Yoga is a Sanskrit word that translates to union. The union of yoga is between the person and consciousness or body, mind and spirit. It is the marriage of individual consciousness with Universal Consciousness - or oneness. Yoga in the west is known primarily by its physical postures or asanas. This is yoga, but only one path and one aspect. Yoga as an ancient philosophy is a spiritual discipline. Yoga works with the energy of the body, known as prana, no matter what path or discipline is taken. The goal of yoga then is to gain mastery over one’s prana or life force to direct it to the highest good and connect with Universal Consciousness.
Yoga as an 8 limbed discipline began as an oral tradition about 5,000 years ago. It wasn’t until the 3rd century that Patanjali codified the philosophy in writing, in the Yoga Sutras. The 8 limbed approach encompasses all aspects of life, allowing anyone to come to yoga through any limb. More information on the 8 limbs and the Yama and Niyama can be found in our blog. Within the 8 limbs there are paths that can be followed as well. For example, the physical practice of yoga would be a hatha yoga practice. There are paths that are purely devotional or completely selfless. It is thought than any of these paths can lead one to Universal Consciousness.
1. Yamas – 5 Restraints
Ahimsa – non-harming
Asteya - non-stealing
Satya – non-lying
Brahmacharya – moderation in all appetites
Aparigraha – non-attachment
2. Niyama – 5 Observances
Saucha – purity
Santosha – contentment
Tapas – discipline
Swadhyaya – self-study
Isvara Pranidhana – surrender to God
3. Asana – physical postures
4. Pranayama – breath work
5. Pratyahara – sense withdrawal
6. Dharana – concentration
7. Dhyana – meditation
8. Samadhi – bliss
Types of Yoga
A system of physical postures, or asanas. This is the yoga of effort or force. While it is a physical practice, its higher purpose is to purify the body, and gain control over the senses and perceived limitations, preparing it for meditation. This practice also includes meditation, relaxation, mudras and kriyas.
This is the path of action. In part it is the performance of prayers and rituals for self-purification and in part it is selfless service to others without attachment to the results; and the performance of all actions with the consciousness of God as the Doer.
Path of devotion. By constant all-surrendering devotion, thought and service to the Divine through which one strives to see and love the divinity in every creature and in everything, thus maintaining an unceasing worship.
Mantra yoga. Includes all forms of prayer, chanting and singing in praise of God. Japa is the repetition of certain universal root-word sounds representing a particular aspect of Spirit. This form of meditation is often accompanied by a mala.
Path of knowledge and wisdom. Through right knowledge of what truly is, oneness with Universal Consciousness can be achieved leading to spiritual liberation.
The royal or highest path of Yoga, immortalized by Bhagavan Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, is the essence of all the other paths. This path covers and integrates the entire range of all other yogic practices, incorporating the 8 limbs, leading to the development of consciousness.
Is yoga a religion?
No. Many yogic scholars believe it was created to allow spiritual practitioners to sit longer in meditation. We often hear how a yoga practice has enhanced an individual’s connection with their own religious beliefs. On its own it can certainly be, and was intended to be, a spiritual practice.
What does Namaste mean?
Namaste is a Sanskrit word still used in India today as a greeting and as a good-bye, much the same way Aloha is used. Its translations are varied but in general it means: “The light in me honors the light in you.”
Why do people Om?
Om is the sound of the universe. When the instructor invites the class to chant om, it is for the purpose of uniting the energy in the room and connecting everyone that is in class. Chanting is not singing. When om is chanted, it is a vibration that is made audible so it doesn’t matter if you can carry a tune or not, you’re always invited to chant. And it is always okay not to chant.
How should I feel after my practice?
Generally people report feeling a sense of peace and integration. This may not always be the case. If you feel frustrated, sore or tired after more than a few practices, you may consider switching to a different class. We always recommend you start with a gentle or level 1 practice to create a strong foundation and learn the postures. Always feel free to speak to your teacher about how you’re feeling. They are here to help you find the best practice for you.
Can I practice yoga if I’m injured or after surgery?
