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.
I’ve never taken a yoga class OR it’s been a REALLY long time since!
ESY offers weekly Beginner classes, for students who want a solid foundation in the breathing, alignment, and basic philosophy of yoga, but feel free to come try any class we offer. Come 15 minutes early and talk to the instructor beforehand.
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!
Depending on your physical condition, your health, and your motivation for practicing, we can help guide you to the right class for you. Vinyasa, Hot Power and Buti are more 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 Mixed Level 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 Beginner, Hatha, Level 1 classes, or Private Instruction. Mixed Level Vinyasa is also a good place to start for healthy beginners. Hot Power and Level 2 classes are appropriate for those who have some familiarity with yoga, as in any given class there will be a range of experience levels.
“I’m not flexible! 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 ESY 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 if I can’t do a pose?
One of the reasons we suggest beginners start in our beginner classes and workshops is to help you learn the basic poses and modifications to suit your level. If you move from there into another 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.
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 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 we can point you to, to learn more.
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?
In most classes, the ESY studio is kept at a comfortable temperature (our heated classes are the exception!) We suggest wearing 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. We also ask you refrain from wearing scented lotions and perfumes in respect for those who have sensitivities to fragrances.
Although we have 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! You may want to bring a hand towel and water.
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, please) during class to use the restroom.
Do I need to sign up in advance?
We do suggest you register in advance, check out our schedule here.
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 Eastern Shore Yoga Community. If there is anything you are unsure about, please talk to us!