All your yoga questions answered.
The word yoga itself means “union”: of the individual consciousness or soul with the Universal Consciousness or Spirit. There are many interpretations of what yoga means and what it can offer. For me yoga is learning how to undo the conditioning of illusions and separation and arriving back in the heart of who we are as spiritual, energetic, conscious beings.
Yoga is asking the not so easy questions: Who am I? Why am I here? How do I realize my personal truth? How can I serve this life to my fullest potential?
Yoga is the process of learning how to heal our inner most child, with patience, kindness, and unconditional love. It is finding creative ways to love our bodies, our minds and our hearts for all they have seen and felt and giving a platform to our pain to express itself. Yoga is a prayer to the divine and mother earth, as we heal ourselves we extend that healing to her.
All you need to begin practicing yoga is your body, the presence of your heart, and a bit of curiosity. When I first started practicing it was in my dining room with random youtube videos and online classes. It was nothing fancy, nothing that required more than what i had access to. So don’t be afraid to use your surroundings as an inspiration to start. Wear clothing that is comfortable and not restrictive. Yoga is practiced bare feet as it allows you to have a deeper connection with the earth and grounds you down to the healing energies of our planet.
Although most studios provide you with mats, I highly encourage investing in one for your personal practice.
This is the most common question and the answer is and will always be, Yes. People often think that they need to be flexible to begin yoga, but that’s quiet the opposite. Yogis are not born flexible. Flexibility is a life long practice of creating space in the body. Come as you are and you will find that your yoga practice will help you become more spacious and open, not only physically but also mentally.
Unlike stretching or fitness, yoga goes beyond just the physical postures. The physical Asana practice is only one aspect of your entire yoga experience. Yoga is not only training the body but training the mind. Training the heart. The spirit.
With our deep sense of awareness and attention to our breath we create a divine experience that allows us to transcend into higher realms of consciousness where we can 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. We learn to live in the Now.
Being a vegetarian is a personal choice. As yogis we are encouraged to practice Ahimsa, which means non-harming to self and others. I started as a vegetarian, as my diet growing up was mainly plant based and as I dove deeper into my yoga practice my body energetically began rejecting animal products.
I am currently in the transitional state of becoming a vegan, which for me has been an incredibly empowering experience. It wasn’t something I forced upon myself but naturally transpired as I started to see all life as one and my connection to my body and the earth grew stronger.
Vegetarian or not – I will always encourage you to honor where you are in your journey and make conscious, deliberate decisions when it comes to what you consume and feed into your body.
Om is a sound and symbol, rich in meaning and depth, often chanted at the beginning and end of yoga classes. Om is called the seed sound (bija), the original sound from which all other sounds and worlds come from. This is why Om is said to represent God, Brahman, Source, Universal Consciousness. Because it has the power to create everything.
The A (aahhh) sound represents the creation aspect of the universe and all of the gross objects within it.
THe U (oooh) sound signifies the maintaining energy of the universe and the subtle impressions of the mind.
The M (mmmm) sound characterizes the transformative energy of the universe and the thoughts and beliefs of your being.
The fourth sound is silence or anagata It is the vibration which is beyond verbal pronunciation. It is pure consciousness of the Self or the Atman. The unity of Sat Chit Ananda (I exist, I know, I am blissful) is experienced here.
Chanting Om brings into your awareness the physical reality of this world and your body, the subtle impressions of the mind and emotions and the thoughts and beliefs of your life and this world.
Mediation, like any other practice takes time, patience, discipline and detachment. Just like you don’t go to the gym once and expect to have a 6 pack, don’t attach your expectations to one session of meditation and getting it right. We as a society have learned to work the muscles of our body to build resistance and endurance, but have failed to see the value and importance of building the muscles of our mind. Our greatest asset as human beings. The thing that controls our lives and how we feel in any given moment.
Most have a vague understanding of what meditation is and they try to box and squeeze themselves into that frame so they can feel like they have been “successful” at mediating. But true meditation is allowing our thoughts to come by and not trying to force them to go away but becoming curious as to why did that thought arrive. where did it come from. who generated it into the realms of our mind. And the more you explore the arrival of your thoughts the more you realize the person observing the thought is not the same person thinking the thought.
when you let go of your attachment to needing to succeed at mediation, and getting a certain result – you allow space for being. Focus on your breath and its presence and the mind will naturally dissolve into the background.
Every women experiences her menstrual cycle differently, so ultimately the choice of whether to do yoga during your period — and what style to practice during this time — is all about how you feel and how it honors you.
For me, I generally allow myself to be in complete rest my 1st and 2nd day as they are the most painful and my energy levels drop drastically. I do however always incorporate gentle yin and very therapeutic postures to help my flow and ease the cramps. Bleeding is often a very intense experience for most women, so I encourage you to take time off if your schedule allows to tend to your emotional and physical healing during this time.
Nurture your body and your womb as you allow yourself to release that no longer serves your highest being.