new to yoga faq
21 answers: what you want to know about yoga
Most people have so many questions when they first come to yoga that they don’t know where to begin. Here, we offer up some of the most common questions and answers.
If your question isn’t answered here, we invite you to find us at the studio, via e-mail or by phone at 919.831.2583. You’ve heard it before, but really, there’s no such thing as a silly question. We want you to feel as comfortable as possible when you come to practice with us! So ask away!
What does “yoga” mean?
Yoga is a Sanskrit word that means “to yoke” or “to unite.” As a practice, it is a scientific system for achieving total health, mental, and spiritual well-being — a means to unite the body, mind, and spirit. In the United States, the term yoga is often used to mean the postures, or the physical part of yoga; however, these poses, or asana, are only one of the eight “limbs” of yoga.
Can beginners attend classes at blue lotus?
Absolutely! We regularly offer a six-week series, Yoga Foundations, for beginning students who want a solid foundation in the breathing, alignment, and basic philosophy of yoga. If you prefer to dabble at your own pace, please talk to us so we can help you select the right class to begin.
How often should I practice?
Ideally, yoga is meant to be a daily practice. As that is quite overwhelming to a beginner, we recommend you set a goal you can realistically keep. Consistency is the key—it’s far better to attend one class per week without fail than to attend four classes one week, none for the next two weeks, one the next week, etc. The more you practice, the better you will feel, and the more you will want to practice!
How do I know which style of yoga to choose?
Depending on your physical condition, your health, and your motivation for practicing, we can help guide you to the right class for you. Ashtanga and Vinyasa are both active, heat-producing styles of yoga where the breath links one movement to the next. Yin and Restorative classes are much quieter, slower-paced classes designed for you to go deeper—into your body and into a quieter, meditative state. Classes like Flow & Stretch are a combination of both. Please talk to us if you are unsure where to start.
How do I know which level to attend?
If you are an absolute beginner, we suggest you begin with our Yoga Foundations six-week series or Private Instruction. Vinyasa L1 is also a good place to start for healthy beginners. Open level classes are appropriate for those who have some familiarity with yoga, as in any given class there will be a range of experience levels. We recommend a year of ongoing, consistent practice and proficiency with Sun Salutations, basic standing poses, backbends, and inversions before attending Vinyasa L2 classes.
I can’t sit still for two minutes and can’t touch my toes.
Is there a yoga class for me?
One of the great things about yoga is it brings us all to the same common denominator—we all have the same struggles and worries, and though everyone comes in a different body, each of us has a path to travel to make it a more comfortable place to live. People come to blue lotus with differing levels of experience, but there is room for everyone. We are ALL learning. Talk to us, and we can point you in the right direction.
What is the difference between Ashtanga and Vinyasa?
Both of these styles are movement-based practices, where the breath links one pose to the next. Vinyasa is an offshoot of Ashtanga, so they have many similarities. The primary difference is that Ashtanga is a closed sequence (always the same poses in the same order), whereas Vinyasa is an open sequence, where each class is different, and every instructor brings a unique style.
What if I can’t do a pose?
One of the reasons we suggest beginners start in our Foundations course is to help you learn the basic poses and modifications to suit your level. If you move from there into an Open Level class and are presented with something challenging, ask the instructor for a modification if one is not offered. We stress the non-competitive nature of yoga and invite you to make the practice your own — honoring your body and doing what is best for you—not forcing yourself into a shape that you aren’t ready for.
Is yoga a workout? Will I lose weight?
The answer depends on the style of yoga you select, as well as the frequency and intensity with which you practice. Although the focus in yoga is about balance, healing, and reconnecting, a regular practice of Ashtanga or Vinyasa will not only open your mind and offer you a fresh perspective on your life, but it also will absolutely change your body. While not an intense aerobic workout, it does burn calories as you create long lean muscles and cultivate flexibility and 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.
Is yoga a religion?
Yoga is a philosophy, not a religion, though it does have a spiritual component. You do not need to be religious to practice. It has been practiced by individuals of widely differing beliefs and any and all people are welcome at blue lotus. In order to practice, you only need to believe in the possibility that we can transform ourselves, that there is always more to learn, and that there is a better way to approach life than the old habits that tie us down. At the heart is the openness to see we have not yet tapped into our highest potential as human beings. Yoga seeks to put us in touch with our spiritual core—our innermost nature—that which or who we truly are.
The instructor uses words in another language. What is it?
