Frequently Asked Questions
What is Yoga?
Originating in India, approximately 2000 years ago, Yoga is a physical, mental and spiritual practice the ultimate goal of which is tranquility of the mind and spirit. Yoga practitioners carry out a sequence of asanas (poses) in conjunction with breath control and simple meditation to achieve this.
What do Namaste and Om mean?
You will often hear the word Namaste spoken toward the end of your yoga class, its direct translation is “the divine in me bows to the divine in you.” Om is a little tricker to describe, with no direct translation into English. Sanskrit in origin, Om references an experience, bringing your awareness to the physical reality of this world and your body. Om is said to represent the past, present and future all at once. Chanting Om together as a class can be a very unifying experience as we are often focused on our individual practice and it is one of the few times that we come together as a group.
Can I practice Yoga if I'm not flexible?
You don’t need to be flexible to take up yoga, just as you don’t need to be super strong to take up yoga. Over time and through practice you will achieve a balance of both of these qualities in addition to improved coordination and cardiovascular health.
Do I need to lose weight before I start practicing Yoga?
Absolutely not. One of the fantastic things about Yoga is its availability to people of all shapes and sizes. Although it has been embraced by a celebrity culture for its many benefits, yoga does not focus on weight-loss or an ideal body type but instead focusses on achieving a harmonious balance between flexibility and strength of body and mind.
How many times a week should I practice?
As with anything, your mastery of Yoga will increase with the frequency of your practice. However, it is important to do whatever feels comfortable and available to you. One hour a week is perfect if that is all the time you can spare, likewise 10 minutes daily is also okay. You will find a comfortable rhythm of Yoga that is likely to increase the more that you learn about it.
When is the best time to practice Yoga?
Traditionally yoga should be practiced in the morning on an empty stomach. However, I enjoy my practice more in the evening when my ligaments have had a chance to loosen up throughout the day. Again this is something subjective and you will know best when you feel you get the most or are most attuned to your practice sessions.
Why can't I eat before practicing Yoga?
Yoga consists of varied poses, some of which squeeze and constrict your abdomen and digestive tract. If you’ve eaten a heavy meal before you practice you might feel uncomfortable and bloated.
Is Yoga a religion?
Yoga is a spiritual philosophy and not a religion. Whatever your belief set your study of Yoga need not infringe on them. There are a number of spiritual yoga texts which can provide a framework for mindfulness and additional mastery, which can in turn compliment religious texts (if so desired). The spiritual aspect of yoga can feel like a barrier for many people and it is important to note that you can study yoga without choosing to take up its spiritual philosophies.
Do I have to be vegetarian or vegan to practice yoga?
The first principle of yoga philosophy is Ahimsa, which means non harming to self or others. Some interpret this to include avoiding the consumption of animal products, but the choice to become vegetarian or vegan is a highly personal one and has to be something that works with your life. If you don’t want to become vegetarian or vegan you absolutely do not have to and none of the lovely yogis and yoginis I have met would try to convince you otherwise. Respecting your choices is a fundamental part of Ahimsa.
Will you only use the Sanskrit names for each Yoga pose?
I use both the Sanskrit and western names for each pose in my classes when describing them, mainly because I enjoy teaching about the origins of each pose and I find that the Sanskrit names can be very descriptive.