by Sheri Huston, YMCA Yoga Instructor
Some yoga questions and answers...
How often should I practice yoga?
As often as you can, up to six days a week. Yoga activity is called a 'practice' because it is working the connection between the mind, the body and the breath.
Why do practices start with a few moments of silence?
This is to slow yourself down and take note of what is present in your mind, body or breath. Perhaps drawing comparisons to what you felt at a previous practice or if there is any area that might need greater attention. Is there stress in your shoulders or hips; is your breathing shallow or heavy? With frequent practice, you will become aware of these conditions and begin to understand the causes and what you can do to resolve either the tense area or the circumstance that may have caused sluggishness for example.
Almost every format of yoga includes Sun Salutation A and/or Sun Salutation B. Why?
Sun A and B are good warm ups to heat the body and move the spine in all possible directions. Instructors can vary the sequence but it is essential to warm up the body before moving to static positions.
Should I eat before practice?
With the twisting and folding most practices include, it is not a good idea to perform on a full stomach. Have a lite snack if needed (small apple, some nuts, a piece of cheese, etc.) and wait until your practice is completed for a full meal.
Do I have to be flexible to practice yoga?
No, flexibility is relative. Yoga works on the flexibility of the mind and body and accepts your unique starting position. Your physical flexibility is based on your skeletal structure, muscle mass, ego, etc. Keep in mind just about everyone can touch their toes, what may differ is how much the knees need to be bent.
Why are so many yogis vegetarian?
One of the precepts of yoga is to do no harm to others. Many yogis construe this to mean no harm to animals. This is a personal decision and is not a requirement to practice healthy yoga.