A display of advanced yoga from a novice practicioner

By Jay Hiller, July 18, 2023

Photo by Daniele Franchi on Unsplash

I wasn’t expecting much this morning. I had three classes scheduled and less time scheduled in between them than I really liked. Before my first class, a stand up paddleboard yoga class, I waited idly on the dock and half listened to the attendant coach a woman about my age on how to use a stand up paddleboard. I started paying more attention when she began to express concerns, some logical (What do I do if I fall in the water?) and some not so logical (Aren’t there alligators in the lake? Okay, there are no alligators, but there are probably snakes.) She then got on the board, paddled a bit and eventually accepted an invitation to join my SUP yoga class, as the only student.

About 20 minutes into my class, I witnessed advanced yoga. My student had carefully and tentatively followed all my instructions for the first part of the class and found herself in a half kneeling position on a floating contraption in the middle of a lake, an environment she did not feel confident in. She paid attention to her breath and held the position. Then she did it again on the other side. It wasn’t until much later, after class had finished and I’d done other things and eaten lunch, that I thought about it again and realized what I had seen. An advanced practice can be a strong person doing a complicated balance pose in the middle of the room, though not every pose executed at that level is advanced yoga. What I saw this morning, someone using their breath to calm their neurological system so that they could sustain themselves in a difficult situation, was some of the best yoga I’ve ever seen.

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