What is yoga?
There have been numerous volumes of work by many different authors more qualified than we to try and help answer that question. Since we have a finite number of characters and your attention span to consider we will provide as simple an answer as possible to that question here. "Yoga chitta vritti nirodah" Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind. This is the definition of yoga found in Patanjahli's Yoga Sutra's. Within this text Patanjahli outlines eight limbs of yoga: the yamas (restraints), niyamas (observances), asana (postures), pranayama (breathing), pratyahara (withdrawal of senses), dharana (concentration), dhyani (meditation), and samadhi (absorption). For the purpose of understanding yoga practiced at our studio the third limb, asana, which is a program of physical postures designed to purify the body and provide the physical strength and stamina required for long periods of meditation. We are learning through movement and breath to quiet the mind.
What is vinyasa?
Simply put vinyasa is the linking of your breath with movement from one posture/asana flowing to another posture/asana. It is also a term used to describe the flow coming out of an asana and inhaling into Urdva Mukha Svanasana(upward facing dog) and exhaling to Adho Mukha Svanasana(downward facing dog).
What is ujjayi breathing?
A specific breathing technique called ujjayi breathing is central to the vinyasa method of yoga. This breathing technique, combined with vinyasa and postures, allows the blood to circulate properly, remove toxins and make the body light and strong. It also automatically corrects internal alignment. When the breath becomes even and smooth, the nervous system is also purified, resulting in a calm mind. This is when transformation through practices becomes possible. To fully understand this technique and integrate into one's practice, one must learn how to execute this correctly with guidance from an experienced teacher.
What is the purpose of heating and humidifying the room?
There are several reasons for doing this, but traditionally it is done to simulate the practice environment in India where yoga comes from. The heat and humidity also has benefits helping to warm up your body and sweat out toxins.
What should I wear?
Comfortable clothing that moves and stretches with your body that you don't mind getting sweaty in.
Should I eat before class?
We recommend that you practice yoga on an empty stomach. However if you are hungry before coming to class keep it light, maybe just those granola bar and try not to eat within an hour of practicing.
What should I bring with me?
Yoga mat, sweat towel, yoga rug, strap, and a block. If you do not have one or any of them we provide all of them at the studio for rent. Also you may bring a water bottle to keep next to you during practice if you have trouble staying hydrated.
Am I being judged by drinking out of a plastic water bottle?
While, we can’t speak for everyone regarding their perspective on using plastic bottles the short answer is no. We accept our students for who they are and won’t push our beliefs on anyone. Besides, it is more important for us to make sure that you stay properly hydrated.
Can I leave to go to the bathroom in the middle of class?
While it is not ideal to take a bathroom break in the middle of a yoga class, when you gotta go, you gotta go. Just try to wait until movement stops before you walk out, and also when you return. For example, a good time would be once everyone is back to Down Dog or taking Childs Pose. Try not to leave while everyone is in the middle of a pose because this is distracting and can take away from other student’s focus and overall experience. Just try to leave as quietly as possible. We have never had a moment in a class where an instructor stops students from using the restroom. The point is to respect everyone else’s practice and focus by not leaving disruptively.
I'm Not Flexible—Can I Do Yoga?
Yes! You are a perfect candidate for yoga. Many people think that they need to be flexible to begin yoga, but that's a little bit like thinking that you need to be able to play tennis in order to take tennis lessons. 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, and enhanced cardiovascular health, as well as a sense of physical confidence and overall well-being.
How Is Yoga Different From Stretching or Other Kinds of Fitness?
Unlike stretching or fitness, yoga is more than just physical postures. Patanjali's eight-fold path illustrates how the physical practice is just one aspect of yoga. 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. 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.
How many days a week should I be practicing/coming to class?
“One becomes firmly established in practice only after attending to it for a long time, without interruption and with an attitude of devotion.” ~ Yoga Sutra I.14
"Do practice all is coming." Sri K. Pattabhi Jois
We recommend listening to your body. If you are capable of practicing every day, even if it is just to get on your mat for a few sun salutations at home.
Is Yoga a Religion?
