We know, we know, yoga is not about “labels”. But there’s nothing wrong with wanting to accurately describe your skill level, especially when it can help you choose the right yoga classes, instructors, or workshops.
Am I an Intermediate or Advanced Yogi?
It is important to note that the line between intermediate and advanced can be very fuzzy. In general, your skill level in yoga transcends the poses themselves and is mainly about your focus on the inside.
Intermediate: You can focus on a few instructions from your teacher, or a few components of a pose at once. For example, in wheel pose you are not just making the shape, you are actively focusing on bringing your pelvis up and relaxing your glutes and distributing the weight evenly on your wrists all at once.
Advanced: You can focus on many components of a pose at once, and combine skill sets even though your strengths and weaknesses may vary. For example, Dancer’s pose combines balancing and backbending. Advanced practitioners are able to focus on the small components of the pose from hand placement to knee-hip alignment, without losing focus on the overarching skills of flexibility, strength, or stability.
The Hip-Opener Test:
Pigeon Pose versus King Pigeon Pose
Frog Pose versus Pancake Split
The Balancing Poses Test:
Extended Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose versus Birds of Paradise
Warrior Three versus Dancer’s Pose
The Backbends Test:
Wheel Pose versus Kapotasana
Camel Pose versus Standing Back Bend
The Arm Balances Test:
Crow Pose (bent arms) versus Crane Pose (straight arms)
Scale Pose versus L-Sit
The Inversions Test:
Tripod Headstand versus Palms-Up Headstand
Feathered Peacock Pose versus Handstand
How did you match up? Remember that skill levels in yoga are very fluid, and the main point is not to slap a label on yourself to feel better. The main point is that benchmarks are helpful for tracking your progress, and this can be a tool in your toolbox as you grow & progress in your yoga journey. Hopefully this post was helpful for future reference when choosing online or studio classes, or picking a yoga retreat that’s right for you!