There is a weird plateau that some intermediate students hit on their yogic path. It’s that stage of the journey when you feel you advanced enough to take your practice to the new level, but for some reason feel stuck in getting there. And this feeling of being stuck in the mud can last years. That’s what happened to me. I leapt forward in the Yoga practice after a year to the point that my friends couldn’t recognize my body, my gait, and composure. The internal shift was vast and deep. And that lasted for a year and a half, after which I stopped showing and making progress. And I never skipped my daily practice, and I never found excuses not to do it, even when I was sick. But nevertheless, I felt stifled and unable to move on. And sadly enough, this lasted about four years. I was into the practice of repetition, so I basically did the same flow every single day. Even the breathing practices and the meditation went in the same order.
One day it occurred to me that the repetition had gotten me on autopilot mode, and I was no longer mentally connected to my body. My legs and arms knew the mojo, and I my mind just tagged along. But there was no conscious growth on the outer plane. Perhaps, internally there were some subtle energy shifts going on, but that movement was so intangible that I never even noticed it. I did not know how to change my practice. My teacher did the same routine, so I thought he knew better. I just replicated what he did – the same things again and again. The overexertion of the same muscles and ligaments and tendons, always accessed in the same manner had created some mental grove, like an imprint that was more of a drawback than an asset. So I had to rebuild my practice from the ground up. It took a while to reconsider the whole logic sequencing. I started to reorder the asanas. The class design was no longer informed by pose counter pose, but instead deviated from the standard format as I began exploring different safe and efficient ways of transitioning from one pose to the next.
Surprisingly, the new buoyant mode of transitioning generated new asana, new binds, new variations. This brought my practice to a whole new level. It was like exploring different hinge points and reinventing the flow. The varied asana repertoire with the fluid way of transitioning felt so organic and intuitive that I never injured my joints or muscles again. In fact I was able to recover from all the injuries. When I shared this re-imagined flow with my intermediate students they loved it. The results came seamlessly, they was no muscling into poses, no effort to transition perfectly and always in the same manner. And that opened a whole new portal to joyful creativity, and sparked a movement in my teaching community that infected both teachers and students alike.
Today I am well equipped with a whole arsenal of tools to refresh the standard yoga class, and to offer a thrilling experience, which takes students seamlessly up the curve. The tradition of repetition is great for a while, because it builds the strength and stability and the focus to go inwards. But, I believe at some point in our yoga practice, we all have to find the courage to venture into the unknown and rediscover new ways of movement, forge new brain connections, and unleash our insight into new unimagined solutions for our practice and our life. There is a key to every stage of our spiral, and it is to follow the cues of the heart and to unleash the intuitive intelligence of the mind.
Try this challenging and varied intermediate routine. You will discover that going up the curve is a result not of monotony and repetition, but of endless variety and possibility.
Intermediate Yoga Routine: Up The Curve
This is a creative and safe intermediate yoga class that blends classical poses with new variations, binds and asana to help you bounce off the yoga plateau and advance up the curve. Standing poses stabilize the base and help ground the energy down. Forward and back bends improve spinal articulation, while massaging organs and glands. Bound twists cleanse and purify, while flooding the brain with oxygen. The varied sequencing promotes a sense of buoyancy and stimulates inner growth.