FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

What is yoga?

The word yoga means “union” in Sanskrit, the language of ancient India where yoga originated. We can think of the union occurring between the mind, body and spirit. A male who practices yoga is called a yogi, a female practitioner, a yogini.

What is commonly referred to as yoga in the West can be more accurately described by the Sanskrit word asana, which means the practice of physical postures or poses.

What do I need to begin?

All you really need to begin practicing yoga is your body, your mind, and a bit of curiosity. But it is also helpful to have a pair of sweat pants, leggings, or shorts, and a t-shirt that’s not too baggy. No special footgear is required because you will be barefoot. It’s nice to bring a towel to class with you. As your practice develops you might want to buy your own yoga mat, but most studios will have mats and other props available for you.

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.

Will doing yoga make me sore?

It is not uncommon to experience sore muscles after doing yoga, especially if you are just starting out or practice infrequently. Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness usually occurs a day or two after exercising, which differentiates it from the sudden and immediate pain you would feel from pulling a muscle. Yoga can cause soreness, even if you are in good physical shape, because it encourages you to use muscles that are otherwise neglected. A hot bath can help relieve soreness. Sometimes it feels good to do some light stretching. If you continue to do yoga regularly, you will likely discover you experience less soreness.

How many times per week should I practice?

Yoga is amazing, even if you only practice for one hour a week, you will experience the benefits of the practice. If you can do more than that, you will certainly experience more benefits. I suggest starting with one to three times a week, for an hour. If you can only do 20 minutes per session, that’s fine too. Don’t let time constraints or unrealistic goals be an obstacle, do what you can and don’t worry about it. You will likely find that after awhile your desire to practice expands naturally and you will find yourself doing more.

Why are you supposed to refrain from eating two to three hours before class?

In yoga practice we twist from side to side, turn upside down, and bend forward and backward. If you have not fully digested your last meal, it will make itself known to you in ways that are not comfortable. If you are a person with a fast-acting digestive system and are afraid you might get hungry or feel weak during yoga class, experiment with a light snack such as yogurt, a few nuts, or juice about 30 minutes to an hour before class.

What does Om mean?

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. We begin to sense a bigger connection that is both uplifting and soothing.