Q: What is Yoga?
A: Yoga is a profound system of holistic health which originated in India over 5,000 years ago. It was first put into written form as the Yoga Sutras. The author was Patanjali (pronounced pa-tan-ja-li). Since the original work was in Sanskrit, there are many translations and interpretations. Yoga is defined in the sutras as having eight limbs or branches. It is the third limb "Asana" (pronounced a-san-a), which refers to postures or Yoga poses that most people perceive as Yoga. The study of asana and physical culture is called Hatha Yoga (pronounced hut-ha with the "th" aspirated). There are possibly more people doing Hatha Yoga now in the state of California than in the entire country of India..
Q: Is Yoga a Religion?
A:Millions of people of varying religious beliefs practice yoga and find that it enhances their spiritual life. Millions of others view it strictly as physical exercise and an aid to mindfulness. Many scholars of yoga and religion say it is a non-sectarian practice. Anyone and everyone are welcome to practice yoga without any interference with their spiritual and religious beliefs.
Q: I'm not flexible, how could I ever practice yoga?
A:This is one of the most common statements we hear everyday. Believe it or not every almost every person who starts a yoga practice is not able to touch their toes or do a backbend. It takes a consistent practice to become flexible. The more you practice the more flexible you become. It's always such a delight to hear a student say, "I actually touched my toes today". It happens all the time.
Q: Do I have to tie myself in a knot to do Yoga?
A:Certainly not. The goal of Yoga, according to the Yoga Sutras, is liberation (kaivalya), not to do the head stand or the lotus pose. An intermediate step is to "Quiet the mind," something that most Westerners could certainly benefit from. The Yoga poses that you use should be selected to fit your individual needs based on your physical and mental condition, as well as your age.
Q: Is Yoga safe?
A:In most cases yes. However, if you select the wrong level of difficulty in a large group class and have some physical limitations, you could have some problems. It is very important to be sure you are in the right class and inform the instructor of any potential problems. Consult your doctor before beginning a yoga practice or any other form of physical exercise.
Q: How often should I go to a Yoga class?
A:Ideally, at least two or three times per week. Some people keep their life on track and make some progress by coming once a week, and many people get really motivated by Yoga and come everyday. It depends on the individual and his or her needs. Yoga classes are co-ed and enjoyed by both men and women.
Q:What should I wear to a Yoga class?
A:There is a wide variety of clothing worn in Yoga classes, depending on how physical the class is and the temperature of the room. Women often wear yoga pants, shorts, sweats, tank tops, t-shirts, and a sports bra. Men often wear shorts (sport brands), sweats, tank tops, and t-shirts. However, Yoga clothing, like that of other fitness classes, is also a personal expression and about personal comfort.