CLASS LEVEL AND DESCRIPTIONS
Scroll down for Backcare & Scoliosis classes levels and descriptions.
Yoga Union is recognized for its inventive and safe Alignment Yoga Classes, whether in its highly praised General Yoga Program or in its uniquely rich Backcare & Scoliosis Program. YU’s experienced teachers will help you to develop a strong and healthy practice at whatever level you are. You do not have to be flexible to have a deep experience of Yoga! Our philosophy is that everyone can do yoga. You start where you are and go from there.
The best level is your level. A strong yoga practice reveals itself through the intelligence of the work and intuitive grace, not the biggest or bendiest poses. You can have a meaningful practice without doing a handstand. But if handstands are in the cards, we will get you there intelligently. YU’s classes allow for a safe, illuminating practice appropriate to your level. If you generally practice Vinyasa, it makes sense to practice alignment classes to clarify the centering of your joints while “on the go” together with proper development of the strength to support required range of movement, beginning at the beginning as you would if you were moving from ballet to jazz.
Classes are based on the sound placement of the body and intelligent sequencing supported by the breath. YU offers you the chance to have fun crossing over from one kind of practice to another, knowing that the principles governing the practice will remain consistent. We offer general Yoga classes for all levels, as well backcare, herniation and scoliosis classes, allowing you to practice Yoga safely while also bringing the depth of Yoga to your back issues.
Below you will find class levels and descriptions in both the General Yoga Program and the Backcare & Scoliosis Program.
GENERAL YOGA PROGRAM: ALIGNMENT & POSTURE Levels 1-4
All alignment classes give you time to explore and understand the poses you are practicing, while introducing you to the foundational flowing form, or Sun Salutation (Suyra Namaskara). Poses are expertly modified to suit your needs, so you need never feel that Yoga “isn’t for you.”
Note: if you have never studied at Yoga Union before, it is important to start in the level 1 classes to become familiar with the Rope Wall and other props. You will be guided to the appropriate classes for your level of practice. If it is clear that you have a level 2, 3 or level 4 practice, you will be directed to that class. But please do not start there. Permission is required for both the Level 3 and 4 classes.
Level 1 / Basics
These classes are for beginners or those wishing to refresh their knowledge of the foundational poses from Tadasana (Mounntain Pose) and Adho Mukha Svanasana (Down Facing Dog Pose) to basic standing poses, mild backbends and forwardbends and the basics of supported shoulderstand. There is no need for prior experience. Highly recommended for anyone new to Yoga Union.
Note: These are not Yoga Therapy classes. If you have back issues from mild backache to herniation, to osteoporosis of the spine to scoliosis, please check out our Backcare & Scoliosis classes on the schedule. Those are the classes you should take. However, once you have progressed in your backcare classes and provided you are cleared for the General Yoga Program, the Basics/Level I is the best place to start.
Level 1-2 / Preparing for Intermediate
These classes will allow you to develop the strength and understanding required for shoulderstand in the center and headstand at the wall, and will guide you to a greater range of motion in forward and back bends along with a deeper understanding of the purpose of poses and their counterposes and how to work safely according to your given ability and constitution.
Basic reclining Pranayama (breathing practices).
Note: You should know now to use the Rope Wall and props at this point. If you do not, please take Basics/Level I or Herniation Basics to learn how to use those tools. They are not always used in the Level 2-4 classes, but knowing how to use them is essential.
Level 2 / Intermediate
These classes are for those who have been practicing regularly and seriously for six months to a year at Yoga Union or other alignment-based studios (Iyengar studios, for example), depending on age an ability and are ready to undertake more demanding inversions (headstand in the center if so desired and ready, handstand at the wall), deeper backbends, forward extensions and hip work, as well as seated Pranayama (breathing practices).
If you have are unsure of your level, please take Basics/Level 1 and ask the teacher.
Level 3 / Advanced Intermediate
The two-hour classes require permission before attending. You must have a regular inversions practice including headstand and handstand (unless you have cervical or wrist issues), understand prop use, including basic/intermediate wall-rope setups, and make a point of reviewing class material so that you may support your fellow students with your own attentive work.
The classes offer more extensive pose development as well as longer holding.
If you have attended no Alignment Yoga classes at Yoga Union, please start with Level One classes to familiarize yourself with the language and approach, and to learn basic prop usage.
You should be ready to commit to regular attendance of the Level 3 class if admitted to it. The community created helps you and your fellow students move forward cheerfully, benefitting from each other’s abilities and questions.
