Monday, February 28, 2011

What constitutes an intermediate class?

Today, 10 minutes into my level 2 (intermediate) yoga class, a new student (to my class) popped his head up from uttanasana and asked me, "This isn't the level 2 vinyasa flow is it?"  I responded "yes" and he responded back in a puzzled manner, "but it's so different from the class I took Saturday."  It was easier than he expected.  An employee of the studio explained to me after that the sat. class he was referring to is a strong power vinyasa flow (even though it has the same label as mine).  There are many teachers at this studio and everyone has their own interpretation for what the levels are and unless we were each given a specific syllabus to follow there's always going to be variation.

This really made me wonder what constitutes an intermediate class?   I've always thought that an intermediate class meant you could give the student a bit more freedom (since they have a basic understanding of the asanas and practice) and offer more sophisticated instruction.  For instance, I've gone back to taking very simple classes, and I find that there's so much to understand even in the simplest of movements.  Going back to simpler asanas/movements allows me to go deeper into the postures and still gives me a challenge both mentally and physically.  Can you teach a class of basic asana vocabulary and call it intermediate?   Are some asanas inherently more advanced?

Thoughts anyone??


  1. Really like your definition of an intermediate class-as a bit of a novice, I like going to "level 2" classes where the series of poses may be different but the instruction is clear and then more challenging variations on each pose are given as options. It can also be inspiring to see more advanced students in the hardest variations-something to look forward to! But that said, I've attended intermediate classes where the teacher has decided to revisit the simplest forms of each pose as a reminder about technique, posture, breathing, etc and everyone from the beginner to the expert can find a challenge in this pace and approach. It's often more difficult to go at a slower flow pace.

  2. I've always enjoyed taking your intermediate classes. you have a way of describing body positioning and things to be mindful of that really resonates with me. i find i walk out of class with an overwhelming sense of peace and i love it. i've also taken more "aggressive" intermediate classes. i like those as well. but there is just something special about a kirsten class :)

  3. I think the common assumption is the faster you move, the more advanced you are. I agree with Nicola that it is often more difficult to go at a slower flow pace. Your class is definitely not about fast movements. I do love the fast flows and inversions. But you make me really think about how each movement speaks to my body - it changes, teaches and makes me aware of my physical being. Those slow, deliberate Kirsten movements are not easy.
    Having said that, I think some asanas are inherently more advanced. I am thinking inversions (no wall) and Hanumanasa. It is indeed very hard to be a flexible monkey!