First Steps in the World of Yoga
On this page, we will do our best to answer questions, and give you a sense of the feeling, smell and color of the world of yoga.
If you have been persuaded even slightly you are welcome to try it for yourself. At first it is simple. Later, you will be surprised to discover that it becomes even simpler...
So, in a few sentences, what is Yoga?
Most of us think of yoga as physical practice, which it is. However, it is also and perhaps primarily a technique that can calm the flow of thoughts, feelings and “fluctuations” that characterize our mental activity as human beings.
In the text "Yoga-Sutra", yoga is defined as an approach to changing consciousness - a way to calm the fluctuations of consciousness. This sentence embodies the purpose of yoga.
The theory of yoga believes that the body and the mind constitute a whole and hence the word "yoga" which in Sanskrit means union: a union between the body and the mind and between the mind and the spirit.
What can be achieved with Yoga?
- Acquisition of physical strength and flexibility
- Improvement of mood and clarity of thought
- Strengthening of the immune system
- Relief of illness and pain
- Improved awareness and physical intelligence
What happens during class?
Yoga practice is a sequence of exercises and breathing exercises that brings about a state of mental change. The change happens through a series of various physical actions. It is important to emphasize that there are different methods whose effectiveness is achieved by numerous repetitions of the practice sequences.
In yoga there are different currents and methods, which were developed by different teachers, all of whom drew from yoga practice. What they all have in common is the asanas, which are in fact various body postures that are usually performed statically or slowly. The asanas are divided into groups of positions that possess similar characteristics.
Standing poses - Performed While in a Standing Position
Practicing these positions help us maintain our balance and precise posture in a variety of different and challenging positions and angles of the body, so that we learn how to correct our posture and carry ourselves effortlessly, while strengthening the leg and posture muscles along the length of the spine. These positions will also help us open the pelvis and shoulder girdle and lengthen the back, thereby preparing us for the sitting positions. Many teachers say that these positions are the most important ones for forming the basis of fruitful yoga practice.
For example, the "Tree Pose" (Vriksasana) - standing on one leg with the other bent and supported on the standing leg, with the whole body balanced and stabilized on one foot.
Forward bends - Performed When the Spine is Extended Forward
These positions are usually done standing or sitting, with a lengthened spine. By practicing bending forward we lengthen the vertebrae of the spine, increase the flow of blood and oxygen as well as stretch the back and leg muscles. These positions nourish the internal organs in the abdominal cavity and contribute to a harmonious metabolism and general health.
For example: "Head to knee in a sitting position" (Paschimottanasana) - sitting with the legs straight forward and with the entire body lengthening forward and downward, as the head strives to reach the feet.
Backbends - Positions Performed with the Spine Extended Backwards
Backbends can be performed in a variety of different positions with the spine opening and lengthening from the base of the pelvis backwards. Relatively active posture practice as we move contrary to the resistance of gravity. According to various yoga traditions these are positions that evoke the consciousness and the senses and increase the life force. These poses open the heart and lungs, assist breathing and strengthen the immune system.
For example: "Bridge" (Urdva Dhanurasana) - when the feet and hands are stable on the floor and the whole body rises upwards to bend backwards.
Twists - Performed with the Spine Twisting to One Side
Twists can be performed in a variety of different positions, while in all of them the spine rotates from the base of the pelvis to one of the sides. By practicing twisting positions, we flex the spine and posture muscles, and improve the conductivity and nutrition of the central nervous system. In addition, we squeeze the abdominal cavity and massage the internal organs - therefore these positions are thought to encourage toxin-releasing processes.
For example: Half twist of the spine - (Arda Matsyandrinat)
Inverted positions - Performed with the Body Upside Down and the Head Facing Downward
These can be performed in a variety of different positions. In all of them we are in an inverted position with the head towards the floor and the base of the pelvis and the legs facing the ceiling. By practicing these positions we encourage the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain and increase the ability to concentrate and think. Inverted positions encourage oxidative processes in the body. These positions are also considered to soothe stress and anxiety and build mental strength.
Example: "Headstand" - (Sirsasana)
Sitting positions - Performed While Sitting on a Flat Surface
These positions can be performed in a variety of ways, however in all of them the base of the pelvis remains stable in the direction of the floor, while the spine retains an upward position. This group of poses enables us to remain for a long time in a comfortable and stable position.
By practicing sitting positions, we calm and stabilize the vibrations of the body and consciousness, learn to gather the senses and focus the mind.
For example: "Oriental sitting" (Svastikasana) - sitting with the knees bent and the calves crossed, with one resting on top of the other.
