"Stop acting as if life is a rehearsal. Live this day as if it were your last. The past is over and gone. The future is not guaranteed. "
- Wayne Dyer
1. Stress Relief: Yoga reduces the physical effects of stress on the body. By encouraging relaxation, yoga helps to lower the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Related benefits include lowering blood pressure and heart rate, improving digestion, and boosting the immune system as well as easing symptoms of conditions such as anxiety, depression, fatigue, asthma, and insomnia.
2. Pain Relief: Yoga can ease pain. Studies have demonstrated that practicing yoga asanas (postures), meditation, or a combination of the two, reduced pain for people with conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, auto-immune diseases, and hypertension as well as arthritis, back and neck pain, and other chronic conditions. Some practitioners report even emotional pain can be eased through the practice of yoga.
3. Better Breathing: Yoga teaches people to take slower, deeper breaths. This helps to improve lung function, trigger the body’s relaxation response, and increase the amount of oxygen available to the body.
4. Flexibility: Yoga helps to improve flexibility and mobility, increasing range of movement and reducing aches and pains. Many people can’t touch their toes during their first yoga class. Gradually they begin to use the correct muscles. Over time, the ligaments, tendons, and muscles lengthen, increasing elasticity, making more poses possible. Yoga also helps to improve body alignment resulting in better posture and helping to relieve back, neck, joint, and muscle problems.
5. Increased Strength: Yoga asanas (postures) use every muscle in the body, helping to increase strength literally from head to toe. And, while these postures strengthen the body, they also provide an additional benefit of helping to relieve muscular tension.
6. Weight Management: Yoga (even less vigorous styles) can aid weight control efforts by reducing the cortisol levels as well as by burning excess calories and reducing stress. Yoga also encourages healthy eating habits and provides a heightened sense of well being and self esteem.
7. Improved Circulation: Yoga helps to improve circulation and, as a result of various poses, more efficiently moves oxygenated blood to the body’s cells.
8. Cardiovascular Conditioning: Even gentle yoga practice can provide cardiovascular benefits by lowering resting heart rate, increasing endurance, and improving oxygen uptake during exercise.
9. Focus on the Present: Yoga helps us to focus on the present, to become more aware, and to help create mind body health. It opens the way to improved concentration, coordination, reaction time, and memory.
10. Inner Peace: The meditative aspects of yoga help many to reach a deeper, more spiritual and more satisfying place in their lives. Many who begin to practice for other reasons have reported this to be a key reason that yoga has become an essential part of their daily lives.
Most people have so many questions when they first come to a yoga class that they don't even know where to begin. Here, we offer the answers to some of the most common questions.
If your question isn't answered here, we invite you to find us at the studio, via e-mail, or by phone. We all know you've heard it before, but there really is no such thing as a silly question, so please feel free to ask away and we will provide you with an answer to the best of our ability! We want you to feel as comfortable as possible when you come to practice with us.
What Does Hatha Mean?
Hatha is translated as ha meaning “breath of the sun” (prana) and tha meaning “breath of the moon” (apana). The term Hatha Yoga refers to the integration of (apparent) opposites into a more complete whole or union. This can refer to the balance of masculine aspects – sun, hot, active- and feminine aspects – moon, cool, receptive- within us.
The word hatha can also be translated to mean “force” or “exertion,” which would refer to typically starting your yoga practice with effort (i.e., the postures), and then working towards more subtle practices (i.e., breathing, flow of energy, etc.), and then finally moving to the internal practice of meditation.
What Does Om(Aum) Mean?
Om is a mantra, or a vibration that you will typically hear chanted at the beginning and end of yoga classes. It is said to be the sound of the universe. The universe is always moving – nothing is ever still. Thus, creating a rhythmic vibration that ancient yogis acknowledged with the sound of Om.
Chanting Om allows us to recognize our experiences on our mat as a sort of reflection of how the entire universe is constantly moving – the beating of our hearts, the flow of the tides, the rising and setting of both the sun and the moon. Through chanting Om, we are able to sense a connection larger than our physical bodies that both soothes and uplifts.
I'm Not Flexible - Can I Still Do Yoga?
Of course! Many people believe that they need to be flexible in order to practice yoga. It is a very common misconception. You will find that it is not necessary to be flexible to practice, though through practice, you will become flexible.
Can I Eat Before Class?
During a yoga class, we often bend forward and backward, twist from one side to another, and turn upside down. Eating beforehand and not allowing your body to fully digest your meal will almost certainly make you uncomfortable during your practice. If you are afraid that you may get hungry or feel weak during class, try experimenting with a light snack prior and adjust to what suits you and your body.
Is Yoga A Religion?
Absolutely not. Yoga is a philosophy that began in India an estimated 5,000 years ago. The Yoga Sutras, or scriptures written provide a framework for spiritual growth and mastery over the physical and mental body. At times, yoga intertwines other philosophies, such as Hinduism or Buddhism, but it is not at all necessary to study those paths in order to practice yoga. You also do not have to surrender your own religious beliefs to practice yoga.
Do I Have to Be Vegetarian to Practice?
One of the principles of yoga philosophy is ahimsa. Ahimsa translates to non-violence, doing no harm to the self or to others. This can be interpreted to not consuming animal products, but this is a choice that one must make for themselves.