Yoga can help many people recover, however, when you can come back to your practice is a decision you and your health care provider need to make together. When you do return, be sure to tell your teacher what you are dealing with so she can give you modifications for your practice. As always, we strongly encourage our students to listen to their inner teacher and to rest when the body says so. If you have recently been injured or are suffering from a chronic condition, please consult your physician.
What if I’m dealing with a chronic condition like Sciatica or Fibromyalgia? Can yoga help?
Yoga is often used to relieve the symptoms of many chronic conditions. Check with your health care provider before practicing, then speak with your teacher about your condition. Some postures may be contraindicated for your particular condition while others may be extremely helpful.
What should I bring to class?
Please bring a yoga mat, if you have one. If you don’t have a mat, you can borrow one of ours or purchase one from the studio. We do encourage you to bring or buy your own mat, as this is the most hygienic practice. Any other props that you might need (blocks, straps, eye pillows, blankets, etc.) are offered free of charge.
What should I wear?
We suggest that students wear light, loose fitting clothing that will allow unrestricted movement. Or if you prefer, clothing specific for yoga that is more form-fitting and moves with the body. Some students like to wear an outer layer, like a long sleeved tee shirt and/or socks for the first and last few minutes of class to keep warm and comfortable. Be prepared to practice in bare feet (grip socks, such as ToeSox™, can be worn).
Is there a place where I can change and store my stuff?
Our studio has ample space in each of our restrooms to allow privacy for changing. We also have plenty of cubby space where you can store your belongings. Please be aware that the cubbies are in the reception area and are not lockable. You may prefer to leave your valuables at home. The studio is locked during class times, so your belongings will be secure. RSY is not responsible for lost or stolen items.
Is it okay if I have my cell phone in the studio with me?
Sorry. We respectfully request that all cell phones, pagers, beepers, iPads, etc. be left outside of the studio space with the ringer off or the phone in airplane mode. Yoga is an inward practice and having a cell phone in the practice space is a distraction. This is your time to unplug. We want all of our students to have a completely enjoyable and relaxing yoga practice, without the distractions of daily life.
What can I expect from a RSY yoga class?
While every teacher has his or her own style, each class will begin with centering, followed by a warm up, which may include sun salutations or sun breaths. The teacher will lead the class through a series of standing and seated postures (asanas), according to the class level. Asanas will be presented with more and less challenging options. Straps, blocks or blankets may also be offered to make the poses as accessible as possible for all students. Classes will conclude with a final rest (savasana). Some classes offer an extended savasana, or Yoga Nidra, for an even deeper relaxation.
What’s the difference between Hatha and Vinyasa?
RSY classes are all based on Hatha yoga. A Hatha class will place a lot of focus on the individual postures, alignment and breath. The pace will generally be much slower, with longer holds. Our Hatha classes are great for beginners or students who prefer a more structured, alignment-based style. In a vinyasa class, multiple asanas are linked together to create a flow. Students are encouraged to link each movement with their breath, building heat both internally and externally in the body. Our vinyasa classes are appropriate for students with an established yoga practice or anyone looking for a more physical style.
What’s the difference between Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3?
Level 1 classes are appropriate for ALL students, regardless of age, shape or experience. Level 2 classes will introduce binds, twists and preparation for inversions and arm balancing; level 2 classes are appropriate for students who are familiar with the asanas, and need less verbal cues. Level 3 classes are our most challenging classes and are recommended for those students with a high level of fitness or an established yoga practice. These classes will typically offer inversions (handstand, headstand, etc.) and arm balances. Options will always be offered. If you have never practiced yoga before you may not be admitted to a level 3 class, most postures have little instruction and are named in Sanskrit. View our class descriptions
I’m pregnant. Can I do yoga?
Always consult with your physician before beginning any new regime. While we offer prenatal classes, we welcome mommies-to-be to all of our Gentle/Level 1 classes. If you chose to attend one of these classes, please notify the instructor before the class so that she can advise you of modifications and guide you through the practice appropriately and safely.