The Leveling of Yoga

On the student survey we received quite a few comments about the 'leveling of classes'. Asking about why we don't have them, suggesting that they would be helpful, etc. I have a few opinions about this that I wanted to share and to explain why I ultimately made the decision against using them. 

 What level are you?

What level are you?

First of all, I never know what level I am, do you? Even after practicing 6+ years, I think I may be a 2? But I can do a handstand, does that make me a 3? But only at the wall, does that make me a 2/3? The point being that I don't think that anyone really knows and it I think it just confuses people. Also, I have taken "Level 1" classes that kicked my ass. I have taken "Level 2/3" classes that were rather slow and easy to me. Who actually determines the level (is it determined by pace, intensity, or maybe temperature in the room?) and are they truly defined at all? No. Levels are completely subjective and can be defined a million and one different ways. One persons "1", is another person's "3".

Second, logistically speaking, Tula only has one studio. If I was to focus many evening or weekend classes to a small group of people that consider themselves a Level 3, I would be essentially be turning away all others. There is a 'bell curve' of most things. There is big, wide space between the 'never done yoga before' level and the 'very advanced' level people with several decades of experience. There are a million steps within this big wide space and this is where most people fall and where Tula lives. In order for Tula to survive, we must appeal to this big wide space and not just the outliers.  

I think mixed level classes can be inspiring to newbies and very beneficial for advanced practitioners. I am big believer that you need to see where you can go in yoga. If you are brand new, you can either be intimidated by the more advanced practitioners in class, or inspired. I sincerely hope that it's the later. For the more advanced, I think that sometimes one needs to go back to the basics, find new intricacies in familiar poses and be reminded of the road behind (as well as in front) of you. 

Overall, I know that mixed level classes can be challenging for the instructors and the students. For instructors because they need to break things down more and speak to a wider audience. For students because you need to know when to 'get off the train' and do what is right for you at that particular moment. Both of these things require patience and practice. Ultimately, I believe that the attainment of these skills make better instructors and better students.

Like life, yoga is a journey and not just a destination. Continue to learn, continue to breathe, continue to enjoy it and don't worry about your level.