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Quieting The Inner Critic?
Wow. I wish I had an easy answer for you. Fortunately and unfortunately the tricks of the mind are as complex as the individual itself. The inner critic you describe is a projection of the ego mind. Essentially the ego mind helps us stabilize ourselves in the world. When its working well it keeps us feeling safe and whole. Unfortunately, at times it can be too active, projecting limitation and fear instead of safety. Deepening our awareness of ourselves in a variety of situations can help alleviate the limiting aspects of the ego mind. The entire practice of yoga is designed to help us stay balanced and in touch with a more compassionate mental space. Meditation in particular can help you begin to understand the origin and root of your thoughts and how to let them go. One way I like to look at this process is through what I refer to as thought quantity. Think about how many thoughts you have every minute, hour, day, etc. We have many, many thoughts. Part of what we are learning to do with our practice is not give so much importance or emotional energy to the select few that upset us. This doesn't mean that we ignore our feelings but rather that we acknowledge and explore a full range of emotional states.
How do I start taking classes?
You can choose from among any of our weekly schedule of on-going classes and attend whenever you like. You are not required to attend any particular class exclusively, nor do you need to make reservations. Just drop in!
What do I need to do for my first class?
If it's your first time wear comfortable clothing - less is better. No perfume or jewelry please. A towel and water bottle are advisable. Try to arrive 5 minutes early to meet the teacher. Be sure to fill out a registration form and sign in. Relax and try to enjoy the beginning of an exciting inward journey.
Can I start yoga if I'm stiff/overweight/out-of-shape/older?
Yes. Yoga is a process. You begin wherever you are.
I am not very flexible. Can I still do yoga?
Flexibility has little to do with whether or not one can practice yoga. Some people are born naturally flexible, others must work to attain flexibility. A regular yoga practice will gradually increase anyone's flexibility. However, increased flexibility itself is not yoga's only objective nor is it the only benefit yoga has to offer. The ultimate benefit of yoga -- to harmoniously unite body, mind and spirit in a healthful physical practice -- can be experienced regardless of whether or not you can touch your toes. It is important to remember that the postures are tools to open the body, rather than goals to be achieved.
What if everyone in the class has more experience than me?
Yoga practice emphasizes individual development. Everyone works at his or her own level and pace within the same class. Often, an instructor will offer several variations to students of a given pose, some less challenging than others. It is also important to remember that a new student who is just able to enter the beginning stages of a given posture is doing as much work (and receiving as much benefit) as the advanced student who can perform the fully completed version.
How many times a week should I practice?
Beginning students will benefit from as little as one class per week. To receive more benefits from your yoga practice, two to three classes per week are recommended. Depending on how your own body responds to yoga, you may take classes every day if you wish. Once you become familiar with the basic postures, you can begin to develop your own yoga practice at home, with a daily practice being the ultimate goal for some students.
What level is appropriate for me?
Beginning students should begin with either “Intro” or Level 1 classes. Even if the level of physical challenge feels minimal, the slower pace and detailed instruction offered in these classes will help to firmly establish technique, such as form, alignment and breathing. These classes will also begin to accustom your body to the “building blocks” of yoga, preparing you for more advanced classes.
I have an injury. What should I do?
Always feel free to introduce yourself to your instructor and describe any injuries you might have. He or she will then be able to advise you as to how to “work around” your problem area to avoid further injury. The instructor may also be able to suggest particular exercises that might help to bring increased mobility and healing to your injuries. In any event, listen to your body’s feedback. If anything you do in yoga feels painful or uncomfortable, you should “back off.” Your instructor will most likely be able to recommend an appropriate alternative pose for you during the class.
When should I expect to see progress in my practice?
Each individual will respond to yoga differently, based on a variety of factors including age, physical condition, genetics, etc. What is more important than measuring progress based on a pre-conceived idea of where you want your practice to be, is to embrace where your practice is and let go of any self-imposed goals. Yoga is truly a life-long pursuit, one that you can go on exploring as long as you live and never learn all there is to know. As American Yoga Master Joel Kramer has said, "The essence of yoga is not attainments, but how aware you are of your limits -- wherever and whatever they may be."
What if I am pregnant?
Feel free to come to any level 1 class. Some poses should not be done while pregnant, and you will be given alternative poses instead. If yours is a high risk pregnancy, please consult your physician before starting yoga.
What if I had recent surgery or injury?
Depending on how serious it is, you may want to consult with your physician before starting yoga. Be sure to tell your yoga teacher about your condition, and he/she will adapt the yoga poses to your abilities. Many people find that yoga helps relieve lingering symptoms of surgery or injury.
Will yoga conflict with my religion?
Absolutely not! Our students are of all faiths, and yoga can help you deepen your spiritual life no matter what your religion. There is Divinity in all people and things. We just encourage you to see this.
Can one do too much yoga?
Can you be too present in your life? It all depends on how we define our yoga practice. If our sadhana encompasses only asana, then yes it is possible to do too much yoga. Seated meditation and Kirtan (chanting/singing) are also effective tools for awakening us to the Self within and can enrich a strong asana practice. However, if we broaden our spiritual practice to include a deeper sense of being in all aspects of our life...if we awaken to the potential inherent in each moment...then life is our yoga practice and I don't believe one can live too much. The key is awareness.