Even though winter’s ski days may be over, many people — from avid skiers to observers most comfortable cozying up with a hot chocolate in a lodge — are familiar with the grading of ski slopes on a trail map: green circles, blue squares, and black diamonds. While black diamonds designate trails for expert skiers and green circles signal safety for beginners, it’s not uncommon for even the most advanced skiers to cruise along a green circle now and then. And an intermediate blue square might be the perfect grade for those attempting to brush up on basics or for those looking to get familiar with steeper trails. There is much to be said — regardless of level or ability — for taking in the landscape of the mountain along a winding cat track trail or exploring the backcountry or glades.
In terms of grading and levels of ability, yoga is actually very similar to skiing. At Artemis Yoga, we offer levels of instruction so that you can notice and learn different aspects of the practice at several levels: Basics, Level 1, Level 1/2, Level 2, and Restorative. Many people have questions about which of the class levels might be the best fit for them.
Some come to the studio with years of practice to guide them, and many of these yogis will search first for the classes with a faster pace. At Artemis Yoga, Level 2 provides the quickest pace and challenging poses. But for the advanced practice, throwing a Basics class into the mix once in while might help re-center your focus for how your body should be feeling in certain foundational poses. (The best skiers know that at a certain level, going back to the basics is the best way to move forward in your practice and prepare for those black diamonds.) Or maybe you have an advanced practice, but on some days your body prefers a slower pace. For these days, too, a Basic flow or Restorative class can prove to be the right fit at the right time. Even lovers of inversions and challenging poses can learn to love getting back to the basics once in awhile!
Level 1 & Level 1/2
For those newer to yoga, even the most foundational classes can seem intimidating, but eventually, patience and practice will pay off. Maybe you have been working hard on your practice and feel you are ready to transition from your usual Basic class to one with a quicker pace of instruction and more challenging asana (postures). For this type of practice, Level 1 or Level 1/Level 2 offer some options to take on new challenges. You’ll find a bit more instruction and observation in a Level 1 class. A Level 1/2 class is a transitional class, one that moves you between Level 1 and Level 2. This class will likely surround you with practitioners of all types — those pushing themselves to get better, those looking for a bit of challenge and those hoping to improve a particular part of their practice. You might find this kind of all-levels interaction stimulating and different!
Sometimes the label of the levels means less than the practice. While some might enjoy a variety of challenges with a mixed level class, some beginner students may find that a Level 1/2 class is not the right fit for them, and this is okay, too. These students may find themselves more comfortable with the consistent pacing of a Level 1 class or the amount of instructor assistance at the Basic level. If you feel challenged, content, and invigorated with where you are at, then you can be sure that you are cultivating a strong, healthy practice.
All in all, it’s okay to explore! Come to your next class at Artemis Yoga with an open mind and a will to learn, and remember that while each class is scaled to make you feel comfortable about your choice, different instructors will also have different approaches. (After all, an intermediate trail out West might seem more like a diamond to those used to skiing in the East!) You may even find an instructor who really helps you connect with your practice and who makes you feel most comfortable. Perhaps then you might find yourself looking past the levels altogether.
Aside from skiing, you can find levels in most sports out there, whether it be the golf handicap or tennis level, seed times for running, or different paces for long races — it’s just a matter of finding your stride. You can read more about the various class descriptions on our website and try different classes to find what works best for your practice, your body, and your state of mind. Keep in mind that these factors will likely vary from week to week. And if you find you ever need a break, you can always grab a bolster and a blanket and take some time to reflect in one of the popular all-levels Restorative classes at Artemis Yoga!