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How often should I practice yoga?
We recommend three times a week to assist you in reaching your personal health and fitness goals. These goals may include increased physical strength and flexibility, expansion of breath capacity, enhanced physical and mental health, reduced physical pain and mental stress, and appropriate and efficient body alignment. Of course, you can practice more than three times a week to receive increased benefits. Do plan to take a minimum of one day off each week for rest. In the tradition of Ashtanga Yoga one would rest on the days of a new or full moon.
What do I wear for yoga?
Please wear comfortable and flexible clothing that embraces an appropriate amount of modesty. Low and/or loose fitting tops, as well as loose fitting shorts, may reveal more than you intend in inverted postures (times when you may be upside down). Typical yoga attire in the US includes yoga pants or shorts made of spandex and/or water wicking material (particularly nice for classes where you build a lot of heat). Tops are generally form fitting so that they stay in place in inversions. Loose fitting T-shirts are certainly an option, just make sure they are tucked in before turning yourself upside down. No fancy clothes are required for yoga, however you are free to express your creativity through your yoga attire – as long as there is an appropriate amount of modesty practiced. And oh yeah, don’t forget about the issue with transparency that one prominent yoga attire company recently faced.
What supplies do I need for yoga?
Really, just yourself. Yoga can be done with or without a mat and with or without fancy props. Yoga mats and props are quite a recent invention. However, having your own yoga mat supports the practice of saucha, cleanliness. And, utilizing props may support new perspectives on postures as well as enhance the practice of ahimsa, non-harming. Props often allow one to experience many of the benefits of a posture while keeping the body safe as it builds strength and flexibility. The Yoga WallTM is the ultimate yoga prop. The basic set of props include a yoga mat, 2 yoga blocks and one yoga strap. Blocks and straps, as well as bolsters and blankets, are offered in the Yoga Shala to enhance your practice. Mats are also available to rent for a nominal fee (to help deflect the cost of cleaning them afterwards). Visit The Shop to peruse our selection of high quality and eco-friendly mats, blocks, straps, bolsters and other fun yoga accessories.
What is yoga?
Many define yoga as the unifying of the body, mind and spirit. But the truth is, they are already unified! Yoga helps us to realize and experience this natural state of being. What we are yoking (yuj in Sanksrit) through the practice of postures is the mind. If you want two oxen to plow a field, you place a yoke around their shoulders to direct them. Without the yoke they would wander around the field, possibly making it unsuitable for planting. Likewise, if the mind is wandering all over the place without anything directing it, life can become…well, a crazy mess. So, through yoga asana, we give the mind something to focus on — the physical and energetic sensations related to the postures. Is your mind wandering off to Starbucks when you are holding uttkatasana (a deep squat)? No way! It’s on the burning sensation in your quadriceps, on your racing heart, or on the sweat pouring down your cheek. You are totally present! So through asana, we begin with these very direct physical experiences of “being present” and learn to become more and more subtle in our awareness and discover ways to take the experiences off of the mat and into our daily living. As Dr. Judith Lasater teaches, “Yoga is not about touching your toes, it’s about what you learn on the way down.”
Is yoga a religion?
Religion is defined as a particular system of faith or worship; or a pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance. Well in that case, drinking coffee is a religion! Think about the importance of the daily ritual around drinking coffee, the faith that through the experience of that first sip in the morning one’s state of consciousness will be elevated, potentially to the state of enlightenment. My personal feeling is that coffee is indeed Divine – as are all experiences. In that case, everything is holy! Is the practice of yoga about worshiping Hindu deities? No. Go back and read the commentary on “What is yoga?” However, if your spiritual practice infiltrates every aspect of your life, then yes, it will flow into the way you practice yoga. An atheist can practice yoga – so can a Hindu, or a Christian, or Jew, or a Buddhist. “Yoga, as a way of life and a philosophy, can be practiced by anyone with inclination to undertake it, for yoga belongs to humanity as a whole. It is not the property of any one group or any one individual, but can be followed by any and all, in any corner of the globe, regardless of class, creed or religion.” – Sri K. Pattabhi Jois
Will yoga help me lose weight?
