One Indian Sanskrit word that is recognized the world over is Yoga. If you are new to the practice or curious about it, here are a few frequently asked questions and doubts that you need answers to.
1. What is yoga? Is it just a form of Eastern Exercise?
The original word in Sanskrit yuj means to yoke or to bind and it also means union. It is a method of discipline that unites the mind, body and soul.
Well-known Indian sage Patanjali is believed to be the father of yoga, who has collected 195 statements into a guidebook for most of the yoga that is in practice now. This book is called the Yoga Sutra.
2. What does Om signify?
Most yoga classes have the practice of chanting om as part of the meditation practice or pranayama.
Om is the universal mantra that is chanted at the beginning and end of yoga sessions. It is believed to be the sound of the universe. Om is chanted to stabilize the mind and to recite a short, seed mantra that connects us with the universe and energizes the chakras. Chanting Om helps breath awareness, and aligns our physical energies.
3. How many times should you practice yoga?
Yoga has exceptional benefits, even if you start slow. You can begin by going for a weekly one hour class, but if you can do it more regularly then the advantages are manifold. Don’t allow time constraints or unrealistic expectations to hamper your yoga practice.
If you are serious about yoga, you will ultimately pick up a daily yoga practice. Some yogis (as they are called) practice as many as six-eight hours a day. But that is rather extreme. A five-day a week practice with one hour of yoga should suffice.
4. I am not religious or spiritual. Can I still practice yoga?
While Yoga is deeply rooted in a spirituality, it is more of a discipline that anyone can follow, regardless of their religious or spiritual beliefs. In the west, people have noted the incredible physical health benefits that Yoga provides. Even though yoga’s spiritual aspects still stand true and strong, many studios, teachers and gyms take a non-spiritual approach to yoga.
5. Can I do yoga if I am not really flexible?
People who are not flexible are in fact the ideal candidates for yoga. This is because yoga practice suits all body types and makes your body flexible as you go along. Just as you don’t need to know how to swim, in order to take swimming lessons, you don’t need to be flexible to learn yoga.
Some forms of yoga are more forgiving and allow the practitioners to use props and support for the correction of posture and better alignment. Iyengar yoga is one such practice.
6. What will I need to begin a yoga class?
All students need to begin practicing yoga is their presence and ability to learn. You will also need some yoga clothes, yoga mats and probably a towel for the class. If you aren’t sure where to source yoga gear, then check out Anaheart for a variety of mats for yoga and other yoga essentials.
Most studios provide ropes, blocks and other yoga props as required.
7. Is there a prescribed yoga diet?
A regular yoga practice requires both strength and stamina to hold those tricky poses. To build your stamina, you must eat a balanced diet that includes a combination of fats, proteins and carbohydrates in addition to important nutrients.
It is uncomfortable to engage in any exercise after a heavy meal. This is also true of yoga where you have to move through asanas, especially ones that include inversions and backward bends. Eat your meals at least two or three hours before the yoga practice or have a small snack an hour before.
Whether your preferred yoga timings are in the mornings or evenings, make sure you stay hydrated. Sip on coconut water or lemon water to ensure that the right amount of hydration keeps you agile.
Yoga may seem daunting at first, especially to beginners. But in fact, it is the most liberating and calming fitness practice. Make sure you find a good coach and start your practice with an open mind.