multiple movements around the spine. Advanced asana is not necessarily working towards a big pose, rather it’s about integration and embodiment.
There are several ways you can go about advancing your practice. Let’s look at a few options available.
Yoga Teacher Training
Almost every studio has a yoga teacher training, and many yoga teachers offer independent trainings, too. There really are a plethora of training options available, and with the integration of online education it is only a matter of time before online yoga teacher trainings are mainstream. Yoga teacher trainings are excellent ways for practitioners looking to deepen their practice to get the depth of study and precision in alignment.
Yoga teacher trainings offer community connection and a wealth of knowledge about the ancient tradition of yoga. These days yoga teacher training is fairly standardized. With Yoga Alliance regulations dictating course content and contact hours, traditional 200 hour programs offer students looking to advance their studies an excellent vehicle for reaching that end.
Many senior teachers and studio owners are now offering mentorships. This is an excellent opportunity to deepen your practice if you select someone who is actually living a life of yoga.
Let’s face it, most of us are not singing Mantra to our food. Living your yoga is not living a perfect life of balance and sattvic grace. Life is real, and sometimes messy, but when you are living your yoga you are always striving for balance, you are listening to your body, and you are holding for all with loving kindness. If you can find a teacher that is living their yoga, I highly recommend entering into a mentorship.
The benefits of mentorship are profound. The best way to sum it up is to say that working with a colleague whom you respect and admire can lead you to develop a relationship with the aspects of your own experience that are reflective of the qualities you admire in your mentor.
Working privately with a teacher can really help you deepen your asana practice, and sometimes it can help you to deepen your awareness of philosophy.
I love working privately with my teachers. The level of integration one can achieve in their practice by working with an experienced teacher is unparalleled. The cost is similar to a teacher training if you were to continue to work privately with a teacher for a long time, but it is well worth the overall expense.
Follow A Teacher
If the above options are too time consuming and expensive you can always find a teacher you love and go to his or her classes. Ask questions after class, and go to their workshops and talks.
Be conscious of your intention. Remember that your teachers are guides along your path. They will arrive when you are ready, and they will depart when their wisdom has been imparted. It is also important to note teachers are illuminators of light; your own light will be reflected back to you through the wisdom of your teachers. Make sure that your chosen object of devotion is not the teacher, but rather the message.
Any of these tools can help you to deepen your practice. If working with teachers in the community is not an option you can start with Light on Yoga. Regardless of the path you take, deepening your yoga practice is a rewarding and transformative journey that will change your life forever.