Yoga FAQs

I’m totally new to this. What exactly IS yoga?

Yoga is an ancient practice of meditative movement that originated in India around 2,500 years ago. The practice has certainly evolved around the world since 500 BCE and now takes on many forms, all of which generally emphasize meditation, breathing, and stretching to varying degrees. Whether you’re taking a 100 degree Vinyasa class or an unheated Gentle class, the goal is mostly the same: to calm the mind using a combination of focused breath (“pranayama”) and specific poses (“asanas”). Most classes at Pavonine are Vinyasa Flow, a more dynamic style of yoga, which has a strong emphasis on movement. Our Vinyasa classes not only lengthen and strengthen the muscles and offer breathing exercises to calm the mind, but can also increase heart rate. On the other hand, we also offer Yin and Gentle classes, which are much more static and grounding, meaning there is less overall movement. You can read more about our classes here.

 

Got it. But what exactly are the benefits of yoga?

How much time have you got? While studies about the benefits proliferate (like here, here, and here), a rapid-fire list includes:

  • Builds muscle strength
  • Contributes to weight loss
  • Reduces stress and anxiety
  • Improves happiness 🙂
  • Increases flexibility
  • Builds core muscles
  • Improves mental health
  • Increases self-esteem
  • Creates and sustains relationships
  • Fights depression
  • Protects joint and cartilege deteriroation
  • Improves posture
  • Contributes to restful sleep
  • Lowers blood pressure and improves blood flow
  • Improves balance
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Contributes to heart health
  • Improves bone health and fights osteoporosis

 

I’m a guy. Isn’t yoga just for women?

In short: heck no, bro! Let’s be up front: yoga has an image of being dominated by women even though, ironically, it used to be practiced nearly exclusively by men. In some studios today, women do outnumber men. But men throughout the world are now participating in yoga in droves. It’s good for men’s flexibility, weight control, and mental health. If you want to find your abs, tone your chest, shoulders, and arms, and finally be able to tie your shoes without fully crouching down, yoga’s for you.

 

Isn’t yoga just stretching and meditation? I want a REAL work out!

If you want a REAL workout, we’ll give it to you! While yoga is often associated with low-intensity stretching and meditation, advanced yoga (Level 3) classes are some of the toughest workouts you can find! Can you hold a plank pose in a 100 degree room for one minute after an hour-long workout? Come show us!

 

I haven’t exercised in a while. Won’t I be left out?

The beauty of yoga is that it is a form of physical fitness for EVERY LEVEL. If you haven’t worked out in a while, a Gentle Yoga class (unheated) is a great fit, regardless of age. Better still, Pavonine, like other studios, offers a variety of classes for all levels. Try out a Level 1 class if you’re feeling out of shape or if you’re new to the practice and see how it suits you. Our instructors are also here to help – let them know if you’re returning to physical activity after a break or if you’ve never tried a yoga class before. To read more about our classes, click here.

 

I’m two feet away from being able to touch my toes: I’m the least flexible person you could find. There’s no way I should be in a yoga class, right?

Au contraire: yoga is PERFECT for people whose flexibility is limited. Studies have repeatedly shown that, especially as people age, flexibility is one of the most important traits to develop. Yoga helps do just that. For the “flexibility-challenged,” you’ll be amazed at how quickly your your flexibility improves with a steady yoga practice.

 

What precautions should I take before doing yoga?

Proper care should be taken prior to engaging in any physical activity, yoga included:

  • Hydrate: Be sure to drink plenty of fluids several hours ahead of a hot yoga class  (starting the night before is ideal!), and continue drinking water after class ends. However, try not to consume too much liquid right before class because it will likely cause discomfort as you’re moving. Moreover, consuming too much of certain “non-water” liquids the night before (….read between the lines….) won’t do you any favors.
  • Eat lightly: Try to avoid eating heavily at least two hours before a class. Not only will you risk an upset stomach, but your range of motion will be restricted.
  • Bring the right gear:
    • Water: Be sure to bring water to sip during class.
    • Face towel: You’ll get drenched in a hot class. Bring a hand towel to wipe off during class.
    • Yoga mat towel: Because many mats get slippery from wet hands and feet in a hot class, many people like to bring yoga mat towels to help them grip better.
    • Change of clothes: Again, you’ll be fairly soaked when leaving a hot class. Especially if heading back to work or into the cold, a change of clothes can be useful.

 

I’m getting over a bad back/neck/ankle/etc. injury. Is yoga going to help or hurt me?

As yoga instructors, we know a lot about anatomy, but we are NOT doctors. If you have any concerns about an injury or medical condition, speak with a physician. The general rule of thumb in yoga is to listen to your body. Nothing in yoga should ever physically hurt you. If you feel pain in a particular posture, back off. You can also ask your instructor for specific modifications in poses to help you achieve similar benefits without hurting yourself.

 

I’m pregnant! Can I still do yoga? Is it going to help or hurt me?

Consult your physician! This is a question for you and your doctor. Again, we are not medical professionals. In general, pregnant women, regardless of the trimester, should avoid deep twisting, back bends, inversions, and poses that put any pressure on the belly, among various other poses. We also strongly discourage pregnant women from practicing in heated classes. That said, low level, Restorative, or Yin unheated classes may be ok, but always listen to your body (and your doctor!). You should also check out our Prenatal series, which runs a few times a year and is tailored specifically to pregnant women’s physiology.