Coming from the Spiritual city of Varanasi in India and having completed 500 hours teacher’s training course from Yoga Alliance International I find immense pleasure spreading happiness and positivity through Yoga.
Yoga is the most holistic wellness program that has been passed on to us through generations.
A lot of people tend to present yoga as acrobatics or gymnastics, highlighting only the physical postures and totally ignoring all other aspects.
Unlike a lot of other exercise programs, Yoga works on all aspects of the living being: the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Therefore calling it just another form of workout will be unfair.
In today’s post I would be answering the basic questions people have regarding yoga but don’t know whom to ask!
1. What is Yoga?
The most popular definition of yoga, from the Yoga Sutra, written over 2,000 years ago, is Chitta Vritti Nirodha — simply put, the unknotting of the knotted mind.
That is the process of yoga and the methods used are varied.
The author of Yoga-sutra is Patanjali often identified with the serpent that coils himself around Shiva’s neck. It is believed that Lord Shiva revealed Yoga to his student Patanjali, who, in turn, shared it with the world. Patanjali is famous for putting Yoga Asanas together, in a simple comprehensive way. (Source)
2. What are the benefits of yoga?
Yoga is not just good but great as it is the most holistic approach to wellness. There are hundreds of reason why one should to yoga, out of which I am listing a few
- Yoga helps in weight loss/ fat loss
- With regular practice, flexibility improves drastically thereby reducing the risk of injuries
- All the vital organs start functioning better and therefore digestion. Circulation, respiration and other such processes become more efficient
- Practicing inversions help in clearing out toxins from the body thereby acting as a De-tox
- It calms down the mind therefore helps fighting anxiety, anger etc.
3. What are the negative effects of yoga?
- When done under competent supervision yoga will only be beneficial. Before starting your practice however, do check with your doctor if you have any medical conditions.
- A lot of postures, including all inversions, are avoidable for someone suffering from hypertension.
- Similarly for someone with arthritis, extreme posturing should be completely avoided.
- Make sure your trainer is certified and has all this knowledge of dos and don’ts.
- Also do not rush into doing advanced postures and that could result in serious injuries.
- Focus on developing strength, flexibility and mobility first.
4. How many times a week should I do yoga?
Yoga can be practiced every day but make sure to design the flow to suit the purpose.
For example, you can do three days of higher intensity flows focusing on strength and cardio followed by a fourth day wherein you keep the flow very mild, focusing only on stretching, breathing, meditation and relaxation.
5. When should I do yoga? / Is yoga better in morning or night?
It is best to practice yoga on an empty stomach. Therefore it should either be done first thing in the morning or it should be don elate in the evening, around four to five hours post lunch.
However as an exception to this there are several poses that can be done any time of the day.
For example one can sit in Vajrasana immediately post a meal and that will help in improved digestion. Or you can sit in Padmasana as you work on your laptop.
6. What age should you start yoga?
Kids can be introduced to yoga as soon as they are able to understand simple instructions to perform the poses.
For meditative yoga, the kids need to be slightly older.
Although it will be very individualistic but broadly speaking somewhere seven to nine years of age the kids are generally able to sit still and do basic meditation.
7. Is yoga good for toddlers?
Just like all other forms of physical activities yoga is excellent to keep the toddlers healthy and occupied in a productive way.
In fact, it is much easier to introduce the yogic lifestyle when the kids are little as there will be little to no resistance.
8. Is yoga better than the gym?
Let me put it this way that whether you go to the gym or not, yoga is essential.
If one wants to bulk up physically then only yoga will not be enough but no matter what form of exercise you do, or what your fitness goals are, yoga will definitely help in improving your mobility as well as in recovery thereby making your goals more reachable.
9. Is it okay to sleep after yoga?
If time permits it is perfectly fine to sleep after yoga.
There is no harm in it. Infact whenever I conduct a yoga class I always finish with yoga nidra and although it is very different from sleep, a lot of people do tend to fall asleep. Mostly because they are sleep deprived.
Also people who are insomniac or aren’t able to sleep very well may experience that they are able to sleep better post a yoga session.
10. What should I eat after yoga?
Eat a healthy, wholesome meal post yoga. The meal should have a balanced amount of all macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins and fats) and don’t forget to hydrate yourself.
Coconut water or nimbu-pani can be great for rehydrating post a rigorous yoga session.
11. Can I take a bath after yoga?
Taking a warm shower before yoga can be a good idea, as it will prepare your muscles for the stretches.
Post the session however, it will is better to wait for some time to allow your body to cool down properly and then take a shower.
12. Does Yoga help in Toning?
Yoga helps in fat loss, toning and firming up the loose muscles.
All yogic exercises are bodyweight exercises that awaken and strengthen your muscles and also improve the blood flow to the muscles, therefore muscle gain will also happen with regular practice.
13. Can I practice yoga when I am menstruating?
Yes, yoga can be practiced during menstruation and is highly beneficial in relieving cramps and easing out back pains but remember to avoid inverting the body (specifically, the uterus).
While menstruating, disturbing the natural movement of menstrual fluid is not a good idea.
14. Can I do yoga while pregnant?
Yoga is a blessing for pregnant women as it can soothe all the pains related to pregnancy and prepare a woman for natural childbirth. But before starting the practice make sure to check with your gynecologist.
In case of high-risk pregnancy, yoga or any other form of exercise should be avoided.
Again I would reemphasize on training under a certified instructor who knows what poses should be avoided during which trimester.
15. Is yoga Hindu?
Yes, yoga is Hindu. More appropriately, it is Indic, for the idea was also developed, over centuries, by Buddhists, Jains, and a whole bunch of people who lived in the subcontinent of India (Source).