Q: What is yoga?
A: Yoga is an ancient and time-tested practice of performing poses with awareness to foster a deep connection between mind and body. As it is practiced today, yoga tends to focus on the physical benefits it reaps, including flexibility, balance and fitness. However, yoga practices also result in heightened psychological and spiritual benefits through yoga postures, breathing practice, training the mind and fostering emotional balance.
Q: How is Iyengar Yoga different?
A: Iyengar Yoga has similar aims to other forms of yoga, but can be argued to have originated many of the methods in use today by other forms and styles of yoga. These innovations are numerous:
1) The use of various props such as blocks, belts, benches, and ropes to make it easier for students with limitations to get the same benefits as more flexible students
2) Emphasis on correct anatomical alignment in all poses, to make each pose healthy for joints, ligaments and muscles
3) Practicing poses not only for their musculoskeletal benefits, but also for their benefits to internal organs, and in general for all the body’s physiological systems (circulatory, nervous, immune, endocrine, etc.)
4) Increased depth and rigor of training of instructors, who are not certified in the method until they are able to address the needs of each student in every class they teach, giving modified poses where needed; knowing what the contraindications (factors that give reason to withhold a certain treatment) are; and how to observe and give corrections
5) Sequencing of instructions and poses with explicit guidance on how to perform each pose with integrity
6) Features a systematic method from beginning to end, moving toward advanced postures, performance of poses and breathing practices.
Q: Is yoga only for physically fit/flexible people?
A: Yoga can benefit anyone, provided they find a class and instructor that meet their specific needs. One can take yoga to become physically fit and flexible. Someone who is already fit and flexible can take yoga to gain more awareness, challenge themselves and deepen their sense of wholeness.
Q: How do I know which class is best for me?
A: Read each class description and decide which one matches what you are looking for. You can also call us to talk about what you are looking for and we will help you select an appropriate class. Ultimately, trying a class is the best way to know which is best for you.
Q: When is the best time to enroll in/begin a class?
A: You can enroll and begin a class at any time. If you are completely new to yoga, the instructor will spend extra time and attention to help you understand the basics in any class you attend.
Q: Can I practice yoga if I am sick or have an existing medical/musculoskeletal condition?
A: If you are sick and contagious, the best thing to do is to seek medical help, stay home and rest. If you have a medical or musculoskeletal condition, then you may gain benefit from either a regular class or a yoga therapy class. Yoga therapy is a sequence of modified poses adjusted to meet the specific therapeutic needs of the individual. It is best to call and discuss your situation to decide which class to take.
Q: What do I need to bring to class?
A: Please bring clothing you can comfortably stretch in. We provide all necessary equipment such as nonskid mats, belts, blocks, etc.
Q: What should I wear to class?
A: Wear clothing that you can easily stretch in and doesn’t restrict your movements. Clothing that allows you and the instructor to easily see how your arms and legs line up is also ideal (short-sleeves, shorts or leggings). Please refrain from wearing scented personal care products or perfumes because a growing number of people are allergic/sensitive to fragrance.
Q: Should I eat before class?
A: Eating a light meal two or more hours before class, or a snack an hour before class is the recommendation.
Q: Should I drink water during yoga?
A: You may sip water during yoga if you feel very thirsty, but it is best to ‘hydrate’ 15 – 30 minutes before class and wait until afterwards to drink again.
Q: Where is the relaxation in Iyengar Yoga?
A: In Iyengar Yoga, relaxation comes in several ways:
1) During each pose, where we cultivate a balance between the effort to achieve the intended shape and dynamic actions of each pose, and an attitude of receptivity to the body’s readiness. This means we relax the mind while we practice each pose by not pushing beyond the body’s current limitations, and by relaxing the breath.
2) At the end of each class during ‘corpse pose’ (Savasana).
3) Through restorative poses, which are done with support of benches, bolsters, blankets and other props that help us stay in poses for several minutes without having to exert the same effort we do in active poses
4) Breathing practice, called Pranayama, refines our awareness of the connections between the mind and body, and allows us to let go of attitudes and habits that take us out of states of inner rest and peace.
Q: Is there flow within Iyengar Yoga?
A: We practice Vinyasa in Iyengar Yoga, which includes the classic sun salutation (Surya Namaskar). These are done periodically, to foster and maintain physical and mental stamina, but they are also done with awareness of healthy joint alignment and the usual principles of sequencing characteristic of Iyengar Yoga.
Q: Is yoga a religion?
A: Yoga is not a religion. It is also not just a physical practice, nor is it just a philosophy. Yoga is a practice whose aim is to experientially understand who we are, for the purpose of living a full and meaningful life. Living life, with its challenges and rewards, its joys and pains eventually reveals to us - how much we depend on others for our well-being, to what extent we can rely on our own resources, what kinds of beliefs and attitudes are useful and beneficial, and which ones are not.
These lessons of life often arrive at what appear to be random times, and we must usually scramble to catch up, or to learn in hindsight. Yoga is like a small laboratory where we can discover at a manageable pace some of the realities that can otherwise be overwhelming.
As Mr. Iyengar has said:
“Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.”
"Yoga, an ancient but perfect science, deals with the evolution of humanity. This evolution includes all aspects of one's being, from bodily health to self-realization. Yoga means union -- the union of body with consciousness and consciousness with the soul. Yoga cultivates the ways of maintaining a balanced attitude in day-to-day life and endows skill in the performance of one's actions."