Yoga - Frequently Asked Questions

What does Yoga Mean?

The word yoga originates from the Sanskrit root "yuj," which means "to unify."

Those who practise yoga have varying reasons for doing so. Some practise yoga for physical wellbeing or mental well being; others do so to help heal an injury sustained. Many people also practise yoga to discover an inner spiritual connection. Males who practise yoga are called "yogis", whereas, female practitioners are known as "yoginis."

The Indian mystic Patanjali is considered to have compiled, if you like, a detailed "guidebook" for yoga practice around 2,000 years ago, in his Yoga Sutra.

The Sutra refers to a compilation of 195 statements which form a spiritual guidebook for daily yoga practitioners.

Patanjali's yoga sutra highlights the eight limbs of yoga: yamas (restraints), niyamas (observances), asanas (poses), pranayama (breathing exercises), pratyahara (withdrawal of senses), dharana (concentration), dhyani (meditation), and samadhi (absorption).

Our journey on these eight limbs enables is to refine our behavior in the outer world and focus inwardly until we are blessed with the state of samadhi, that is, liberation from suffering or enlightenment.

What is an Asana?

Asanas are the most famous features of yoga, ones we are commonly used to seeing yoga practitioners perform.

Asanas are a series of physical postures aimed at de-toxifying the body, improving physical strength as well as building the stamina necessary for lengthy periods of meditation.

Asanas aid total concentration (Dharana), for Dhyani and finally Samadhi or Enlightenment, along with the other aspects of yoga - yama, niyama, pranayama, pratyahara.

Does Yoga help Tone your body?

Yoga practice provides multiple benefits.

There are many benefits to practising yoga.

Vinyasa yoga combined with a healthy diet can alter your body shape and help you tone up.

Regular attendance of a yoga class builds your strength initially, followed by flexibility and potentially also increases your awareness.

Do you Have to be Flexible to Do Yoga?

Should you be inflexible, yoga can be of great assistance.

Yoga involves poses combined with the breath. You invariably become more flexible as you move your body more and use your breath to assist you.

Should you practise yoga on a regular basis for just a month you are going to notice the changes in you physically and in your awareness levels.

Do I Need Specific Clothing or Yoga Equipment for attending a Yoga Class?

It is best to wear comfortable, loose clothing.

For the relaxation period or savasana at the end of a class a yoga blanket, or a light weight blanket, and a cardigan are is ideal.

A yoga mat is ideal so you do not chaff any part of your body on the floor or carpet.

Is Yoga a Type of Religion?

Yoga is an ancient system for well being, physical, mental/emotional and inner/spiritual well being.

Yoga practice in time results in a connection between your consciousness and the Universal consciousness.

You can opt to concentrate on the physical aspects or mental/emotional aspects or the inner/spiritual aspects.

No one is obliged to participate in any aspect of a yoga class if he/she chooses not to.

What Shall I do in Preparation for a Yoga Class?

It is advisable to drink quite a lot of water before a yoga class.

It is also sensible to not eat less than an hour before a yoga class. If you are going to eat a heavy meal it is best not to do so up to two hours before a yoga class.

Is it Alright to attend a Yoga Class with an Injury?

It is best to get medical advice first if you wish to attend a yoga class. Then you can follow the advice of your G.P. or relevant specialist.

If you then arrive early at the yoga class, the yoga teacher can assess your specific needs.

The yoga teacher can then modify the class if necessary or offer you private lessons.

Are People at the Class going to Laugh at me?

No one is likely to laugh at you.

Every one who is attending a yoga class presently was a beginner once.

Yoga classes are usually places of mutual encouragement and support.

The purpose of yoga is to encourage wellbeing, not to poke fun at anyone.

Why are Most Yoga Class rooms Kept Warm?

Most rooms where yoga classes are undertaken are kept warm in order to help muscles to relax.

What is the Meaning of Namaste?

The Sanskrit word "Namaste" is often used at the beginning and end of most yoga classes. "Namaste" is a commonly used greeting in yoga classes and amongst Indians.

"Namaste" translates as "the light, the love and the truth in me recognises and celebrates the light, love and truth in you".

What does "Jai" Mean?

"Jai" means Joy.

How Frequent Should my Yoga Practice Be?

If you can attend only one yoga class a week, that should suffice.

However, in terms of personal practice, it is best to do yoga thrice a week.

The more frequently you do so the greater the benefits for you.

How do I keep myself Inspired?

It is amazing what a change of setting can do in terms of inspiration. Try doing certain if not all the elements of your yoga practice in the garden or in a park.

You can dedicate your practice to someone else or to a specific quality you wish to cultivate or change, to a sutra, or a yama (restraint) or niyama (observance).

You can alter the time of day you undertake your yoga practice as energy levels differ especially for women when they are menstruating.

You can also alter the time when you practise for a different kind of experience. Times considered auspicious to undertake yoga are 6am, 12pm, 6pm and 12am.

Is there any Specific Music that is Preferable when Doing Yoga?

There are many kinds of music you can listen to when doing yoga.

Soothing and calming music is often used by yoga teachers as it, on the whole, calms the yoga students' minds and helps them to relax.

Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist mantras are often played in yoga classes as they help uplift and inspire those listening to them. Those who listen to such mantras also feed back that they help them to "switch off."

Is it Possible to Practise Yoga with a Disability?

Anyone is able to practise yoga.

Where there are moves that you may not be able to undertake, you do not have to do so.

It is best to first seek the advice of a relevant health specialist before you join a yoga class.

It may also be possible for you to arrange private sessions with your yoga teacher if you so require.

If I am Embarrassed about Certain Body Parts will I feel Uncomfortable at a Yoga Class?

All yoga teachers ought to provide a safe place for students to bloom and develop; refining egos and reducing judgement is paramount in a loving yoga space.

What should I bring to a yoga class?

It is important that you bring along some water to drink after and perhaps during the yoga session.

A small towel is also helpful to wipe away the sweat.

Are there Set Charges per Yoga Class or Do I Pay by Donation?

Some yoga teachers charge per class. You are likely to get a discounted rate if you book a few classes in one go. Check with the yoga teacher for the rates.

Certain yoga teachers accept donations as payment. There is usually a sealed box upon entering the room where the yoga class is held. You then place your donation into that box before or after the yoga class.

There is often a book next to the donation box in which you can write your personal details should you wish to carry on attending in case the yoga teacher needs to get in touch with you.