FAQ: Yoga and Mindfulness

Q:  What is Mindfulness? 

A:  Mindfulness comes from the Sanskrit word meaning “awareness,” specifically, “coming back to awareness.”  It is a tool for “letting go” over and over again, of thoughts about the present or the future – gently training the mind to “just be” in the present with curiosity, without judging or feeding into what we are experiencing and observing.  There are many, many tools and practices that we can use to develop our natural capacities for mindfulness.

Q:  What is yoga? 

A:  Yoga is a practice that combines Breath, Action, and Mindfulness. (Mindfulness means to pay attention without judging.)  Yoga’s translation is “to yoke;” the practice of yoga “yokes” or connects body and mind.  In our western society, yoga typically refers to the practice of stretching and strength-building postures, combined with mindful attention and breath.

Q: Why would I want to do yoga? 

A: Research has shown that yoga reduces stress, and increases feelings of well-being.  Yoga helps to improve our overall physical health – it benefits the immune system, the digestive system, and the circulatory system, and can reduce chronic pain.

Q: Am I fit enough to do yoga? 

A: Anyone can do yoga!  Forget the stereotypes that you see in the media.  Yoga is NOT about how flexible or acrobatic you can be.  It is about taking time to care for your body and mind.  Anyone of any shape or size can do yoga.  People who have weight issues and many other health issues can benefit from yoga.  You can even do it sitting in a chair!  (Check with your health practitioner if you have any medical issues to learn if there is any risk for you; also be sure to tell your yoga teacher of any health issues.)

Q: But I don’t like to exercise!  How would yoga be any different? 

A: In many forms of exercise, the “fight or flight” nervous system kicks in; an overactive sympathetic nervous system is a causal factor of many mental and physical health problems, such as anxiety, heart problems, and auto-immune disorders.  Yoga does the opposite, stimulating the “rest and digest” parasympathetic nervous system which lowers blood pressure and allows relaxation and healing. Due to the low impact and controlled motions of yoga, yoga offers a lower risk of injury than other forms of exercise.

Q: Is yoga a religious or spiritual practice? 

A: Yoga is not a religion.  The practices of yoga are beneficial to people of every religion and people of no religion. Yoga is a science of the body and mind; when taught skillfully, yoga is closely aligned with the findings of contemporary medical and neuroscience.  Because many people experience the connection of body and mind as a concept that also includes spirit, yoga can be of special benefit to these people.    In all Intersections Wellness classes, everyone is welcome, and everyone’s right to believe as they see fit is respected.

Q: What do I need to bring to a yoga class? 

A: Wear comfortable clothing that allows you to move and stretch; women may appreciate a sports bra.  Yoga is practiced barefoot, although socks are permitted if you prefer.  Mats will be available to borrow.  Bringing a water bottle is recommended.

More questions?