Frequently Asked Questions

What is Hatha Yoga?

Hatha Yoga, which includes postures and forms of breathing, relaxation, and meditation.  It is the form most popular in the West, is actually part of Raja Yoga, the Eight Fold path of self control.

How long is the class?

Classes are 1 hour long,  Workshops on various subjects will vary in time which would be listed on the news page of the website.

How many times a week should I come?

To start you can practice 1 time a week.  As you progress you will want to practice 2-3 times a week.  Eventually you may practice everyday.  Any yoga is better than no yoga, and 20 – 30 minutes a day is better than 90 minutes once a week.

Is yoga good for back pain?

Because we all walk around upright, our backs are bound to suffer.  Our poor spines carry all that weight around and are continually jarred by the pounding of our feed, not to mention twisted and contorted by less-than-perfect posture.  Weak stomach muscles are a common cause of back pain.  Injury to a disk or vertebrae can cause back pain.  Yoga can help in these cases.  If you have a spine-related injury, however, be sure to check with your doctor before trying any yoga postures.  Back pain sufferers may need more calcium and magnesium.

Is yoga good for sleep, depression/anxiety?

If you have trouble getting to sleep, common sense will probably tell you to stop use of caffeine, especially in the evening, and not to eat a whole pepperoni pizza at midnight.  Stress is common cause of insomnia, too.  How can you sleep if your mind is abuzz with the worries and anxieties of the day?  A yoga practice will help to reduce the stress and anxiety followed by relaxation.  Evening meditation can calm and still your mind, making sleep easier.

Can yoga improve balance, memory, concentration?

Balance is challenging especially as we age and it is the primary cause of falling causing injury.  Yoga balance postures take keen muscle control and strength, mental centering and lots of practice.  Balancing is control, both in stillness and in motion.  Yoga strength training is isometric, it is easier on your muscles than weight bearing and pounding of other sports, is extremely effective for building strength.

Concentration involves teaching the mind to focus on one thing instead of many, as is our usual state of mind.  In the beginning as you learn various yoga poses you begin to focus on different body parts and their movements.  Later, in meditation practice you learn to focus on an object such as a flame, a flower, or a mantra you repeat to yourself.  The purpose is to train the mind to ignore all the extra, unnecessary junk floating around, to learn to gently push away superfluous thought.

You will begin to see that as your concentration improves, your ability to stay in the moment (mindfulness) will too and as your mindfulness improves so will your memory.

Is it good for losing weight?

Yoga can make you look and feel better, regardless of your weight.  That said, yoga can help you slim down in a couple of ways.  First, the exercises will help you burn calories.  In addition, they’ll help tone your muscles and improve posture.  Yoga is also about healthy living, which includes a healthy diet.  That doesn’t mean you have to become a vegetarian, just that yu should be conscious of the foods you, sticking with natural, fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, etc. as much as possible while limiting your intake of junk food and foods high in fats, like red meat.  Any of the basic hatha styles will help.  The important thing is to practice regularly.

Can yoga help arthritis?

If you suffer from arthritis in particular or joint pain in general, relaxation is key to easing your distress.  Yoga can be a great help, but if you have arthritis, it’s important not to push yourself beyond what your body can do.  Don’t exercise joints that are inflamed.

However, many people with arthritis drastically decrease activity due to pain.  Your joints should periodically be mobilized to keep them limber and clean.  Yoga encourages you to keep moving, gently.

Can it control blood pressure?

Sometimes.  Studies have shown that certain yoga practices can help some patients control their high blood pressure.  In general, Yoga promotes health, a sense of calm and relaxation.  In addition. it teaches you to be aware of your body and to listen to the signals it sends – all of which can be very useful.

Specific techniques that may be helpful controlling high blood pressure include diaphragmatic or belly breathing, which has been shown to reduce stress and induce relaxation, and a pranayama (controlled breathing) technique called Nadi Shodhana, or alternate nostril breathing, which also helps reduce stress and induce relaxation.  Moreover, there have been a number of studies that show meditation can be a great help in controlling high blood pressure.

Certain yoga postures should be avoided, however, if you have high blood pressure, including the shoulderstand, headstand and downward facing dog.  There are also a number of postures that you should approach with caution and not hold for extended periods of time (more than a few breaths).  These include Warrior I and II, Mountain, Triangle, Half Moon, Tree, and Standing Squat.

Can yoga help migraines?

