I’m brand new to yoga. Can you tell me what styles of yoga you offer, and what they are like?
All styles of yoga essentially have one goal – to bring the body, mind, and spirit together in harmony. However, the various styles of yoga have different approaches to reach the same end.
Kundalini Yoga -- Find Awareness
Kundalini Yoga is known as the “yoga of awareness”. It is a technology that elevates your consciousness by transforming physical, mental and emotional energy. It combines postures, movements, breathing, stretching, relaxation, meditation, mantra and visualization to work on every aspect of your being. No previous experience in yoga or related disciplines is required, and classes are all-levels. In Kundalini Yoga, the most important thing is experience. Ultimately, Kundalini Yoga gives you a clear mind, healthy body, and happy heart.
Hatha Yoga -- Cultivate Balance
Most of the forms of yoga in the West can be classified as hatha yoga. “Ha” translates into sun, and “tha” translates into moon – and most hatha yoga practices encourage us to find this sense of balance. A typical Hatha class may include sun salutations (a flowing set of postures designed to wake up the entire body), standing poses, breath work, and meditation.
Yoga Therapy -- Heal and Transform
Yoga Therapy is an integrative and holistic practice that is tailored specifically for the individual. Oftentimes individuals come to yoga therapy with a specific goal in mind, or as a way to find relief from physical or emotional pain. Yoga therapists work one-on-one with their students and tailor a practice specifically for their student’s needs.
Restorative Yoga -- Relax and Renew
Restorative yoga helps one slow down and open the body through supported, passive stretches. During a restorative class, one’s body is completely supported in various yoga postures by a variety of props (bolsters, blankets, pillows, blocks, etc.). This allows the muscles to deeply and completely relax, helps the mind to calm down. Essentially an antidote to the stressful fast pace of the modern world, restorative classes are a wonderful way to relax and recharge.
Chair Yoga -- Adapt and Modify
Chair yoga is a gentle form of yoga that is practiced sitting on a chair, or standing using a chair for support. Chair yoga can be a wonderful way to adapt yoga postures for seniors, for various injuries or chronic conditions, or even as a way to practice yoga easily at your desk.
What are the benefits of yoga?
The many benefits of Yoga are many. Yoga may help you to:
- Improve balance, posture, flexibility, and strength
- Decrease muscle tension and stiffness
- Calm the mind
- Reduce stress and anxiety
- Reduce pain and inflammation
- Manage the symptoms of a chronic illness or condition
- Help prevent or rehabilitate injuries
- Improve range of motion and healthy joint function
- Decrease insomnia and fatigue
- Increase self awareness & engage in self inquiry
- Learn tools to support greater self care
I’m not flexible. Can I still do yoga?
YES! Yoga is for everyone. Yoga is often represented in the media by thin, flexible women that look like dancers or even acrobats! However, this level of flexibility is absolutely not necessary to start yoga. At the end of the day, yoga is essentially a spiritual practice, one that helps you find balance in both body and mind. It doesn't matter what kind of strength, flexibility, or body shape you have! In yoga, the most important thing is that you connect with your breath, and that you move in a range of motion that feels accessible and sustainable in your own body. A skilled yoga teacher or yoga therapist can help you adapt postures in a way that is appropriate for you.
Do men do yoga?
Yes. In fact, up until the last one hundred years, yoga was traditionally taught by men. Click here for an article about the many benefits of yoga for men.
What do I need to start?
Quite simply, just you. Yoga has been around long before the invention of yoga mats, scented candles, essential oils, and fancy Lyrcra clothing. Though a yoga mat can make your practice more comfortable, many beginners find that blanket on the floor works just fine as well. It's helpful to have comfortable and non-restrictive clothing that you can breathe freely and move easily in. But as the famous yoga teacher Desikachar once said, "If you can breathe, you can do yoga."
I feel intimidated to go to a yoga class. What should I do?
It's not unusual to feel a little bit of anxiety before your first yoga class. If you feel a little apprehensive, it can be great to do private lessons with a skilled teacher or yoga therapist to get your feet wet first. Some people also have good luck with online classes, but without the supervision of an experienced teacher, it's very important to remember go slowly and really listen to what feels good in your body. I have one rule in my yoga classes: if it doesn't feel good, don't do it!
What is proper yoga class etiquette?
A few guidelines to follow are:
- Turn off your cell phone.
- Arrive on time or early to class.
- Please remove your shoes and leave them outside the practice area.
- Please refrain from wearing perfume, cologne, or essential oils to class.
- Try to avoid walking on other students' mats.
- Please inform your instructor of any physical conditions that might be relevant to your yoga practice (i.e. high blood pressure, pregnancy, injuries, illness, pain, etc.).
- Try to refrain from large meals for 2-3 hours before class. If you are hungry before class, you may want to have a light snack about 30 minutes before class starts.
Is Yoga a religion?
No, Yoga is not a religion. Yoga is essentially a philosophical system that began in India five thousand years ago. The theoretical framework of Yoga is often credited to Patanjali, who wrote the Yoga Sutra. This text details how one can find mastery over the physical and mental body, and also provides a detailed framework for the process of spiritual growth. You do not need to change or give up your own religious beliefs to practice yoga. In fact, many people have noted that practicing yoga enables them to have a closer relationship with their own religion or sense of spirituality.