What if I am not flexible?
I have heard many times, “I can’t do yoga because I am not flexible.” Actually, that sounds like the perfect reason to do yoga, right? Being flexible is not a requirement to practice yoga, but over time, it’s one of the results of a yoga practice. Being inflexible should never be a reason for a new student to skip class. Most teachers will give you options for each pose and there are props to help you along the way.
There is a lot more going on here. Yoga works on your strength, mobility, and stability. Chances are if you’re feeling “tight” then you may need to address all of these functions. Often we feel tight and assume flexibility is the issue and that is not always the case.
What language is that?
Yoga has a beautiful history in India and languages are an honor to their culture. Sanskrit is an ancient language with a rich history in South and Central Asia. Yoga poses have a Sanskrit and an English name. Some teachers use more of one or the other. As with all new skills, you will learn more as you practice yoga or you can find a teacher that leans more on the English names.
What if I can’t do a pose the teacher is doing?
Every body is different, and there are many ways to modify a yoga pose to suit your needs. Yoga blocks are often used as props to create accessibility. Your yoga teacher will make suggestions to guide you into shapes that suit your body that day. But remember that you are in charge of your body. If a pose doesn’t “feel right,” ask your teacher for guidance. While exercise can create discomfort or sore and tired muscles, yoga should never cause pain.
Is yoga a religious practice?
Honestly, anything can be a religious practice. Many people pray before they eat as a way to give thanks. Does that make eating religious? There are many styles of yoga and many types of teachers and students. One person’s perception may differ from another view of what is religious or even spiritual.
You are in control of the choices you make. There are plenty of classes that include a “spiritual vibe” and many that are just breathing and movement. Yoga is a tool, and you get to use it any way you want. Find the teacher that speaks to your journey and makes you feel comfortable.
I have never done yoga before. Is yoga good for beginners?
Absolutely! Since yoga has so many styles, pose variations, speeds, and benefits beginners get the biggest bang for their buck. When checking out classes, be sure to read the description. Words like beginner, gentle, slow flow, Yin, restorative, and Hatha are great places to start. Contact the studio or teacher to confirm if you are in doubt. Everybody needs yoga, and everyone was a beginner at some point.
What are the benefits of a consistent yoga practice?
Yoga is a wonderful way to take care of your mind, body, and spirit. Because there are many different sytles there is something for everyone. Depending on your choices and consistency yoga can help with stress reduction, pain relief, improved breathing, increased strength and flexibility, weight management, improved circulation, and greater awareness and mindset.
Do I need to do cardio and strength training too?
Most people need strength, cardio, mind-body, and flexibility as a part of their routine. Often for beginners, yoga is enough of a start but as you develop you will need to adapt to changes in your body -variety is the spice of life.
Yoga looks to create an integration of breath, mindfulness, and movement, so if you apply yogic breathing while being mindful of your movements during cardio or weightlifting, you’re doing yoga.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Service recommends 30 minutes a day of movement, five days a week. Personally, my goal is to walk and/or do yoga every day and a 30-minute strength training workout 2-3x a week. If you need a movement plan based on your goals, let me know.
The most important thing is understanding what your body needs, your personal goals, and what forms of movement you enjoy the most. If you don’t enjoy it, you won’t stick with it. Explore!
What should I wear and bring with me to a class?
Wear comfortable clothes that allow your full range of motion. Bring a water bottle and a small towel if you will be working up a sweat. Yoga is practiced with bare feet, but often Seniors or those with foot concerns may prefer shoes. If that is the case, you can reach out to the studio to see if they are comfortable with shoes in the studio. While wearing shoes in the studio is uncommon, they may make allowances to better serve you.
Bring your yoga mat if you have one, but most studios will have extras to share or rent. And what not to bring? Your cell phone! Leave it in the car or completely silenced in the studio lobby.
What kind of yoga mat should I use?
Yoga mats are personal “to your taste.” If you have knee issues, I suggest a thicker mat or yoga pads for the knees. Some thicker mats can slide around a lot, and that can be annoying. You may need to start with an inexpensive one from Amazon or an athletic store and then upgrade as you get serious about your practice. You can borrow or rent one from the yoga studio or a friend until you are ready for purchase. My favorite yoga mat is Aeromat.
What are the different types or styles of yoga?
Yoga is vast. Having choices is great, but it can be confusing. When people say, “I can’t do yoga,” they are saying, “I don’t want to, or I need more information.” If you can breathe, you can do yoga.
I say that because there is a yoga class for every person and every body type, slow, stretchy, meditative, fast-paced, strength, functional movement, for stress, for sleep, for recovery…and the list goes on. I have an article you can check out on the different types of yoga I commonly teach, and I recommend an article on the Yoga Alliance website or the book Pick Your Yoga Practice by Meagan McCrary.
Do I have to remember the names of all of the poses?
In the beginning it can be stressful and you may be worried about keeping up. That is why it is important to find a class that meets your current experience.
But no, not really. A good yoga teacher will make sure you don’t get lost by offering proper cueing, and if you continue, you’ll get used to the pose names.
I can’t stop thinking during meditation. What should I do?
First, stop judging yourself. Second, meditation isn’t about not thinking. It’s about noticing things, observation.
Try this: set a timer for one minute and focus on your breathing, just inhales and exhales. If at any point you stop noticing your breath and realize it, just go back to the breath observation. You did it. You noticed, and that, is meditation, the noticing.
Like all things, the more you do it the better you get. Also, you don’t have to do it for long to get the best benefits. 1-3 minutes most mornings can create a lot of positivity in your life. Consistency is the real magic of it.
Remember to accept where you are today and honor whatever comes up for you without passing judgment about it. It’s a practice not a perfect.
Should I eat before a yoga class?
There is a yoga pose called “pavanamuktasana” in Sanskrit. The English translation is “wind-relieving pose.” Need I say more? Ok, so really this is not the time to eat a bean burrito for lunch and then head to the studio.
All exercise helps things to move along. So if you need a little snack, maybe a banana, it’s fine. But big meals or gassy foods could make you uncomfortable.
I’m too nervous about going to an in-person class. How can I get started at home?
Sometimes calling to talk with the teacher before can help with those butterflies. There is an article on the Yoga Alliance website about finding a yoga teacher. Many teachers will schedule a private session for you to get started. If you would be more comfortable going through the basics in the privacy of your own home, there are many online resources. I have a Yoga 101 course and an online class platform that is perfect for your in-home practice. You can also schedule a private Zoom session to go over the basics.