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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get started doing yoga?

  • Select a class. You don't have to sign up or register.
  • Look at Styles of Yoga or call us: 727.894.9642 & 727.480.6188
  • It is important to arrive 15 minutes early
  • Wear comfortable clothing that is easy to move around in.
  • We have mats and all that you will need.
  • And finally leave your expectations behind and let the Yogis at St. Petersburg Yoga guide you to your unique Yoga experience.


What does the word YOGA mean?

The word yoga means "union" in Sanskrit, the language of ancient India where yoga originated. We can think of the union occurring between the mind, body and spirit.

I love yoga. Does this make me a hippy?

Once upon a time, yoga outside of India was most often done on communes by vegetarians. Although yoga comes by this reputation honestly, these days everyone from doctors to CEOs is embracing it. So, no, yoga will not make you a hippy. But it can perhaps begin to tinge your everyday life with an attitude of peace and kindness.

Why Buy a Yoga Mat?

Yoga mats (also called sticky mats) are used in most yoga classes to provide cushioning and traction. While you can usually borrow a mat at a yoga studio, it's a good idea to have your own. It makes sense financially, since mats can be bought for as little as $20. Don't feel like you should wait and see if you really stick with this yoga thing before making the plunge to mat ownership. With prices this low, your commitment shouldn't play in to your decision, but your feelings about other people's sweat should. You will also need a mat if you plan to do any yoga at home.

What does "Namaste" mean?

The gesture Namaste represents the belief that there is a Divine spark within each of us that is located in the heart chakra. The gesture is an acknowledgment of the soul in one by the soul in another. "Nama" means bow, "as" means I, and "te" means you. Therefore, Namaste literally means "bow me you" or "I bow to you."

What does Om mean?

Om is a mantra, or vibration, that is traditionally chanted at the beginning and end of yoga sessions. It is said to be the sound of the universe. What does that mean?

Somehow the ancient yogis knew what scientists today are telling us–that the entire universe is moving. Nothing is ever solid or still. Everything that exists pulsates, creating a rhythmic vibration that the ancient yogis acknowledged with the sound of Om. We may not always be aware of this sound in our daily lives, but we can hear it in the rustling of the autumn leaves, the waves on the shore, the inside of a seashell.

Chanting Om allows us to recognize our experience as a reflection of how the whole universe moves–the setting sun, the rising moon, the ebb and flow of the tides, the beating of our hearts. As we chant Om, it takes us for a ride on this universal movement, through our breath, our awareness, and our physical energy, and we begin to sense a bigger connection that is both uplifting and soothing.

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 awhile your desire to practice expands naturally and you will find yourself doing more and more.

How is yoga different from stretching or other kinds of fitness?

Unlike stretching or fitness, yoga is more than just physical postures. 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.

Is yoga a religion?

Yoga is not a religion. It is a philosophy that began in India an estimated 5,000 years ago. The father of classical ashtanga yoga is said to be Patanjali, who wrote the Yoga Sutra. These scriptures provide a framework for spiritual growth and mastery over the physical and mental body. Yoga sometimes interweaves other philosophies such as Hinduism or Buddhism, but it is not necessary to study those paths in order to practice or study yoga. It is also not necessary to surrender your own religious beliefs to practice yoga.

I'm not flexible–can I do yoga?

Yes! You are a perfect candidate for yoga. Many people think that they need to be flexible to begin yoga, but that's a little bit like thinking that you need to be able to play tennis in order to take tennis lessons. Come as you are and you will find that yoga practice will help you become more flexible. This newfound agility will be balanced by strength, coordination, and enhanced cardiovascular health, as well as a sense of physical confidence and overall well-being.

Why are you supposed to refrain from eating two to three 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.

Will yoga help me to lose weight?

Doing yoga regularly can make you feel better about your body as you become stronger and more flexible, tone your muscles, reduce stress, and improve your mental and physical well-being. But will it help you lose weight?
The distressing that Yoga does so well also hugely effects stress hormones like cortisol and in that restore proper metabolism and directly affects weight loss. Practicing any type of yoga will build strength, but some types may not raise your heart rate enough to make them the only form of exercise you need to include in your weight loss regime. It depends on the type of yoga you select and how frequently you practice it. Appropriate classes to help you:

What about doing yoga with back problems?

We recommend that you begin slowly to orient your body to a new way of exercising that will not lead to or exacerbate injury as may have been the case with your previous experience. Many have been helped by using a Pelvic Inversion Swing. This is a device which allows one to hang upside down and thus create space between the vertebrae in the back. The best advice for those with back problems doing yoga is this:

1. Listen carefully to your body
2. Find an experienced teacher and appropriate class for guidance.

What is Pranayama?

Pranayama is loosely translated as prana or breath control. The ancient yogis developed many breathing techniques to maximize the benefits of prana. Pranayama is used in yoga as a separate practice to help clear and cleanse the body and mind. It is also used in preparation for meditation, and in asana,the practice of postures, to help maximize the benefits of the practice, and focus the mind.

Dos and Don'ts of Good Yoga Etiquette

These rules of good yoga etiquette will help you feel comfortable when entering an unfamiliar setting. They are based on common sense and courtesy, but deal with some issues that are specific to yoga classes and studios.

1. Remove Your Shoes

Many yoga studios have a place for your shoes right by the door. Since people will be walking around the studio barefoot, it is most hygienic if everyone takes off their outdoor shoes first thing.

2. Turn Off Your Cell Phone

Make a habit of doing this as soon as you get to the yoga studio. You will be quite embarrassed if your phone rings during class!

3. Arrive On Time

Arrive at least 10 minutes before the class is scheduled to start. If you do arrive late, don't enter a class more than 10 minutes late if it has already started. Wait for the next class or another day.

4. Respect the Teacher

When you enter a yoga class, you sign on to respect the teacher for the next hour and a half. You may discover half way through that you don't care for this teacher/style/hour of the day, but you still should continue on through the class, follow the teacher's instructions, take your Savasana, and chalk it up to experience.

5. Variations Etiquette

Keep in mind the level of the class you are attending. If it is an advanced class and some of the poses are too hard, it is perfectly all right to take a more basic variation of the poses being taught. Usually the teacher will give voice to this option. If you are attending a basic class, the best etiquette is to stick to the basic versions of the poses, so that you don't confuse new students. The teacher will offer you the option to take a more advanced variation when that is appropriate.

6. Can I Go to the Bathroom?

It is perfectly all right to leave class for a few minutes to go to the bathroom. There is no need to ask the teacher's permission. The best time to go is when there is a period of rest, either in Child's Pose or Downward Dog. You will not earn your teacher's respect if you routinely dodge out during difficult poses or skip part of Savasana.

7. Don't Skip Savasana!

Your final relaxation in Savasana is a very important part of your practice. Don't plan to leave class early. If you must, tell the teacher in advance and take a short Savasana before you go. Don't make a habit of this!

Copyright © 2008 St. Petersburg Yoga, Inc.