Frequently Asked Questions by many people through social media and emails. Hopefully these questions can help you jump start your yoga practice or gain a better understanding of it. These questions are answered are based on knowledge I have gained through my 200-hr yoga teacher training, my personal experience and research. Please double check with your physician if you are unsure about my answers pertaining to your physical health.
Please check these questions out before contacting me as I may have answered the question you had in mind. I hope this helps you with your journey.
Love and Light to you.
General Yoga Practice Questions:
·"HOW DO I GET STARTED?"
·"HOW LONG DO YOU PRACTICE AND HOW OFTEN? I FEEL LIKE AN HOUR A DAY ISN'T ENOUGH TIME TO PRACTICE. DO YOU JUST PICK ONE OR TWO POSES AT A TIME TO WORK ON? HOW DO YOU BALANCE IT SO YOU CAN GET BETTER, BUT NOT SPEND 3 HOURS A DAY, EVERYDAY?"
I practice about an hour or so a day depending on my days. But to better answer your question, you can spend as much time as you want. I would suggest creating a flow of beginner poses that would target different parts of your body. If you’re a complete beginner, a good start and example is the sun salutation sequences (A, B). On the days that you don’t have the time to practice, do about 10-15 sun salutations. Trust me that you will feel it afterwards and it works on your whole body. Beginner poses make practicing the advanced poses so much easier.
·"IS YOGA HARD?"
Well if you think of yoga as any other sport or physical activity, you would have a better understanding. Yoga is only hard for if you lack patience and consistency. Yoga is universal. Basically, for any one who can breathe. Each person progresses differently because we are different people with different bodies and capabilities. There are so variations and modifications to poses to ensure that every person that practices is comfortable and able to practice. Yoga will challenge you mentally, physically and spiritually and if you're a person who loves a challenge then you’ll love it!
·"WHEN DID FLEXIBILITY SETTLE IN FOR YOU THROUGH YOGA? OR HAVE YOU ALWAYS BEEN FLEXIBLE?"
I never considered myself to be flexible. I was your normal person with average flexibility. I wasn't a previous gymnast or a dancer. I always had toe desire to be as flexible as them and fortunately I was able to fulfill that desire through yoga. I only started to see progress when I became consistent (practicing more than 3 times a day). When I created a flow or routine of daily stretches (depending on what part of my body I wanted to work on) is when I saw progression. Yoga is like anything in life, you wont see results or progression unless you are consistent.
·“How long did it take you to learn to do a handstand? Did you fall often? And is it common for your wrists to hurt?”
When it comes to yoga, you want to get rid of the “how long until..?” question. This question depends on the person’s body and strength, how often they practice and what they actually spend time practicing. Setting a timeline may discourage you from practicing because you think you’re suppose to achieve it after a certain time. If you practice consistently you will see results sooner than later. For me personally, I didn’t start getting better with my handstands until 18 months after I initially started my practice. At the beginning my wrist did hurt and I did fall a lot but with time, it stopped. We don’t often put weight on our hands so when we first start practicing, they will be sore. But the soreness fades away with continuous practice.
•"IS THERE A CERTAIN STYLE OF YOGA YOU DO OR DO YOU JUST PICK ANY STRETCH AND DO THAT?"
I currently don't have a specific style of yoga that I practice now. I practice various styles so I guess you can say I'm non-dimensional. I create a routine or flows with beginner poses that will help target certain parts of my body that I believe that needs work.
•"What's the best yoga videos/books for beginners? Real beginners?"
I can't recommend any videos specifically that would help because I haven’t personally watched any. I learned most things either through famous yogi accounts, training or (yogajournal.com). But I do offer some sequence videos through my Annual Subscription which you can find at the bottom of my home page. As far as books, I have released The Starting Point and few other books that I find helpful are : " The Yoga Handbook: An inspirational reference for teaching and home practice" by Stephanie Keach and "Ashtanga Yoga" By David Swanson.
