If you are brand new to yoga, learning to navigate etiquette and knowing what to expect from your first class may be overwhelming. Fortunately, most yoga communities are quite welcoming and will be glad to incorporate you into the fold. Here are some answers to commonly asked questions about yoga.
Why should I do yoga?
Yoga will improve your overall fitness level. Yoga also helps reduce stress. Consider that time in the yoga studio as "me time" where you get to shut out everything and take a break.
What are the benefits of yoga?
Yoga benefits your body, mind, and spirit. You can expect improved strength, stamina, balance, and flexibility. Regular yoga practice reduces cholesterol, and your body's aches and pains, often better than pain medication. Yoga can reduce stress and improve sleep. The spiritual aspects of yoga affect each person differently, but can be quite profound.
Do I need to be flexible to do yoga?
Not at all. Your flexibility will increase as you practice yoga.
What is yoga like?
There are many styles of yoga and many different teachers making it hard to generalize. There are gentle yoga classes and rigorous yoga classes. Yoga is like meditation in motion.
Will I have to bend in uncomfortable ways?
Provided you have a good yoga instructor, you should not be uncomfortable, or need to twist yourself into a pretzel.
I'm a beginner, what kind of class should I take?
The answer depends on your fitness goals and current physical condition. Usually a Hatha or a faster paced Vinyasa class works well for a beginner.
What do I need to know for my first class?
Wear comfortable clothing and arrive about ten minutes early to let the instructor know it is your first class. You should be able to use the studio's mats and props. You can do some yoga research beforehand, but it's not required.
I'm pregnant, can I still do yoga?
Yes, but always check with your doctor first to be safe. The breathing while holding a difficult pose will teach you to be comfortable when uncomfortable, which is a nice skill to have when you go into labor.
Can children do yoga?
Yes. In fact, yoga offers great benefits to children including learning self-health and body awareness while reducing stress and increasing strength, stamina, mental focus, and flexibility.
Will I pass out during Bikram yoga?
People passing out during Bikram yoga isn't common, but it is like doing yoga in a sauna. If you are overly sensitive to heat, or are just beginning to exercise, it might not be the style for you.
Aerial - a unique yoga class using hammocks to aid yoga poses, some of which occur in the air.
Ananda - a yoga style that uses poses, breathing, affirmations, and 39 "Energization Exercises" to awaken and control chakra energy.
Anusara - a new (1997) form of yoga based on the "Tantric Philosophy of Intrinsic Goodness" that focuses on proper body alignment.
Ashtanga - a rapid yoga style that consists of six strenuous pose sequences.
Barre - yoga that combines yoga poses with use of a ballet barre to sculpt and lengthen muscles.
Bikram - a hot yoga style in which 26 postures are performed twice in a sauna-like room.
Integral yoga - combines six branches of yoga (hatha, raja, bhakti, karma, jnana, and japa) to form a complete lifestyle system to promote the practitioner's harmonious development.
Iyengar - a yoga style that uses props like blocks, incline boards, and straps to help practitioners achieve more perfect positions.
Kali ray triyoga - a yoga school formed by Kali Ray in 1986 that emphasizes postures, breathing, and focus.
Kids' yoga - yoga modified for children to help them cope with their unique stresses, and to improve strength and coordination.
Kripalu - a yoga style that allows the practitioner to discover how the body works in different poses in order to know, accept, and learn from the body.
Kundalini - a vigorous yoga style with continuously moving postures designed to release the body's energy from the base of the spine up through the seven chakras.
Massage - using the hands to rub and knead muscles to relieve stress or pain.
Meditation - spending time in silence for relaxation or mental clarity.
Pilates - a set of exercises, with or without props, designed by Joseph Pilates, to condition the body and strengthen the mind.
Postures - asanas or postures with names like child's pose, cobra, and sun salutation, are the basic moves in a yoga class.
Prenatal - yoga adapted to expectant mothers and for new mothers wanting to get back in shape.
Sivananda - a calm yoga practice that uses variations of 12 basic poses, based on the philosophy that proper breathing, relaxation, diet, exercise, and positive thinking work in combination to provide a healthy lifestyle.
Svaroopa - a therapeutic and supported yoga practice designed to open the core and decompress the spine.
Viniyoga - a yoga style that relies on warming and contracting muscles rather than stretching them, where practitioners adapt poses to their needs and abilities.
Vinyasa - an athletic yoga style that offers a cardiovascular workout.
Yin - a slow paced form of yoga that asks participants to hold poses for long periods of time and focuses on meditation.