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.