· "Why has yoga become so important in your life and what type of advice do you have for beginners?”
Yoga became important to me because I noticed how it changed me as a person emotionally, spiritually and physically. When I first started practicing yoga, it was only for physical reasons. But after I became more consistent with my practice, it became much more than that. It changed me mentally and emotionally. I feel less stressed nowadays. I’m much more patient and understanding. My view on life and myself has changed and it just makes me want to continue on this journey and see where it takes me. As far as advice for beginners, Just start! Regardless of where you are as far as flexibility, just start. But also check for a few posts on my blog about some tips on how to start.
·“Once I master an asana (beginner or otherwise) how often do I need to practice it so I don’t lose strength/flexibility once I’ve gained it?”
You should still remain consistent and practice regularly. Don’t stop because you have reached your goal. It’s just like working out. If you don’t USE it, you LOSE it. Let’s say you start running today and you’ve reached your goal of running 5 miles, do you stop for a week or so and expect that you would be able to run 5 miles comfortably later on? If you think of the physical aspect of yoga as a sport, then you’ll better understand how it works. You can lose your flexibility if you don’t practice.
·“What type of yoga would recommend for us in the military? We are constantly training and putting stress on our bodies?”
I would suggest restorative or yin yoga. It will hopefully help you relax and be stress free.
·“How do you start doing yoga when you have no fitness experience at all?”
There are no requirements to starting yoga, you just start at whatever level you’re. Anyone who can breathe can practice yoga. I suggest going to a class and trying the gentle or basic yoga classes to start off. Many studios offer a new student discount. Some offer $30 for 30 days of unlimited yoga classes. Check out the promotions in the surrounding yoga studios. Try out as many classes as you can to see which one you like.
·“If you’re a self-taught yogi, how do you know if you’re doing the moves correctly?”
Well I started off as a self-taught yogi for the whole year of 2013, then I decided to go into yoga teacher training. I realized that there is a lot that I didn’t know. Although I did learn a lot from (yoga journal) website, teacher training was very specific details on how to get into poses and what to look out for. My suggestion is to read up or watch videos and if you have time, attend classes and workshops for a deeper knowledge to insure you’re doing poses correctly.
·“Is your yoga physical or are you spiritual too?”
At first it was physical but as I began my Yoga Teacher Training, it became more than just physical. I’ve became more spiritually involved.
·“Does your body eventually become more flexible the longer you hold poses?”
Poses in yoga are usually held for at least 15 seconds or 5 deep breaths. Consistency is key. The more you practice, the better you get. But if you’re thinking if you hold a pose longer than 15 seconds would it make you achieve faster, not necessarily true. Think of yoga like a sport, you don’t want to overwork your muscles. You need to listen to your body and only do what its ready for. Don’t overwork your muscles so that you’re not injuring yourself by pulling a muscle. I also suggest practicing patience. Many people are eager to achieve a pose and are not patient enough to train their body and let it guide you to the pose. You will get there when you’re body is ready.
·“At what point of practice did you decide to go to an actual yoga class? Did you hit a wall on progression? Is it necessary to go to a class eventually?”
I didn’t attend many classes before I started my yoga teacher training. I probably went to maybe 3 classes to see if I would like it better than my home practice. I didn’t go to a yoga studio; I went to a class in a gym so I didn't like the classes. For me personally, the atmosphere of a class taught in a gym is completely different from a yoga studio. I didn't realize that up until my yoga teacher training. I can’t really explain it in words; it was just a different vibe. A class at a yoga studio is more beginner friendly I would say. I think its necessary to attend a class every once in awhile if you can. Not only do you get to learn new poses, flows from the teacher but it is also an opportunity to ask any questions you may about your home practice and you also leave the studio feeling relaxed and happy.
·“ What are some books you’ve read that taught you about yoga and any other books that you recommend?”
