What is hatha yoga?
The term ‘hatha yoga’ covers all types of physical yoga. It puts the emphasis on postures, breathing and relaxation, so it’s suitable for all ages and levels of ability, and ideal for beginners.
I’ve never been to a yoga class before. Will I be the only one who won’t know what to do?
Yoga is non-competitive, so there’s no need to feel concerned about being new in the class. Usually there is a mixture of ages and abilities. Everyone is encouraged to work to their own abilities and according to their level.
What should I wear?
Wear something loose and comfortable that lets you move freely. Yoga is generally done in bare feet, to avoid injury from slipping in socks. But bring socks to keep you warm and comfortable during the relaxation.
Do I need to bring any equipment?
You will need a non-slip yoga mat, but if it’s your first time you’ll be able to borrow a spare mat when you arrive at the class. Belts and blocks (which are sometimes used as aids in poses) are provided, but you may decide to buy your own. Bring a blanket to keep you warm during the relaxation.
I’m very stiff and/or unfit. Will I be able to do it?
The beauty of yoga is that you will notice the effects of regular practice within a very short time (see pic). To start with, you may find that some poses need to be modified to make sure it’s safe for your individual body. Certain movements and asanas may not be suitable for you, and wherever possible you’ll be offered an alternative option.
I have a health condition. Is it safe to take part?
If you have a health condition you should get medical advice from your GP before coming to the class. In the majority of cases, you can still attend and practise safely. BWY teachers are trained to modify asanas to individual ability and to accommodate medical conditions ranging from pregnancy to arthritis.
Is yoga just for women or can men practise too?
Yoga is for everyone! As well as the benefits of the breathing and meditation practice, yoga is a full-body workout that creates strength and flexibility. It strengthens muscles that get less attention during workouts, such as the lower back and knees, and also stretches out the hips, hamstrings and shoulders. These are often very tight in men, leading to injury or weakness.
Why do we have to do breathing exercises? Can’t we just relax?
Controlling our breath deepens relaxation and benefits the entire body, helping it to achieve optimum health.
Do you use Sanskrit names for the postures? How will I understand?
All yoga asanas all have a Sanskrit name which makes it easier to identify across the different disciplines of yoga, but the English translation is used too.
I’m not a very spiritual person. Does this matter?
Yoga is not a religion, although yoga asanas are underpinned by philosophy. It’s up to you whether you take the philosophy on board. Everybody is welcome, whether you are spiritual or not.
Source: British Wheel of Yoga