FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Be sure you have a yoga (sticky) mat to practice on. Yoga blocks and straps are great props, but they are not required.
WHAT IS YOGA?
Let’s start with what yoga isn’t. Yoga isn’t a religion, and there is nothing to convert to in order to practice. Practicing yoga doesn’t mean you’re Hindu, or Buddhist – it is not necessary to surrender your own belief system. Yoga, in its truest form, is a method of discipline, and a path to self-realization and enlightenment.
The Indian sage Patanjali is believed to have explained the practice of yoga over 2,000 years ago in its first written form, the Yoga Sutras. It describes the eight aspects of yoga as “limbs” of a tree:
- yamas, ethical disciplines
- niyamas, self observations
- asana, physical practice
- pranayama, breath control
- pratyahara, withdrawal of senses
- dharana, concentration
- dhyana, meditation
- Samadhi, bliss, self-realization
Today most people practicing yoga are engaged in the third limb, asana, though the postures we practice have evolved over the last few hundred years. They purify the body and provide the physical strength, flexibility and stamina. Asana helps to prepare the body for long periods of seated meditation. Yoga is unique because we connect the movement of the body and the fluctuations of the mind to the rhythm of our breath. Connecting the mind, body, and breath helps us to direct our attention inward. We become more aware of our experiences from moment to moment. The awareness that we cultivate is what makes yoga a practice, rather than a task or a goal to be completed.
I am NOT flexible. Can I still do yoga?
Absolutely! This is actually a great reason to practice. Continued practice will result in changes in your flexibility, balance and strength (sooner than later). The most important thing is that you get on the mat and start exploring your body!
How often should I practice?
“Yoga is 99% Practice and 1% Theory” – K. Patthabi Jois, founder of the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute in Mysore, India. Practice as often as you can. Yoga is amazing – even if you only practice once a week, you will see and feel the benefits. Give yourself realistic goals – do what you can, when you can. You will likely find that your desire to practice will grow naturally and you will find yourself doing more and more.
What are the benefits of practicing yoga?
Yoga has endless benefits. For starters, it helps raise awareness. Through self-observation and practice, we become more aware of our posture and breathing. As you begin practicing yoga, you may find yourself automatically correcting your posture (sitting up straighter) and making a conscious effort to take cleansing breaths when needed. In addition, you will experience increased strength and confidence, improved coordination, and, yes, flexibility! You may also notice a heightened awareness to everything going on around you – sensitivity and compassion toward others. All this helps to bring a noticeable reduction in everyday stress.
WHAT DOES NAMASTE MEAN?
The gesture Namaste is an acknowledgment of the soul in one by the soul in another, honoring the interconnectedness in all. “Nama” means bow, “as” means I, and “te” means you. Therefore, Namaste literally means “bow me you” or “I bow to you.” To perform Namaste, we place the hands together at the heart center, close the eyes, and bow the head.
Typically we say Namaste at the end of class because the mind is less active and the energy in the room is more peaceful. The teacher initiates Namaste as a symbol of gratitude and respect toward her students and her own teachers and in return invites the students to connect with their lineage, thereby allowing the truth to flow—the truth that we are all one when we live from the heart.
WHAT DO I NEED TO BEGIN A YOGA PRACTICE?
- Just a few things to consider when beginning your journey into yoga:
- Be sure you have a yoga (sticky) mat to practice on. It will allow you to balance and do poses without slipping or sliding. Yoga blocks and straps are perfect for people who are less flexible, but they are not required.
- Practice in bare feet or socks with traction on the bottom that are specially made for yoga. Wear comfortable clothing that will not interfere with bending and stretching.
- Breathe…..long, fluid inhales and exhales, through your nose. Your breath will carry you through your practice, and the movement should compliment your breath.
- When taking a yoga class, inform your teacher of any health conditions that may be require modifications to your practice.
- Practice either on an empty stomach or within two hours of your last meal. Yoga poses include many twists and backbends which promote and speed your digestion. Practicing after a big meal may upset your tummy.
- Listen to your body – it is your best teacher. Feel free to explore your practice, but if needed, work in modifications of poses that meet where you are in your body today.
- Most importantly…..bring your sense of joy and play to your practice. Yoga can be a lot of fun, and you should enjoy every moment of it!
“The secret of health both for mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, or not to anticipate troubles, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly.” – Buddha