It depends on what you want to learn in yoga. If you’re a beginner and feel overwhelmed the amount of information for yoga that is out there and don’t even know where to start I suggest that you take a look at a guide I created called “The Starting Point”. I created this guide to help you understand yoga a little better and get you on the right path to starting your yoga journey. But if you are familiar with yoga and want to deepen your knowledge, here’s a few suggestions:
For ethical practice in yoga: “The Yamas and Niyamas-Exploring the Ethical Practice of Yoga” by Deborah Adele.
Anatomy in yoga : “YogaAnatomy” by Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Mathews
Learning about yoga in depth: “The Heart of Yoga- Developing a Personal Practice” By T.K.V. Desikachar
•"I'M USUALLY HIGH STRUNG AND WORRISOME WHAT POSES OR WORKOUTS DO YOU RECOMMEND FOR RELAXING?"
There are many poses that can help you relax such as corpse and child pose. You can look into "Restorative Yoga" poses. These poses are considered relaxing and meditative poses that help calm the mind.
·“I have lower back pain. What poses help your lower back?”
If you suffer from lower back pain, stay away from back bends. Do some core poses or exercises while laying on your back (lumber spine pressed into the mat). You can also try standing forward folds, cat rolls and seated twists.
· “I have two questions what are some good poses for tight hamstrings and how do you put your sequences together?”
For the first question: Forward folds, triangle standing, pyramid, wide leg forward fold are good for tight hamstrings. Second question, you pick a theme for your sequence (hip operners, back bends, inversions..etc). Then, you break down your sequence in 3 parts. The first 1/3 of your sequence will focus on warm up beginner poses of your specific theme. The 2/3 of your sequence will be about practicing specific poses of that theme that you want to work on (usually they’re advance poses). The last part of your sequence will be your counter poses or cool down which most likely include twists and restorative poses like savasana.
·“I find the downward dog really hard to hold after a couple of breaths. My arms start to get tired.. Am I doing the pose incorrectly? Or do I just need to work on developing more strength in my arms?”
No you are not doing it incorrectly if your arms get tired. Downward facing dog may seem as an easy pose but its really not. It works plenty of muscles that you normally don’t use. So yes, if you don’t practice downward facing dog often, you will get tired thr first few times. Just do it often and you will see that after awhile that you won’t be as tired as you were before.
·”What would you suggest to increase shoulder flexibility and strength for inversions?”
For an inversion practice, you need to have open shoulders, strong core and overall upper body strength. To open up your shoulders, I suggest cow face pose. Also from wide leg forward fold, you can clasp your hands together and try to reach over your head To build up your core practice downward facing dog, plank and boat pose. Most importantly, just keep practicing your inversions consistently and you’ll notice with time, you’ll gain strength and it will get easier.
·“I want to get into yoga but I don’t think its possible because every time I try to invert myself, all the blood rushes to my head and I get extremely dizzy and light headed. Do you have any tips for that?”
Although inversions are part of yoga, you don’t have to do inversions to start yoga or practice yoga. There are a lot of people don’t include inversions into their practice and that’s okay. Yoga is meant to be inclusive so that everyone can find what works best for him or her. So don’t think you have to do inversions to practice yoga.
Now if you do want to include inversions in your practice, you can start by doing simple ones like shoulder stand, dead bug, or propping your legs up against the wall with a block under your hip. These exercises will help circulate the blood through your body without adding the rush to your head. If you do experience that in an inversion, it’s normal. Your body just has to get use to being inverted; I would keep practicing until you don’t feel that way. But don’t spend too much time inverted. I use to feel that rush at the beginning of my practice and now I don’t. Just try to hang for no more than 3 breaths when you invert yourself. Don’t hang too long if your body is not ready. Keep doing it a day or so later and you’ll notice your body will get use to being inverted and you won’t feel as light headed anymore.
