Emily Lauren Burg
WHAT IS YOGA?
Yoga means union – to unify and to make whole. Yoga is the process of bringing the body and the mind together in unification and making one whole in body, mind and spirit.
Yoga teaches us how our bodies work, how to breathe properly, and how to use all of these techniques to our benefit. This enables us how to understand and relate to the mind and body together instead of separately.
What kind of yoga are we practicing?
We are practicing Hatha yoga. Hatha yoga focusing on uniting opposites: “ha” means sun in Sanskrit and “tha” means moon. Hatha yoga unites opposites through postures (asana) and breath (pranayama).
Hatha yoga was introduced to the world by Krishnamacharya, considered the father of modern yoga, at the end of the 19th Century.
Is yoga a religion?
No. Often associated with Hinduism because of its development in India, yoga actually is a spiritual philosophy, of which the physical practice – asana – is only one aspect.
Patanjali, a philosopher circa 2nd Century BCE, compiled the Yoga Sutras, the core philosophies of yoga practice, in which he outlines the eight limbs of yoga – the philosophies essential to a yogic life:
- Yama = attitudes towards our environment
- Niyama = attitudes towards ourselves
- Asana = the practice of body exercises
- Pranayama = the practice of breathing exercises
- Pratyahara = the restraint of our senses
- Dharana = the ability to direct our minds
- Dhyana = the ability to develop interactions with what we seek to understand
- Samadhi = complete integration with the object of meditation/what we seek to understand
What is this Om thing we are chanting at the beginning and end of our practice?
Om is comprised of three Sanskrit letters – aa, au and ma – which, when combined together, make the sound Aum or Om.
It is believed that Om mystically embodies the essence of the entire universe – it is the basic sound of the world and contains all other sounds.
When chanted it’s considered to have a divine frequency, to be a positive affirmation and a symbol of peace and perfection that resonates throughout the body, penetrating to the center of one’s being, the atman or soul.
What should I know about yoga before I do it?
Yoga should never be painful
At times, especially as we develop our practice, certain asanas may be uncomfortable, but yoga never should hurt. There are ways to modify every position to accommodate every body so if something hurts, let the teacher know. Everyone can find something to do in yoga that can work for them.
Wear something comfortable
We will be moving, standing, sitting, stretching, so wear something that allows for flexibility and ease of movement. We may also be sweating, so layers are good.
Try to practice on an empty stomach
If possible, try not to eat two hours prior to coming to class. If you do need to eat before you practice, try to eat something light.
Yoga is about you . . . and you
Don’t worry about what’s happening on the mat next to you. Yoga is a journey that brings you inward, connecting you with yourself. It’s not a competition. It’s not a race. It’s not about who’s more flexible, who can relax faster or chant louder. Close your eyes. Go inward. We come to yoga to be alone in a crowd – we’re sharing our personal practices together and what happens during our yoga practice stays in the yoga room.
If you come to class late and the class is engaged in opening meditation, please enter quietly and sit right down – don’t unroll your yoga mat or unpack your stuff. Please sit quietly until the class begins to move.
Please don’t disturb the class during Savasana (final resting pose). If you need to leave before class ends, please do so before everyone gets settled into Savasana so the class can rest peacefully.
Yoga and perfume don’t mix. Please refrain from wearing perfume, essential oils or any additional scents when attending class (if the basic beauty products you use are scented, that’s OK, just please don’t add any additional scents).
We do yoga in bare feet and are on the floor a lot, so we like to keep shoes out of the way of where we will be practicing yoga, and ideally, out of the yoga room entirely (if possible).
Where can I get a yoga mat?
Online resources for more information about yoga: