Take a peek into a yoga class at your gym or local yoga studio and you will see students moving through postures as if choreographed. The teacher gives the name of the pose and the students assume the position in unison. If you have never done yoga, this may seem mysterious, but once you get started, you soon learn the poses associated with names like Downward Facing Dog and Happy Baby.
At the beginners’ level, the study of yoga is devoted to learning how to do basic poses correctly. Beginning poses are yoga's building blocks; you will return to them again and again. At the intermediate level, these basic poses are further refined and more difficult variations are introduced as the body becomes stronger and more flexible. Advanced poses require great strength and flexibility, usually achieved through years of practice. Although classifying poses by level of difficulty makes yoga seem goal-oriented, quite the opposite is true. You have a lifetime to explore and develop your yoga practice. Learning to work at your own level and listen to your body is one of yoga’s greatest lessons.
Beginners' poses start to establish basic strength and flexibility throughout the whole body. These include standing poses, seated and supine stretches, and introductory backbends and balancing poses. Though it takes time to master these poses, eventually you want will to expand your repertoire. It's a yoga adage that if you can put together your grocery list in your head while in a particular pose, it's probably time to try something more challenging.
Intermediate poses will require greater strength, flexibility, and balance. There is a wide range of intermediate poses, so don't be surprised if you find some easy and others impossible at first. At the intermediate level, you will be ready to add some arm balances and inversions to your practice, as well as increase the difficulty of your standing poses and backbends.
Advanced poses continue to expand the limits of the body through deep backbends and intense arm balances and inversions. When you feel comfortable attempting these poses will vary greatly, though it is neither unusual nor inappropriate for them to be introduced in intermediate level classes.