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Yoga.com Frequently Asked Questions

Yoga.com Staff
©Yoga People, LLC 2017

Yoga Pose Where do I find a teacher or school?

You can try the following sites:

The final two sites have foreign yoga classes and schools listed. Contact a teacher near the area where you are if your area is not listed.

What about Ashtanga or Power Yoga?

To find some information about Ashtanga yoga on our site go to Ashtanga Yoga. You will find an article and recommendations with a catalog of products. Find out more on "PowerYoga" here. Here is an excerpt from "Beyond Power Yoga" by Beryl Bender-Birch. The current practice of "Ashtanga" yoga is the same as the current practice called "Power Yoga" according to most practitioners. Ashtanga is a popular style that is fast and fluid, moving from one pose to another. The focus is on breath and a focal point during practice. It can be an intense workout, burn calories, and rehabilitate injured athletes.

How do I get started doing yoga?

Yoga has much to offer whether it is for the mind, spirit or body. Practicing Yoga can create and restore balance. Many of our videos are suitable for beginners if you are thinking of practicing at home. There are Yoga Journal Practice Series Videotapes which includes "Yoga for Beginners" with Patricia Walden and more, or the "A.M./P.M. Yoga for Beginners Set" and even "Power Yoga for Beginners" with Rodney Yee, which is rather exciting. You can read about these and others in our catalog. Gentle Yoga for Beginners Video is another fine place to start, as well as Yoga Journal's Introduction Video with Patricia Walden. The videos and DVDs give you instruction in the privacy of your own home. The structure of having a videotape to practice with helps you stick with it and feel the benefits.

We suggest finding a teacher who will deepen your experience. The teacher can help you learn to be aware of your body and how you are moving it, and apply more and more consciousness to your practice. Teachers are also essential for helping those with special problems and can teach you how to do yoga in a way that helps your situation (back pain, stiff knees, etc.) and causes no harm. See the FAQ above and find a teacher near you. Usually persons in a class are barefoot. There are often sticky mats which  the teacher usually provides. Sometimes the students bring their own mat to class. The reason for the mat is to prevent slippage on the floor of the feet and hands. It also provides cushioning for the body in yoga positions which are called poses or asanas. The teacher demonstrates a pose and explains to the students how to do it. You may notice other props in the yoga studio and on the videos. Blocks, straps or belts, and other items are used with some forms of yoga, especially Iyengar style yoga. At home, you could benefit from a sticky mat but can get away without one if you have floors that aren't too slippery. To substitute blocks, try a thick book. For a strap you can use a belt or scarf you already own when getting started.

Do you speak Spanish and what are some websites on yoga in Spanish?

Nosotros lo sentimos, pero no hablamos espanol aqui...bueno, hay uno o dos quien hablan espanol, pero este sitio esta actualmente dedicado principalment al ingles. Si ustedes quieren encontrar informacion sobre el Yoga en espanol, pueden tratar los sitios siguientes.

What about doing yoga with back problems?

We recommend that you begin slowly to orient your body to a new way of exercising that will not lead to or exacerbate injury as may have been the case with your previous experience. We suggest Back Care Yoga for Beginners with Rodney Yee, and/or Lower Body Yoga with Patricia Walden. Mary Schatz, M.D. has a helpful book, "Back Care Basics."  Many have been helped by using a Pelvic Inversion Swing. This is a device which allows one to hang upside down and thus create space between the vertebrae in the back. The best advice for those with back problems doing yoga is this:

  1. Listen carefully to your body
  2. find an experienced teacher for guidance.
B.K.S. Iyengar himself and teachers that have been trained in his style of yoga have had notable success in helping those with back pain with therapeutic yoga which is specifically designed for the individual's body.

What are the different types of hatha yoga?
Here is a brief description of some of the most common varieties available in the West. Please note that the names of these styles or schools of yoga are often actual Sanskrit words. The definitions provided here only refer to the popularized use of the terms in the West and not to the actual meanings of these Sanskrit words or to their usage in classic Indian yogic traditions.

  • Ananda Yoga: Classes focus on gentle postures intending to move energy up to the brain and prepare the body for meditation. Classes also focus on proper body alignment and controlled breathing.
  • Ashtanga (or Astanga) Yoga: A fast-paced series of sequential poses that focuses on strength, flexibility, and building heat. Breath, focal point with gazing, and equanimity are also important.
  • Bikram Yoga: Bikram Choudhury, known as the "yoga teacher to the stars," developed this yoga practice which focuses on 26 poses always repeated in the same order. Bikram Yoga studios are heated to approximately 100 degrees Fahrenheit temperature to simulate the climate in India. Be prepared to sweat. The heat also make makes muscles flexible.
  • Integral Yoga: This traditional type of yoga combines postures, breathing exercises, selfless service, meditation, chanting, prayer, and self-inquiry.
  • ISHTA: Developed by South African teacher Mani Finger and popularized in the States by his son Alan, ISHTA (Integral Science of Hatha and Tantric Arts) focuses on opening energy channels throughout the body with postures, visualizations, and meditation.
  • Iyengar Yoga: Poses are held for a longer amount of time. This type of yoga is renowned for its attention to body alignment. Props such as straps, blankets, and wooden blocks are commonly used. Iyengar Yoga creates body awareness, strength and flexibility. People with physical problems have been helped with the prescriptive therapy of BKS Iyengar and his teachers.
  • Jivamukti-style Yoga: This type of yoga also has Ashtanga roots. It was developed by David Life and Sharon Gannon in 1986. Chanting and breathing exercises are also incorporated in Jivamukti classes. Life and Gannon run a popular yoga studio in New York City.
  • Kali Ray TriYoga: A series of flowing, dancelike movements was developed by Kali Ray in 1980. This yoga also incorporates pranayama (breathing exercises) and meditation. Kali Ray runs the TriYoga Center in Santa Cruz, California.
  • Kripalu Yoga: This gentle, introspective practice urges practitioners to hold poses to explore and release emotional and spiritual blockages. Goal-oriented striving is discouraged and precise alignment is not as important as in some other traditions.
  • Kundalini: This practice concentrates on awakening the energy at the base of the spine and drawing it upward. In addition to postures, a typical class will also include chanting, meditation, and breathing exercises. "Breath of fire" is fundamental to Kundalini classes. Kundalini has been helpful to recovering addicts.
  • Power Yoga:Same as Ashtanga, but with an Americanized label. This type of yoga became popular after Beryl Bender Birch published her book Power Yoga in 1995.
  • Sivananda Yoga: Like Integral Yoga, this traditional type of yoga combines postures, breathing, dietary restrictions, chanting, scriptural study, and meditation. The popular TV yoga teacher Lilias got her start practicing Sivananda Yoga.
  • Svaroopa Yoga: New students find this a very approachable style, frequently beginning in chair poses that are comfortable. This yoga promotes healing and transformation.
  • Viniyoga: This is a gentle, healing practice that is uniquely tailored to each person's body type and special needs as they grow and change.
  • White Lotus Yoga: A modified Ashtanga practice combines breathwork and meditation. Ganga White created this style.