Relaxation Positions - Performed When the Body is Supported and Relaxed
Can be performed in a variety of ways, while in all of them the entire body is supported downward towards gravity in a relaxed and balanced manner.
The practice of these positions releases the tension from the various organs of the body, the muscles and the nervous system. It encourages the body’s healing and rehabilitation processes and allows the flow of energy in the body to reach a harmonious state. Yogis claim that like most electronic devices and sophisticated operating systems we, too, can solve a wide range of problems if we just know how to “reset” ourselves. With the right practice of relaxation positions, we can finish our yoga practice feeling calmer, more peaceful and more energetic than we were when we started the session.
For example: the “Dead Man” Savasana position - lying on your back with your legs straight and relaxed, the width of your pelvis, your arms loosely at your side with palms facing the ceiling and head straight and balanced.
Methods and Types of Yoga
The world of Yoga is characterized by different types and methods, which offer diverse approaches to practicing Yoga. Nearly all the methods employ the same asanas, or positions. The difference between the different styles of Yoga is usually expressed by the following characteristics:
- The order in which the asanas are performed
- The rhythm of the practice: fast/slow etc.
- What is emphasized during practice: accuracy, breathing, etc.
- The integration of pranayama exercises
In addition to the various types of Yoga practice, we offer special classes, workshops and courses from other methods, throughout the year.
How should I choose the type of Yoga that is right for me?
The diversity of the world of yoga and practice methods allow everyone to find the practice that suits them best.
- Step 1:
Basics Learn the basics of yoga so that you can practice correctly and effectively and quickly integrate into classes with other participants. We offer special basic lessons for this purpose.
- Step 2:
Sampling Visit different classes and experience the method and the teacher for yourself.
- Step 3:
The selection phase Choose a method and listen to your body to make sure that the choice is right for you.
We recommend that you enter the world of yoga gradually, in order to avoid extreme changes in the state of body and mind. Small changes may continue to advance us toward our goals, however big changes may cause extreme levels that we will not be able to attain in the future.
So here are a few tips:
- When you are starting out, get to the class early and talk to the teacher about your level of practice.
- Listen to your body and try not to overload it, be gentle.
- While you are in a position, seek a balance between relaxation and effort. Your pace of progress is your own.
- Accept yourself and do not compare yourself with others. Perseverance will result in impressive achievements.
- Be patient, the language of yoga is rich and suitable for everyone. Sometimes it takes more than a few lessons until that "thing" that veteran yoga practitioners talk about happens to you, too.
Questions and Answers
Definitely not. Flexibility and freedom of movement are one of the results of regular and continuous practice, but they are not a primary requirement or condition for practicing yoga. Yoga poses can also be adapted to a situation where the body is rigid and inflexible in order to assist practitioners to progress at a pace and in the time that is right for them.
Yes, in principle the stomach should be empty, at least 3 or 4 hours from the last meal. However, it is not advisable to come hungry. You can eat a light and energetic snack even an hour before practice.
Yoga is intended to bring about changes in the level of consciousness and body, but no spiritual inclination or preconceived belief is needed to enjoy the yoga performed in the studio, which is basically a technique for practical practice.
Yes, yoga is a practice that starts from the physical level, but in addition it can also affect the state of our consciousness later on.
Regular exercise can contribute to the improvement of all the metabolic activity in the body including weight loss. Of course it is desirable that the exercise is performed along with proper nutrition.
With the help of an experienced teacher, the appropriate practice and approach can be found in the event of illness or other medical problems. In most cases, not only can it be practiced, but over time the practice may help relieve the discomfort or some of the symptoms that accompany the illness. In some cases, Yoga may help the healing process.
Yes. Regular practice of yoga will reduce the level of stress in the body, and over time will also delay the processes that cause and accumulate tension and stress.
No. Although advanced Yoga techniques do engage with the gathering and internalization of the senses and consciousness, yoga is for people who wish to live their lives fully and satisfactorily in the present.
The practice is suitable for all ages in special age-appropriate classes. The differences in the practice of Yoga for different ages are in the manner Yoga is taught but not in the basic principles on which the practice is based.
In principal, yogic breathing is performed through the nose. It is designed to filter the dust and interference in the air and introduce oxygen at the temperature and humidity needed by the body. If there is a medical problem that prevents you from breathing this way, you can breathe through your mouth until you overcome the problem.
No. Yoga practice is a balanced combination of effort and relaxation, stability versus softness.
Not necessarily. The philosophy of yoga can be understood from the experience of practice and not just from theoretical study. However, one can broaden one's horizons and study the texts that make up the principles of Yoga, in which great wisdom may be found.
This claim is not officially proven. Many practitioners feel that the body becomes a little lighter after Yoga practice.