I am often taken aback when people label me as an advanced yogi, as I don’t think I would ever describe myself that way. What I would say instead, is that I am an experienced yogi who is actively evolving and expanding my practice.
When I am referring to students who come to my classes, this is often the same way I would describe or view them. My experienced students are ones I love to watch in practice and ones I appreciate having as models for others. What they are modelling is not the perfectly aligned difficult pose, they are the ones that are most frequently modelling adaptability and purposeful presence. These are the students that I can trust in practice - I can trust that they will listen to their body and make the choices that are right for them in that particular moment in time. These students have wisdom guiding their movements rather than ego pushing them along.
There are countless poses that I can’t do and may never be able to do and there is a beauty to that humble awareness. I am dedicated to building and growing what is possible for my body, but I have no timeline or real finish line in mind when doing so. I am also now, with a couple decades of experience under my mat, one of the first ones to modify or adapt a pose if it does not feel right on a given day. This was definitely not the mindset I have always had, and I have injuries to attest to that, but it is one that I have rightfully earned through experience and relearning what yoga really means to me.
Yoga helps my mind, body, and being to stay resilient and adaptable. To be adaptable you have to be in the present moment, which is where adaptations are required, and you have to be willing to be honest in the present moment by accepting what it actually holds. Being more awake and alive in the present moment really is what we should be striving for in our practice, if we are to strive for anything at all. Presence, purpose, and consideration to self and others are what we are here to learn, and our mat is just the dress rehearsal for the bigger picture.
As you move forward in your practice, as you learn to listen to the whispers of wisdom that arise from within on your mat, you will know that your practice is advancing. To be advanced enough to know when to drop a knee for yourself is a courageous gesture, and in my opinion, the sign of an advanced yogi.