Yoga is not a religion. It is a philosophy that began in India an estimated 5,000 years ago. The father of classical ashtanga yoga (the eight-limbed path, not to be confused with Sri K. Pattabhi Jois' Ashtanga yoga) is said to be Patanjali, who wrote the Yoga Sutra. These scriptures provide a framework for spiritual growth and mastery over the physical and mental body. Yoga sometimes interweaves other philosophies such as Hinduism or Buddhism, but it is not necessary to study those paths in order to practice or study yoga.
It is also not necessary to surrender your own religious beliefs to practice yoga.
Who are our teachers?
Sri. T. Krischnamacharya
Sri. K. Pattabhi Jois
Beryl Bender Birch
Is my teacher judging me?
Absolutely not. We ALL started out as beginners. We are still yoga students in our personal practice, and no one – yoga students and teachers alike – ever stops growing and evolving in their practice. We take extra care of our beginner yoga students because we know how intimidating entering a yoga class can be when you’re new. We believe the simple act of showing up says so much to an instructor. We do not judge whether or not your hips are square in Warrior One. We give cues so you can eventually work up to the postures.
We've all been scared to take Childs Pose in the middle of sequences because we thought it showed weakness. But that could not be further from the truth, as Christine always says in her class listen to your body and honor what it’s saying. Same with using blocks and straps. A lot of times our egos get in the way and we think“blocks are for beginners and I’m not a beginner yogi.” But we have them there to help you with your alignment or to go deeper in a pose. We as yoga instructors LOVE when you listen to your body and honor what it’s saying by taking stillness when you want, and using any prop you feel you need.
Why am I not getting adjusted?
Yoga instructors love to help students deepen their practice both physically and mentally. Advanced students tend to love adjustments, while studies show that most beginners prefer not to be touched. So if you are wondering why your teacher isn’t pushing on you during Down Dog, don’t take that personal. Usually that just means the instructor wants to get more comfortable with you and your practice and let you truly feel the postures on your own first. Trust me, we know what every student smells like and body odor does not bother us. Even as teachers we worry about our students judging our smell, so the road goes both ways here.
Does my instructor mind when I advance the postures on my own?
To give both sides of the story, sometimes the instructor has a specific idea of what they want you to do to get the maximum benefit out of a posture. Once you've been practicing with us for quite a while and have been given more advanced versions of a pose from your instructor then you may go further if needed and when instructed to, otherwise, I would stick to the script. To avoid any injuries, really pay attention to the minute details instructors give, especially in the stretching postures.
Why do we Om (Aum)?
Om is a mantra, or vibration, that is traditionally chanted at the beginning and end of yoga sessions. It is said to be the sound of the universe. What does that mean?
Somehow the ancient yogis knew what scientists today are telling us—that the entire universe is moving. Nothing is ever solid or still. Everything that exists pulsates, creating a rhythmic vibration that the ancient yogis acknowledged with the sound of Om. We may not always be aware of this sound in our daily lives, but we can hear it in the rustling of the autumn leaves, the waves on the shore, the inside of a seashell.
Chanting Om allows us to recognize our experience as a reflection of how the whole universe moves—the setting sun, the rising moon, the ebb and flow of the tides, the beating of our hearts. As we chant Om, it takes us for a ride on this universal movement, through our breath, our awareness, and our physical energy, and we begin to sense a bigger connection that is both uplifting and soothing.
Do I have to OM at the end of class with everyone else?
We will give a description of the OM and how to do it if we notice a lot of new faces in class. Matching your voice with everyone is just a way of closing classes and “making the sound of the universe.” You are not joining a cult by participating in the OM at the end of class. Bottom line: it is completely your decision. If you prefer not to OM, then don’t! No one knows or cares if you AUM or not. It will come to you when it is ready, and if you don’t like it, simply don’t do it.
To sum it all up, simply showing up to class is all you have to do. If you have to pee in the middle of class, by all means use the restroom. If you want to use blocks, that is why they are there. If you want to take Savasana the whole time, take Savasana the whole time. The entire point of the physical yoga practice is to calm the mind and prepare it for meditation, so showing up to class and spending time with yourself is really what matters most.
Don’t worry about what your instructor thinks of you – worry about what YOU think of you. Listen to your body, rest when you want to rest, and don’t be afraid to ask questions after class. Instructors love when students are interested in learning with a desire to deepen their personal yoga practice. And if all else fails, there’s always Savasana.