Q: What is Yoga?
A: The word yoga, from the Sanskrit word yuj means to yoke or bind and is often interpreted as “union” of the physical and mental bodies.
2,000 years ago, the sage Pantajali outlined the 8 limbs of yoga: the yamas (restraints), niyamas (observances), asana (postures), pranayama (breathing), pratyahara (withdrawal of senses), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation), and samadhi (absorption). Today, many people associate the ancient practice as merely asanas, or postures, unknown to the other 7 limbs that create a whole practice. It is believed that as 8 of the limbs are practiced in conjunction with one another, the practitioner moves closer to reaching samadhi (enlightenment).
Q: What does Hatha mean?
A: The word “Hatha” comes from the Sanskrit “ha” (sun) and “tha” (moon). Essentially it is the union of opposites – the sun and the moon, the feminine and the masculine, the body and the mind. Hatha yoga refers to a set of asanas, and sequences of asanas, designed to develop a balance of strength and flexibility. We also learn to balance our effort and surrender in each pose.
Q: What are the benefits of doing yoga?
A: This one Caitlin answered on the blog! Take a read through the post here.
Q: How many times should I practice per week?
A: I find this question difficult to answer. The joy of yoga is that it means different things to different people. Not everyone chooses to commit to a daily, life-long, practice. People use yoga for cross training, a mindful escape from the workplace, or even at a suggestion of a health practitioner. If you are starting out, I would suggest 2-3 times per week for 60-90 minutes each time – if possible! It is always important to listen to your body during each and every yoga session (or any activity for that matter).
Q: Can I do yoga at home?
A: Of course! Waking up and doing a practice first thing in the morning is great way to rev your energy up for the rest of the day. If you are new to yoga, it is a great idea to attend beginner classes or book with a private teacher to really cement your foundations to be able to practice safely. Caitlin is available for private and small group yoga sessions! Email/call to book 🙂
Q: How Is Yoga Different From Stretching or Other Kinds of Fitness?
A: Unlike stretching or fitness, yoga is more than just a physical endeavor. Asana practice (the physical poses of yoga) is merely one of eight components that make up yoga as a way of life. Even within the asana component, yoga has a strong focus on the body-breath connection, directing our focus inward to heighten our awareness of how our bodies feel and how they move without judgement. 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.
Q: Will yoga make me sore?
A: It can. Typically, this is a result of DOMS or delayed muscle soreness. It is usually a sign that your muscles are getting stronger! You may feel this in your abdominals after an intensive series of core postures or in your arms or shoulders after learning arm balances for the first time. Yoga is mostly a gentle practice but does have some strengthening portions as your learn new asanas.
Q: Is Yoga a religion?
A: No. Yoga is not a religion but rather an ancient philosophy for personal growth and mastery over the physical and mental body. Yoga does weave in other philosophies such as Hinduism or Buddhism, however, it is not a requirement nor is suggested that you must study and practice those paths in order to practice yoga.
It is not necessary to surrender your own religious beliefs to practice yoga.
Q: I’m not flexible – can I do yoga?
A: YES! You do not have to be a pretzel to practice and reap the benefits of yoga. That is like thinking you need to be able to master the violin in order to take violin lessons. Everyone’s body is flexible in their own way! I may be able to put my legs behind my head but not be able to fold forward and touch my toes. 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, as well as a sense of physical confidence and overall well-being.
Q: What do I need to begin?
A: Wear comfortable clothing. This does not mean you have to run to your local sporting good store and buy 3 pairs of stretchy pants and cute tops to match. A comfortable pair of sweats, leggings, or shorts, and a semi-fitted t-shirt will suffice! Yoga is practiced barefoot and it is handy to have a towel and water bottle with you in class. As you decide to continue your practice, you may want to buy your own mat, but if you are just starting out, most studios will have mats and props for you to use!
Eat a meal at least a couple hours before attending a class. However, if you’re tight for time, a small snack about 30 min before should suffice.