Picking the Appropriate Class Level…

by Melanie Goio


You may think it is not a big deal what level class you choose to attend.  It’s just yoga right?  How hard can it be?  I’m fit.  I’m up for a challenge…

However, it is a big deal! And not only for you, but also for the teacher and the other students in class!


As a teacher, my priority is to keep my students safe.  So, when a new student comes in, I always ask them if they have any injuries, how long they have been practicing yoga, what type of yoga, and if they are aware of the level of the class I will be teaching on that particular day.


Here are some of the answers I’ve gotten : “Well, I’ve only done yoga a few times, but 9:15am was the only time I could make it today” or “I have never done yoga before but my friend wanted to take this advanced class” or “Oooh dont worry about me, I’ll be fine”.


I tell these students that this particular class is not the best for them to start or continue their yoga journey.  Attending a level 1 class, where they could learn the foundations and names of the poses, would be more appropriate.  For a student who has never done yoga, or has taken just a few classes, they will struggle to keep up with the pace of a more advanced class as they try to  decipher this new yoga “language”, and look around to copy those near them. The teacher then has to pay extra attention to that student so he/she does not get hurt. This limits the focus and assists for the other students in class.  Beyond the physical struggle, it can become uncomfortable for a new student who realizes they are in over their head and may end up feeling out of place and frustrated.  He/she may even decide they don’t like yoga because of this experience, when in reality, in the proper level class, they may have had a very different experience.


So, if you are thinking of trying yoga or bringing a friend or family member with you, ask yourself :
Would I sign up for the NY Marathon if I’ve never run before ?
Would I bring my friend to be my sous chef in a cupcake competiton if she has never baked ?
Would I let my daughter drive to Manhattan if she only took 2 driving courses ?


The intention of taking a yoga class is to learn to mindfully move your body with the breath, find some balance and ease, have fun and leave the class happy and glowing!  Starting in a Level 1 class doesn’t mean you are out of shape or uncoordinated.  It gives you the opportunity to build the appropriate foundation for a solid practice.

Melanie’s journey with yoga began when she was a teenager, taking classes with her dad in her native Switzerland. No matter where her path brings her, yoga centers her and helps her to be mindful of what matters most. Melanie teaches adult, kids and teen classes at Yoga Haven (view her schedule).  She has an effortless manner that makes each student feel comfortable with what they achieve and inspired to grow stronger. She’d love to have you in class, just be sure if you come to her mixed level or level 2/3 class that it isn’t your first time doing yoga 🙂