·“YOU SEEM TO PRACTICE INVERSIONS A LOT. SORENESS IN PARTICULAR SHOULDER AREA… WHAT DO YOU DO?”
If you’re asking what do you do to prevent your shoulders from being sore the next day? Then I would suggest spending less time on inversions when you practice and pace yourself. For instance, if you’re pushing yourself and holding inversions longer than 15 seconds at a time, practicing for hours, and you’re body is not ready for it, you will be sore. You have to give your body time to get use to poses so that it can be comfortable for you later on. Being sore is part of your yoga practice. It just means you’re working on muscles that you haven’t before. With time, the soreness will go away because now those muscles are used to the practice.
·“I ABSOLUTELY LOVE INVERSIONS. THEY ARE MY FAVORITE YOGA POSITIONS. I’VE READ THAT WOMEN SHOULD NOT DO INVERSIONS DURING THEIR TIME OF THE MONTH. AS IT CAN AFFECT HER MENSTRUAL FLOW. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS/ EXPERIENCES?”
From my experience, It has been okay for me. I usually don’t hold inversions for long periods of time so it hasn’t affected me. I do practice inversions during that time of the month and I feel fine. I guess it all depends on how you feel. In yoga, you only practice poses if you feel comfortable and okay. Some can practice during the time of the month, others can’t. It really depends on the person.
·“WHAT ARE GOOD TIPS ON GETTING A DEEPER BACKBEND AND LEARNING HOW TO DO THE SPLITS?”
The best tip on getting into a deeper backbend is basically practicing the beginner poses on a daily basis. Practice the bridge and wheel daily. To learn how to do the splits, I would suggest practicing the lizard pose, low and high lunges, warriors I and II, happy baby on daily basis as well.
·“What is the best way for a muscular male to become flexible and do even more toe bars?”
Well there isn’t a specific poses for certain body types or gender. To become more flexible, you just have to start with the basic poses on a daily bases. As my teacher tells me, a grain of sand a day, don’t rush the process. As far as toe to bar, I would start working on your core and start practicing forward folds.
·“I find when I do backbends I always feel pinching and a teensy pain in the middle of my back and when I come up my entire back feels tense than I always need to bend over forward to loosen up. … I was wondering if you had any ideas as to whether I should be changing my posture or maybe just doing better stretches before backbends? This usually happened when I practice standing backbends or camel pose”.
The reason why you’re probably experiencing pinching in your back is because you didn’t warm up to the pose. Backbends are one of those poses that you need to allow your back to warm up before entering the pose. What I mean is; lets say you wanted to do camel pose? I would suggest doing bridge pose, cat and cow, or a simple standing backbend that doesn’t add a lot of strain to your back.
And as far as leaning forward after a backbend, you need to do that. So again, backbends are tough poses especially on the spine, so after you perform a backbend, you need to do a counter pose to relief the stress on the spine. So forward folds and twists are good. Its a good thing that you’re listening to your body and bending forward after a backbend because that is what its telling it needs and your body is right!
·“WHAT ARE THE BEST EXERCISES FOR LOSING BELLY FAT?”
It all depends on what part of the belly. But regardless of what exercises I tell you to do if you don’t eat right, it won’t matter. Some good ones I like personally, are Russian twists, toe touches, kick downs. But like I said you have to really eat right to see the changes you want to. Please check out www.Fitdorks.com for how to live a healthy lifestyle and lose belly fat in 28 days by eating clean or check out the "Fitdorks' Simple Guide to a Healthier You".
·“ How do you maintain your weight? I have a high metabolism and my weight goes up and down. Any tips on maintaining my weight?”
For me personally, I try to eat every two hours to maintain my weight. I try to include a lot of proteins in my meals. Try to increase tour meals during the day (the healthy way) and see if that works for you.
·“Does yoga help you lose or maintain weight?”
Yes, yoga can help. Depends on the type of yoga you’re practicing. Power yoga can help you lose weight and tone your body.