“Nothing else you do
will make you better at yoga.
But, yoga will make you better at
everything else you do.”
Sometimes when I tell people I teach yoga, I get tons of yoga questions. I also get some puzzled and suspicious looks, especially those people who have not tried yoga. Most people are not aware of all the incredible benefits of a yoga practice.
Robyn doing pigeon pose in Blue Ridge Mountain, GA
As recently as this past weekend, a woman told me “I don’t have a yoga body. Yoga is not for curvy women.” I TOTALLY disagree, seeing I am one of those “curvy women.” Yoga is for everyone! Yoga adapts to any body size. There isn’t any “standard yoga body.” In fact, practicing yoga in the truest sense is not limited to the physical poses. Yoga is a practice which encompasses far more than the poses. Another thing I hear sometimes from people, “Yoga is a religion.” This is NOT true. Yoga is a philosophy and for some people has become a bit of a lifestyle.
Now, my all time favorite myth is “yoga is for white people, black people don’t do yoga.” FALSE! (If you need physical proof, check out some pics of me and my friends doing yoga, as well as this myth shattering page – Black Yogis tumblr).
I decided to put together a Yoga Q&A to help get your yoga questions answered. I will also dispel some myths about yoga.
If you have more yoga questions that you want answered, please contact me. Seriously, ask me anything! Yoga is a beautiful and rewarding practice for anyone who is open to it. I truly believe the more people who practice yoga, the better the world will be.
YOGA is the journey of the Self, through the self, to the self. -Bhagavad Gita
What is yoga?
Yoga means “control of the fluctuations of the mind” according to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the foundational text of yoga. Yoga is a philosophy, not a religion. It is a practice that involves uniting the mind, body and spirit.
Usually, yoga is associated with the physical poses (asanas). However, yoga is more than just the physical poses (asanas), there are also mental and emotional aspects to yoga, like, meditation, breath control, deep concentration, service, mantras, devotion or prayer and positive thinking.
Where does yoga come from?
Yoga has been around for thousands of years. However, yoga’s roots come from India, but have also been traced back to Ancient Egypt. Yoga is practiced everywhere in the world.
What is the purpose of practicing yoga?
Yoga is what a person makes of it. It can be a spiritual practice, a lifestyle choice or a physical exercise; it just depends on the student’s intention. A yoga practice can help a person grow in their spiritual development, as well as enhance an already existing religious practice or exercise regime. But, the most important thing to take away is that yoga IS a practice. It is a practice that changes throughout your life and is a sacred space to explore the body, witness thoughts and stay connected to your true nature.
Who can do yoga?
ANYONE can do yoga from babies to senior citizens! The beauty of yoga is that many poses can be modified in order to accommodate all levels of students, including those who have physical ailments, injuries or have suffered from physical traumas in the past (i.e. car accidents, surgeries). Yoga is for everyone! Each person’s practice is different whether on the mat or out in the world.
Keme, Blue Ridge Mountains, Georgia
Is yoga only for vegetarians and flexible people?
Yoga is for everyone, although many yogis are vegetarians or vegan, there are yogis who have diets that include animal products or meat. Personally, I encourage people to follow their own path as to whether to eat meat. As far as flexibility is concerned, everyone has a unique body and yoga impacts people in various ways, therefore, there is no such thing as a “yoga body.”
Yoga keeps the spine flexible and it exercises and detoxifies the internal organs. When practicing yoga it is best to focus on the breath and listen to the body. Avoid comparing yourself to others. Each person’s yoga practice is unique to them.
Every time a person steps onto the mat, their practice will differ from the last session. Yoga is a practice, so there is always something new to learn, explore and experience.
Nadjejda, founder of Light of Haiti, Washington, D.C.
My friend Lisa-Jane Myers, a passionate Bikram yogi in Auckland, New Zealand.
What type of yoga should a person practice?
It is up to the person. There are many different types of yoga and thousand of yoga poses. The type of yoga a person chooses to practice is usually a matter of preference in that moment. The most important thing to do when practicing yoga is to allow yoga to take you on whatever journey your body, mind and spirit requires in that moment.
It is important to practice various types of yoga with different teachers, until you find a type of yoga that you enjoy. However, most styles of yoga are similar to one another so no matter which style a person practices, they’ll still get the benefits.
What type of yoga does Robyn teach?
Generally, I teach Hatha and Sivananda style yoga classes. However, when I share my practice with students, I am influenced by other styles which have been part of my yoga journey (Bikram, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Egyptian and Balinese). My yoga classes mostly focus on the physical poses (asanas), meditation, breath work, deep relaxation and positive thinking. I use yogic meditation, breathing exercises, visualization and deep relaxation techniques to help students become more aware of their bodies, their energy and others’ energy.
My yoga classes help people open their hearts, expand, release and let go of fears. I share my practice in the hopes that students get an opportunity to experience those blissful moments (no matter how short) of peace, gratitude and infinite love, which opens up a space that allows forgiveness and healing to take place. My classes accommodate people at every level, from beginner to advanced.
How is yoga connected with energy work?
Yoga poses give people the opportunity to balance the energy within their bodies. Yoga helps release stored tension and clear energetic blocks, allowing energy to flow freely again throughout the body. Yoga helps people become more comfortable and in tuned with their physical bodies, which aids in the development of intuition, compassion and awareness.
Photo via yogainternational.com
Why is meditation important?
Yoga helps people develop focus and deep concentration. It also allows people to practice conscious breathing and deep relaxation, which are essential to meditative states. Yoga teaches people how to “be still”. It is in those quiet and reflective moments where ideas, solutions, inspiration, deep insight, or “AH-HA” moments bubble up and reveal themselves.
What are the benefits of doing yoga?
Literally, there are hundreds of yoga benefits. But, one of the best benefits is yoga puts us in touch with our body’s natural rhythms and connects us to more balance and peace in our lives. Both the physical and mental aspects of yoga can help us live more fully and peacefully in the present moment. For more information about the benefits of a yoga practice, please read the 55 Benefits of Yoga. Then, check out the cartoon “King of the Hill”and their take on yoga, pretty hilarious! Enjoy!
If you have more questions about yoga or want me to bust some myths about yoga, leave a comment or please contact me! Also, if you would like to take a yoga class, whether a private lessons or you want a group yoga class (and you are in the Atlanta area), let’s connect!
Namaste. (the higher self in me, acknowledges the higher self in you)