Lots of inspiring stuff in blogland these days - food for thought! It is making me think about what I'm doing with my practice and how I got here.
It's so interesting how each yogi's experience differs based on teacher/shala/geography.
I had done yoga on and off for about 3 years, mostly power-type yoga. I had a great first teacher who then left town. So I went to whatever random classes I could find, even some Bikram, yup.
Then I wandered into an Ashtanga studio and was promptly humbled by the most physically difficult 70 minutes of my life. Full Primary. There was no stopping in Led either, no time to say uncle, no mysore attention to put you out of your misery and halt you...you do the whole thing. Well, assuming you could keep up. There were binds and twists and lotuses and all kinds of things I'd never seen! The friendly shapes and sizes on all sides of me were wrapping and binding and kurmasana-ing with ease.....I was thrilled and excited and couldn't wait to get started. The teacher, J, was tough/kind/stern/dry and pretty much exactly what I needed.
I spent about 9 months fumbling my way through primary. I did not (!) master it before moving on to intermediate. My teacher believes that the milder backbends are beneficial and worth practicing to balance the folds of primary so she lets many of her students do up to Ustrasana after they learn Primary.
Based on the experiences of others that I read about, in a stricter shala, I am pretty sure I wouldn't be doing intermediate at all. I would still be working on my strength, transitions and my nemesis...bhujapidasana! I don't actually hate it, I truly love it...each time I practice I run into Mr. Bhujapidasana and it's like, "are we really going to do this again? all right I guess we are."
I was quickly given the rest of intermediate, in maybe two or three more chunks over a couple months. Despite not being able to...jump back, or do a good clean bhuja, or a hands-free setu bandhasana, or a full-on wristgrab in supta k. Or the plenty of other cleanup things I could work on. Chakrasana even (which I avoid because of prior neck complications, and probably more than a little fear).
I now know that's not the traditional method really, but until I started reading blogs...I had no idea that that was different from anyone else's experience - LOL!
I trust my teacher and I love my practice. I aim to have enough physical challenge to distract my mind and keep it from wandering - I'm not nearly advanced enough to turn it off at will, I rely heavily on the physical challenge.
At the moment I can't imagine wanting more poses, as intermediate is more than enough for me to chew on!
Like anyone, I love the idea of someday fitting my leg comfortably behind my head. Despite the impatience or frustration I might sometimes feel, then talk myself out of...I am beyond happy with my 70-90 minutes of escaping the world. :-)