Level 4 / Intermediate +
These two-hour classes are by permission only. The best way to obtain this is to take the Tuesday 9:30am Level 2 with Alison. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org before coming. Please note: being a teacher does not necessarily mean you are ready for this class, which requires that have extensive alignment experience as practiced at YU, know how to use the Rope Wall and other props. The Level 4 classes are ideal for experienced students and teachers who wish to spend more time approaching the work with an open, inquiring mind. All major poses groups explored with an eye to working not only on more demanding variations, but also on how to hone your own eye and observational skills, and facilitate the poses more readily for those not yet ready to do them. Pranayama, Nauli. The continuing education aspect of this class is important.
It counts as 2CEUs.
Taught by Hae Soo Kim (Hess)
Yoga Union offers women in all phases of their cycle a warm environment in which to develop their Yoga practice safely while nurturing their bodies. About 85% of pregnant women suffer some form of back discomfort or pain, so care is given to healthy alignment and good posture. If you have scoliosis, Hess is able to help you with your asymmetries during this time of greater ligamentous elasticity to help stabilize your spine.
Slings and Ropes
This class is for Level 1 and up. It focuses on both the center slings and the rope wall, allowing you to work with traction, strength and movement in ways not otherwise possible. Yoga Union has developed the potential of these tools through ongoing exploration to give you a rounded, sometimes challenging, sometimes restorative experience of the center slings and wall ropes. Great fun while building your Yoga practice.
Yoga Union makes its own orange slings, which are available for purchase at the studio.
Self-Practice Session Fridays 2-4pm
Self-Practice is one of the most valuable ways to study and evolve as a student and teacher. Yoga Union offers its space on Friday afternoons 2-4 pm to students with at least one year’s regular study so that you can delve into aspects of your own practice in the silent company of others. You will be able to use most of the props in the studio. Permission is required to use the wall ropes if you have not completed the YU Rope Certification program. If you are not sure about how to proceed with a self-practice, you can sign up for the Self-Practice Workshop offered during the 200-hour Teacher Training in the Fall.
ABC’s of Yoga Series
This series is perfect for the first-time student and any student who wants a fresh understanding of the fundamentals of yoga and how to develop sound posture while strengthening and releasing the body. Discover the joy and depth of this ancient practice through all categories of poses--upright, seated, reclining, prone, upside down (supported), as well as the blissful release of restorative Yoga. Please check Workshop & Events schedule for upcoming series dates.
Click here to email studio if you would be interested in a future class of this kind.
YOGA FOR BACKCARE & SCOLIOSIS PROGRAM
You will be best helped by attending classes for your level and your condition. This is a list of some of the things addressed and which classes to take if you have those conditions:
- General back ache: general Backcare classes and Herniation Basics
- Herniation: Herniation Basics
- Spondylolisthesis: Herniation Basics
- Osteoarthritis of the spine: Herniation Basics
- Osteoporosis of the spine: Herniation Basics
- Hyper-kyphosis and lordosis: Herniation Basics
- Stenosis: Herniation Basics
- Scoliosis: Scoliosis Basics; Scoliosis Level 2 with teacher’s permission
If you have a lumbar herniation and have not been to the studio before, the Herniation Basics would be the class for you, no matter what your level of practice. The same is true for scoliosis. If you have both scoliosis and a lumbar herniation, take the Herniation Basics first, as the injury to the soft tissue of your spine will require more immediate care and attention. When you understand safe movement for your condition, then you can attend Scoliosis Basics.
It is advisable to take a private session with Alison West, to the degree your budget allows, before beginning in the Backcare Program. Information regarding one-on-one sessions can be found here.
It is essential that you see your doctor before taking class, so that you can understand and accurately describe your situation. The work done, for example, in the presence of lumbar herniation is quite different from that for lumber osteoarthritis of the back spine. You need to know your condition. Ask your doctor to explain it to you and to go over your X-rays in detail. Do not be afraid to ask for more explanations as needed. That is part of your doctor’s job.
Backcare and Posture Level 1
For those with general back ache or poor posture and have little experience of Yoga. You will work on basic poses to promote sound posture and relieve the back of stress while helping the body to develop balanced strength and range of motion.
Backcare and Posture Level 2
For students who have been taking the Backcare classes on a regular basis for a minimum of 1 year and wish to move to the next level of practice and understanding. These classes are a good preparation for the General Yoga Program, Levels 1 and 2. Permission required.
