What is yoga?
The word yoga means "union" in Sanskrit; The union happening between the mind, body and spirit. What is commonly referred to as "yoga" can be more accurately described by the Sanskrit word asana, this refers to a system of postures and pose practiced as part of this discipline to promote control of the body and mind.
Yoga is different to everyone. Some use it as a means of just exercise; some use it as a means of awakening. At the end of the day as long as you’re in control reaping its amazing benefits, it doesn’t matter WHAT it’s used for.
What style of yoga do I pick?
There are so many different types and styles of yoga and it’s important to find the right one for you and your specific needs (if any) I advise you to try a few different styles before selecting just one, as well as switching it up here and there to try something new, meet new people and wake up the body and mind. There is definitely something for everyone!
Here is a list of the different styles you may want to look into:
How many times a week can I practice?
Like any new exercise regimen, you’ll want to start off slow. Your body maybe sore after the first few times so take it easy and listen to yourself. Don’t overdo it, or it may lead to injuries. Yoga has some amazing benefits that you will feel after the first session. I suggest 2-3X/wk to start and then as you get more comfortable you can increase your sessions and time. Remember to keep realistic goals and don't let time constraints or unrealistic goals be an obstacle, just do what you can do and enjoy it!
I’m not flexible, can I still do yoga?
Simple answer: Yes! You are actually the perfect candidate for yoga. Many people think that they need to be flexible to begin yoga, but that's a little bit like thinking that you need to be able to cook before you take cooking lessons. Arrive to class with an open mind and let go of all inhibitions and the practice will allow to you become more flexible with time.
Why do people do yoga?
There are many different reasons for why people practice yoga over other exercise routines as well as incorporate it into their current exercise programs.
To each their own really. You don’t “NEED” a reason. You do what feels good, right? I personally turned to yoga when I needed an outlet and found myself in my darkest hour. I continued with it because of the way it made me and my body feel. The strength and flexibility I developed was enough for me to get excited to remain a faithful student. The benefits yoga has to offer is overwhelming and I urge you to just give it a try.
Is yoga JUST Stretching?
Yes…and NO! Yoga is not a glorified stretching routine. Rather it’s a way to unite the mind, body, and the soul all while developing strength, flexibility and good health.
On one hand, when practicing yoga poses regularly, you can tone muscles without ever lifting a single weight. The reason is that in yoga your own body weight provides all the resistance needed to do everything from build biceps, develop deltoids and strengthening the core sculpting those abdominals.
On the other hand, YES, yoga is about stretching too. A regular yoga routine will go a long way toward increasing functional flexibility, and encourage the muscles and ligaments to work together therefore gaining increased full range of motion.
What do I need for yoga, what do I wear?
I remember the first day I went to a HOT yoga class (The room STARTS at 38.4 degrees) I wore a T-shirt and sweats…I almost DIED! I went to LuLu Lemon the very next day and picked up some fitted spandex and tank tops. Stores like Lulu Lemon carry a wide range of workout and everyday clothing to help aid in your yoga practice. These materials keep the sweat away from your body which in turn helps keep you cool and comfortable. When doing yoga you want fitted, secure clothing or it could get in the way while practicing. Men can usually get away with just wearing a pair of shorts. Making sure YOU’RE comfortable is the main thing.
Can yoga help me lose weight?
Firstly you need to understand there are many factors that lead to weight gain, and hinder weight loss such as genetic factors, lifestyle, individual willpower, and food addiction. Having said that, I do believe that yoga DOES have the potential to be very transformative on many levels.
The most obvious physical benefits of yoga practice comprise of loosening the muscles that have been tightened by inactivity, tension, and/or stress. ANY style of yoga will aid in the tone, length, and strengthen the muscles, which can contribute to the sculpting of the body, but not essentially to weight loss. You need to understand that muscle is denser and consequently heavier than the corresponding fat tissue. Combined with healthy eating and regular cardio activity, yoga will definitely help in contributing to weight loss. Just ask yourself…how bad do you want it?
What is the difference between HOT & Regular temp yoga and what are its benefits?
Hot yoga is done in a room that starts at 38.4 degrees, and this changes with different studios and practices as well. For example, Bikram’s practices in a room that’s 105 degrees and 60 percent humidity. As the class goes on the room will continue to get warmer with body heat and movement. Prepare to SWEAT!!
Mobility is probably the greatest benefit of hot yoga. Cold muscles tend to be more likely to tear while stretched. Hot yoga advocates that stretching warm muscles is more effective and lets you progress deeper into poses.
Now onto the immune system. Sweating releases the toxins from the body. Raising your core temperature simulates a fever-like environment in your body, elevating white blood cell production and fighting viruses and bacteria. Your body also makes additional proteins referred to as interferon’s which raise the production of antibodies. We all know that stress weakens the immune system; as a result taking part in such activities that lessen stress also reduces susceptibility to health issues.
Please note that hot yoga isn’t for everyone and you should make sure you’re in good health before you practice HOT yoga or start any exercise routine. Heat exhaustion and dehydration are very common and if you’re not familiar with the signs and symptoms of these two, it could be very dangerous to your health. Please also DRINK LOTS OF WATER!
WHY does it hurt so much and will it get easier?
You’re working the ENTIRE body, building and stretching stagnant limbs, joints and muscles that you’ve probably never stretched before. If you haven’t MOVED your body in a while then the results can be uncomfortable and sore. The GREAT thing is that if there’s a little pain and discomfort, it means you DID something. If there’s a LOT of pain, you may have overdone it. Yoga shouldn’t HURT. You should be pushing yourself all while staying in tune to your body and only going as far as you can that day. You want to push yourself, but NOT hurt yourself.
With time it will get easier as you increase your flexibility and strength. Yoga is wonderful as it allows for growth and the ability to move forward ever increasing resistance, power and focus. There is more range of motion in the body that not many people are aware of and you’d be surprised how far you can go with concentration and consistency.
Yoga for bodybuilders:
I’ve received a few questions in regards to this topic so I will try and touch on all aspects.
This is such a sensitive subject as pumping iron and stretching seem to be at the opposite ends of the fitness spectrum, not to mention what’s “right” in today’s society.
Yoga can and is being used in conjunction with body building to maximize the results one can achieve, prevent injury, and a host of other benefits. Through the use of slow, gentle, stretching exercises the fascia is elongated. The fascia is a very strong, protective sheath of connective tissue that covers all muscles and all muscle cells. When the fascia is stretched is allows for more room for the muscle underneath to grow and thus becoming bigger. Muscles become shortened and tight from the constant repetitive, short range of motion during lifts typical in bodybuilding training. This can lead to increased and frequent injuries throughout the joints and muscles. Over time it can hinder your mobility completely.
There are a number of reasons why yoga is a perfect partner to body building. Not only does it enhance your bodybuilding routine, but is also helps you to know your body better.
I did an entire post for “Men and Yoga” that speaks a lot on muscles, range of motions and benefits. Please check that post out for more on this topic.
Lastly, try to get over the fear! Yoga is one of the practices that consist of awareness and truly tuning into YOU! The great thing about a yoga class is that everyone is really concentrating on themselves so no need to worry about what others are thinking…and honestly WHO CARES! You’re doing yourself a BIG favor mentally, emotionally and physically and you need to appreciate all of that.
Why is yoga so expensive?
As I started writing this, I was half way down the page and realized that THIS can be its OWN blog post as I feel very strongly about this. Stay tuned…