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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of doing yoga?

Our modern lifestyle can be very stressful on all levels: physical, mental and emotional.  By incorporating Yoga into your daily regime tremendous benefits can be gained.  First and foremost it can reduce levels of unhealthy stress and engender a state of calm within body and mind acting directly on the nerves system!  Being partly physical in its action, Yoga improves efficiency in the systems such as cardiovascular, endocrine and digestive as well as acting on muscles and tendons, increasing mobility of the spine and increasing intake of the oxygen to the vital organs.  Yoga not only benefits  health on a physical, mental and emotional level but it is able to provide a significant and positive change in one’s outlook on life and relationships with others.

What is the ideal time for yoga?

The ideal time for yoga is one to two hours before sunrise although this requires some readjustment of lifestyle and dedication. Alternatively, or additionally, a good time yoga is in the evening provided you have not eaten anything for at least two hours before hand.  Yoga is best if practiced on an empty stomach, but you can drink lemon juice or tea thirty minutes prior to your yoga practice.

How many times per week should I practice?

Any amount of Yoga practice will bring results, for instance a minimum session of twenty minutes per day will bring results but even just one hour‘s practice a week can provide some benefits.  As the body’s flexibility and condition of health increases so the time and frequency of your practice should increase; a ninety minute session per day is considered to be a normal level of practice.  However, as with all things of this nature the important thing is to get started and to be consistent.

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Why should we avoid food and drink before yoga session?

During yoga practice the internal organs receive a beneficial massage; by twisting the body, turning it upside down and bending it forward and backward.  Therefore, it can be a little uncomfortable at the best of times and especially if you have not fully digested your meal and the stomach is full.  If, however, you have a fast metabolic rate and worry that you might become hungry or weak during your yoga session, have a very light snack such as a banana, yogurt, a few nuts and raisins, or juice about thirty minutes to an hour before the start of the class.  Yoga is designed to open up the various energy channels within the body, especially the main channel: the spine.  This energy needs to flow freely, therefore, if you have food in your stomach you will be drawing some of this vital energy away for the purpose of digestion.  Also, the practice of yoga produces an internal heat (Agni) in the stomach area to burn up the impurities so, by drinking water, it is clearly counter productive.  However, for the beginner it is okay to drink a little, while the body and mind are not yet used to yoga practice.

Why Meditate?

We meditate in order to gain the results of peaceful reflection, in particular to obtain a state of inner calm and power; to be less affected by little things, powerfully addressing the stubborn problems and challenges of daily life.  By deepening this experience we achieve an increase in our mental clarity, intelligence and intuition.  Although it is very relaxing it is very different from sleeping, stimulating our natural healing hormones while improving mental, spiritual and physical well being.

What does Hatha mean?

Hatha is a combination of two Sanskrit terms: ‘ha’ meaning sun, and ‘tha’ meaning moon. The word ‘Hatha’, therefore, represents the combining and balancing of the masculine (sun, hot) energy with the feminine (moon, cool ) energy that are within us all.

Is Hatha Yoga the only practice of Yoga?

No, there are many other types of yoga practice such as Karma, Bhakti and Janna these focusing on service, worship and scripture/ knowledge respectively.  Hatha, on the other hand, focuses on the physical aspect of yoga more specifically, creating balance by uniting the opposite forces of yin and yang, utilising the physical body to develop this dynamic,
However, Hatha Yoga is not only about the Asanas (postures) and Pranayama (Yoga Breathing), it is also designed to open the many  energy channels of the body.  The essence of Hatha Yoga is Self-transformation, realization or discovery of the “Self”; connecting the self to the Higher Self.

What is Hath Yoga Pradipika?

The Hatha Yoga Pradipika is a classical text describing Hatha Yoga. It is said to be the oldest surviving text on Hatha Yoga written by Swami Swatmarama, a disciple of Swami Goraknath.   He is said to have written the text in the 15th century CE, drawing upon previous texts and his own experiences.

Is yoga a religion ?

“Yoga is in Religion - Religion is not in Yoga.”  Yoga is best described as a way of life, a philosophy for living life.  It started in India an estimated 5,000 years ago. The Yoga practices of self-awareness, self-training, and self-discovery are entirely non-sectarian, and are compatible with all religious beliefs.  If you are familiar with the differences between yoga and religion it is easy to keep them separate or, if you prefer, to integrate them with your religious practice.  The choice rests with each person as an individual.

Will I have to become a Hindu to do yoga?

