There are a lot of misconceptions about yoga: who it's for (everyone), Why its beneficial (Because...wellness), and if you need to be flexible (no).
Some FAQs to Guide your Way
What is yoga?
The word “yoga” comes from ancient sanskrit text. It is a root of the word “yuj” which in modern day practice is interpreted as union. Yoga is the union of the mind, body, and spirit. Yoga is so much more than asanas - or yoga poses. It stretches beyond the West’s idea of exercise as solely physical. Meditation and breathing are a huge component of yoga, and when the three are practiced together, that is when there begins a unity within yourself.
Why do people practice yoga?
Everyone comes to yoga for different reasons. It could be as simple as wanting to gain strength and flexibility, or as a way to start on a healthier lifestyle path. Yoga is also a great tool to deal with emotional constraints and is proven as an effective way of dealing with depression, anxiety, PTSD and even addiction.
There are a multitude of benefits that a regular yoga practice can give you and these include (but are not limited to): increased flexibility, increased muscle tone, improved energy, weight reduction/maintenance, posture correction, improved bone health, increase of blood flow, stress reduction, helps you focus, aids sleep, prevents IBS and other similar digestive problems, promotes inner strength, helps fight allergies, and makes you happier. And this isn’t even the tip of the iceberg!
Is yoga a religion?
Contrary to popular believe, yoga is not a religion. Yoga grew from the ancient Indus-Sarasvati civilization in Northern India more than 5,000 years ago and although it was mentioned in various religious texts since its creation, yoga itself is not a religion.
Modern yoga was introduced to the western world in the mid 1900s, and grew extremely popular due to the myriad of benefits it gives to its practitioners. Although there is a spiritual, rather than religious, aspect to yoga - this is an option, and not a requirement when you practice.
What should I wear?
Wearing tighter fitting clothing over loose fitting clothing is suggested. This is due to the variety of positions yoga has to offer.
Take downward dog - a very common pose, and almost always makes an appearance in class. If you were to wear a loose fitting shirt, you can be guaranteed it will act as a mask during downward dog - preventing you to take in clean oxygen when practicing your pranayama (don’t worry, you’ll learn).
What should I bring?
This is one of the most important questions. The main things that are a must when coming to yoga class is: a mat (although you can usually rent them if you don’t have your own), a water bottle, an open mind, and a smile.
Who is yoga for?
As cliche as it sounds - yoga truly is for everybody. Because yoga is such a diverse practice, there are modifications available for everyone. Denver also has classes for absolutely all demographics - kids, teenagers, adults, moms, pregnant women and the disabled. If you’re thinking about trying it, you must!
What if I'm not flexible?
It's okay! One instructor once said that the more inflexible you are, the easier yoga is - and that instructor was right. The less flexible you are, the less into the pose you need to get to reap the benefits and feel the stretch. Still don’t believe it? The entire practice of yoga is noncompetitive. It is a journey between yourself and your practice. You do whatever feels right for YOU.
Are there different styles?
Oh boy - the styles of yoga abound. You can find anything from the traditional Hatha yoga, to Vinyasa, Kundalini, Power, Yin, Aerial, Stand-Up Paddleboard, Blindfolded. You name it, yoga has it!