Iyengar Class Levels
Even though there is a normal progression to the learning in this practice, the skills don't all come at once or in the same way to everyone. Therefore, we have created a set of classes that work from beginner, and gentle levels, to advanced.
It is important to remember two things: First, most of the pains that come because we are alive and doing things and getting older each day are not a disease, and never a cause for withdrawal from action. Those injuries and pains are a message to us to , to heal ourselves and to learn to move and act with ease. However, the second thing to remember is that your yoga teacher is not your doctor. Yoga has many powerful capabilities that show up with skilled practice, nevertheless, the practice of postures cannot help with everything that goes wrong. If you are an average person with an injury or medical condition that interferes with your normal activity, please check with your health care provider before coming to class.
Arranged from most gentle, restful and outright meditative (level *) to most challenging.
Yoga for Happiness Level *
An ongoing class. We begin and end class with a deep, supported relaxation. In between, we explore asanas and ways of doing them that maintain a quiet mind, body, and nervous system. While we do not work much on muscular strength, we do work on physiological and psychological rest and restoration. We use support often. In this class, stability comes before mobility.
Gentle Level 1 (different from plain old Level 1; see below)
These are ongoing classes. We explore fundamental poses of yoga asana, much like the beginner's series below, but meant for the students who find movement difficult or inscrutable. (Most) questions are answered; students learn the constituent parts of poses and then put them together into a coherent and spacious whole; props are often employed to give stability and balance, and importantly to bring the mind deeper into the body. This class is gently challenging.
Fundamentals / Beginners Series
This 8-week series is for the student new to yoga, or recovering a practice after an injury, or returning to it from long enough ago to matter. We present the fundamentals of yoga thought and practice primarily through its postures, learning strength, flexibility, mental calm and focus. Even though in this series we teach the fundamentals of yoga, that does not mean it is an "easy" class (see the Gentle Work Level 1 class above for that). Most classes, there will be some sweat. Students can repeat this series as many times as comfortable before moving on to Level 1 classes. [Note: see the Schedules and Prices page to find the start dates of new Beginners Series.]
Level 1 (see also Gentle Level 1 above)
An ongoing class, one step up from the beginners series. We broaden the repertoire of beginner-level poses in order to increase mobility and strength, and begin to introduce variations and different approaches to the same poses, in order to challenge and increase understanding. This class is for the ordinary student, average health--which means you may well have injuries and "conditions" and such, but they are the usual ones, nothing risky or very painful. Basic inversions and backbends are introduced here.
These classes are ongoing, and begin to develop the more difficult poses in all categories, such as inversions, backward extensions, the deep forward bends and twists. We use props and use creative variations and explorations of the elements of poses to increase strength, focus, endurance. Headstand (sirsasana) and shoulderstand (sarvangasana) and variations become a regular part of class. A minimum of 6 months' Beginner or Level 1 practice is helpful before coming to Level 2 classes.
Note: some classes are marked "level 2-3". This means solid and strong Level 2 students can attend, if you are wanting to move forward and be challenged. Always, alternate poses are available when the going is difficult.
Level 3 - 4, or Intermediate+ Asana
In these ongoing classes, we not only present more challenging postures, but also work on endurance. You need at least a year of steady Level 2 practice to enter these classes. Many of these classes have a specific thematic challenge, such as a sequence to explore and develop the intelligence and capacity of a region of the body, or a philosophical concept to explore by way of a targeted asana practice (see especially the Saturday Morning classes on our schedule). The student can expect inversions and variations, and challenging poses in all categories. A minimum of a year and frequently more is needed before coming to Intermediate classes. Maybe even check with the teacher first, especially if you are coming from a different (non-Iyengar) method.
These special practices are just that--not classes, but practices. We often use sequences we have learned from senior teachers; we also compose our own sequences with poses we are interested in. The idea is of a place where we get to practice together and help each other with the difficult parts, and to learn to do the work that challenges us. One of us leads practice by providing a sequence ahead of time, and we either do it as it is written, or we become interested in something about it and slow down to repeat the pose or better yet, move into experimental territory by trying different approaches or prop support we have learned. This is not a regular class. We are not an exclusive club, but we do work with the Iyengar method and sequencing. If you don't know us and want to come, contact Anne or Devon first, just to be sure.