Yoga-Bridge-Pose1. How Many Times Per Week Should I Practice?
Yoga is amazing even if you only practice for one hour a week, you will experience the benefits of the practice. If you can do more than that, you will certainly experience more benefits. I suggest starting with two or three times a week, for an hour or an hour and a half each time. If you can only do 20 minutes per session, that’s fine too. Don’t let time constraints or unrealistic goals be an obstacle do what you can and don’t worry about it. You
will likely find that after a while your desire to practice expands naturally and you will find yourself doing more and more.

2. How Is Yoga Different From Stretching or Other Kinds of Fitness?
Unlike stretching or fitness, yoga is more than just physical postures. Patanjali’s eight-fold path illustrates how the physical practice is just one aspect of yoga. Even within the physical practice, yoga is unique because we connect the movement of the body and the fluctuations of the mind to the rhythm of our breath. Connecting the mind, body, and breath helps us to direct our attention inward. Through this process of inward attention, we learn to recognize our habitual thought patterns without labeling them, judging them, or trying to change them. We become more aware of our experiences from moment to moment. The awareness that we cultivate is what makes yoga a practice, rather than a task or a goal to be completed. Your body will most likely become much more flexible by doing yoga, and so will your mind.

3. Why Are You Supposed to Refrain From Eating 2–3 Hours Before Class?
In yoga practice we twist from side to side, turn upside down, and bend forward and backward. If you have not fully digested your last meal, it will make itself known to you in ways that are not comfortable. If you are a person with a fast-acting digestive system and are afraid you might get hungry or feel weak during yoga class, experiment with a light snack such as yogurt, a few nuts, or juice about 30 minutes to an hour before class.

4. My muscles shake during certain poses. Is it safe to keep holding them?
Yes – to an extent. Shaking or quivering muscles during difficult yoga poses are a physiological and neurological response to working hard, and signal muscular fatigue—which is usually a good thing! Don’t shy away from a pose when your muscles start to contract and relax, but do be mindful if your alignment degrades, which can increase the risk of injury. To gauge the difference, listen to your teacher’s cues and focus on your breath. If you can’t inhale and exhale smoothly, or if you start to hold or restrict your breath, your body is saying it has had enough, and your alignment could be compromised; it’s time to move out of the pose.
Another reason muscles may shake during difficult poses is dehydration, which throws off the balance of electrolytes like sodium and potassium that carry electrical impulses and allow your muscles to contract. The result: Your muscles can’t fire correctly, and they quiver. If you’re doing a strenuous practice for longer than 6o minutes, prevent quaking muscles by adding electrolytes: Sip about 20 ounces of an electrolyte-containing beverage 2 to 3 hours before practice.

5. Do I Need to Lose Weight Before Starting Yoga?Schermafbeelding-2015-05-19-om-20.36.50
Absolutely not! True, carrying extra weight will make certain poses more challenging, and there will be increased pressure on the joints in some poses. But not doing yoga until you lose weight is like not doing yoga until you get flexible. Among other things, we do yoga because of the tremendous physical and mental benefits it brings us in exactly those areas where we struggle. If we were already as strong and flexible and thin as we tell ourselves we should be, then we wouldn’t have to do an asana practice at all. We could just sit around meditating all day until we found bliss.

The point is that yoga helps us find balance in all areas of our lives; we’re not supposed to arrive in yoga class as a fait accompli. We’re supposed to show up ready to take a journey of transformation, whatever that may be. Everyone comes to the mat with a different imbalance, but everyone is working on something, and it is the act of getting on the mat that points us in the right direction.

A dear friend of mine began practicing yoga at the age of 37. She had always avoided it because she thought she was too stiff and that she didn’t have a “yoga body.” After several months of classes, she made a remark that I have never forgotten. She said that on the days she does yoga, she consistently makes better food choices, and these choices come naturally because she is calmer, more centered, and more fully in the present moment.

To me, this observation is the essence of the impact that yoga can have in all areas of our lives. I encourage you to disregard your friends’ advice and find a class that lets you begin to experience yoga’s extraordinary potential. You may need to experiment a bit to find the class that is just right for you, but I am sure it will be worth it.

If you want to learn more:
http://www.yogajournal.com/article/beginners/yoga-questions-answered/
http://www.yogajournal.com/article/health/ask-expert-muscle-shaking-good/
http://www.yogajournal.com/article/beginners/yoga-before-or-after-weight-loss-2/