Yoga is a wonderful way to compliment a weight-loss program. The biggest benefit is perhaps the increased level of mindfulness one finds through a regular yoga practice. As a result, you become much more aware of the food choices you are making throughout your day. We happily work with a supportive and highly qualified nutrition and life-coaching staff in the Wellness Center to help you meet your weight-loss goals.
Will yoga help me sleep better?
Absolutely. The practice of yoga helps to regulate the nervous system. In our current society, the sympathetic nervous system (the fight or flight response) is typically running in over-drive. Cell-phones, text message alerts, electronic reminders, and other frequent interruptions as well as work or social demands, create a difficult environment for focusing attention. As a result, the para-sympathetic nervous system (the calming response in the body responsible for inducing sleep), is often under accessed. Yoga utilizes the breath as the primary means of activating the para-sympathetic nervous system. Deep breathing, as well as the single-minded focus cultivated through yoga asana, helps to support a more balanced nervous system, thus enhancing the ability to fall asleep.
Why do we use the language Sanskrit in yoga?
Yoga is an ancient tradition and science, roughly 5,000 years old. One reason for utilizing Sanskrit in yoga asana classes is to connect us to the roots of the tradition. Additionally, building an asana vocabulary in Sanskrit can help to deepen the understanding of ancient philosophical texts, such as Patanajali’s Yoga Sutras, an outline or thread that details the practice of yoga. For example, parivrtta trikonasana, means “revolved triangle.” You are likely to hear this label used in a yoga asana class. Vrtti is the word for “revolved,” it also literally means “whirlpool.” Patanjali defines Yoga as “Yogascittavrttinirdodah” or “Yoga is channeling the cycles/revolutions/whirlpools of consciousness.” Cittavrtti – a whirlpool of spinning/revolving mental activity – Yep. Sounds like my mind before a yoga practice. From the regular practice of yoga asana where Sanskrit terms are used, there is a basic understanding of the Sanskrit word vrtti. Understanding yoga asana vocabulary may facilitate understanding the philosophical aspects of yoga, in this case, Patnajali’s definition. This is only one of many examples. Plus, learning another language helps support the neural health of the brain. Do you really need any other reason?
Can I do yoga when I’m pregnant?
Yes! Yoga is a wonderful way for expectant mothers to prepare for giving birth. Not all postures are appropriate during pregnancy so be sure to inform your class instructor before class begins so that they may offer alternatives or modifications as required.
Is yoga just stretching?
Ha ha ha! Come on in and find out!
Can I do yoga even though I’m not flexible?
EVERYONE can do yoga; the flexible and the inflexible, the strong and the strong to be, the tall and the short, the thin and the full-figured, male and female, etc. Yoga is about directing thoughts, words and actions that support your highest potential in all areas of your life. It really has nothing to do with the postures, or with strength and/or flexibility. The postures serve as a platform to watch how your mind works, to watch how you speak to yourself, to watch the choices you make when faced with challenge or attachment … to breathe, relax, feel, watch and allow.
Can men do yoga?
Do fish swim? Do ducks quack? Does Krishna play the flute?
Will doing yoga make me sore?
Just like any exercise, if you are learning yoga postures for the first time or are coming back to yoga after some time off, you may experience some soreness. Notice the intensity of the soreness and whether or not if feels appropriate for you. Adjust the intensity of your next practice as needed.
Can I do yoga at home?
Please do yoga at home. Do yoga at work. Do yoga while you play. Every moment presents the opportunity for yoga.
Should I avoid inversions during my menstrual cycle?
