When I talk to people who are new to yoga the same questions seem to come up a lot so here I try to answer the questions that I get asked the most.
Can I do yoga if I’m not flexible?
In short, yes you absolutely can. Presuming that you have to be flexible to go to a yoga class is akin to presuming that you have to be able to play piano to go to a piano lesson. You don’t have to be flexible to go to a yoga class but you may find that your movements become freer and easier as a result of a regular practice and that in time you become more flexible.
How is yoga different from stretching?
Yoga is about more than just the physical posture. In yoga we connect the movement of our body to the flow of our breath. We learn to direct our attention inward and to recognise our habitual thought patterns without judging them or ourselves. Yoga teaches us to be present in this moment and to accept what our bodies can do today and recognise and respect that.
Do I have to be able to shut my thoughts off during Savasana? I really struggle to do this.
Our minds are wired to think! If you can, try to relax and focus on your breath. When you start thinking recognise your thought, acknowledge it and let it go (if it helps you can even use the word “thinking” when a thought arises). Accept where you are at today and honour whatever may come up for you without judgement. Meditation and relaxation are practices in their own right and can be much more difficult than the asana (physical posture) part of the yoga practice.
What does Namaste mean?
My soul honours your soul, I honour the place in you where the entire universe resides. I honour the light, love, truth, beauty and peace within you, because it is also within me. In sharing these things we are united, we are the same, we are one.
What does Om mean?
OM has the same roots as the words I AM or AMEN. These words are the sounds of the Divine, the All That Is. It is the sound of the universe, a symbol of connection to all living things and beings.
Why do we do Sun Salutations?
This series of poses strengthen and lengthen and flex and extend many of the main muscles in the body. With the focus on linking movement with breath we experience a moving meditation.
Is yoga a religion?
No! Yoga is a philosophy that began in India approximately 5,000 years ago. Patanjali wrote the Yoga Sutras which provide a framework for spiritual growth and mastery over the physical and mental bodies. Yoga interweaves philosophies such as Hinduism or Buddhism but you do not have to relinquish your own religious beliefs (or lack thereof) in order to practice Yoga.