Yoga FAQ

LR_JeffZweig04411. I’m not flexible, can I still do yoga?

Absolutely, fortunately being flexible is not a prerequisite for practicing yoga.  Physical yoga practice is meant to be adapted to your body and not the other way around. The essence of yoga is quieting the mind, not twisting the body into pretzel-like shapes or feats of gymnastics. There are classes that are appropriate for virtually any level of flexibility and fitness.

2. How do I know which class is right for me?

There are so many styles and levels of yoga classes available that it can be confusing to know where to begin. Generally an “Intro to Yoga” series or gentle yoga class is a safe choice if you’ve never done any practice.  The answer also depends on your age, fitness level, whether you have injuries or specific medical concerns. Classes are often labeled Gentle, Moderate or Vigorous;  or  Level 1, 2, 3. etc. This can give you a sense of how much you are going to be asked to move, balance or even go upside down.   You can always request to watch a class before trying it.

3. Is yoga a religion?

No, it’s not. Yoga is one of the six philosophical systems, or “darshana” of India. It has a spiritual component, but does not require us to follow a specific religious path. Whatever your personal beliefs are, yoga encourages you to follow them to be your highest self. By the way, atheists can be wonderful yogis.
Personally, I look at it as a philosophy and a science.

4. Do I have to be a vegetarian to do yoga?

I think the subject of diet and food choice is very personal.  There are yogis that eat animal foods and many that do not.  If you live in a part of the world where fruits and vegetables do not readily grow, you eat what’s available to live. It doesn’t need to get complicated. A yogic diet is meant to support our practice or sadhana, so eating foods that are closer to the source, easily digested and simply prepared is recommended.

“Rules are made only when food is plentiful; in times of famine one eats what one can get.”
Baba Hari Das

5. Can you recommend any good books or DVD’s that I can use at home to practice with.

It is best to learn yoga practices directly from a teacher who has personal experience and reasonable expertise in instructing a safe practice for your needs. That being said, there are many wonderful texts that will support and inspire you to continue and grow your yoga practice. I have included a list of  some of my favorites in the Suggest Reading List on the Resource page.

6. Can yoga help me lose weight?

Yes and no. We all have different body shapes and sizes and often desire to be what we are not. Practicing yoga may change the way that you look at your behaviors, including eating which may bring your body into balance.
Losing (or gaining) weight is predominantly the relationship between the kind and amount of foods we consume and our degree of physical activity. Simply stated: calories in verses calories (energy) out.
Just as a caveat, taking hot yoga classes to “sweat” off weight is not a sustainable practice.

7. I’m pregnant, should I come to your class?

First of all, congratulations! Having a child might be the most yogic activity or your life. If you have been practicing yoga previously to your pregnancy, then by all means continuing is a great idea. You will be encouraged to modify many of the postures and may have to substitute completely different poses for ones not safe at your stage of pregnancy.  If you have never done yoga before, it may not be the best time to begin. But if you really want to, find a class specific to yoga during pregnancy, I suggest finding a yoga teacher who is also a Mom.
Good luck with your pregnancy!

8. It hurts when I put pressure on my wrists, what should I do?
DON’T DO IT.  Basically, if it hurts it’s probably not a good idea to repeat it over and over again. Our minds patterns can influence us to do all kinds of self destructive behaviors….you know: “well, the guy/girl in the next mat is doing it so I can too.”  Practice with the body that you brought to practice today! Modify postures to work for you, to feel good, and if you can’t figure it out ask the instructor.

9. Am I too old to start yoga?
All I’m going to say is that I have a number of students that started doing yoga in their 80’s and early 90’s in my Chair classes. These are fun and wonderful classes and I probably learn as much from them as they do from me.

10. I’m a [runner, golfer, weight lifter]…with yoga help my athletic activities?
Personally I can attest that as a life long mountain biker, yoga practice and especially a greater awareness of my breathing and balance has improved and increased my enjoyment of cycling. I am a great advocate of doing any physical pursuit that makes you feel good physically, mentally and emotionally. Yoga practice instills in us an increased sense of body awareness or “proprioception” and this often improves everything else we do. I say: go for it!