June 27, 2017

Yoga – Frequently Asked Questions

Got questions? Click on the questions below to get answers to the most common queries I get. Anything else you want to know just email me!

What does yoga mean?
Yoga can be traced back to around 5,000 years and is a Sanskrit word meaning to join or yoke; essentially it means “union”.  The full meaning and benefit of the practice encompasses the union of body, mind, and spirit.  Within our culture, yoga plays a pivotal role in reducing the stress and anxiety of modern life.  A quiet and flexible mind and body frees us to live our optimal, healthy life.

What is Yoga?
In the western world Yoga is known as the practice of physical poses (asana), linked with breath (pranayama) to aid in building strength, increasing flexibility, and reducing stress. We also incorporate the skills (yes, it’s a skill!) of relaxation and positive thinking and meditation to give a rounded holistic experience to class.

Yoga is much, much more than just an exercise class. At it’s roots Yoga is a scientific system of physical and mental practices that originated in India thousands of years ago. Its purpose is to help each one of us achieve our highest potential, to experience enduring health and happiness, and improve the quality of our lives.

Yoga truly unites all parts of our being, body, mind, and spirit: a foundation for a full, healthy, happy life.

What is the style of yoga in your classes?

Positive Balance classes are based on the traditional style of Sivananda Yoga.  Our classes are a very pure form of yoga… no props, just your own body weight and the mat. A beautiful flowing blend of breathing, relaxation and asana work. It’s more flowing than Iyengar yoga, and less intensely physical and more varied than Ashtanga or Bikram yoga. At the end of class you will feel challenged, that you have definitely worked your entire body, feeling energised, relaxed and revitalised.

“I I like the rhythm of moving from one asana to another; keeps the mood & flow positive & calm.”

“I love working into the new more challenging postures, plus continuing to improve the old favourites. My yoga practice keeps improving and its now so much a part of my weekly routine that I wouldn’t want to be without it”.

How often should I practice yoga?
The more you practice the better you get and the more benefits you will experience. Once a week is great to maintain the same level, and to keep you flexible and healthy.

“Am getting the increased strength and flexibility I thought I would, and better, thank you ! And that’s only after one class per week.”

Committing to practice 2 to 3 times a week will see a dramatic improvement: whether this is self-disciplined personal practice at home or within the structured environment of a class. You just need to work out what will work best for your schedule and how you personally are best motivated to get the most out of your yoga practice to really see the progression you are after. The problem many students find is that even with the best intentions they can’t make the time to self practice at home.

Most of my students find they need that class structure, the energy of the group and the fixed date in the diary to ensure they are getting the most out of progressing their practice. We have a special Super Bendy Unlimited Class Pass available for just $89 on top of your regular term fee to come to as many classes a week as you like.

“Just wanted you to know I am really feeling the benefits of coming more often to class… sleeping so much better, and am so much more bendy! Count me in for unlimited classes next term…”

What are the benefits of yoga?
How long have you got! This is a very long list… that’s why it has endured for millennia, because it works delivering tangible wellbeing benefits physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. A few of them are in the table on the right… are there any that would make a difference to your life?

Yoga’s benefits include strengthening the entire body, improving flexibility, developing balance, improving circulation and immune response, and reducing stress.  Yoga is an excellent compliment to any activities that you already do, helping to prevent injuries and establish greater stability and range of motion. Yoga also calms the mind, improves concentration. It steadies the emotions and open the heart to feeling more fully alive.

I guess the best answers come from my students who can tell you the benefits they get from their practice:

“Wasn’t expecting a more relaxed state of mind, or the ability to reduce stress through breathing. Fabulous!”

“Reduced all over body pain (fibromyalgia). Yoga helped me to get back into other exercise, and I have also lost 17kg since starting.”

“Am getting the increased strength and flexibility I thought I would, and better, thank you ! And that’s only after one class per week.”

“I was surprised about the improvement in my breathing, which has helped with my singing and sleeping! Also my posture. Although I still experience a bit of pain with my back I am definitely feeling, noticing an improvement!”

“Yoga seems to have given me more energy – especially straight after class and the next day.”

Other Benefits include:

  • Increased energy and vitality
  • Improved posture
  • Reduced tension (less tension headaches)
  • Improved flexibility and stamina
  • Injury prevention
  • Sleep better: more refreshed
  • Reduced/prevents back/neck pain
  • Increased suppleness and flexibility
  • Improves balance
  • Regulates metabolism
  • Feeling of general wellbeing
  • Improved concentration and focus
  • More positive attitude
  • Increased intuition and problem solving skills
  • Counteracts stress and anxiety
  • Calms the mind
  • Aids emotional balance
  • Mental space and clarity
  • Reduced frustration
  • Raises self confidence and self esteem

 

Am I too old to start yoga?

