What is yoga?
The word yoga, from the Sanskrit word yuj means to bind and is often interpreted as “union” or a method of discipline. A male who practices yoga is called a yogi, a female practitioner, a yogini.
The Indian sage Patanjali is believed to have collated the practice of yoga into the Yoga Sutra an estimated 2,000 years ago. The Sutra is a collection of 195 statements that serves as a philosophical guidebook for most of the yoga that is practiced today. It also outlines eight limbs of yoga: the yamas (restraints), niyamas (observances), asana (postures), pranayama (breathing), pratyahara (withdrawal of senses), dharana (concentration), dhyani (meditation), and samadhi (absorption). As we explore these eight limbs, we begin by refining our behavior in the outer world, and then we focus inwardly until we reach samadhi (liberation, enlightenment).
Will Doing Yoga Help Me to Loose Weight?
Practicing any type of yoga will build strength, but some types may not raise your heart rate enough to make them the only form of exercise you need to include in your weight loss regime. It depends on the type of yoga you select and how frequently you practice it. If you plan to make yoga your primary form of exercise to loose weight, you must do a vigorous, 60-minute yoga class at least three times a week.
In order to lose weight, you must eat right and burn calories by doing exercise that raises your heart rate on a regular basis. Some types of yoga, such as Iyanger in which yoga poses are held for several minutes with rest in between each pose, will build muscles and improve your posture. But they will not give you the cardiovascular workout you need to lose weight.
What does Hatha mean?
The word hatha means willful or forceful. Hatha yoga refers to a set of physical exercises (known as asanas or postures), and sequences of asanas, designed to align your skin, muscles, and bones. The postures are also designed to open the many channels of the body–especially the main channel, the spine–so that energy can flow freely.
Hatha is also translated as ha meaning “sun” and tha meaning “moon.” This refers to the balance of masculine aspects–active, hot, sun–and feminine aspects–receptive, cool, moon–within all of us. Hatha yoga is a path toward creating balance and uniting opposites. In our physical bodies we develop a balance of strength and flexibility. We also learn to balance our effort and surrender in each pose.
Hatha yoga is a powerful tool for self-transformation. It asks us to bring our attention to our breath, which helps us to still the fluctuations of the mind and be more present in the unfolding of each moment.
What does Om mean?
Om is a mantra, or vibration, that is traditionally chanted at the beginning and end of yoga sessions. It is said to be the sound of the universe.
Somehow the ancient yogis knew what scientists today are telling us–that the entire universe is moving. Nothing is ever solid or still. Everything that exists pulsates, creating a rhythmic vibration that the ancient yogis acknowledged with the sound of Om. We may not always be aware of this sound in our daily lives, but we can hear it in the rustling of the autumn leaves, the waves on the shore, the inside of a seashell.
Chanting Om allows us to recognize our experience as a reflection of how the whole universe moves the setting sun, the rising moon, the ebb and flow of the tides, the beating of our hearts. As we chant Om, it takes us for a ride on this universal movement, through our breath, our awareness, and our physical energy, and we begin to sense a bigger connection that is both uplifting and soothing.
Do I have to be vegetarian to practice yoga?
The first principle of yoga philosophy is ahimsa, which means nonharming to self and others. Some people interpret this to include not eating animal products. There is debate about this in the yoga community. It is a personal decision that everyone has to make for themselves. If you are considering becoming a vegetarian, be sure to take into account your personal health issues as well how your choices will affect those with whom you live. Being a vegetarian should not be something that you impose on others–that kind of aggressive action in itself is not an expression of ahimsa.
How many times per week should I practice?
Yoga is amazing–even if you only practice for one hour a week, you will experience the benefits of the practice. If you can do more than that, you will certainly experience more benefits. I suggest starting with two or three times a week, for an hour each time. If you can only do 20 minutes per session, that’s fine too. Don’t let time constraints or unrealistic goals be an obstacle–do what you can and don’t worry about it. You will likely find that after awhile your desire to practice expands naturally and you will find yourself doing more and more.
How is yoga different from stretching or other kinds of fitness?
Unlike stretching or fitness, yoga is more than just physical postures. Patanjali’s eight-fold path illustrates how the physical practice is just one aspect of yoga. Even within the physical practice, 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. Through this process of inward attention, we learn to recognize our habitual thought patterns without labeling them, judging them, or trying to change them. 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. Your body will most likely become much more flexible by doing yoga, and so will your mind.
Is yoga a religion?
Yoga is not a religion. It is a philosophy that began in India an estimated 5,000 years ago. The father of classical ashtanga yoga is said to be Patanjali, who wrote the Yoga Sutra. These scriptures provide a framework for spiritual growth and mastery over the physical and mental body. Yoga sometimes interweaves other philosophies such as Hinduism or Buddhism, but it is not necessary to study those paths in order to practice or study yoga. It is also not necessary to surrender your own religious beliefs to practice yoga.
