Here we provide answers to the questions we get most frequently asked at Hartig Yoga, from both students and those interested in starting a practice.
I am not at all flexible. Can I do yoga?
Definatley. This is probably the most common misconception about yoga. With practice, yoga will help to increase your flexibility, and this the main reason that a lot of people start in the first place. As we get older, we tend to stiffen up, our bodies become harder. Years of bad postural habits build up in the body and we really need yoga to help iron these all out.
Many very active ‘sports people’ come to yoga, and they often have very strong, but not that flexible bodies.
It is really nothing to be worried about. I am still very tight in many areas, and I’m the teacher! Don’t let your lack of flexibility stop you coming to class – in fact it should be what motivates you to get to class 🙂
How long will it take me to get flexible?
You will notice a significant difference in both the strength and flexibility of your body after practicing yoga 3-4 times a week for one month. Don’t expect to see big changes if you only practice once a week. It’s a great place to start, but if you want ‘results’, you need to practice more.
Ideally, for the body to begin to open, you need to practice every day. That might sound extreme, and you might think ‘I don’t have time for it’. You do. Set your alarm 20 minutes earlier. Do 20 minutes of breathing and stretching before you start the day. That is when you will start to notice dramatic changes within yourself. (If you are unsure of what poses to do at home, please get in touch. I can email you a sequence to try)
My mind is constantly distracted when I practice. What can I do?
Many people have this problem when they first start practicing yoga, so you are not alone. Throughout our lives we are taught to look outwards for ourselves, for happiness. In achievements, in relationships, a career… Yoga teaches us that happiness is an inside job. And this is a bit of a shock to the system at first! You may have never noticed how active your mind is because you are always partaking in the thoughts. When you start practicing yoga and start watching the thoughts come and go, it can be very tempting to engage with them, to worry, to analyse, to try to control life in some way with thoughts. There will be moments when you are simply bored in yoga (especially relaxation or long held yin yoga poses) and so the mind takes the reins again.
Here’s a secret. Even when you have been practicing for a while, the mind still does this. AND IT’S OK! Just keep bringing your focus back to what is happening right now. How the pose feels. How you can adjust the pose to get the most out of it for your body. The breath. The mat under your feet.
This is a constant practice. It may become easier to focus, but the mind will continue to (at least try) to keep pulling you away to it’s stories.
Why shouldn’t I eat before a yoga class?
When we eat a meal, our blood and energy goes to the digestive system to digest the food. If we practice yoga after eating, the blood and energy goes to the area of the body that we are stretching, and is taken away from the digestive system. This results in the food not being properly digested and indigestion.
It’s best to practice yoga in the morning on a completely empty stomach. I usually just have a glass of water or cup of tea before class. If you are always very hungry when you wake up in the morning, have something small before you practice, like a small banana or a handful of nuts.
If you practice in the afternoon, give yourself 2-3 hours to digest a meal before you practice.
Can I do yoga if I am pregnant?
Yes. Yoga during pregnancy is very beneficial for both mother and child.
However, there are certain poses that should be avoided- and these differ depending on the trimester you are in.
Read this article from Ekhart Yoga’s Blog for more information.
Can I do yoga if I am menstruating?
Yes. But listen to your body and what it needs.
Some people continue with there usual practice whilst menstruating, where as others (like myself) change to a more restorative and relaxing practice during menstruation.
Yoga can really help to ease period pains – read our blog article ‘Yoga For Period Pain’ for a simple sequence to help relieve cramps.
What are the benefits of practicing yoga?
There are many benefits of yoga, both physical and mental.
Physically it makes the body stronger, more flexible and toned. It also improves breathing, energy and metabolism. It releases tension and pain from the body, improves posture and improves general fitness levels.
Mentally, it helps to reduce stress levels, brings a greater sense of calm and improves well being. It improves focus and concentration and helps to alleviate anxiety and depression.
Yoga also teaches us presence, which helps us to enjoy our lives more fully in the moment – the only place that life exists!
I hope these answers are of some help to you. Please let me know if you have anymore questions. I will be happy to answer them for you.
All the best,