What the Hell Is Advanced Ashtanga?, that sparked some conversation outside of cyber space. One particular person, who just so happens to be a rocket teacher, truly believes that what he is teaching is advanced Ashtanga because people were allowed to float into hand stand in their sun salutes which is not traditional and frowned upon in some Ashtanga circles. So I had to open up the conversation. What is Advanced Yoga?(If you want, you can skip all the way to the last paragraph which sums up this whole post).
Lets see what the dictionary definition of "advanced" is:
Definition of ADVANCED
Using these definitions, for a yoga pose to be advanced:
The Yoga pose must be far on in time and course-the person has to have been practicing it for a long time. So this means that Svasana can be advanced or mountain pose can be advanced. As long as they have been practicing for a long time.
Being Beyond Others in Progress-this is extremely subjective and depends on who you are practicing with. If you have taken one yoga class and the person beside you has taken none, then you can be called advanced. However if you show up the next day and the person beside you has taken 10 yoga classes and you have only taken 2, than that person is now the advanced one.
This also calls for a lot of judgement and comparing which, in yoga philosophy is a construct of the mind and goes against what yoga is trying to do which is rid you of your mental constructs.
This definition also depends on progress. If a person has naturally open hips and can do full lotus on the first day of practice, this is not progress. They didn't have to do anything. However, it may have taken someone else 5 years just to do half lotus, which means that relative to where they started, they have progressed further then the person who can do a full lotus therefore, they are more advanced.
The Yoga pose must be highly developed or complex-as in the previous example of the student with naturally open hips who can easily go into full lotus, highly developed is personal. Again, that person did not develop anything. It was natural to their body.
What makes something complex? The definition of complex is, something that consists of many different and connected parts (google). There are yoga poses and transitions that take more steps and have a few connected parts that result in the whole pose. An example of this would be Karandavasana in Ashtanga. You have to first come into a forearm balance, then a lotus & then lower down. All these three together make up the full pose. That would then make it more complex than a pose like chair which takes one step to get into( if you count lifting your arms, it takes two steps).
The pose has to be ahead of the times- this fluctuates. At one point, Krishnamacharya, the person on whose teachings western yoga is VERY LOOSELY based on, was considered way ahead of his times. He was born in 1888 and in 2013, he is now deceased and behind the times. If you haven't noticed, "ahead of the times", is usually used to describe people who come up with ideas that no one accepts. When people accept the ideas, this person is called an "innovator" or a "change maker". So for a pose or practice to be advanced, it has to go against the mainstream and not be accepted. Ashtanga used to be this way. People laughed at Pattabhi Jois when he first started teaching. He was ahead of his times. Now ashtanga is accepted and forms the basis for modern Vinyasa yoga. It is no longer ahead of the times.
The Pose or practice is New and Not Yet Generally Accepted-this means that I can create something called "Sleep" Yoga where people come to class and just sleep and it would be considered advanced because it is new and not generally accepted.
The point to all this is , with the exception of complex poses that have many steps, "advanced" is subjective. It is generally a word thrown around to grow the ego and make people feel bigger and badder than the people around them. Why not just present the practice or pose for what it is? Why even give the caveat that something is advanced? For people with huge egos, it just makes them bigger and for people with low confidence, it just makes them scared and less likely to try it. Both of these responses go against what yoga is about which is getting rid of the ego and revealing our true limitless potential.