Why should I do yoga?

There are many benefits to doing yoga:

  • Build strength
  • Increase range of motion in the joints
  • Lengthen and tone the muscles
  • Learn to stay calm in challenging situations

Read this article for an even longer list of reasons to do yoga.  Start feeling better today.

Can I do yoga if I’m not flexible?

Yoga is not about being flexible.  It has many options for modifications, so stop worrying about your perceived shortcomings.  The purpose of yoga is to connect you with your breath and your body.  The poses help us become more aware of our physical and mental state of being.  Be patient, give your body time to open up and focus more on maintaining a calm breath at all times.  If you are consistent with your practice and gentle with how you approach the poses, you will see changes in your range of motion and mental well-being.

What’s the best level class for me to begin with?  Where do I start?

Yoga videos are a great way to start practicing yoga.  Going to group classes can be intimidating so practicing in the comfort of your own home will bring a sense of ease to your experience.  The beginner’s page is set up to teach you the basics of breathing and standing postures so you can have a strong foundation.  As a beginner, one of the hardest things to do is keep your breath steady and deep.  Once you get the hang of it you’ll start to link the breath with movement in a rhythmic flow.  If you want to try a group class, opt for the intro classes or take a beginner’s workshop so you know how to modify in more challenging classes.  Take your time and try not to be competitive or goal-oriented.  Before you know it, you’ll be a seasoned pro.

I have an ongoing issue with my back/shoulder/neck/knee, etc. Will yoga help?

Yoga can help heal injuries or chronic pain in the joints and spine.  It is very important to ask your doctor or physical therapist before attempting yoga to make sure it is right for you.  Ask if there are any specific movements you should avoid.  Not all yoga teachers are trained enough to know what is not safe for certain issues.  Ease in slowly.  Start with beginner classes, focus on your breathing, and do not be goal oriented.  Many musculo-skeletal issues arise where there is compression.  When practiced regularly, yoga brings space between the vertebra and in the joints of the entire body.  This helps to alleviate the discomfort people experience in their backs, shoulders, necks, hips and knees. 

Will yoga help me lose weight?

Yoga is a wonderful compliment to any weight loss regimen:

  • Tone and lengthen muscles for a leaner physique.
  • Challenging vinyasa yoga classes are cardiovascular in nature, burning fat to shed unwanted pounds.
  • A daily yoga practice lifts the mood and fosters self-awareness.  Over-eating often has an emotional root.  Yoga helps bring those issues to the surface so we can deal with them and let them go.
  • Committing to daily yoga will encourage you to make better food choices.  The more yoga you do, the more you will want to fuel your body with foods that are light and nutritious.

How often should I do yoga?

As a beginner try starting with two classes a week.  As you start feeling more comfortable, increase to three.  It all depends on your schedule and the other forms of exercise you engage in.  Yoga teaches us to listen to our bodies and with time our bodies will start asking us for more classes.  There is nothing wrong with practicing every day, in fact, it’s encouraged.  Just 20 minutes of yoga a day has been proven to relieve stress, increase mental clarity and develop cardiovascular health.

How long until I get “good” at yoga?

We wrote an entire article about this!  To answer this question requires defining “good at yoga.”  Just because someone can do advanced postures doesn’t mean they are also breathing correctly and practicing the other aspects of yoga.  Getting good at anything requires dedication, concentration and an attitude of acceptance.  So be patient and enjoy the path instead of focusing on the destination.

Can I get injured in yoga?  How do you know when you are going too far?

Getting injured in yoga often comes from not breathing, competing and forcing yourself into postures.  Unless a teacher is physically pressing you too deep into a pose, there’s no reason to get injured in yoga.  The breath is a great tool to use when gaging how deep to go.  If you can’t breath calmly and deeply, back off until you can.  Competing with anyone, including yourself is a recipe for disaster.  Yoga teaches us to stay present which is difficult when you’re focusing on what other people are doing.  Try not to create expectations around your practice and do what you can depending on how you feel that day.  If you’re kind and patient with yoursef there is no need to force or push yourself into any pose or variation.  You might feel discomfort in certain poses, but if you are able to breathe through it then you know you are safe.  If you ever feel a sharp pain, joint pain or nerve pain, that means you’ve gone too far.  If you’re breathing and present, you won’t ever go there.  The body talks to us!  Stay in your experience, listen and breathe.    

Is yoga a religion?

Yoga is not a religion but due to it’s close ties to India and Hinduism, it is often mistakenly labeled as such.  Yoga is a guide for optimal living that was developed in India over 5,000 year ago.  The word yoga means to yolk, or bring together; as in joining the mind, body and spirit.  Patanjali was one of the first to describe this system of mind and body purification in a book called The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.  The 8 fold path described in The Sutras has paved the way for all modern representations yoga.  Yoga poses are named after plants, aminals, sages and warriors.  Though yoga is not a religion it can be very spiritual if you allow yourself to go beyond the body.

Should I eat before I practice? 

It is best to eat 2 hours before you practice. If you’re hungry before class, eat something light such as a smoothie, fruit or small salad.  It is important to maintain a connection with the core muscles during yoga and this can be difficult to do when the belly is full.  A feeling of lightness and fluidity is ideal for an optimal experience.  This is best achieved on an empty stomach.