This blog post is a collection of questions I am asked on a regular basis – if you have any questions that are not listed below, please comment on the post or contact me directly and I will try my best to answer them for you!
What is Kripalu Yoga?
Kripalu Yoga is a compassionate and inclusive practice suitable for all ages and ability levels. It is categorized in the Western world as Hatha yoga. The goal of Kripalu Yoga is to empower people through the practise of yoga to live a more fulfilled life.
Kripalu Yoga was founded by Amrit Desai and a group of followers of Swami Kripalu in the 1970’s. Swami Kripalu originated from India, but travelled to the United States during his final years to teach this dedicated group of yogis. The original ashram was in Pennsylvania, however when a property in Stockbridge, Massachusetts became available to buy in 1983, the followers relocated.
In 1999, the ashram converted to a teaching school and retreat centre and is now known as the Kripalu Centre for Yoga & Health.
What is the difference between Gentle Beginners Yoga & Intermediate Yoga?
The goal of Gentle Kripalu Yoga is compassionate self-awareness, gentle stretching and relaxation. This class includes slow warm ups, nourishing breath work and basic postures to release tension in the body and calm the nervous system. This class is appropriate for beginners or people suffering from any sensitivity in the body.
Intermediate Yoga aims to balance strengthening and stretching. You’ll strengthen the body by holding the postures for several breathes, develop mental focus and cultivate sensitivity to your body’s energy. This class is suitable for those who are new to yoga but are strong and fit or for those who have a fundamental understanding of yoga practise.
What should I wear to a yoga class?
You should wear clothing you can move easily in. For example: t-shirts, shorts, leggings, track suit bottoms. Some people prefer to layer up, others prefer to wear less clothes to prevent feeling restricted during postures. Yoga is practised barefoot but if you struggle to grip the mat, yoga socks and gloves can be worn to aid this. I would recommend bringing a sweater to wear during savasana otherwise you may feel chilly as your body cools down quickly.
What should I bring with me to a yoga class?
I have yoga mats, blocks and straps that can be used for class, but I would recommend investing in your own yoga mat if you intend on maintaining a regular practise.
I would also recommend bringing a blanket and a cushion to classes but this is not obligatory. Both can be used as props in various postures and you may want to lay the blanket over you during savasana as you cool down.
You may also want to bring a bottle of water to sip on during class. If you bring a mobile phone, please make sure it is switched on to silent.
Do I need to book a place in a class or can I just arrive?
I ask that everyone books due to the size of the room and the equipment I have available. If I have drop in spaces available on the day, I will post on Facebook and you can just arrive without booking.
How long are classes?
Classes are one hour-long and include a mix of pranayama (breathwork), warm ups, asana practice (postures) and relaxation.
Is it all women or can men come to yoga?
No, it is not all women! Yoga is a popular form of exercise for women, however traditionally yoga was practised by men and women were a minority! Gentle and intermediate yoga has a mixture of men and women.
Am I too old to practise yoga?
You are never too old to practise yoga!
Can I practise yoga if I have a pre-existing medical condition or an injury?
Please let me know if you have a specific medical condition or injury before class. Yoga can support the healing process safely but I need to know to be able to help you. Do use your common sense, don’t push too hard initially and don’t be afraid to sit down and rest whenever you need to – after all, you know your body better than anyone else and you should listen to it.
Is yoga a religion?
No, yoga is not a religion. Yoga can be thought of variously as a science, a philosophy, a spiritual and a physical practice. The practise of yoga is thousands of years old and takes inspiration from various ancient texts, sages and belief systems. You will never be asked to pray to any god during any yoga class. Sometimes in yoga we will use deities and ritual from various religions and belief systems as symbolism (for example, I feel a resonance with the Hindu deity, Ganesh, the elephant headed god who is known as the “remover of obstacles” however I am not a follower of the Hindu faith).
I felt this quote taken from the website www.christianspractisingyoga.com and written by Georg Feuerstein can probably explain it better than I can:
“Yoga, it is quite true, has historically been associated with India’s three great religious-cultural traditions—Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. Thus, the teachings of yoga are infused with many concepts that have a Hindu, Buddhist, or Jaina flavour…. In fact, we need not believe in anything other than the possibility that we can go beyond…our present understanding and experience of the world, and more significantly, beyond our current egocentric state of being.
How can yoga enrich the religious or spiritual life of a practicing Christian or Jew? The answer is the same as for a practicing Hindu, Buddhist, or Jaina. Yoga aids all who practice religion, regardless of their persuasion, by balancing the nervous system and stilling the mind through its various exercises (from posture to breath control to meditation). Yoga’s heritage is comprehensive enough so that anyone can find just the right techniques that will not conflict with his or her personal beliefs….
So, practicing Christians or Jews (or practitioners of any other religious tradition), should take from yoga what makes sense to them and deepens their own faith and spiritual commitment.”
Do we chant and pray in class?
We may on occasion chant “Om” to begin and close the yoga practise and we may chant mantras from time to time, some of which may be in Sanskrit. Again, we would never pray to a deity. If you feel uncomfortable chanting Om or a mantra, there is no pressure to join in and you can just sit and listen or choose a mantra or prayer of your own.
Do I need to join in with all aspects of the class?
If there is a posture or sequence you don’t think will feel good in your body, there is no obligation to push yourself into it. The same can be said again for chanting, mantras or meditation. It is your yoga class and it is up to you how much or how little you choose to take away from it.