By Sharon Feanny
The practice of yoga has many traditions and spiritual roots dating back to over 5,000 years. The teachers and gurus who mastered yoga spent lifetimes creating a practice to teach others how to find the calmness and balance that is within each person. Asanas (or the physical postures) were designed to give people the ability to have vibrant and long lasting health. Finally, yoga gives each individual the opportunity to discover their true potential.
Yoga will not only take you to the edge of your mat, it will challenge you to strengthen tone, relax and release impossibilities you never thought possible.
The goal in yoga is to create union with your mind and body. It is not competitive nor does a person have to be flexible. It is suitable for all ages and conditions. Yoga is about connecting your breath with the movement of your body and minimizing distracting thoughts. Through the practice of yoga, you will be guided to learn how to listen to your body, calm and quiet the mind, and enter into a blissful meditative state.
I am not flexible can I still do yoga?
Yoga is not about doing the physical postures. It is about bringing awareness to your breath and paying attention to what your breath is telling you. Over time you will develop flexibility and strength. Your teacher will help you determine where your level may be during the class.
If I am an athlete why should I practice yoga?
Yoga is excellent for athletes because it allows the muscles to release tensions and tightness through the postures and breathing exercises. It also counteracts the effects that exercise does to the mind and body. During yoga practice you will learn how to relax the body completely, while still strengthening and toning various muscle groups.
Will yoga help me to lose weight?
Yoga was designed to keep the body healthy and to help prevent and heal the body of illness and disease. Losing excess weight can be done through the practice of yoga; however, the work begins with reconditioning the mind and listening and tuning in to what the body and mind are saying.
Will I have to change my religion to practice yoga?
No, yoga itself is not a religion. Persons from all religions may practice yoga.
What is yoga really designed to do?
Yoga has many benefits ranging from increased health and vitality, improved sleep, strengthens digestion, increases muscle tone and strength, develops proper breathing techniques, improves posture, teacher on how to relax, increases attention and focus etc. Each individual will have a unique and beneficial experience with yoga. And as your practice develops so too will your experiences.
General Yoga Guidelines
1. A yoga class typically runs for 1 hour and a half to two hours. It is advised that you do not eat at least two hours before class. If you have had a heavy meal please allow 3-4 hours to pass before class.
2. You will need to wear comfortable, close fitting clothing. Women may wear yoga pants or tights and a tank or t-shirt. Men may choose to wear comfortable pants and a t-shirt.
3. You will need a yoga mat for your practice. Shakti provides yoga mats to members; however you are encouraged to bring your own mat. Shakti Shop has yoga mats available in a variety of colors and styles.
4. If you are a woman who is menstruating it is advised that you do not perform any inverted or upside down poses. Your teacher will provide modifications for you.
5. If you have any injuries or recovering from injury or illness OR ARE PREGNANT, please let your instructor know, so he or she may provide modifications for you.
Finally, always listen to your body and be honest. If you are tired, rest. If you feel like you want to push yourself a little, go ahead. Always remember to maintain steady breathing throughout class.