Herniation and Posture Level 1
These classes offer a basic introduction to yoga for herniation and other disc issue, as well as being appropriate for osteoporosis of the spine, osteoarthritis, hyper-kyphosis and -lordosis and more. You will learn the fundamentals of safe movement, yoga, and become familiar with common prop use. Strongly recommended for students with disc issues who are new to alignment-based yoga.
Herniation and Posture Level 2
For students with mature yoga practice who have been taking Yoga for Herniation and Backcare classes on a regular basis for a minimum of 1 year. These classes progress beyond the basics of safe movement, rope use, and yoga postures for herniation, introducing more challenging postures in a safe context as well as Pranayama. Permission required.
Yoga for Scoliosis Level 1
These classes are essential for all students new to working with their scoliosis or spinal asymmetry, no matter how experienced you might otherwise be. You will learn about your curves, what scoliosis is, and how yoga can be practiced safely in the presence of asymmetry. These classes help increase balance and proprioception, lengthen the spine, reduce compensatory patterns, and create the strength required to sustain a new pattern while improving overall posture.
Yoga for Scoliosis Level 2
For students with mature yoga practice who have been taking the Yoga & Scoliosis classes on a regular basis for a minimum of 1 year. This class will progress beyond the basics and therefore assumes the student understands his/her curves and rotations and how to work with them, as taught in introductory classes. You will work on a broader curriculum, including inversions, as well as more analysis of how to apply the work to your scoliosis. Intermediate class is not for students new to Yoga for Scoliosis. Permission required.
Yoga for Scoliosis and Spinal Fusions
Because of the contraindications for yoga practice with Harrington Rods and other instrumentation, being in a general class—even one focused on scoliosis or back problems—can be frustrating. This class covers all the principles and poses of the Yoga & Scoliosis classes but without strong twists, convex forward bending, and back bending. The YU Scoliosis and Fusions classes help strengthen muscles around the fusion in an aligned manner, bring stability to hypermobile joints, and open stiff areas while respecting the integrity of the instrumentation. Students with scoliosis but no fusion are also welcome to this class and find it helpful. New students: Scoliosis Basics classes or the Scoliosis Basics Series are recommended prior to attending this class. If you have scoliosis but no fusion, this is a requirement.
Backcare + Restorative
All levels. Wonderful for back pain and associated stress, but also a perfect class to come if you’re looking for a healing restorative experience. By supporting the body with props, poses are held longer and encourage deep release to rejuvenate the body and mind.
Gentle Chair Yoga
Explore how a chair can be used to deepen and enhance one's yoga (asana) practice. Much more than a prop, a chair can serve as a launching pad, opening up a whole new world of poses that may have been inaccessible.
In this class, students will:
- perform poses which are difficult to perform without a chair
- learn to achieve and maintain correct alignment in poses
- hold poses for longer, thereby experiencing the full benefits of the pose
- explore and investigate poses on a deeper level
Utilizing the principles of alignment and back care that Yoga Union is so well-known for, students will safely explore modified variations of standing poses, seated poses, twists, supine and prone poses, balance poses, and move towards modified inversions and backbends, allowing one to experience the benefits of a complete yoga (asana) practice.
No prior Yoga experience is required; however, more experienced practitioners will surely benefit from exploring poses on a deeper level using the chair for support.
SEASONAL BACKCARE & SCOLIOSIS CLASS SERIES and WORKSHOPS
Backcare Basics Series
(See Workshops Schedule for availability)
This series will cover the basic skills you need to participate in the Backcare/Herniation and Posture classes. With other beginners new to Yoga Union, you will be taught basic anatomy of the spine, safe movement for your back issue(s), how to stand and sit with good posture, how to use props, and how to practice basic yoga postures to alleviate back pain. Appropriate for disc bulges and herniations, hyper-kyphosis, hyper-lordosis, spondylolisthesis, stenosis, back muscle strain, and neck issues. This series offers a methodical introduction to yoga for back care that will help you integrate smoothly into the Backcare Basics and Herniations classes.
Yoga for Scoliosis Basics Series
(See Workshops Schedule for availability)
These five-session series cover the foundational skills you need to work with your scoliosis and/or fusion. You will learn how to work with your scoliosis to develop greater spinal length as well as ease and strength throughout the body. Learning these skills through a series will help you make a commitment to your yoga practice and integrate smoothly into Yoga Union Scoliosis or Fusion classes.
Please see TRAINING page for all programs in Backcare and Scoliosis, as well as Teacher Training and Continuing Education. We have an annual Backcare & Scoliosis program in February-March with very targeted workshops addressing different issues that are part of the certification program.