Yoga Beginners FAQ

Answers to common yoga questions

What does Yoga Mean?
To seek to understanding your true nature by calming the mind is yoga in practice. When the mind is calm you experience your true nature as the witness to all the activities of life. To perceive reality clearly and without bias is one goal of yoga. Some describe yoga as connecting to: the higher Self, to the Divine, or to nature/evolution.

Is Yoga a Religion?
No, but it can help you in your religious practice if you have one. All religions have the goal of helping us answer questions our purpose in life, where we come from and how to relate in society. We all seek happiness- how to find it can be revealed through religious traditions or from studying ourselves to find the truth.

I’m not flexible, can I do Yoga?
Yes! Always go at your own pace. Yoga is not about perfecting the body but about managing your life and the energies of the mind; everybody can practice and grow. We seek flexibility to assist the body in seated meditation and to make the spine and internal organs healthy. More important that flexibility is deep, calm and efficient breathing.

How is Yoga different from Stretching or other Kinds of Exercise?
In yoga you are asked to consciously direct your attention during the postures. There is a balance between effort and relaxation which brings about a rejuvenation that typical exercise does not offer. Unlike movement based muscular activity, long held postures calm the mind and massage the internal organs. Proper Yoga is also paired with meditation and breathing exercises so the effects progressively change your relationship with mind, body and emotions.

Is Yoga a workout and will I lose weight?
The physical practices of yoga can be used as your recommended form of exercise. Although you may lose weight from any physical activity, yoga provides more long-term weight management by raising your awareness about healthier diet and lifestyle choices. Learning how, what and when you eat is most important in maintaining health. Ayurveda is the complementary science to Yoga which provides this knowledge for weight management and a healthy diet.

Why Practice Yoga?
To harmonize the mental, physical and emotional aspects of your being is essential to achieving your dreams. Creating peace in your body and mind through mindfulness and self-study is the wisdom of lasting happiness. Yoga and meditation reveal to us the unconscious patterns of actions and thoughts that bring about our sufferings. By repeated practice you will identify yourself not with the changing mind and body but with the ever-peaceful and unchanging soul. From this you gain fearlessness and a sense of responsibility.

How does Yoga relieve stress?
Yoga helps to lower blood pressure and lower heart rate. Stressful situations can leave tension in the body and/or subconscious mind. Yoga allows for the body and mind to restore balance. By re-educating our responses to stressful situations through mindfulness, self-understanding and patience, a yoga practitioner may also find themselves less prone to the stress response in general.

How do I know what style of Yoga to choose?
The most important thing is to find a good teacher that can point you in the right direction. There are different styles of yoga depending on your immediate need: structural/muscular, cardio/strength building, restorative/therapeutic, relaxation/meditation, etc. The best form of yoga is that which helps you find your balance mentally and physically and brings you to a deeper understanding of who you are.

What does OM mean?
OM is symbolic of the total sound of the universe. Yogis use OM chanting to help steady the mind. It is also used as a form of sound therapy when applied correctly with other mantras. AUM is the full expression of OM and it represents the waking, dreaming and deep sleep states of consciousness which the practitioner can observe and transcend through practice.

How many times per week should I practice Yoga?
The most important thing is that you practice consistently with whatever schedule you chose. Remember, any practice that helps to calm your mind naturally is a form of Yoga. Practice as much as you can 🙂 Meditation also becomes easier and more powerful the more you practice – like anything else.

How do I prepare?, what should I wear & what should I bring to a class?
Come to class with an empty stomach. Best time is early in the morning before breakfast. If you must eat, have some juice, tea or fruit. For evening practice, make sure that you wait at least 3 hours after meals. Wear comfortable loose fitting clothes and bring a yoga mat or (mexican) blanket to practice on. Do not drink water during class.

What do I need to begin?
Nothing, just patience and an open mind. You will be hooked in no time! All the knowledge and guidance will come eventually if you are sincere and seeking. Your own body and mind will become your friend and guide along the way.


Join Ram Bhakt at Olive Yoga August 21 for a workshop on Yoga breathing exercises, meditation and Kirtan chanting.Find out more about the goals of practice and the experience of inner peace. Come with questions!

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