The language of yoga is Sanskrit, the language of ancient India. Some teachers use it more than others, and it is nothing to feel uncomfortable about. Although you may never say the words yourself, you will come to recognize them over time. If this is an area of interest for you, there are books in the blue lotus boutique we can point you to, to learn more.
What is OM?
The sound of “om” is actually a-u-m—three separate tones/vibrations. It is considered to be the original sound from which all other sounds emanate. It is the sound of creation and life you hear all around you—the wind in the trees, the buzz of a bee, the hum of a car engine, the rumble of a train. In chanting om before or after practice, we are looking to create unity of breath, sound, and vibration, reminding us we are connected to each other, and the unifying power of the universe. The OM symbol represents the three states of consciousness—waking, sleeping, and dreaming–as well as the universal consciousness that underlies and connects everything.
What is Namaste?
Namaste is a word of greeting. It is in common usage on the streets of Nepal and India even in modern times, and is generally accompanied by drawing the hands together and slightly bowing the head. Translated directly, Namaste means “to bow” and is considered a greeting from the heart that is reciprocated in kind. Expanding that definition, Namaste recognizes light and goodness of the self and others, and honors the sacredness of all.
What should I wear?
We keep the studio between 78 – 82 degrees year-round, so bear that in mind if you are warm-natured. We suggest comfortable, stretchy clothing that is not too loose or it will get in your way, and make it difficult for the instructor to check your alignment. Most women wear a tank or tee with leggings and men wear a tee with shorts. Do plan to practice in bare feet, remove jewelry, and absolutely no watches in the studio. We also ask you refrain from wearing scented lotions and perfumes in respect for those who have sensitivities to fragrances.
Do I need to bring anything?
Although we have a few yoga mats to loan, you need to have your own mat if you are going to practice yoga. It’s more hygienic, and more importantly, having your own mat will make it much more likely you will unroll it at home! The mats we sell in the studio are eco yoga mats. They are a little more expensive than “regular” mats, but they last longer, are free of toxins, and are completely biodegradable. If you are attending an Ashtanga or Vinyasa class, please bring a hand towel. You might also want to bring water, though we suggest you drink before and after, and not during practice.
When should I eat, and do I need water?
Plan to practice on an empty stomach. If you need a snack, eat a piece of fruit or something light before class. One of the benefits of yoga is its detoxification of the body. Drinking lots of water will help flush the toxins out of your system, so do hydrate well both before and after class. As you don’t want to extinguish all the internal heat you are trying to build during class, if you need to drink while practicing, take small sips. Drink up when you’re done!
Can I leave during class?
In order to keep disruptions to a minimum, please plan to arrive on time and stay for the entire class. If for some reason you need to leave early, please let the instructor know in advance. You are, of course, always welcome to enter and exit the studio (quietly!) during class to use the restroom.
Do I need to sign up in advance?
If you’d like to attend a workshop or Foundations series, we do suggest you register in advance. For regular classes, you do not have to make a reservation, though you may if you like, using our WebScheduler.
I’d like to bring yoga to my workplace. Do you offer that service?
We do! Our instructors have experience in offices, hospitals, and schools, as well as offering special team-building classes at the studio for corporate groups. We want to promote yoga as a practice for living a happier, healthier life; a practice that is accessible to everyone. We are committed to offering yoga anywhere and everywhere we can! To arrange a corporate yoga class or series, please contact us!
Why should I come to blue lotus?
That is a question only you can answer for yourself. In order to move forward on this path, you need a qualified guide and a supportive community. blue lotus was created to offer you both. Our instructors are of the highest caliber, and are continuously studying with senior teachers around the world. They all practice yoga daily and have offered up a large part of their lives to share this practice with others. blue lotus has been dubbed Raleigh’s “yoga home” by both newcomers and experienced practitioners because of not only the teachers, but also the supportive, fun, student community we are growing. We are creating something truly unique in the Triangle, and we welcome you to be a part of it.
OK. So I am ready to take my first class, what should I expect?
Please arrive at the studio about 15-20 minutes before class time. Upon entering, you’ll be greeted at the reception desk and asked to sign a registration form. You can sign in and pay for your class there. You’ll be shown where to leave your personal items, reminded to turn off your cell phone, and directed into the studio where you can set up your mat and stretch or meet the other students in the room. Arriving early will also give you time to ask the teacher any questions you might have, and tell him/her about any injuries or physical conditions he/she should know about. It is imperative we know if you are pregnant or are dealing with an acute injury.
We are so excited for you to become a member of the blue lotus community. If there is anything you are unsure about, please talk to us!