No, yoga is not a religion. It is a philosophy that dates back an estimated 5,000 years. The father of yoga is said to be Patanjali, who wrote the Yoga Sutra. These writings provide a framework for spiritual growth and mastery over the physical and mental body. Yoga sometimes interweaves other philosophies such as Hinduism or Buddhism, but it is not necessary to study those paths in order to practice or study yoga. It is also not necessary to surrender your own religious beliefs to practice yoga.
Unlike stretching or calisthenics, yoga is more than just physical postures. Even within the physical practice, yoga is unique because we connect the movement of the body and the fluctuations of the mind to the rhythm of our breath. Connecting the mind, body, and breath helps us to direct our attention inward. Through this process of inward attention, we learn to recognize our habitual thought patterns without labeling them, judging them, or trying to change them. We become more aware of our experiences from moment to moment. The awareness that we cultivate is what makes yoga a practice, rather than a task or a goal to be completed. Your body will most likely become much more flexible by doing yoga, and so will your mind.
There is no firm rule on this, but we can tell you that the more frequently you practice, the more quickly the benefits will manifest. Twice a week is a great place to start.
How is yoga different from other forms of stretching?
What is yoga?
Do I have to be a vegetarian to do yoga?
I’m not flexible. Can I still do yoga?
Is Yoga a religion?
How many times a week should I practice yoga?
Do I need to bring my own mat?
Yes! You are a perfect candidate for yoga. Many people think that they need to be flexible to begin yoga, but the more inflexible you are, the more you will benefit by taking yoga classes. Come as you are and you will find that yoga practice will help you become more flexible. This new found flexibility will be balanced by strength, coordination, and enhanced cardiovascular health, as well as a sense of physical confidence and overall well-being.
What should I wear to class?
Yoga is a program of physical postures, called ‘asanas’, designed to purify the body and strengthen the body, and improve flexibility. The regular practice of yoga can impart a feeling of calm, confidence, and overall well being. Yoga is believed to have developed some 5,000 years ago, probably in India. Early yogis would sit in meditation for eight hours, or longer. Today, we spend our time sitting at desks, or sitting in front of televisions, or electronic devices. An important benefit of today’s yoga is that it helps to counter the adverse physical effects of all that sitting—just as it did centuries ago.
You do not have to change your diet, to have a beneficial yoga practice. However, once you begin to see, and feel, the difference yoga can make in your body, you may choose to accelerate those benefits by living a healthier lifestyle, including making dietary changes. It’s entirely up to you.
No, we have mats that you can use at no cost. However, after a few weeks of practice, many people enjoy having their own mats, and sometimes a ‘mat bag’ with shoulder strap in which to carry it.
Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing that allows you to bend and stretch with ease. ‘Yoga pants’ can be any pants in which you move comfortably.