New To Yoga

Welcome to the wonderful world of yoga!  Yoga makes your body feel amazing.  The practice of yoga may include physical postures which improve strength, endurance, flexibility and balance, and spiritual aspects including meditation and pranayama (mindful breathing).  Mindful attention to the breath is one of the most fundamental differences between yoga and traditional physical exercise, and one of the first steps in learning to meditate.  The breath helps the student stay consciously anchored in the present moment, a very happy place to be!  At BNY we believe that meditation goes hand in hand with the practice of yoga.  Experience physical movement that will challenge your body to become stronger and more flexible, and mental practice that will challenge your mind to embody more calmness in your day.

Common Myths about Yoga

  1.  One of the most common misperceptions about yoga is that one must be flexible in order to practice.  This is far from reality, in fact the more muscle tightness a student experiences, the more one will gain from the practice of yoga!  There are some students out there that have so much flexibility that they do not even feel their body stretching and opening any longer, and there is a question as to whether they are really practicing yoga at that point!  It is much easier for the mind to wander when losing focus on the feeling.  So be happy if you experience muscle tightness, for yoga will envelop you in the feeling of your physical body, the breath, and the present moment!
  2.  Another misperception about yoga is that there is a lot of chanting going on, and/or that yoga is religious.  There are some styles of yoga that traditionally employ some lengthy chanting.  Many other yoga styles, like you will find at BNY, simply enjoy occasionally making the sacred sound of ‘OM’.  This might be once or twice for a few moments at the beginning or end of the class, and students can choose to participate or not.  Many students report enjoying making this sacred sound, sometimes for nothing more than the feeling of community while practicing together in a group.  It is said that this sacred sound was the sound made when the universe was created.  Or it can just be another pleasant sound to you.  Take from it what works for you.  Sometimes principles such as compassion, wishing happiness on others and loving-kindness are woven throughout the practice.  Although this sounds like some of the basic tenets of many religions, yoga is whatever you need it to be:  a physical workout to feel better in your body and/or a gentle reminder of mindful living … but not a religion.
  3. Another common myth is that yoga is just stretching and not a good physical workout.  This depends entirely on the type of yoga class you take.  Some beginner classes are geared toward those students who have lower levels of fitness or are simply just learning the postures for the first time.  Look for beginner level classes when just starting out or if  your level of fitness is low to begin with.  Other classes, which employ sun salutations or vinyasa flow, challenge students to gain strength, flexibility, muscular endurance as well as balance … sometimes even balancing on just the arms!  Look for vinyasa flow types of classes for the optimal physical challenge.  Many professional athletes employ the practice of yoga to gain optimal performance levels for competition.

How to Get Started

If you have never practiced yoga before or have an injury that may limit your participation, a private yoga session is recommended.  This will help you to understand the flow of a yoga class, with an explanation of the breathing and meditation components, and to feel comfortable jumping into a group class.  It will also allow the exploration of some of the most common postures found in classes, such as sun salutations, Warrior 1 and downward dog.  You will also be introduced to some of the ‘props’ used in yoga, for example blocks and straps which can make your next class experience most beneficial.

If you already do some form of exercise but are not familiar with the terms used in yoga classes try one of our beginner friendly classes to begin getting your feet wet!  Gentle Yin Stretch and Yoga Immersion are good first class options for beginners, and continue to be great options for even the most experienced yogis.

What to Wear

Yoga clothing is usually comfortable and stretchy, and contains lycra, so the body is not restricted in movement.  There are also times where students will be bending over or some may even be upside down, so it is advisable that this be taken into consideration when selecting what to wear.   Socks and shoes are removed and stored in the reception area for most classes, so that the yoga studio is kept very clean and uncluttered.  The practice of yoga is usually done on a mat in bare feet, although there are yoga socks with gripping soles that also may work for you.  The temperature of the room at BNY is a comfortably warm 78 degrees.  A warm room helps in stretching muscles and makes the practice of yoga safer, with significantly less chance of injury.

What to bring

Please bring a yoga mat, a water bottle, a towel for sweat/to wipe your mat afterwards, and an open mind!

New to Meditation

To some, meditation may sound spiritual and/or religious.  Meditation can be either, neither or both, take from it what works for you.  Meditation is a way to experience now, the present moment, and to relax and unwind.  Since the mind can only think about one thing at a time, by staying in the present moment we are not plagued with worries of yesterday or anxieties about tomorrow.  All we have in the present moment is peace.  Guided meditation by an experienced instructor and in the setting of a group environment is one of the best ways to learn to train yourself to relax deeply and stay inspired to continue your meditation practice.  With guidance and practice, anyone can learn to relax the body and quiet the mind.  The Buddhist tradition is one that teaches meditation using practical spirituality.  These techniques are passed down a long line of lineage from the Buddha himself to the present day, and are easily incorporated into every day life.  Many of the same teachings that are taught at BNY are those practiced by some of the most serious meditators, and have been proven extremely effective.  Many students find this practice of meditation very enjoyable!