It can be hard to tell when you are ready to move up a level from General classes to Intermediate. Our guidelines at Maida Vale are that you need two years of experience for General and four years for Intermediate classes. But, we know it can be daunting to think you might be expected to perform perfect, advanced postures and it can feel safer to stick with your regular class. So, if you’ve been considering moving up this quick guide will help you decide whether now is the right time for you.
I still find the postures in my General class challenging – am I ready to move up a level?
You are not expected to have mastered all the postures you learn at General level before you move up to Intermediate. As you gain experience in Iyengar yoga you learn how to work with increasing levels of awareness and intelligence so you understand how to perform the correct actions in each posture. If you have been going to class regularly for four years or more, have started doing some self-practice and are feeling ready to learn more about yoga then it may well be the right time for you to move up. We also ask that students are comfortable holding a head and shoulder balance for five minutes but these can be supported or unsupported.
What new postures can I expect to work on in Intermediate classes?
There are over 200 asanas in Light On Yoga so there’s always something new to work on but you’ll find that many of the postures in Intermediate classes will already be familiar to you. Either these will be the same postures you know from your General level class or they will be more advanced versions of the groups of asanas that you already know; standings, forward bends, back bends, balances and inversions.
The syllabuses in the Iyengar system have been carefully devised to help students build a clear physical understanding of key actions at Beginners and General levels. These key actions are repeated and intensified at an Intermediate level. So although you may encounter some asanas for the first time, you will already be familiar with the physical actions you need to perform like, for example, lifting and opening the chest.
Will the teaching style change at Intermediate classes?
Some of the instructions will be more subtle and detailed than you have experienced but if there’s anything you don’t understand, feel free to ask your teacher. You may find that the poses are broken down in new ways and that you are asked to hold them for longer but will always refer back to familiar work from the earlier levels.
Do students need to be able to do unsupported Sirsasana?
Yoga is not a competitive activity and an important part of working at an Intermediate level is learning to practise in a way that is appropriate for your body and physical state. If you are stable in head stand your teacher may well encourage you to learn to come away from the wall so you can overcome the fear factor. Some students become limited by old habits like ‘I always use the wall for this asana’ and Iyengar yoga teaches us to challenge these habits. But we all have our own pace of learning and if you don’t feel ready to move away from the wall just let your teacher know.