I have a bad back and high blood pressure, is yoga safe for me?

Yoga, done with care and consistency, is good for bad backs and high blood pressure. Yoga decreases stress and strengthens and releases the back muscles. The way that you do yoga is vital. With good teaching, and with care on your part, yoga is ideal as a way of dealing with these problems. Certain poses may not be advisable, so please discuss this with your teacher.

Is yoga a religion or a cult?

No, it is not. Yoga means union. For most people yoga is about bringing balance to the body and emotions. Some people choose to use yoga as a spiritual journey – this is up to the individual.

After class I feel sleepy, is this OK?

Feeling sleepy after class could be a very good thing. If you lead a hectic life and never have time to slow down yoga may make you feel sleepy. If you feel sleepy after a class, the best thing is to take time to recover. If you do feel a bit dazed after class, focus on the soles of your feet, imagine exhaling through the feet and ‘keep your feet on the ground’.

I hurt my back doing yoga, Is it safe?

Yoga is sometimes taught as an aerobic style exercise where extreme poses are practiced before the body has enough inner strength to cope. Yoga taught well should not hurt or injure. Speak to your teacher about any concerns you have. In class follow your own body sense and do things within your ability.

Why is breathing always taught?

Breathing is probably the most fundamental part of yoga practice. The breath brings the poses to life helping us to adapt and change. It guides us as to when to go deeper and when to come back. Breathing also links the thoughts and emotions to the body. With the help of yogic breathing we can release negative emotions.

Is the relaxation at the end of the class vital, sometimes I have to leave class early?

During a yoga class we exercise the body. After this the body has a natural need to rest. This allows the body to process the yoga we have done and this is why relaxation is so important. Leaving class early is certainly not ideal. If it is a case of ‘yoga with no relaxation’ or ‘no yoga at all’, then leaving class early every so often is a very sensible choice.

Is yoga just another health fad?

Yoga is not a fleeting fad. It is an ancient series of ‘exercises’ that have been refined to promote inner harmony and physical wellbeing. It started in India centuries ago and is now practiced worldwide by millions of people.

Why can my friend do yoga better than me?

In yoga we work from where we are as individuals, our bodies work differently. Yoga is not about achieving great looking poses, but about finding an inner strength, balance and clarity. Your friend may do yoga ‘better’ than you because she is a dancer or gymnast, because she is practicing every day at home or because she holds very little muscle tension. Look to your strengths, and admire but don’t envy your friend her abilities. She is just another person trying to find her balance in the world.

I need more exercise than yoga, what is good for my body and builds strength?

The prime aim of yoga is not to build strength, and other forms of exercise may be needed. Where there are more possibilities for building muscle and strength there is also greater likelihood for causing injury. When considering other forms of exercise choose something that makes you feel good and looks after your body. Swimming is an excellent activity as the water protects the body from injury, keeps the body in balance and the spine well aligned.

How much should I practice at home?

Practice at home is vital for deepening your experience and understanding of yoga. Consider what will suit you best. You could start with 5 minutes every so often, then 20 minutes and extend this. At the end of the day, you will get out of yoga what you put in.

And all those funny names for the poses?

The Indian names, like halasana and trikonasana, are often used in yoga. This so that worldwide, people using these names know they are talking about the same things. Western names, like dog pose and mountain pose are also helpful.

What about different styles of yoga?

Different styles of yoga focus on different things. Yoga for 18 year old men will be dynamic, and yoga for pregnant women will have more emphasis on birth preparation and inner calm. Yoga taught in rural India 400 years ago would have had some natural differences to that taught in fast paced 20th century cities – we need more calm. Ashtanga yoga is almost aerobic, Iyengar is precise, Dru yog is peaceful and has mantras as part of the poses. I teach Inneryoga which focuses on the health of the inner organs and the posture or alignment of the body. By using the whole body in a pose we find a better balalnce for the body and the muscles, and in turn the mind. Inneryoga can be challenging or more restorative depending on the class. I also teach Yogabirth which is speicalised training for pregnancy and childbirth. It is Scaravelli based andallows the body to flow and find a natural harmony. Becoming aware of what you want out of a yoga class can help you find one that suits you best.

How are pilates and yoga different?

Pilates focuses on the physical body, whilst yoga is aimed to bring the mind and body into better harmony. In pilates you focus on breathing into the mid lungs, in yoga we breath into the deepest area of the lungs to bring calm and confidence. Yoga is an ancient system of movements and practises whilst pilates is a new form of exercise which which draws from yoga and other areas. Pilates focuses on the important core strength of the torso, Yoga tends to focus on the body as a whole being.

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