Advanced Yoga in 3 Simple Moves

We all like advancing. Progress is good! So we measure things -- often obvious, visible things -- like how much weight can we lift, how fast can we run, how high can we climb. And for yoga, it's poses! Right?

Well, maybe not. At least, not if what we're looking for is progress.

We've all heard many times people say that achieving a pose gives a great feeling of accomplishment. This is true. But then what? Why did we not feel accomplished before the pose? We've accomplished lots, we're standing here! But we still have this need.

So will posing fix this for us? If I achieve a difficult pose, will that do it? Well no, of course not. But how about the 14th variation of a difficult pose? Or are the causes inside us still there, waiting for the next time. What happens when that other pose comes up that we can't do? Or when that other person pulls up who just makes it look way too easy! There's always that person. And it's likely to be someone who isn't struggling so much to do the poses.

Luckily, "advanced" in yoga has nothing to do with progressing through pose variations or forcing ourselves into "deeper" contortions. As long as we're learning poses, we're all beginners. Which is a good place to be!

Here's the thing. Posing can become an addiction that creates no forward movement. Addiction to posing is like many addictions. We get bursts of good feeling. But has our life changed? Has our capability to create our selves and our lives progressed? After a moment or two, where did that good feeling go? The "advancing" we're looking for isn't there.

If we don't see any other way, we might keep grasping at this addiction, hitting the same button again and again. Or, we can move on to what we really want. The great thing about yoga -- if you let it -- is that it connects you to you. This connection makes us highly capable creators of our own lives. Experiencing our selves, our incredible creative power, is good thing.

You will always be the best in the world at moving in your own body, at being and creating you.

So how do we advance? And does "advanced" matter in yoga? It does in a way, so long as we're each measuring what's really helpful to us in our lives.

Advanced has to do with what's going on inside our minds, and refining the connection between our minds and bodies. It has to do with living a good life.

Advanced yoga is you getting to create you -- the you and the life you want -- while watching and enjoying every step along the way. From here, you get to help others do the same. We make a better world of creators rather than copiers.

The point of yoga is to help us create good lives. We know posing doesn't help directly with this, simply by looking around. Contortionists and Cirque du Soleil performers do not, as a general rule, all have much better lives than the rest of us. So there must be something more than just posing. Poses are useful, adventurous, and fun for all kinds of reasons, but they aren't the main feature.

So now for the 3 moves. As you've likely guessed, there's a trick here. You can't see them, at least not right away. They all begin inside you.

1) Understand. Advancing isn't about posing, it's about moving.

2) Drop it. The struggle, that is. When you don't have a pose to nail, this gets easier. Everything gets easier.

3) Move. Start by moving inside. Quiet down so you can hear you. Believe what you hear. And then move from the inside out. Create from the inside out.

Give yourself time. Give your body time. Put a little easy into your mind and life. Given a little room to move, your body will find its way. You'll be able to move easily into all those things that seemed so difficult, requiring so much force and struggle. You'll find your own way. Hard things become easy. This happens when you move from being a copier to a creator -- an originator of your own life, rather than a copier of poses and pictures, other people's bodies, other people's lives. Advanced is 100 percent entirely about you.

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Michael Taylor

Co-Founder Of Strala Yoga & Tai Chi Expert
Mike Taylor is the co-founder of Strala along with his wife, Tara Stiles. He studied mind-body medicine at Harvard and complementary medicine at Oxford. Mike has practiced Eastern movement and healing, including tai chi and qigong, for more than 30 years. In his younger years, Mike challenged centuries of reasonable and well-tested martial traditions in hundreds of competitions by applying unruly imagination to a world where rules were unbreakable. His record established the strength of finding your own way in your own body rather than copying the techniques of other people’s traditions. As he got older, Mike continued on to medical applications of the mind-body connection in university. After running into walls with standard medical practice in the United States and England, he left his health care roots for a little while. As the first internet boom was getting started, he joined the startup team of one company, then founded a couple more. Now through Strala, Mike has found his way back to health care done right: helping people let go of stress in their bodies and minds, enable their lives, and become their own best caregivers.Mike has climbed some of the world’s largest mountains in Alaska, the Alps, and the Himalayas. He’s now a cyclist and runner and spends as much free time as possible exploring the backcountry on foot, skis, and snowboard. He lives in New York with his wife, Tara, and baby, Daisy.
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Michael Taylor

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