I've done yoga on and off for years, both with and without instructors, and for the past year practically daily. I still haven't moved on to performing more advanced poses and this bothers me. I can't even do the upward dog without putting my knees down first and something as "simple" as supported shoulder stands and plough pose are impossible.
I don't know where to begin. It feels like I still don't have the muscle strength and I'm really afraid of hurting myself. What steps should I take to move forward in my yoga practice? Are there poses I could do to ready myself for eg handstands or should I just throw myself in there and start trying the more advanced poses and build up strength and confidence?
I'm no expert, but if you aren't able to flow into simple poses like upward dog and plow then you shouldn't move on to more advanced poses...yoga seems like a nice, easy way to get toned but it can be really intense and you have to build enough strength and flexibility to support the poses before moving on. If not, you could really hurt yourself. It seems like you might need to build more core strength given the problems you mentioned. So I'd recommend anything that targets your core and also mastering the simple poses that seem impossible for you. Planks are great for upper body and core strength too and there are a ton of variations to work different areas.