Frequently Asked Questions

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No, yoga is not a religion. But yoga can enhance your experience of your religion. A regular yoga practice can discipline your body and quiet your mind. A quiet mind brings one within, leading to a deeper experience of God, no matter the religion.

Benefits

The physical aspect of what is called yoga in recent years, the asanas, has been much popularized in the West. Physically, the practice of asanas is considered to:

  • improve flexibility
  • improve strength
  • improve balance
  • reduce stress and anxiety
  • reduce symptoms of lower back pain
  • be beneficial for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • increase energy and decrease fatigue
  • shorten labor and improve birth outcomes
  • improve physical health and quality of life measures in the elderly
  • improve diabetes management
  • reduce sleep disturbances
  • reduce hypertension
  • improve blood circulation
  • Yoga can control the complications of diabetes

The emphasis on the physical benefits of yoga, attributed to practice of the asanas, has de-emphasized the other traditional purposes of yoga which are to facilitate the flow of prana (vital energy) and to aid in balancing the koshas (sheaths) of the physical and metaphysical body.

Information taken from Asana on Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

No you don’t have to be flexible to do yoga… It’s an urban myth that people who are tight can't do yoga. Yoga isn’t just stretching its extremely toning, calming, meditative, spiritual, healing and opening. Flexibility is only one aspect of it. Once you practice yoga for a period of time naturally you will gain flexibility with a myriad of other benefits.

Yoga is amazing—even if you only practice for one hour a week, you will experience the benefits of the practice. If you can do more than that, you will certainly experience more benefits. I suggest starting with two or three times a week, for an hour or an hour and a half each time. If you can only do 20 minutes per session, that's fine too. Don't let time constraints or unrealistic goals be an obstacle—do what you can and don't worry about it. You will likely find that after awhile your desire to practice expands naturally and you will find yourself doing more and more.

The gesture Namaste represents the belief that there is a Divine spark within each of us that is located in the heart chakra. The gesture is an acknowledgment of the soul in one by the soul in another. Nama means bow, as means I, and te means you. Therefore, namaste literally means "bow me you" or "I bow to you."

To perform Namaste, we place the hands together at the heart charka, close the eyes, and bow the head. It can also be done by placing the hands together in front of the third eye, bowing the head, and then bringing the hands down to the heart. This is an especially deep form of respect. Although in the West the word "namaste" is usually spoken in conjunction with the gesture, in India, it is understood that the gesture itself signifies Namaste, and therefore, it is unnecessary to say the word while bowing.

We bring the hands together at the heart chakra to increase the flow of Divine love. Bowing the head and closing the eyes helps the mind surrender to the Divine in the heart. One can do Namaste to oneself as a meditation technique to go deeper inside the heart chakra; when done with someone else, it is also a beautiful, albeit quick, meditation.

For a teacher and student, Namaste allows two individuals to come together energetically to a place of connection and timelessness, free from the bonds of ego-connection. If it is done with deep feeling in the heart and with the mind surrendered, a deep union of spirits can blossom.

Ideally, Namaste should be done both at the beginning and at the end of class. Usually, it is done at the end of class because the mind is less active and the energy in the room is more peaceful. The teacher initiates Namaste as a symbol of gratitude and respect toward her students and her own teachers and in return invites the students to connect with their lineage, thereby allowing the truth to flow — the truth that we are all one when we live from the heart.

The first principle of yoga philosophy is ahimsa, which means nonharming to self and others. Some people interpret this to include not eating animal products. There is debate about this in the yoga community—I believe that it is a personal decision that everyone has to make for themselves. If you are considering becoming a vegetarian, be sure to take into account your personal health issues as well how your choices will affect those with whom you live. Being a vegetarian should not be something that you impose on others — that kind of aggressive action in itself is not an expression of ahimsa.

The word yoga, from the Sanskrit word yuj means to yoke or bind and is often interpreted as "union" or a method of discipline. A male who practices yoga is called a yogi, a female practitioner, a yogini.

The Indian sage Patanjali is believed to have collated the practice of yoga into the Yoga Sutras an estimated 2,000 years ago. The Sutra is a collection of 195 statements that serves as a philosophical guidebook for most of the yoga that is practiced today. It also outlines eight limbs of yoga: the yamas (restraints), niyamas (observances), asana (postures), pranayama (breathing), pratyahara (withdrawal of senses), dharana (concentration), dhyani (meditation), and samadhi (absorption). As we explore these eight limbs, we begin by refining our behavior in the outer world, and then we focus inwardly until we reach samadhi (liberation, enlightenment).

Today most people practicing yoga are engaged in the third limb, asana, which is a program of physical postures designed to purify the body and provide the physical strength and stamina required for long periods of meditation.

We have plenty of mats and other props, so no, you do not need to bring a mat. But... a yoga mat a very personal space. If you have your own mat, we suggest that you bring it. If you use one of ours, we ask that you clean it after use with the available spray cleaner.

Wear comfortable clothing - pants with an elastic waist - and plan to be barefoot.

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