When perusing a yoga class schedule, it can be difficult to figure out which level is right for you. While every studio is different, the numbers one through three, when used to describe class levels, actually offer yogis a general guide of what to expect from each different class. Here's a quick crib sheet to help you decipher those schedules and hopefully avoid the shock of being asked to put your leg behind your head when you've only just mastered the Downward Dog.
- Level one: This class is your best bet if you're new to yoga, or consider yourself a beginner yogi. It's also an appropriate class if you have an injury, are feeling low-energy, or are pregnant (although you'll have to make modifications to some poses). Expect to do a slower-paced flow of basic, common postures such as Downward Facing Dog, the hamstring opener Triangle, and Seated Forward Bend. Don't worry if you don't know what Urdhva Mukha Svanasana means (that's Up Dog by the way). In a level one class, the teacher will most likely demonstrate poses as they call out the English or Sanskrit names, to help you become familiar with them. The instructor may also begin to introduce more challenging poses as you are ready such as Wheel or Shoulderstand.
If this sounds too easy, check out descriptions of level two and level three yoga classes when you read more.
- Level two: If you feel comfortable and confident moving through basic poses, level two is most likely for you. The poses will flow from one to another more quickly than with a level one class, so you end up doing more poses. You should be aware that the instructor may not demonstrate everything, and may instead call out either the English or Sanskrit names of each pose. Don't stress though because you can always ask the instructor for help or follow a fellow student who is in the know. Expect to practice the basic poses from level one, but with some challenging poses added into the mix that require more strength, flexibility, and balance such as Half Moon, the arm balance Crow, and Standing Split.
- Level three: The most difficult of all three levels, a level three class is for the well-seasoned yogi who's been practicing for a while, and has a strong understanding of how to do most yoga poses. Expect to move faster and do more difficult poses such as the arm balance Eight Crooked Limbs, the backbend One-Legged King Pigeon, and Handstand Scorpion. You don't have to already be masters of these advanced poses, but you should have a desire to try them out. The instructor may also ask you to partner up and try poses with a fellow yogi.
If you're unsure about which level is right for you, it's best to go easier than you think. If the class seems too slow for you, you'll know to try the more difficult class next time. If the class seems way over your head, modify or skip poses as you need to throughout the class, and next time, opt for the easier level.