Q: I’m not very flexible. Can I still do yoga?
A: Flexibility has little to do with whether or not one can practice yoga. Some people are born naturally flexible; others must work to attain flexibility. A regular yoga practice will gradually increase anyone’s flexibility. The ultimate benefit of yoga — to harmoniously unite body, mind, and spirit in a healthful physical practice — can be experienced regardless of whether or not you can touch your toes. It is important to remember that the postures are tools to open the body, rather than goals to be achieved.
Q: What if everyone else in the class is more advanced than I am?
A: Yoga practice emphasizes individual development. Everyone works at his or her own level and pace within the same class. Often, an instructor will offer several variations to students of a given pose, some less challenging than others. It is also important to remember that a new student who is just able to enter the beginning stages of a given posture is doing as much work (and receiving as much benefit) as the advanced student who can perform the fully completed version.
Q: How often should I attend classes?
A: Beginning students will benefit from as little as one class per week. To receive more benefits from your yoga practice, two to three classes per week are recommended. Depending on how your own body responds to yoga, you may take classes every day if you wish.
Q: What level of class is appropriate for me?
A : Beginning students should begin with either ‘gentle’ or ‘restorative’ classes. Even if the level of physical challenge feels minimal, the slower pace and detailed instruction offered in these classes will help to firmly establish techniques, such as form, alignment and breathing. These classes will also begin to accustom your body to the “building blocks” of yoga, preparing you for more advanced classes.
Q: What if I have injuries?
A: Please describe any injuries you might have with your instructor. He or she will then be able to advise you as to how to “work around” your problem area to avoid further injury. In any event, listen to your body’s feedback. If anything you do in yoga feels painful or uncomfortable, you should “back off.” Your instructor will most likely be able to recommend an appropriate alternative pose for you during the class.
Q: When can I expect to see “progress” in my yoga practice?
A : Each individual will respond to yoga differently, based on a variety of factors including age, physical condition, genetics, etc. What is more important than measuring “progress” based on a pre-conceived idea of where you want your practice to be, is to embrace where your practice is and let go of any self-imposed “goals.” Yoga is truly a life-long pursuit, one that you can go on exploring as long as you live and never learn all there is to know.
Q: How do I start taking classes?
A: If you are new to yoga, we highly recommend that you register for gentle or beginner classes. If you have some yoga experience, you can choose from among any of on-going classes and attend whenever you like. You are not required to attend any particular class exclusively, nor do you need to make reservations. Just drop in!
General Yoga Tips
Yoga is more than just exercise.
It is a healing discipline for the body, mind and spirit.
Observing the following rules when practicing yoga will accelerate your progress and influence the effectiveness of your practice.
Wear comfortable clothes during yoga. Clothes should be loose and flexible but not baggy. Remove all jewellery, watches and any other binding objects from your body. They can disrupt the flow of energy in the body. Do not practise on a full stomach. Wait at least 2 hours after eating a full meal and 1 hour after a light one before commencing your practice. A full belly interferes with breathing and movement. Yoga is not a competition. Practise at your own level, not trying to rush ahead. Do not force any postures until it hurts, but keep exploring your limits. Yoga should never cause you pain. Do not be distracted by external factors during your practice. Turn your senses inwards and focus on the form, energy flow and breath. Breathe deeply and evenly.
Always commence practice with a calm mind.