Frequently Asked Questions
What is Yoga?
The word “yoga” comes from the Sanskrit root yuj, which has several meanings. One is “to unite.” Another is “to converge the mind.” And a third, according to T.K.V. Desikachar, is “to reach a point we haven’t reached before.” Yoga is a system of practices (physical postures, breath work, chanting, meditation, ritual, and the study of classical texts) developed in India thousands of years ago that teaches us to move beyond suffering by shifting our perspective.
What is the Difference between Yoga and Yoga therapy?
In a yoga class, the teacher guides the student(s) through a practice and teaches them how to practice. An effective teacher will offer modifications for students as needed, but the focus is less on individual needs, and more on offering general yoga methods and how to do them correctly. In contrast, yoga therapy sessions are geared entirely to the individual. Clients usually seek a yoga therapist’s help for a particular condition, and the therapist’s role is to figure out which yoga tools and methods are most appropriate for that individual client and to develop a personal practice that addresses the client's specific needs.
Is Yoga a religion?
No. Yoga practice has a spiritual dimension and can include ritual, but it does not promote belief in a particular god or faith. People of all faiths or no faith can practice yoga.
Why should I practice yoga?
Is there an aspect of your life you wish to change? Change begins with a clear and honest understanding of your present condition. Yoga is a practical means of gaining that clarity and understanding and then effecting change. Whatever your goal--improved strength and flexibility, increased energy or stabilized mood, a greater capacity to concentrate and pay attention, a desire to cultivate gratitude or to bring the sacred into everyday life--yoga can help you get there.
What’s the difference between vinyasa flow and Viniyoga™?
Vinyasa flow is an energetic physical practice linking numerous poses together in flowing movement. Because it moves quickly, vinyasa flow doesn’t necessarily promote development of deep steady breath, one of the hallmarks of Viniyoga. A viniyoga physical practice unfolds more slowly than vinyasa flow, allowing the practitioner to match movement with breath. It includes moving in and out of postures and holding them for several breaths. This does not mean that a viniyoga practice is automatically easy or gentle. Paying attention to breath, keeping it slow and steady, and really moving with it requires a presence of mind that can be quite challenging. The teacher gears the level of physical challenge to the practitioner and his or her needs on a given day and over the long term.
Preparing for your first session:
Please fill out this form and send to me prior to our first session.
On the day of your session:
- Wear comfortable loose clothing, especially layers that you can take off when you feel warm or put back on if you feel cool. No special athletic shoes are required. Yoga is typically practiced with bare feet, unless your personal circumstances dictate otherwise, in which case wear socks with non-skid soles.
- Drink plenty of water before the session.
- It’s best to practice on an empty stomach; please eat at least two hours before our start time.
- Bring your curiosity-no need to worry about getting things “right.”
How much time will it take?
Plan on two hours for our first session. Subsequent sessions will be 60-75 minutes.
What will my sessions be like?
What we do in each session will depend on your needs and interests. All practices will include breath awareness coupled with movement. Posture work will combine movement in and out of poses and holding them, and we’ll pay particular attention to poses that help you develop a strong and supple spine so you can move with ease and freedom. As your desire dictates, we can also explore seated breath work, chanting, and meditation.
I’m not flexible. Can I still practice yoga?
First, remember that the physical postures are just one small component in the yoga tradition for cultivating awareness. As anatomy teacher Leslie Kaminoff says, “If you can breathe, follow instructions, and move just a little bit, you can do yoga.” In Viniyoga, the goal, when performing the physical postures, is not picture-perfect execution. In this tradition, form plays second fiddle to function: we ask why we’re doing a particular pose--what is the functional benefit to the spine and the joints? How does the flow of breath influence the movement of our spine and joints? You won’t be “adjusted” into an idealized version of a pose. Instead you’ll find an expression of it that’s right for your body--one that helps you understand and transform your physical structure while attuning your awareness to your inner landscape. Maybe that’s why Viniyoga is sometimes affectionately known as “ugly yoga.”
I don’t have enough time to practice yoga.
Viniyoga teachers pay particular attention to the order of postures and counter poses, offering sequences that are, as my teacher Gary Kraftsow says, “elegant, efficient, and effective” without creating cumulative stress in the body or mind. You’ll learn how to practice in a way that meets your needs no matter where you are or how much time you have.
When should I expect to see results?
The classic philosophical text of yoga, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, tells us that the benefits of yoga are achieved through diligent practice done with an open heart and good attention over a long period of time. As with so much in life, we reap what we sow. Depending on your intention, some effects of practice may be immediate, others may take a long time to come to fruition. You hold the potential to transform in your own hands if you can find a way to practice consistently. In the words of T.K.V. Desikachar: “Yoga [for healing] is a gradual process of recovery, maintenance and improvement. It requires patience and discipline and no small amount of faith. That is the way it works.”