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Below are some of the questions I am often asked when people enquire about Yoga, if you have questions that are not covered here you may find the answers under the 'Yoga Classes' section, alternatively just give me a call . . .

Is Yoga a religion? Yoga is not a religion, this is a common misconception in the West, which has perhaps come about because some eastern religions also practice Yoga. There is nothing in Yoga that requires anyone to embrace a particular set of beliefs, or worship any deities.

Will Yoga help me keep fit? Although yoga doesn’t involve the obvious cardiovascular workouts of running, swimming or other traditional ‘aerobic’ exercise, it can actually provide a very effective means of keeping fit. Some aspects of yoga involve the holding of strong static poses, and flowing sequences, both of which can raise the heart rate. These are performed while trying to keep the breath steady and even. Thus the health of the heart, lungs and breathing apparatus is enhanced without much of the breathlessness that is commonly associated with keeping fit.

Will Yoga help me feel less stressed out? Participating in a yoga class involves a period of time where your focus is taken into yourself and your body. A state of calm concentration should result, which can take us away from our preoccupations and woes, and help put them in perspective!

Can Yoga improve my posture? Yoga gives attention to good body alignment in all poses, this helps correct our bad habits. The more practice we do, the more we carry an improved posture ‘off the mat’ and into our everyday lives.

Is Yoga just stretching? Although yoga involves stretching your muscles, it is a whole different ballgame than the few warm-up stretches you might do at the gym. Let's look at a few of the ways yoga is different:

Yoga places emphasis on alignment, meaning that how you are touching your toes is more important than whether you can actually touch them or not.

Attention to the breath and tuning in to the subtle sensations of the body introduce a mindfulness to even simple poses that is missing from stretching. 

Most yoga poses are not stretching an isolated area, but rather involve the whole body in both stretching and strengthening.

I don't think I'm very flexible. Will I be able to do Yoga? Contrary to popular belief, being flexible isn’t a prerequisite for practising yoga! Some people are born naturally flexible, others have to work a bit harder to attain their optimum flexibility. A regular yoga practice will definitely increase your flexibility. However, flexibility isn’t yoga’s only goal or its only benefit. The ultimate benefit of yoga - to promote radiant health inside and out - can be experienced by everyone, regardless of whether or not they can touch their toes! Yoga can be taken up by anyone; any age; flexible or stiff; slim or well built. Yoga postures can be adapted to suit your needs.

Is Yoga like Pilates? There are some similarities but they are not the same. Joseph Pilates was very interested in yoga and you can see the influence in many of the moves. Both have an emphasis on focusing the mind and using the breath. Yoga has a lot more variety in the types of postures and much more standing poses - plus there is more emphasis on flexibility and relaxation.

Can I do Yoga during pregnancy? It’s advisable to get the go ahead from your midwife or GP before starting yoga, (especially if you have a history of miscarriage). Generally, during the first trimester, take it easy. If you don’t already have a yoga practice, this is not the time to start. If you already have a yoga practice, stick to very gentle classes and restorative yoga. The rule of thumb during this time is to take it easy and allow for the pregnancy to stabilize. The second and third trimesters are a great time to do yoga if you are healthy and your doctor gives you the go ahead. Adjust postures so that the belly is not restricted or impinged upon in any way: No deep twisting, deep backbends or abdominal strengtheners. Sun Salutations are not advisable unless it is specifically modified to suit the pregnancy. Stick to standing poses and poses that open the pelvic floor and hips and focus on breath awareness. The best way to do yoga during pregnancy is in a specifically designed ‘pregnancy’ yoga class.

Do I have to be vegetarian to practice Yoga? A principle of Yoga philosophy is something called ahimsa, which means non-harming to self and others. Some people interpret this to include not eating animal products. There is debate about this in the yoga community - I believe it's a personal decision that everyone has to make for themselves. If you are considering becoming a vegetarian, be sure to take into account your personal health issues as well as how your choices will affect those with whom you live. Being a vegetarian should not be something you impose on others, that kind of aggressive action in itself is not an expression of ahimsa.

What are the health benefits of Yoga? Dozens of scientific trials of varying quality have been published on yoga. While there's scope for more rigorous studies on yoga's health benefits, most studies suggest that yoga is a safe and effective way to increase physical activity, especially strength, flexibility and balance. There's evidence that regular Yoga practice is beneficial for people with fatigue, high blood pressure, insomnia, heart disease, aches and pains, including low back pain, anxiety, depression and stress. In addition you can expect improved balance, range of motion, and agility, which means you are less likely to injure yourself in other physical endeavours.

While you shouldn't expect yoga to cure you or offer 100% relief, it can help many health conditions when combined with standard treatment.