No! Yoga is suitable to be practiced by all age groups and it is never too late to start! Students in class range from teenagers to those in their 60′s. My oldest student is 72 and my youngest is 12. The key is to listen to your body and work at the level thats right for you. There are multiple variations to different asana’s so you can be more advanced or more gentle depending on where you are at. The graduated beginners course is the best way to ease in gradually.

“I love the improved good feeling about my 60 yr young body. Think my posture has improved and already and  I definitely  feel more toned.”

“I didn’t expect to stick with it because I hate exercise but yoga seems to focus on what I CAN do, rather than what I can’t. It seems to suit my body/personality.”

Can I come to class if I am pregnant?

Yoga is very beneficial for the health of mother and baby and research has shown that it can significantly can help with ease (and speed!) of delivery. For experienced yoga students you are welcome to attend classes until the 4th-5th month of your pregnancy.  After that time we recommend you attend a specialist prenatal yoga class (try The Yoga Tree in Takapuna) which will be more gentle and adapted to your specific needs in the later months of your pregnancy. As ever it’s important to listen to your body’s individual needs, and do check with your Dr/Ostetrician before you start class. PLEASE TELL THE TEACHER AT THE START OF CLASS THAT YOU ARE PREGNANT SO WE CAN KEEP A SPECIAL EYE ON YOU! We may modify some poses for you if necessary, in particular we will ask you to avoid Bow and we will modify the Cobra part of the Sun Salutations sequence for you.

When you have had your baby please do come on back to class… yoga is a fantastic way to get yourself back into shape and you will relish the hour and a quarter of peace to yourself each week!

“I just LOOOVE getting out of the house on a Tuesday and having time away for the kids for just me…it’s my weekly luxury…thankyou!”

Do I need equipment to do yoga?

Only a mat which included as part of your beginners course package. You may want to bring a towel to sit on, other than that you don’t need to bring anything, just yourself!  We practice a very pure form of yoga where all you need it your own body weight and your mat: no other props required. Intermediate Level students you will need to bring your own mat.

What do I wear?
Loose comfortable clothing such as tracksuit bottoms and a t-shirt is fine. You don’t need to bother with trainers as yoga is done in bare feet. Bring something warm to wear in ‘final relaxation’ such as a sweater and a pair of socks as your body temperature will drop a couple of degrees and you will relax more deeply if you are nice and cosy.

Yoga? That’s for girls isn’t it?
No! Not at all, in fact 30-40% of my adorable students are guys. Generally quite sporty guys who find it really improves their other sports performance. Men have just as much to gain from yoga. In fact you will find some postures easier due to your naturally superior upper body strength. You will also find that yoga will improve your performance in the other sports you are into, whether that’s running or rugby. The stretching of your muscles will help prevent injuries and your stamina will also increase. Many top male athletes include yoga as an integral part of their training schedule.

“Yoga has greatly improved my flexibility and hence quality of life. Very noticable in running. I love the ability to relax after each class and the feeling of serenity” -  Paul.

“I’m really enjoying the yoga classes with Louise. My flexibility & strength has improved so much which helps me with all my other activities like golf & mountain biking. I’m also able to access a real feeling of peace & relaxation which I carry through the remainder of my week. The beginner classes & really user friendly & it’s amazing how fast you progress. I’d recommend to anyone looking for a “positive balance” in their lives….” – Matt.

“I have always been an inflexible person, working hunched over a computer all day doesn’t help. After a number of physo session it was suggested I try yoga. Up until them all my gym work was aerobically based, how would standing on one foot help? From my first class I was hooked. Yoga has increased my flexibility and helped my breathing. I always feel so energised after class. I am surprised more guys have not discovered this great work de-stressor. Don’t be shy guys, come along and help me wave the “male flag” – Louise will make you feel most welcome and your body will be better for it! – Rob

I’m not very fit, or flexible, will I be able to keep up?

Absolutely, thats exactly why the beginners course is designed as it is to build up week by week. The beauty of yoga is that it’s suitable for all, and that postures are adaptable for all levels within the class. So do not worry! Yoga is not a competition. It’s about listening to your body and working within its limits. Plus you will be surprised just how quickly you improve with regular classes.

“I have already noticed how much my arms have toned up, not just that but I am sleeping better and have so much more energy, I would definitely recommend anyone trying the Positive Balance classes.”

“I didn’t expect to stick with it because I hate exercise but yoga seems to focus on what I CAN do, rather than what I can’t. It seems to suit my body/personality.”

“I always kept away from yoga thinking it was something only very fit people did; I never expected it to be the right thing for ‘me’ to do. Also I have found the quiet communication the women have in your class beneficial; it’s nice when you’re all at a similar stage with age/body/etc.”

