Frequently Asked Questions – FAQ
What is yoga?
Yoga is an Eastern discipline originating from India five to six thousand years ago. All the aspects of yoga focus upon the body, mind and spirit to become healthier and more balanced. The Eight Limbs of Patanjali’s Yoga include: asana (postures), pranayama (breathwork), pratyhara (pulling inward of the senses), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation) and life guidelines (yamas and niyamas i.e.-practice non-violence, don’t steal, etc.) to be and become a better, more centered and enlightened being that is connected to the divinity within us. All of these mentioned branches are practiced to eventually lead toward samadhi (the ecstatic state reached in the union with the One); ‘The One’ being your interpretation of God. That is why, whatever your spiritual or religious inclinations, yoga will enhance and deepen that connection.
I’ve heard of so many types of yoga. What’s the difference between them?
Yoga has hit the mainstream. More people practice yoga in the United States than in India presently. Unfortunately, the mainstream has diluted many rich, deep traditions in the practice. The majority of yoga classes you hear about are Hatha based; postures, meditation and breath control. Hatha classes include Ashtanga, Iyengar, Viniyoga, and Anusara. With the popularity of yoga, many of these disciplines are being misinterpreted by inexperienced teachers and only the physical aspect is getting taught and practiced. Each of these has their own forte. Iyengar has a strong focus on alignment and uses props to get more detailed in that alignment. Kundalini focuses quite a bit on the chakras and moving energy. Ashtanga is very dynamic. You methodically move through the four series, adding one pose at a time to your practice. You incorporate bandhas (i.e.- mulabandha is the pelvic floor lift/lock), breath and drishti (focal point) into each movement and pose.
I like to remind people that they all originate from the same yoga founded thousands of years ago. It is a very personal practice, so find an instructor you like and with whom you resonate. Be careful of disciplines that are disrespectful of the human body, push you to the point of injury (limits are hurdles to be conquered but not at the risk of your health) or deviate from the roots of true yoga. Your greatest guide and teacher are inside of you.
What style of yoga is PRANANDA Yoga?
The best way to describe the style of yoga I teach is Classical Yoga with a strong emphasis on the breath and alignment. It’s fun and wonderful to be able to contort your body into different positions but it’s just party tricks without the power and prana (life force) of the breath and meditation.
It is an HONOR for me to be a yoga instructor. I get the very cool privilege to witness the sacred yoga journey of each student in my class. PRANANDA instructors uphold this mission of respecting the body, mind, spirit and path of each student.
I’ve taken different trainings ranging from; Ashtanga and Iyengar based ones, to Forrest Yoga. My own personal practice is Ashtanga, which is influencing my teaching more and more. My belief is that a yoga instructor’s responsibility is to guide the student on their path to becoming a peaceful warrior.
Can I do yoga while menstruating?
There are many opinions about this. In some disciplines, women don’t practice at all. Others say your practice should be limited to cooling postures such as gentle forward bends and hip openers. Keep in mind many older texts were written only by males. Inversions can stop the flow for some women and cause cramping. I’ve found it all depends on your body and its response. Going up in a headstand for five minutes is not a good idea. Thirty seconds might be fine for you. There are many women who swear by their practice during their flow because it prevents cramping.
What should I wear to class?
Comfortable clothing that doesn’t restrict your breathing or body movements. Clothing where the instructor can see your alignment is preferred. Layers are also good because certain postures will crank up the prana and can make you quite warm.
Bare feet are essential for a safe yoga experience. Bare feet grip the floor and yoga mat more effectively.
Do I need to bring anything to class?
A water bottle and an open attitude to learn are wonderful things to bring. Bring your own mat, all other props are supplied- blankets, blocks and straps.
Can you suggest a good yoga DVD?
There are hundreds on the market now, all different levels and styles of yoga. We’re obviously partial to ours! You can order the PRANANDA Hip Opening Yoga DVD on this website (see homepage). There are three levels to grow with your practice. Stay tuned for our next DVD (Chair Yoga and Gentle Yoga), in 2018. You can also go to your local library and check out many yoga DVDs.
Where can I buy yoga props?
Sporting goods and health food stores carry most yoga props: mats, blocks, blankets and straps. Otherwise, there are some amazing deals on line if you search ‘yoga props’. My own personal opinions about yoga mats are: 1) When first starting out, buy a cheap one. They work just fine. The mid-price ranged yoga mats are not any better than the $6-$15 ones. You can recycle worn out mats by cutting them and making food placemats for your pets or donating them to an animal shelter. Dogs and cats love lying on them. 2) As you progress in your practice, if you are going to be practicing daily or a few times a week, then jump up to the $60-$100 range mat. In this price range, only buy the ones with a life-time warranty.
Why don’t you play music during class?
Yoga is about focusing inward. ‘Am I aligned?’ ‘Deepen my breath.’ ‘Let go of those thoughts from work.’ Music has a tendency to pull our focus outward. There are enough distractions throughout our daily lives pulling for our attention. The 60-75 minutes in a yoga class is about you, your mat, and your practice; that is your world during that precious time. Give yourself that.