I'm not flexible–can I do yoga?
Yes! You are a perfect candidate for yoga. Many people think that they need to be flexible to begin yoga, but that’s a little bit like thinking that you need to be able to play tennis in order to take tennis lessons. Come as you are and you will find that yoga practice will help you become more flexible. This newfound agility will be balanced by strength, coordination, and enhanced cardiovascular health, as well as a sense of physical confidence and overall well-being.
What do I need to begin?
All you really need to begin practicing yoga is your body, your mind, and a bit of curiosity. But it is also helpful to have a pair of Track pants, leggings, or shorts, and a t-shirt that’s not too baggy. No special footgear is required because you will be barefoot. It’s nice to bring a towel to class with you. As your practice develops you might want to buy your own yoga mat, but most studios will have mats and other props available for you.
Why are you supposed to refrain from eating two to three hours before class?
In yoga practice we twist from side to side, turn upside down, and bend forward and backward. If you have not fully digested your last meal, it will make itself known to you in ways that are not comfortable. If you are a person with a fast-acting digestive system and are afraid you might get hungry or feel weak during yoga class, experiment with a light snack such as yogurt, a few nuts, or juice about 30 minutes to an hour before class
What should I wear to my first class? I am concerned about my large breasts and underwear showing.
The most important consideration when choosing yoga clothes is that you feel comfortable. The next most important issue is that you be able to move freely and not be in a state of constant agitation about whether your clothing is going to shift in ways that make you feel exposed or embarrassed. If, for instance, you are drawn toward looser clothing, like a big T-shirt, because you feel self-conscious in tighter tops, be aware that when you are in an inversion, or even in downward facing dog looser clothing tends to slide and may be more revealing than something a bit more fitted.
My suggestion is that you find a top and leggings that are not completely form-fitting but are not so loose that they disguise or camouflage the shape of your body. The yoga fashion trend of the moment is toward boot-leg or flared leggings, but, speaking as a teacher, it is harder for me to correct someone’s alignment if I cannot see the shape of their leg. Ideally, I like to be able to see the ankles (and it is useful for you to be able to look down and clearly see your feet) and to have a sense of the knees, and these are elements that can get lost in looser clothing.
Similarly, it would be optimal if you could find tops that cover your breasts but still give a sense of the muscles and bones in your upper body. Again, I’ll refer to the example of the large T-shirt, which can tend to bunch up around the neck in a pose such as Downward-Facing Dog, covering up the shoulders and upper back and interfering with a teacher’s ability to address the alignment in this area.
The trick is to find some happy medium, where you don’t feel so exposed that you are uncomfortable, but you also get the benefit of instruction that is specific to your body. My final thought in terms of negotiating this slippery slope is that whatever you wear to your first class will work fine, and that over time you will find the items that work best for your specific body and needs. Yoga is a process, and so is getting dressed for it
Can I do meditation?
People of any age, education level, culture and religion can learn meditation. It does not require specific beliefs or a change in lifestyle. The only change or adjustment you need to make is to allow the time to meditate regularly. If you want to benefit yourself with effective use of ancient yet scientific tool of meditation and get optimum from your life feel free to contact us.
Will yoga help back pain or neck pain?
Although no one treatment works for everyone, many aspects of yoga make it ideal for treating back pain and neck pain. For example, studies have shown that those who practice yoga for as little as twice a week for 8 weeks make significant gains in strength, flexibility, and endurance, which is a basic goal of most rehabilitation programs for back pain or neck pain.
In addition, the breathing and meditation aspects of yoga induce a “relaxation response” that has been found in many studies to assist people in decreasing their pain. Yoga has also been found to be helpful in the treatment of depression and anxiety that often accompany pain problems.
Is yoga possible for people who aren't naturally flexible?
Many times those who are not inherently flexible actually benefit from yoga the most. In addition, most yoga poses can be modified for beginners so that everyone can do a version of the poses.
Yoga is more than a set of exercises to increase flexibility, however. Different skills are needed for different yoga poses: some help the practitioner gain strength, others challenge balance, and others train attention and concentration Is there anyone who shouldn’t do yoga?Yoga can be safe for everyone, but depending on the medical condition, certain poses may need to be modified or avoided. A couple of examples of patients who may need to avoid certain yoga poses include:
• Patients who have been diagnosed with advanced spinal stenosis should avoid extreme extension of the spine such as back bends in yoga.
• Patients with advanced cervical spine disease should avoid doing headstands and shoulder stands in yoga.
Most of the precautions surrounding the yoga poses can be determined by understanding the specific medical condition, using common sense, and finding a good yoga teacher to assist.