What is Yoga

The word yoga, from the Sanskrit word yuj means to yoke or bind and is often interpreted as “union”.

The Indian sage Patanjali is believed to have collated the practice of yoga into the Yoga Sutra an estimated 2,000 years ago. The Sutra is a collection of 195 statements that serves as a philosophical guidebook for most of the yoga that is practiced today. It also outlines eight limbs of yoga: the yamas (restraints), niyamas (observances), asana (postures), Pranayama (breathing), pratyahara (withdrawal of senses), dharana (concentration), dhyani (meditation), and samadhi (absorption). As we explore these eight limbs, we begin by refining our behavior in the outer world, and then we focus inwardly until we reach samadhi (liberation, enlightenment).

Today most people practicing yoga are engaged in the third limb, asana, which is a program of physical postures designed to purify the body and provide the physical strength and stamina required for long periods of meditation.

 What does Hatha mean?

The word hatha means power of will over the body, but if we split the word into two symbols, HA is the solar, dynamic, musculine energies, while THA means lunar, nurturing, feminine energies, Hatha yoga is a path towards creating balance in the body. Hatha yoga refers to a set of  exercises (known as asanas or postures) designed to align your skin, muscles, and bones, focusing on spinal health which houses the central nervous system, the link between body and mind. A healthy spine means a happy body.  The postures are also designed so that energy can flow freely through the body.

Hatha yoga is a powerful tool for self-transformation. It asks us to bring our attention to our breath, which helps us to still the fluctuations of the mind and be more present in the unfolding of each moment.

 How many times per week should I practice?

Yoga is amazing,  most people find time for one session a week, but if you had the time there is no reason why you couldn’t practice every day.

 How is yoga different from stretching or other kinds of fitness?

Unlike stretching or fitness, yoga is more than just physical postures. Yoga is unique because we connect the movement of the body and the fluctuations of the mind to the rhythm of our breath. Connecting the mind, body, and breath helps us to direct our attention inward. Through this process of inward attention, we learn to recognize our habitual thought patterns without labeling them, judging them, or trying to change them. We become more aware of our experiences from moment to moment. The awareness that we cultivate is what makes yoga a practice, rather than a task or a goal to be completed. Your body will most likely become much more flexible by doing yoga, and so will your mind.

 Is yoga a religion?

Yoga is not a religion. It is a philosophy that began in India an estimated 5,000 years ago. Yoga sometimes interweaves other philosophies such as Hinduism or Buddhism, but it is not necessary to study those paths in order to practice or study yoga.

It is also not necessary to surrender your own religious beliefs to practice yoga.

 I’m not flexible—can I do yoga?

Yes! You are a perfect candidate for yoga. Many people think that they need to be flexible to begin yoga, but all you need to to want to do it. Come as you are and you will find that yoga practice will help you become more flexible.

Your new found agility will be balanced by strength, co-ordination, and enhanced cardiovascular health, as well as a sense of  overall well-being.

 What do I need to begin?

  • Yoga is practiced in bare feet so no footwear is needed.
  • wear comfy clothing that allows you to move freely.
  • A blanket is needed for relaxation.
  • A bottle of water.
  • A yoga mat if you have one, otherwise you can borrow one .

 Why are you supposed to refrain from eating one to two hours before class?

In yoga there is a certain amount of forward bends, twisting and laying down. If you have not fully digested your last meal, it will make itself known to you in ways that are not comfortable. If  eating in advance does not fit into your life style, then try eating something light, about 30 minutes to an hour before a class.