Unlike stretching or fitness, yoga is more than just physical postures. 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 (Mind, Body, 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.
No. 6 | Why Are You Supposed to Refrain From Eating Two Hours Before Class?
In yoga practice we twist from side to side, turn upside down (sometimes!), and bend forward and backward. If you have not fully digested your last meal, it will make itself known to you. If you have a fast-acting digestive system and are afraid you might get hungry or feel weak during yoga class, have a light snack such as yogurt, a few nuts, or juice about 30 minutes to an hour before class.
Frequently Asked Questions
No. 1 | What is yoga?
Yoga means to “to yoke” or “to unite.” Yoga is a system of connecting the whole self: body, mind and spirit. The term “spirit” is derived from the Greek word spirare, which means “to breathe,” so it also can be interpreted as “body, mind and breath.”
No. 2 | Is yoga a religion?
No. Yoga is not a religion. It is a discipline. You can practice any religion you choose, or none at all, and still practice yoga.
No. 3 | Do you have to be in great shape and really flexible to practice yoga?
Anyone and any body type can practice yoga. People often believe that the physical poses are what define yoga, but the poses, or asanas, are only one part of yoga. Many people may not be able to do a handstand, but learning to breathe correctly is considered yoga. Also, there are modifications for the poses depending on your level and ability. Teachers will help you with those modifications. Come as you are!
No. 4 | Do I have to chant “Om?”
No. You do not have to chant “om” if you do not want to. “Om” is said to be the sound of the universe, and is believed to be the sound of the universe’s vibration. Chanting “om” allows us to be part of the moving universe. It is usually recited at the beginning or end of class. You do not have to participate if do not want to. It is your choice.