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Applied Yoga – Am I Less Advanced in Yoga Now?

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What is Advanced Yoga?

What do you think of?
What does ‘advanced yoga’ mean to you?

This question beckons us beyond the familiar poses and on a quest for a deeper understanding of what Yoga really is.

While many might associate it with achieving extreme poses like Forward Splits (Hanumanasana), true advancement in yoga encompasses more than just external forms.

Hanumanasana Yoga Pose. Nirmala Yoga, Estepona by Fox No Limits

Here’s how I know.

Nette’s Story

I’ve danced with the splits – a tango of ‘now I can’ and ‘now I can’t.’ – for many years. It’s a familiar rhythm for many yogis – our bodies sometimes bend to our will, other times they resist.

But does this back-and-forth of ability make us less adept at yoga?

2013 & 2014

Hanumanasana was one of the three “goal postures” I unenthusiastically chose when asked to make some Yoga Pose-related Goals during a YTT (Yoga Teacher Training). I’d never really had that sort of intention in yoga before. Competitive in every other discipline but this, I’d been blessed to have the opportunity to devote myself to yoga full-time for a couple of years (I know, lucky me, right? But read on).

I’d had three amazing mentors during those two years. None of whom had ever mentioned a “Goal Pose”. I guess you could call them ‘old school‘ and for that I’m eternally grateful. But there was another reason that yoga was not – for me – about poses, no matter how much I might have wanted it to be.

2010 & 2011

The year I fell in love with dynamic yoga marked the beginning of an exploration into the capabilities of my young, strong, and supple body. I approached yoga with the same determination and grit I had applied to all my sporting endeavours throughout my life. But the following year, an accident put a sudden pause on my practice, keeping me away from the mat for over a year.

When I finally returned, I found myself in communion with a completely different body:

A Body Transformed: My left leg, once a pillar of strength, had succumbed to atrophy; a testament to the body’s capacity to adapt.

A Different Reflection: The mirror revealed a stranger; my body’s appearance had changed as much as its capabilities.

A New Sensation: Familiar movements felt foreign – many were still impossible – as if I were learning to navigate a new vessel.

Compensation Patterns: Necessary at the time for healing, these patterns had become obstacles to my progress.

Weakness and Tension: Where there was once strength and flexibility, now there was fragility and resistance.

Instability and Asymmetry: My body’s balance had shifted, demanding an entirely new approach to yoga.

So, in the following years – before making those YTT posture goals – my main focus had been quite different to what it might have been without the accident. A journey through recovery & reconnection with yoga that taught me that our practice isn’t just about the poses we can achieve; it’s about the continuous dialogue between mind and body and more. It’s about honouring our current state and embracing the impermanence of everything.

Advanced Yoga

Yoga: A Journey to Wholeness

Each day we return to our yoga practice, we progress. Our goals may vary, but the pure act of consistent practice is, in itself, advanced yoga. In the years following the accident, my objectives were clear:

~ To walk without a limp and free from pain.
~ To restore strength & alignment in my body.
~ To alleviate the grip of sciatica and other complaints.
~ To run, climb, and dance again.
~ To live free from the need for pharmaceuticals.

Yoga was instrumental in achieving these goals, serving as my sanctuary not only physically but also mentally, emotionally and spiritually. These aspects of my journey are stories in their own right.

Unbeknownst to me – at least to begin with – I needed healing on multiple levels, and that’s perfectly fine. Yoga has a way of addressing what needs attention, quietly and without fanfare. All we need to do is allow it.

The Inner Voyage: Meditation as Sanctuary

When circumstances prevent us from engaging with the outside world – whether due to illness, sadness or the stillness of meditation – we’re presented with a golden opportunity to delve deeper into our internal world.

Maybe you’ve already experienced this?

During the year when an asana practice was beyond my reach, I found strength & solace in meditation. It became a refuge, steering focus away from the limitations of my physical body and guiding me towards the vast expanse of my inner landscape.

Meditation opens doors to intriguing realms within, offering rich experiences and insights that a physical practice alone cannot.

Sirsasana Pike Headstand Yoga Pose, Estepona. Nirmala Yoga Spain by Fox No Limits, 2024.

Beyond the Pose: The Depth of Yoga

Are we less “advanced” in yoga if our bodies can’t effortlessly move into every pose?

I don’t believe so.

For starters, balance, strength & flexibility can significantly fluctuate over just 24hrs depending on factors like temperature, stress levels and time of day.

More than that, though, asanas – while beautiful and beneficial – are just the visible tip of an immense iceberg. They represent only a fraction of yoga’s vast expanse, the part that greets the eye most readily.
The true essence of yoga lies beneath the surface, in the depths, where true transformations quietly occur.
Yoga isn’t a linear practice. It’s up and down and around & around. Just like life. It’s a process of self-discovery. where the real magic lies in the journey, not the destination.

Remember, advanced yoga isn’t about achieving extreme poses; it’s about evolving as a whole being. Don’t be fooled by illusions or incorrect notions. That’s Yoga 101 – well, technically, Sutra 1.8 – of The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. But let’s save that for another day.


Profile photo and text: Much Love, Nette xxx

Find out more about Nette.

Originally posted March 2019. Edited & updated March 2024.

Jeannette Amy (Nette) Hopkinson (BSc Hons Sports & Life Sciences) is a compassionate, trauma-informed Yoga Teacher & educator based in Andalusia. Follow on Instagram Facebook

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