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Yoga FAQs

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[edit] 1. What does Hatha mean?

Hatha is a generic term that has come to denote all styles of physical yoga. Most styles of hatha yoga include breathwork (pranayama) and meditation techniques in addition to physical exercises known as asanas or postures.

The word hatha means force or power, implying a practice which is intended to liberate the dormant energies within. Hatha Yoga refers to positive (ha-meaning sun) and to negative (tha-meaning moon) forces that exist within us. These opposing forces are to be balanced and mastered so that the vital force, prana, can be regulated, the mind cleared and super conscious states experienced. That way a person can lead a healthy life

[edit] 2. How is yoga different from stretching or other kinds of fitness?

Yoga is a complete form of exercise. It increases passive and dynamic flexibility, balance and coordination and helps to strengthen and tone the muscles. While traditional forms of exercise are goal oriented, yoga by contrast is a process. Yoga is more than just physical postures. In fact physical practice is just one aspect of yoga. Yoga exercises the body, draws awareness to breathing and helps the mind to concentrate.

[edit] 3. Is yoga a religion?

Yoga is a philosophy that is nearly 5,000 years old. It is a practical approach to healthy living based on a philosophy that mind, body and spirit are one. The father of yoga is said to be Patanjali, who wrote the ‘Yoga Sutras’ or the ‘Yoga Aphorisms’. These scriptures provide a framework for spiritual growth and mastery over the physical and mental body. Yoga draws on other philosophies such as Hinduism or Buddhism, but it is not necessary to study those paths in order to practice yoga. It is also not necessary to surrender your own religious beliefs to practice yoga.

[edit] 4. Does yoga result in weight loss?

That depends on how frequently it is done, the type of yoga you do and what you eat. Certain vigorous yoga practices like Ashtanga and Bikram Yoga may help in weight loss. Yoga can help you to lose weight gradually and permanently when you practice regularly and eat reasonably. Yoga also helps to tone the muscles, improves posture and brings about a general sense of well being.

[edit] 5. How do I pick a type of yoga and get started?

There are several different styles of Hatha yoga. In Bikram Yoga asanas are performed in a heated room, Ashtanga incorporates challenging poses, while Iyengar is slower paced and uses props and aids to enable you to hold poses for longer. These are just a few of the yoga styles. Research and a sample class will help you sort out what you prefer. It is important to find a good teacher and the level and style of yoga you feel most comfortable doing.

[edit] 6. How many times a week should one do yoga?

The more time spent on yoga, the greater the benefits. Most yoga classes last between 60-90 minutes. A practice with three sessions a week is the ideal starting point. After some practice this can be increased to 5 times a week, for an hour each time. Practicing yoga for just 15 minutes a day can introduce you to the benefits of yoga.

[edit] 7. Is it necessary to be a vegetarian to benefit from yoga?

The benefits of yoga can be enjoyed without having to turn into a vegetarian. However, for the most complete yoga experience, a vegetarian diet is preferred. Vegetarian foods are said to calm the mind and sharpen the intellect. But the benefits of yoga are not dependent on becoming a vegetarian.

[edit] 8. Is yoga for everyone? What about the stiff and out of shape people?

Yoga classes vary greatly in levels of difficulty. Classes range from gentle yoga; for beginners, to classes that develop and require more endurance and flexibility. A yoga practice must be built up gradually and will result in increased flexibility.

[edit] 9. Is it safe to practice yoga at home?

As with anything new, it is recommended that the asanas are learnt under the guidance of a teacher. Certain asanas if performed incorrectly may damage the body. Learn the poses correctly with a teacher before attempting to follow a book or a video.

[edit] 10. Are yoga classes safe?

Yoga classes are generally safe. However, it is important that the practice is done with a certified teacher and at a suitable level of difficulty. Like with any other physical activity, yoga can cause muscle strains or sprains if performed incorrectly. It is important to choose the correct level of yoga. Straining the body beyond its capabilities can seriously damage it.

[edit] Did You Know?

  • Yoga is about creating awareness -- awareness of your breath, awareness of your body in space, awareness of coordination and rhythm. In many ways, Yoga brings mindfulness to the activities you’re doing.
  • Om is a mantra, or vibration, that is traditionally chanted at the beginning and end of yoga sessions. It is said to be the sound of the universe.
  • The ancient yogis knew what scientists today are telling us –- that the entire universe is moving. Nothing is ever solid or still. Everything that exists pulsates, creating a rhythmic vibration that the ancient yogis acknowledged with the sound of Om.

[edit] References

  • Yoga FAQs
  • Ask the Yoga teacher

[edit] See Also