No! Yoga is a philosophy which primarily aids ones spiritual progress. Yoga does not involve idol worship, identification with a deity or specific rituals.

What is the age limit for practicing yoga?

There is no upper age limit for yoga practice. Adults can start at 18 or 60 years of age and can continue up to 100 years or more.  It is best if children do not start yoga until they reach 12 years of age.

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I'm not flexible—can I do yoga?

Yes! Many people think that they need to be flexible before starting  yoga practice but that is a little bit like thinking that you need to be able to play tennis in order to take tennis lessons.  Come as you are and you will find that yoga practice will gradually help you to become more flexible.
This newfound agility will then be balanced by strength, co-ordination, and enhanced cardio-vascular health, as well as a sense of physical confidence and overall well-being.

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

Unlike stretching or other fitness regimes, yoga is more than just  performing physical postures.  Physical practice is just one aspect of yoga.  Even within the physical practice yoga is unique because we connect the movement of the body and the fluctuations of the mind to the rhythm of our breath.  Adding the control of the mind (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”.  Your body and mind will gradually become much more flexible by practicing yoga.

Do I have to be vegetarian to practice yoga?

No, however, being a vegetarian brings a positive effect to both the physical and energy body.  The first principle of yogic philosophy is ahimsa, which means non-harming to self and others.  Some people interpret this to include not harming killing and eating animals, however, there is debate about this in the yoga community.  If you are considering becoming a vegetarian do take into account your personal health issues and also how this choice may affect those around you.  Being a vegetarian should not be something that be impose on others as this can be seen as a form of aggression and is, therefore, contrary to the expression of ahimsa.

What does ‘Om’ mean?

‘Om’, also spelt ‘Aum’, it is a single-sound mantra that signifies the unification of the body, mind and spirit.  It is traditionally chanted at the beginning and the end of a yoga session.  Also, it is said to be the vibration or sound of the universe.  Scientists today assert that the entire universe is constantly in motion and nothing is ever static or still; everything that exists pulsates.  It is this rhythmic vibration that the ancient yogis acknowledged with the sound ‘Om’.  Chanting ‘Om’ allows us to recognize our personal experience in yoga practice as a reflection of the movement of the whole universe and through this we feel a sense of deeper connection.

What is Pantanjalis Yoga Sutras?

There are 195 sutras or concise aphorisms that are essentially outlines the science of yoga meditation for Self-realisation.  Patanjali is not the inventor of yoga, but a well known systematiser and compiler who codified the art and science of Yoga in “Yoga Sutras”.  Nothing new was created in this codification but existing knowledge was summarised in a extremely organized way.

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What are the benefits of doing yoga?

Briefly, yoga practice provides us with many benefits for the mind, body and soul.  Yoga is a scientific system which improves your blood circulation, tones up your digestive systems, endocrine systems and provides more oxygen to your body.  On the mental plane it increase self-awareness and creates a sense of inner peace.

What is pranayama?
Pranayama is yoga breathing and comes from the following words:

  1. Prana - "life force" or "life energy"
  2. Yama - "discipline" or "control"
  3. Ayama - "expansion", "non-restraint", or "extension"

Thus, Pranayama means "breathing techniques" or "breath control".  It consists of series of exercises specially designed to help the body regulate energy flow and aims to maintain optimum energy balance. It is predominantly used to help prepare the student for the Meditation process that follows.

What is the benefit of pranayama?

There are so many benefits: some are tangible and some non-tangible.  By practicing pranayama all the body’s organs receive more oxygen while toxins are concurrently removed from body with the obvious improvement to health and prevention of the onset of various diseases.  Pranayama strengthens the immune system and the digestive system, reduces lethargy and fatigue, improves blood circulation and respiratory functions, strengthens the endocrine and nervous systems, reduces blood pressure and assists health with many more advantages.

Is it alright to practice Yoga while pregnant?

Yes It is okay to continue practicing Yoga while pregnant as long as you had already been practicing before conception.  Yoga is a great way to keep fit during pregnancy.  In particular it can help strengthen the pelvic area, normalise thyroid functioning and blood pressure, and help keep you calm and relaxed, all of which is good for the baby too!  It obviously required to adjust all poses so as to avoid strain and compression to the abdomen, especially in the later stages of the pregnancy.

Can women do Yoga during menses?

Yes, however, it is advisable to avoid inverted poses as it is going against the natural flow, together with some of the stronger energising breathing exercises (kapalabhati) or strong (Uddyana bandha) abdomen stretching practices as these also may cause discomfort or disrupt the natural flow.

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