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Intro to Yoga Weekend Workshops

New to yoga, or just want to brush up on the basics? Sign up for our Intro to Yoga Workshop.

A special two-day course designed to introduce yoga for new students, or for anyone who would like a brush-up on the basics. In the course, we will talk a bit about yoga as a philosophy and practice, teach many of the basic postures (asanas), and focus on breathing techniques and sequences in vinyasa yoga.

Intro to yoga

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What is Yoga?

Yoga, one of six fundamental systems of Indian thought, is derived from the Sanskrit root yuj, meaning “the state of being unified,” or “to direct and concentrate one’s attention.” Hatha yoga involves the practice of asanas, or postures, that work toward achieving balance of mind and body. The practice of Hatha yoga can help maintain physical, mental and emotional health, regardless of age or present physical condition.

Vinyasa yoga is a popular, evolving form of Hatha yoga. Vinyasa yoga focuses on integrating breath and movement, awareness and alignment, strength and flexibility to your daily life.

Through the practice of asanas, students learn to position and work the body in ways that stretch and strengthen the major muscle groups. Through a steady flow of breath, muscular effort and movement, asana practice creates a state of inner balance that encourages attention to proper alignment, strength in the muscle groups, and overall smooth functioning of the inner organs. Asanas also works the deeper postural muscles that maintain the proper functioning of the joints and spine.

Vinyasa yoga originates from the yogic teachings of Sri T. Krisnamarchya. Krisnamarchya’s students are the founders of three of the main forms of yoga today: Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga (Pattabhi Jois), Iyengar Yoga (BKS Iyengar), Viniyoga (T.K.V. Desikachar).

Who Should do Yoga?

Anyone can practice Yoga.

Yoga offers powerful tools for improving full-body health. It is good for people of all ages genders and states of health. Flexibility is not a pre-requisite. Hatha yoga moves each individual from his or her own starting point, through an active process of identifying and eliminating blocks and impurities in the system, resulting in greater self-awareness and a more balanced state of physical and mental health.

The asanas exercise the whole body, making one increasingly fit and supple. Asanas stretch and tone the body's muscles, joints, spine, and skeletal system, while revitalizing the internal organs, glands and nerves. Yoga breathing exercises (pranayama) complement the asanas, helping to revitalize the mind, leaving one feeling calm and refreshed. Through the practice of yoga, physical and mental tension is released, improving health in the body, and unleashing formerly untapped reserves of energy.

For those with specific physical conditions (i.e., high blood pressure, arthritis, scoliosis, diabetes, osteoporosis, reduced lung capacity, overweight, etc.), yoga can provide considerable restorative benefits as well. Ideally, the selection of asanas should be tailored to provide maximum benefit for each individual. While one asana might be beneficial for certain conditions, it can also be counter-indicative for others. Therefore, it is important to recognize your own limitations, and let the teacher know - before class - about any special conditions you might have.

If you are pregnant and new to yoga, you may begin with the guidance of a pre-natal yoga instructor. For those with a regular practice you may continue to do yoga, though many poses will require modification. It is essential that you inform your instructor if you are pregnant before joining a class.

At Yoga Yard We Practice Hatha/Vinyasa Yoga

Principles of Vinyasa Yoga:

Movement and breath are coordinated together.

Practice begins from where you are, based on what is appropriate for your needs.

Start with the simplest poses and progress toward the more complex.

Use counterposes to balance the effects of each asana.

Asanas contain the two qualities of sthira (steadiness, alertness) and sukha (inner joy, ease) and reflect the hatha Yoga approach of the union of opposites (solar/lunar).

Use modifications of postures for different levels and for injury prevention.

Listen to your body. Always respond appropriately when your breath or equilibrium is disturbed, or come out of a pose if there is injurious strain in the body.

Cultivate a gradual progression andunderstanding of your practice within each session and as it develops over time.

Focuses of Vinyasa/Hatha Yoga Classes

Asana Postures. The general progression of a class is to start with an opening, move to sun salutations, standing poses, balance poses, backbends, twists, forward bends, hip openers, inversions, and finish with savasana, or (relaxation).

Breath. Use of Ujayi Pranayama, or "Victorious Breath," during poses can help steady the focus and regulate the effort put into a practice.

Drishti. Drishti means "gaze," or the placement of the eyes for concentration. Also helps with balance.

Bandhas. There are three bandhas, or locks that help to gather energy: Mula Bandha, (root or groin lock) Udyiana Bandha, (lock at the lower belly) and Jalandhara Bandha (chin lock).

Things to Keep in Mind During Your Practice

Start by grounding and stabilizing through your pose.

Focus on and be aware of your breath

Adjust your alignment and general positioning of the body.

Consider the relationship of one pose to the next (use of counterposes or neutralizing poses).

How to Get the Most Out of Your Yoga Classes
  • Arrive early. Getting to class about 10 minutes early will give you time to register, help you settle in and align your attitude with the purpose of the class.
  • Enter the classroom quietly and mindfully. While you’re waiting you can practice a pose, do a few stretches, or just sit or lie quietly, breathe, and center yourself.
  • Please do not wear strong perfume or essential oils, as some students might be allergic. Please come clean.
  • Refrain from eating for two or three hours before class. If you practice Yoga on a full stomach, you might experience cramps, nausea, or vomiting, especially in twists, deep forward bends, and inversions.
    Digesting food also takes energy that can make you lethargic. (For pre-natal students, a light snack closer to class time is fine.)
  • Wear comfortable clothes you can move in.
  • Let your teacher know about injuries or conditions that might affect your practice. If you are injured or tired, skip poses you can’t or shouldn’t do, or try a modified version.
  • During the menstrual cycle it is generally recommended to not do inversions. Though you can listen to your body and decide for yourself.
  • Remember to turn off your mobile phone or pager, and leave it in your locker.
  • Bring a towel or your own mat.
  • Stay within your limits. Instead of trying to go as deeply or completely into a pose as others might be able to do, do what you can without straining or injuring yourself. You’ll go farther faster if you take a gentle attitude toward yourself and work from where you are, not from where you think you should be.
  • Remember that a teacher is there to give guidelines and suggestions, but as a student you should trust your instincts about what is appropriate for you.
  • Try not to leave early; relaxation or shavasana is the most important pose.
  • Establish a regular schedule for when you will practice Yoga, and do your best to stick with it.