All about Yoga

Within a very short time of beginning a yoga practice, you can expect to notice improvements in your flexibility, strength, and stamina. You may also find that various aches and pains you have routinely experienced (such as an achy back or pain in your wrists) begin to diminish. Many people also notice increased feelings of calm and well being and a better ability to concentrate.

Why are there so many different kinds of yoga?

The tradition of Hatha Yoga has developed into numerous schools of yoga, many of which have become popular in the United States. As the practice of yoga continues to evolve, new schools of yoga with new names appear. Some of the most commonly taught types in the U.S. are Iyengar Yoga, which emphasizes precision of alignment, Ashtanga Yoga (sometimes called “Power Yoga”), which features vigorous sequences of movement, and Kripalu Yoga and Integral Yoga, which emphasize integration of movement and breath. While the emphasis in these forms of yoga differs to some extent, they all have the same ultimate purpose to promote health, awareness, and equanimity.

Is yoga a religion?

No. Yoga developed out of and alongside Hinduism in ancient India and also has influenced and been influenced by Buddhism and Jainism. But yoga is not itself a religion: it does not entail belief in any doctrines or deities. Yoga encourages each person to explore his or her own experience to discover what is true and what works. Yoga teachers differ widely in the extent to which they incorporate such elements as chanting and meditation into their teaching, so spiritual practices do form some part of many yoga classes. The freeing of the human spirit, in its broadest sense, is the goal of all yoga but spiritual principles may be either implicit or explicit in a given teacher’s approach to teaching.

Who can do yoga?

Virtually anyone can do and benefit from yoga, though different kinds of yoga are appropriate for different people. Those who are already fit and energetic will find in yoga a way to develop their physical potential further than ever before, but people of any age can do yoga and people with even serious adverse physical conditions (such as MS, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and cancer) can benefit from yoga that is appropriately tailored for their needs. You do not have to be flexible in order to practice yoga. A responsible yoga teacher will always encourage you to modify the postures to work for your body. Each body has its own strengths and its own challenges. Yoga helps us to develop the former and work wisely with the latter. Please remember to tell your teacher of your condition or limitation before class. Teachers are trained to modify, eliminate, and suggest alternate strategies to enable you to practce safely and intelligently.

Would children benefit from doing yoga?

For children, yoga is an exciting, non-competitive, interactive and relaxing form of exercise. It promotes body awareness and interest in self-healthy. It helps children develop and maintain correct breathing and flexible and energetic bodies with good posture and muscular coordination. Besides the physical benefits, yoga works well in the area of cerebral well being. The children are encouraged to interact with one another, exchange ideas and experiment with innovative approaches to activities.

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