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What Is Yoga?

Yoga is an ancient science concerned with developing a holistic, healthy and harmonious way of living. It offers benefits that make the body stronger and healthier and calm the mind. The word yoga has many shades of meaning, but is generally translated as “union” and the practice can lead to a balance of body, breath, mind and spirit.

Who can practise Yoga?

Anyone can practise yoga regardless of age, ability or mobility.

What are the benefits of practising Yoga?

  • Improved physical fitness including suppleness, strength, stamina and balance.
  • Emotional balance, relaxation and a general sense of well-being.
  • Enhanced concentration, awareness and self-understanding.

These benefits will develop gradually. Do not expect sudden improvement after just one or two classes! You should attend a class regularly, and also try to find a little time to practise at home even if it is only 10 minutes a day

What will I find in a yoga class taught by a Yoga Scotland teacher?

Classes normally include asanas (postures and stretching). Pranayama (breathing techniques), and relaxation. They may also include meditation and yoga philosophy, and teaching about the ways to integrate yoga into everyday life. The science of yoga is based on the teachings of Patanjali who set out the Eight Limbs of Yoga. These teachings explore the different stages of yoga from codes of personal conduct towards other people and ourselves (Yamas & Niyamas), through to physical postures (Asana), breath control (Pranayama), sense withdrawal (Pratyahara), concentration (Dharana), meditation (Dhyana) and Samadhi (enlightenment or superconsiousness).

Most yoga classes focus especially on asanas (postures) and pranayama (breathing exercises). Some of these classes may be gentle, whilst others can be very demanding, depending on the interest of the teacher and the needs of the members of the class.

Some Yoga Scotland teachers may also have taken further training with a particular school or tradition of yoga, which will determine the different content of classes and different teaching techniques.

What kind of class do I need: Beginners, Improvers, Intermediate and Advanced?

Most classes listed in our searchable database are listed as general classes, which anyone can join. Some are listed as Beginners, Improvers, Intermediate, or Advanced. This caters for learners who are completely new to yoga, have practised a little or are very experienced. It is best to speak to the teacher to find out exactly what level the class is pitched at to ensure your safety and suitability for the class.

What do I need to know to ensure my safety in yoga practice?

You are responsible for your own body and personal safety in the class. The teacher will advise you on what is safe, but only you know if the practice is painful. If it is, stop immediately and tell the teacher

Medical conditions

Please tell the tutor about any medical or other conditions that may affect you in the class or if you are pregnant. People with fractured bones, chronic conditions and those recuperating from operations should consult a doctor and the tutor before starting the class.

Breath:

Breathe through the nose unless instructed differently.

Awareness:

Observe the effects of the practices – notice what is happening in the body, movements, sensations and thought or feelings that may arise. Accept without judgement.

Moderation:

No straining; never exert undue force while doing asanas. You are responsible for working within your limits and keeping your body safe.

Clothing:

Wear loose, light comfortable clothing for practice. Also have warm clothing or a blanket available for relaxation if this is included in the class.

Empty stomach and go to the toilet:

The stomach should be empty while practising asanas, so preferably wait at least 2 hours after food. Also it is preferable for you to go to the toilet so that your bowels and bladder are empty before practice. .

Pregnancy:

Women in the first three months of pregnancy are advised not to take up physical yoga practice, especially if it is for the first time. But yoga is very beneficial in pregnancy and after the first trimester you may attend a general class, where the teacher will adapt practices to your needs and those of your baby. Better still, if special classes for pregnant women are available, go to them.

Always consult the class teacher before enrolling in a yoga class if you are pregnant.

Equipment:

If the centre does not provide mats and other equipment, bring a rug or mat to lie on. Alternatively check with your teacher – many of them sell mats and blocks. Also bring a blanket for the relaxation.