5 Common Questions About Vinyasa Answered!
5 Common Questions From New Students
(and the answers!)
Ready to off a new year with a positive mindset and feel more connected to your body, mind, and spirit? Then a vinyasa yoga practice is calling your name!
Vinyasa yoga is one of the most popular styles of yoga in the United States, and is sometimes called “Flow Yoga” or “Vinyasa Flow”. The word itself roughly translates as, ‘to place in a special way.’ The movements and the breath and intentional; we move and pay attention to our movement on purpose. This style of yoga emphasizes the synchronization of breath with a series of yoga poses, thus creating a sort of moving meditation that stimulates not only the physical body, but also the subtle body and the mind.
New students (and experienced students alike) bring with them a ton of questions. It’s completely understandable to be hesitant and curious about starting a yoga practice. To help you out, I’ve gathered a few questions that I receive on a daily basis to help demystify what happens on the mat.
#1: Do I Have To Be Fit or Flexible?
Nope. Not at all! Can you breathe? Yes? Great – you can do yoga!
It can definitely be daunting to scroll through Instagram and see countless images of fit and flexy folk bending themselves into pretzels. I assure you, these individuals are the exception (and usually previous dancers and gymnasts to boot). Most yogis I come into contact with are not rubber bands. And while a benefit of yoga is to increase flexibility, this is merely a byproduct of the practice that will come with time and dedication.
To start your practice, all you need is a live body and an open mind.
#2: I Don’t Know the Poses…What If I Look Dumb?
Think back to the first time you played a sport. You had to learn the positions, the mechanics, and the rules. Think of the first time you drove a car. You had to learn the parts of the car, where and when to move your feet, and how to check your mirrors. Life is filled with experiences, and with any new experience comes a learning curve. Yoga, too!
Sure, you may not know the names of the poses or where to put your back foot in Warrior I, but you will never learn until you are taught. I get it, being the new kid in class is scary. But every person who practices yoga is doing so to journey towards a better version of themselves. Yoga studios are a place of community! Teachers and students alike are warm and friendly, and excited to share this path with new students. So, go to class, feel uncertain, and grow from that uncertainty!
#3: Will Yoga Help Me Lose Weight?
The question of weight loss is something I get asked often by new students. My answer is “maybe”. Calories burned in a yoga class is so personal to the individuals. Per hour burned it’s safe to say that most yoga classes burn fewer calories than those burned in an intense fitness class. However, the practice of Yoga does inspire practitioners to live more mindfully and to adopt a healthier lifestyle, which can bring about weight loss.
Weight, especially for women in our culture, has become much more than a simple metric of health but it is also tied up with feelings of worthiness. For better or for worse the term ‘losing weight’ most considered as a positive movement towards better health – regardless of whether or not losing weight is or is not actually physically and emotionally healthy for that individual. “Oh, you’ve lost weight!” We hear it and might immediately consider it a compliment! But, yoga’s principles ask us to view our attachment to a number on a scale with a much clearer lens. When it comes to weight loss Yoga catalyzes a much deeper dive – and perhaps this is what surprises the weight loss seekers the most! Once a new practitioner gets started with vinyasa yoga they feel stronger, more agile, less reactive to little aches and pains, and often, yes much fitter in their physical body.
What I feel is most important is that adopting a yoga practice is for the long haul. When you become more aware of your physical body and the way you feel emotionally, you are better equipped to make decisions that will benefit your life – such as healthy eating, meditating, and maintaining a regular, daily movement practice.
#4: Do I Have To Chant “Om”?
Nope. In most classes, you will be offered the opportunity to chant the sacred sound of “Om” at least once. It feels good. But the first few times might feel awkward. Many teachers offer options such as, “If you don’t wish to join in, you can simply listen”.
But why do we “Om” in the first place? According to Yogic tradition “Om” is the sacred sound of the Universe; the sound of creation; the sound of oneness. The chant of “om” creates a vibration – the same vibration as everything in nature. When we chant this sound, we enter the same vibrational frequency as everything and everyone around us. Plus it makes you feel good! When we chant “Om” we are one.
Still not comfortable chanting the sound? That’s totally fine! By sitting near those who are chanting, you will receive the vibrations and share this unifying experience with everyone around you.
#5: What Class is Right For Me?
What a question! Just because you’re a beginner, doesn’t mean that you’re required to take a “beginner” class. So many factors go into choosing a yoga class, but the most important is to choose the right energy level for your needs. At Honest Soul Yoga, we have several vinyasa style classes to choose from.
Ask yourself, what kind of energy do you want to expend during your practice? What are you hoping to get out of yoga?
Are you an active person who loves upbeat fitness classes and sweating? Try Transform.
Does the heat get you hot and bothered, and want a low-key, low-impact flow? Give Movement & Meditation or Gentle a try.
Are you ready to dive into a balanced vinyasa practice that both challenges you physically and rejuvenates your soul? Honest is where it’s at.
Want to build endurance and create a deep mind-body-soul connection? Slow Burn is for you.
Skilled yoga teachers can guide you through any class you choose – so don’t worry about seeing the word “beginner” in the title. Instead, decide why you’re trying yoga and pick a class that will help fulfill your intention! Feeling new, fresh, even awkward in poses the first time through comes with the territory. But, stick with it! Modify and rest as necessary – that doesn’t mean you’re opting out but rather that you’re taking a moment for yourself. The sign of an advanced practice has little to do with the physical shape, and everything to do with our ability to tune into our deeper Truth amidst stirring thoughts. Sometimes that Truth calls us to pause, take child’s pose, and reconnect with breath – even if the rest of the class is standing on their hands.
Do you still have questions? Great. Pull on those leggings and head to your nearest studio. We’ll be happy to answer all of your questions before your first class 🙂
See you soon, yogi!
Katie Courlander – Regional Manager
A lover of burritos and puppies, Katie radiates positivity and possibility – living yoga, for real, from the inside out.
Katie hails from Alexandria, VA (homegrown, y’all!) and was first introduced to yoga during her college years as a way to cope with anxiety and depression. Now a Yoga Teacher and Teacher Trainer Katie specializes in flow classes, restorative, and prenatal yoga. Don’t expect a “yoga voice” in her class, but do expect at least one bad joke. She lives in the DC-area with her husband and two silly kids.