Migraines are caused by the sudden constriction and than dilation of blood vessels to the brain.  No one knows what causes the blood vessels to behave this way.  It could be genetics, stress or something else entirely.  Regular practice of yoga, including postures, pranayama (breath exercises) and meditation can help relieve some of the suffering and make the condition more manageable. Postures will help improve blood circulation and also relieve physical tension and stress, which may be contributing factor to migraines.  It is suggested that you avoid excessive forward bends and back bends, however, because they increase the flow of blood to the head, as do inversions.  In addition, breath work and meditation will help balance the emotions and relieve mental stress and tension.  As part of a regular yoga practice, try neck and shoulder exercises.  Practice savasana the corpse pose.  If possible, try a progressive relaxation exercise while in savasana.  Simply bring your awareness to a specific area of the body and relax that area, allowing the muscles to grow soft and release their holding.  Begin at the feet and work your way up through the ankles, calves, knees, thighs, hips, stomach, chest, back, shoulders, neck, face and head.  Take a few breaths at each area to explore where the holding may be.  Repeat the exercise.  Also, if you’re in pain, lie in savasana with your eyes covered.  Use the breath to relax as much as possible.  Once your breath is steady and deep, use it to soften the pain.  As you inhale, imagine the breath going to the center of pain and soothing that area, cooling it and releasing its grip.  As you exhale, imagine the breath expelling the pain from your body.  Always breathe slowly, deeply and gently.

Is it okay to do yoga when pregnant?

It’s okay to continue practicing yoga while you are pregnant as long as you were practicing before conception.  Yoga is a great way to keep fit during pregnancy.  In particular it can help strengthen the pelvic area, normalize thyroid functioning and blood pressure, and help keep you calm and relaxed – all of which is good for the baby, too.  In general, however, you to avoid strain, compressing the belly or abdomen and inverted postures, especially in the later stages.  Many public libraries carry books about yoga and pregnancy.  It’s also a good idea to work with a yoga teacher with pre-natal yoga experience.

Should women do yoga during menses?

Mostly it’s a matter of personal preference.  Some women don’t want to do yoga during their period, many don’t mind and continue to practice during menses.  For women who do choose to practice, it is suggested that they avoid inverted poses, abdominal strengtheners, extended holding of any pose, or energizing breaths (kapalabhati).  The issue is that these practices might interfere with the downward flow or cause discomfort.

Do I have to be a vegetarian?

Although the traditional Yoga diet is vegetarian, you don’t have to be a vegetarian to practice Yoga.  In fact, maybe about one, out of every three, yoga practitioners are vegetarian.

Is yoga a religion?

It depends on how you define “religion”.  The physical and psychological benefits of Yoga are real and don’t discriminate on the basis of race, religion, gender, political persuasion or any other way people like (or dislike) to categorize themselves.  The benefits also don’t depend on chanting Om.  On the spiritual side, most mystical traditions – East or West – draw similar maps of the spiritual path.  So in that respect, Yoga is mainstream.  For these reasons, many people feel they can practice Yoga without conflict with their religious beliefs.

I am not flexible!   Can I still do yoga?

It is a misnomer that you take yoga only if you are flexible.  It is quite the opposite, if you have problems with flexibility, yoga can help you become flexible.  It all begins with simple stretches that gradually increase over time and at all times staying in a sweet discomfort zone, never pushing to a level of pain.

I am 60+ years, can I still do yoga?

Yoga is for everyone, and a regular yoga practice can be of immense physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual benefit to anyone who is experiencing some of the signs of aging.  Many Indian yogis practice well into their hundreds.  If yoga can help you live a longer, healthier life, then what have you got to lose?  Senior yogis are often the wisest yogis of all, even if they’re new to yoga.

Practicing yoga can help you protect against bone and muscle loss, prevent the compression fractures common with osteoporosis, and encourage good posture as you age.  Let yoga work its magic on your body, your mind, and your spirit.

What is the difference between a yogi, a guru and a swami?

A yogi is someone who practices yoga. A yogin is a male yoga student, a yogini is a female student.  A guru is a teacher.  “Swami” is a title of respect for a spiritual master.

What is Om?

Om, also spelled “Aum”, is a sacred Hindu sound symbolizing the Absolute.  It often is used as a mantra during meditation.  Although often pronounced as if it rhymed with “Home’, it is also pronounced “ah-oo-mm.”