Frequently Asked Questions
What is Yoga?
Yoga is a general term that encompasses many practices or techniques that when applied have profound effects on both the physical body and the mind. The body and the mind influence each other so regardless if you are focusing on one or the other they are both receiving benefits.
A simple example of this is if you are stressed as a result of various life circumstances and you move your body through a series of Yoga Poses along with using your breath in a specific way, your mind will start to relax and your body will feel better. You didn’t necessarily do anything to or for your mind, you just focused on the body and the both relaxed. Yoga defined is “union” Body+Mind. It’s a Sanskrit word that refers to an ancient Indian philosophical system that has a goal of becoming immersed in the awareness of the “inner self.”
What types of movement will I do during Yoga?
You will essentially experience seven different types of movement in the physical component of a Yoga class. These movements are called “Asanas,” or physical postures.
The seven types of asanas are:
- Standing Poses
- Forward bends
- Back Bends
- Balance poses
- Arm Balances
What if I am not comfortable doing some of these poses? Is Yoga still right for me?
There is a reason we call Yoga a practice. It takes time. If at any time you feel that a pose is too difficult, that’s ok. We teach our classes for all levels of experience, so during class we suggest modifications to the pose to make sure you are comfortable and safe.
How do I know which type of Yoga class is right for me?
Each yoga teacher has a slightly different style, and you probably already noticed that Whole Yoga offers a variety of different classes. (You can find a list of Whole Yoga’s classes here) We suggest you attend a variety of our classes and see the different teaching styles. Chances are you will quickly find some teachers that resonate with you. Feel free to ask us for recommendations. We also offer different Yoga workshops which can also help you learn about different types of Yoga.
Can I still do yoga if I'm overweight?
Of course. Yogis come in all shapes and size. Start with a gentle class where things move a bit slower. (We offer a great introductory yoga class.) That will let you become accustomed to the poses and see what works. The first thing all our teachers will say is to only do the poses to the extent that they work for you. Pain is not part of yoga. Teachers will routinely provide modifications and variations for more challenging poses. Most every pose has simple variations that accomplish the same goals.
What if I am older or have a physical condition that makes it difficult to get down and up off the floor?
Whole Yoga offers a weekly Restorative Yoga class that is mostly on the floor with few standing poses. There are also a variety of easier classes. Ask a teacher for a recommendation.
What exactly is a pose variation or modification?
These are simple position changes and simplifications such as going down to your knees instead of keeping your knees raised in a lunge. Generally Whole Yoga instructors will mention these variations and suggest them as needed. You should always pay attention to your body and not go beyond what your body is telling you. Many poses also have extensions designed to lengthen the stretch. Skip them if your body says so.
Do I need to buy a yoga mat?
Whole Yoga provides mats as well as cleaning materials. Eventually you may want to purchase and bring your own mat but it is not necessary. Blocks, straps, blankets, cushions and other props are provided. Look at the teacher’s station before class to see what will be used during your session.
How do I dress for yoga?
Yoga is best done in loose fitting workout type clothes. It is also mostly done in bare feet and we ask that you leave your shoes outside of the yoga room. Please try not to eat a large meal within two hours of class. We also have a dressing room so you can change at the studio.
How do you incorporate breath into your Yoga classes?
In Yoga, we call breathing “Pranayama.” It is an integral part of all Whole Yoga classes.
Because of our physiology, we underuse the muscles in our Diaphragm. This weakens the Diaphragm and the only way to strengthen the muscle is by training yourself to take slow, conscious, deep breaths in and out through the nose (nostril breathing) as much as possible. It’s absolutely essential when practicing yoga poses, but can also be taken into other endless, mundane activities that we all must perform on a daily basis.
Why is breath so important in Yoga?
Pranayama (or “Yoga Breathing”) is a way to proactively turn on the sympathetic nervous system which creates a sense of calmness, peace and centeredness which is experienced in the mind. Mouth breathing or shallow breathing (breathing with the secondary respiratory muscles) links us to the Autonomic Nervous system known as “Fight or Flight.” We experience the survival mode with this type of unconscious breathing. You don’t even think about your breath when you are in the “Fight or Flight” mode. Your body is just breathing for you for its own survival and it offers no semblance of quality of life and living in the present moment.
Living in the present moment, frees us from strings that tie us to the past through memories and frees us from worries about the unknown future. This is, in a deeper sense, what we are seeking by learning yoga.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is simply sitting quietly, focusing inside on the heart. The goal of practicing both asanas and pranayamas is to warm and prepare the body to sit comfortably and settle the mind.
Meditation is a “state of being” you experience when properly applying practices such as asanas and pranayamas with an intention to deepen your connection to your “self.” Meditation is the “icing on the cake” so to speak. A meditation practice is giving your “self” attention deeply and profoundly. Think about how much you are in front of the computer, using social media, reading the news, on the cell or regular phone, watching TV, listening to music or talk radio or educating yourself, reading and putting information into your brain. In regards to this amount of input into the brain, meditation is what balances activities that “fill our heads up;” these activities seem ever increasing in our world and lives today.
We benefit from turning our attention back inside to ourselves, we acknowledge who we are, why we’re here, what our life’s purpose is.
Meditation is a way to strengthen your mind and your ability to focus. It takes daily practice and is compared to strength training muscles with weights, but in this case the muscle is your inner focus. When you miss a day of practice, you get back to it the next day or as soon as you can so not to lose the strength that you’ve built. This disciple is what will begin to set you free from your stress, anger and negative patterns of thinking. You can learn more about our Meditation classes here.