Crows, drop backs, & handstands! – Zainab Zakari

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The recent Halloween and Day of the Dead celebrations have me in a festive mood, yes, but yoga can offer some easy comparisons to what makes us cringe. Are you afraid of the Intermediate class? I’m here to tell you you don’t have to be scared.  First, as the teacher of Thursday’s intermediate class, I’m not that scary looking and I don’t bite (wink, wink), and second, more importantly, you are actually more powerful and capable than you know.

So what does intermediate mean?  

My tongue-in-cheek title does include poses that one would consider intermediate level, but really any pose can be made intermediate, even Downward-facing Dog.  And the reason why is:  it’s all about attitude and inquiry.  I wrote another blog on this very topic of how you know you’re ready for intermediate classes on DoYouYoga, and basically when you are more connected with your body, when your body and thinking mind work together rather than against each other, you’ve evolving into becoming an intermediate practitioner.  You may not necessarily know how to balance in a handstand or wrap your leg around your head, but you do listen when your body gives signals to rest or move or modify, and your body awareness and movements are practically ninja-like because you’re in tune with how to move well.

The power to choose

As an intermediate practitioner, you’re also open to learning new things and trying them out, within reason of course.  Not unlike an enthusiastic beginner, if you’re truly serious about deepening your practice that means taking on a beginner-like curiosity about all things yoga, from asking questions to exploring different techniques, essentially seeking out more knowledge in and out of the yoga room.  But what differentiates the beginner’s curiosity from the intermediate’s curiosity is the power to choose.  In class, for example, a beginner yogi might not feel empowered enough to modify a pose if no one else in the class is doing a modification, but an intermediate practitioner is already comfy with the knowledge that this practice is for them not just the rest of the class.  And while there should be a healthy respect for what the yoga teacher is offering, their inner teacher, the big Self within, is what guides them ultimately.  So if you’re dealing with an injury or you know your energy is not jiving with whatever is being taught in class, you honor your body’s needs in the best way you know (P.S. it helps and is highly encouraged to let the teacher know this before class, too, in case what you’re doing is very different from the class being taught).

Think you’re ready?

So what does this all mean for you and the Thursday night intermediate class I teach at the studio?  Well, in short, it means that if you’ve been practicing yoga regularly for, let’s say, 6 months or more, you likely don’t have to be afraid to try out the intermediate class. Ultimately, if you’re game to exploring a few new things on your mat or a few old things with some other refinements, you’re ready.  And no need to feel like you have to pass a test of handstands to be in the class.  Rather it always helps to have a sense of humor, too, because when you’re trying new movements or poses out, you can bet you might make a few hilarious interpretations first.  It’s all part of the process, really, and we’ve all been there.

Intermediate yoga meets Thursdays, 5:45, at the same mat time, same Blackbird channel. We’d love to see you there once in a while.  And we’ll likely encounter some crows, drop backs and handstands every now and again, and we’ll rock them out together.  So what say you?

Summer Solstice - Times Square Yoga 3

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