Great question. There are many varying views on whether or not women should practice inversions during menstruation. Menstruation is considered apana, a downward flow of energy, and practicing inversions would go against this natural flow. Some suggest that because a woman’s energy is generally lower in times of heavy flow, it is best she refrain from engaging in strenuous inversions. However, every woman’s experience during this phase is different, and many experience no reduction in energy at all. There have been some documented risks associated with practicing inversions during menstruation such as endometriosis and “vascular congestion” (Yoga Journal, Barbara Benagh). You know your body best. It may be that a short time in headstand feels very appropriate whereas a long time in an inversion does not. Listen to and follow your own body. In the Ashtanga tradition, women refrain from practicing any yoga asana at all on their heaviest day of flow.
What do I do about a slippery yoga mat?
Take a scouring pad and rub the top surface of your mat lightly. This will allow moisture to penetrate the mat, making your practice less slippery. Another option would be to use a cotton mat or towel on top of your “sticky” mat.
What do I do about feeling dizzy in a yoga class?
Many postures in yoga affect blood pressure. Sudden changes in blood pressure can create dizziness. This is generally most prominent when moving from inversions to upright. Move more slowly as you transition out of inversions. Proper hydration is also key. Make sure that you hydrate before coming to class, and during class as needed. If you begin to feel dizzy in class, please come into child’s pose or reclining.
Is yoga just for hippies?
No way, man. Yoga frees everybody.
Should I drink water during yoga?
Gulping large quantities of water during your yoga practice may make you nauseous. The best practice is to hydrate prior to practice. If you need water during practice, take frequent small sips.
Should I eat before yoga?
Allow two or three hours between your last meal and taking class. Practicing on a full stomach may cause nausea. Likewise, not eating before class may cause dizziness. If you plan to eat your evening meal after an evening yoga class, you may enjoy a light snack, such as a piece of fruit, half an hour or so before practice.
How are private yoga sessions different from classes?
Private lessons are a wonderful compliment to any yoga practice. Working one-on-one with an experienced teacher provides immediate individualized feedback that is often unavailable in a large group setting. You may also work with a private instructor to craft an individualized yoga asana sequence for your home practice. Private instruction also offers the opportunity for frequent and appropriate manipulative assists (make sure you communicate your requests for or against manipulative assists with your teacher) to help you find deeper expressions of postures. And sometimes, it’s just fun to have a cheerleader, someone to encourage you with a high five the first time you find a bind or get into full lotus! Private instruction is an effective and supportive addition to a regular practice which accelerates progress toward your personal yoga goals.
How do I clean my yoga mat?
Well. This is a perfect opportunity to practice saucha, or cleanliness. You can wipe down sticky mats with a clean towel and water, occasionally using a mild soap. Many sticky mats are also machine washable (check with the manufacturer), just don’t put them in the dryer! Cotton mats (sometimes referred to as yoga rugs) can go right into the washing machine periodically. Sweat itself doesn’t contain bacteria but it creates a breeding ground for bacteria. If your mat starts to get that funky smell, you know it’s time to toss it in the washer. If you can’t tell, notice if you’re suddenly finding a lot more room around you in class.
Why are we asked to be quiet inside the Yoga Shala before and after class?
Yoga is the practice of settling thoughts. This process of settling allows us to mentally go inward, for the systems of the body to find homeostasis, and for our innate restorative and healing abilities to activate. Conversation stimulates thought. Sometimes it’s necessary to “stir” our thoughts loose from life’s entanglements before they can begin to settle, like debating things like karma or brahmacharya. There is certainly space for that (check the Workshops schedule) but not before yoga class. Of course, it’s perfectly welcome, even encouraged, to smile and say hello. And please feel free to approach your teacher with questions before class. But then, quietly find your space and allow the settling to begin.
Wait! I have more questions! Well, as my grandmother once said to me through a hearty laugh, “You have so many questions…but there aren’t any answers!” Ha! She may be right, but we’d at least like to try. Send us your questions via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or join us in discussion on BLOG108! See you on the road!