What is yoga?

The word yoga, from the Sanskrit word yuj means to yoke or bind and is often interpreted as “union” or a method of discipline. 

The Indian sage Patanjali is believed to have collated the practice of yoga into the Yoga Sutra an estimated 2,000 years ago. The Sutra is a collection of 195 statements that serves as a philosophical guidebook for most of the yoga that is practiced today. It also outlines eight limbs of yoga: the yamas (restraints), niyamas (observances), asana (postures), pranayama (breathing), pratyahara (withdrawal of senses), dharana (concentration), dhyani (meditation), and samadhi (absorption). As we explore these eight limbs, we begin by refining our behavior in the outer world, and then we focus inwardly until we reach samadhi (liberation, enlightenment).

Today most people practicing yoga are engaged in the third limb, asana, which is a program of physical postures designed to purify the body and provide the physical strength and stamina required for long periods of meditation.

 

What style of yoga does Wolf Yoga Co practice?

At Wolf Yoga Co we practice Vinyasa Flow, also known as Power Yoga. This is a type of yoga wonderful for strengthening the body. This style of yoga is usually faster paced as it synchronizes breath and movement to increase core strength, muscular flexibility and blood circulation. Poses are strung together into cycles in a smooth way to cultivate body awareness and balance. 

 

I’m not flexible. Can I do yoga?

Absolutely! In fact, you are the perfect candidate for yoga. Give it a try and over time you will notice that you will develop more and more flexibility.

Everybody is different, so never feel the need to practice poses exactly like the teacher: they are only guides to help you listen to your body. Never force yourself and stay within your limits.

 

What do I need to bring to practice yoga?

Wear loose fitting and comfortable workout gear. At Wolf Yoga Co, we will provide you with yoga mats and yoga towels (for sweating), so all you need to bring to class is your water bottle!

 

When should I practice yoga?

This is entirely up to you, however, avoid eating several hours beforehand. This is because you will be twisting, bending and turning – things that are not very comfortable with a full stomach.

Some people enjoy early morning sessions, yoga before lunch or a relaxing class just before bed. It is recommended to practice yoga as consistently as possible.

 

How is yoga different from other exercises?

Unlike stretching or fitness, yoga is more than just physical postures. Patanjali’s eight-fold path illustrates how the physical practice is just one aspect of yoga. 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.

 

Is yoga a religious practice?

Yoga is not a religion. It is a philosophy that began in India thousands of years ago. The father of classical ashtanga yoga (the eight-limbed path, not to be confused with Sri K. Pattabhi Jois’ Ashtanga yoga) is said to be Patanjali, who wrote the Yoga Sutra. These scriptures 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.

 

Will I lose weight?

Vinyasa yoga most certainly burns calories as you create long lean muscles and cultivate flexibility and a greater range of motion in the joints. Just as important, as you move into an improved state of well-being, you will make choices off the mat that also improve your health.