Should I eat before or after class?
Yoga is best done on an empty stomach, so try not to have anything heavy during the couple of hours before your class. Have a banana an hour before to give you energy if you need it and save your lasagne for afterwards: you’ll have earned it!

Can I lose weight with yoga?
Yes… and here’s why: while Yoga is not always considered a high-intensity workout it does burn calories, around 200-600/hour. You will be working hard enough to build up a sweat in the Intermediate level!  Yoga builds muscle, raising your metabolism.  Yoga also enhances everything we do in life, improving body awareness and self respect, which affects our choices about food and how we nourish our bodies and spirits.  If you want to lose weight, practicing more than 3 times per week will aid in achieving the best results.  Please also have a look at the new Weigh Loss Coaching for effective and permanent weight loss. You would be surprised at how much new scientific information is coming out regarding the effects of stress-reduction on weight loss.  It’s actually the most important aspect of weight-loss!

“At my wedding in March one of my bridesmaids (who is getting married next Jan) asked about my gym routine. ‘What gym routine ?’I responded. She thought I must have been doing weights, etc, as my arms were toned and I just said ‘all I’ve done is yoga once a week’. That was a bonus!”

“I have definitely benefitted from improvements in flexibility, and stamina but weight loss is another gain I did not expect.”

I have an injury, will I still be able to go?
Obviously it depends on the type and extent of your injury. However in some instances you will still be able to practice yoga as asanas can be adapted for you. If you are unsure contact your doctor before participating. Always keep your teacher updated about any injury so they can assess whether you can participate or not, and which exercises will need to be adapted for you. Always remember that it is your responsibility to look after and listen to your body: always work within your own limitations.

Generally you will find you experience far fewer injuries as you keep up your regular yoga practice. It strengthens the muscles and joints considerably and makes you far less susceptible to injury. One of my students who was recommended to me by his long suffering physio after years of expensive treatment said his physio must have lost thousands from recommending my classes as he hardly ever needs physio now! I do have regular referrals from local physios who I love working with, as well as physios and personal trainers who attend class each week.

“I joined the class to increase my flexibility and help prevent sporting injuries and I feel that the yoga has definitely helped me in this area, but other benefits have been enhanced posture and balance and the calming effect of the breathing exercises. I feel relaxed and refreshed at the end of a class.”

“Surprisingly significant improvement in structural posture, and greater awareness of muscular imbalances as a result of regular practice. This has prompted improvements in long standing injuries and encourage regular and on going practice of yoga.”

Is Yoga a religion?

While Yoga is one of the orthodox philosophies and ancient spiritual sciences of India, it is NOT a religion.  Yoga has spiritual elements, but it does not interfere with any religion.  It is practiced by individuals of all creeds and sets of beliefs, in fact, many people find that it enhances their religious and spiritual beliefs and practice.

What can I expect from a positive balance class?
Yoga is not high impact aerobic exercise. It is controlled considered movement, and each class ends with a relaxation session and cool down. Hence it’s a perfect blend of activity and stress release. Positive Balance yoga will bring you an oasis of calm during or at the end of your working day. And a bit of fun too!

Remember to listen to your body.  Learn to determine when you are pushing too much or not challenging yourself enough.  Remember to breathe.  When you are breathing in harmony with your movements you are paying attention in a deep way. Paying attention not only prevents injury, but also speaks to the heart of what yoga is about.  Take the time to sloooooooooooooow down and learn the proper physical alignment and compassionate discipline within your practice.  Remember, yoga is not about touching your toes; it’s what you learn about yourself on the way to touching your toes.

“Love the sense of calm and peace that it brings, especially at the beginning of the week. Really have much less upper body tension, (in the shoulders, etc) that used to give me headaches. Love it!”

“I didn’t expect to stick with it because I hate exercise but yoga seems to focus on what I CAN do, rather than what I can’t. It seems to suit my body/personality.”

Health and Wellbeing Referrals

Wellbeing is my thing and I am really committed to recommending the best people. These, in my personal opinion, are the best healthcare professionals around. If I am trusting my spine, or indeed any other part of my body to anyone its these people. I think they are all exceptional value for the service and health benefits they provide:

Have you got a physio that you recommend?

Absolutely. I 100% recommend Murray Hing at Flexaclinic just around the corner on Lake Road. Fantastic team of physios and trainers. Super professional. They will fix you!

http://www.flexaclinic.com/

What about massage?

I have been seeing Trish Barlett for years. Very holistic and calming, deep massage. She is also a massage instructor so she knows her stuff. Only does ladies (sorry guys) and works from a lovely room just off Onewa Road. Go for the hour and a half option… sheer bliss.

http://www.naturaltherapypages.co.nz/therapist/586

Positive Balance: fabulous life coaching whereever you are in the world and friendly yoga classes in Birkenhead and Northcote Point on Auckland’s sunny North Shore. Helping you to be your happiest and healthiest best!