Yoga FAQ (Frequently Asked Question)
By Megha Brahmankar

What is Yoga? Is yoga a religion? Has it been “proved” that Yoga is good for you? What are the benefits of yoga? When should a patient take Yoga Treatment? Which are the diseases that can be cured by Yoga? How many styles of yoga are there? Will yoga help me to reduce weight? Should women do Yoga during menses? Yoga during pregnancy?

What is Yoga? Yoga is a psycho-physical discipline with roots going back about 5,000 years designed by the ancient Indian seers in order to achieve spiritual enlightenment. These days the focus is often on the more down-to-earth benefits of Yoga, including improved physical fitness, mental clarity, greater self-understanding, stress control, and general well-being. Though in the West today, “yoga” has come to refer, in the main, to the physical stretching poses or “asana” that is one part of the yoga.

Is yoga a religion? No. Yoga developed in India alongside Hinduism and also has influenced and been influenced by Buddhism and Jainism. But yoga is not itself a religion. The physical and psychological benefits of Yoga are real and don’t discriminate on the basis of race, religion, sex, color. Yoga encourages each person to explore his or her consciousness. Today many branches of yoga are practiced across the globe.

Yoga teachers differ widely in the extent to which they incorporate such elements as chanting and meditation into their teaching, so spiritual practices do form some part of many yoga classes. To attain the supper consciousness is the goal of all yoga but spiritual principles may be either implicit or explicit in a given teacher’s approach to teaching. Regardless of whether you choose to incorporate the spiritual aspect, the benefits of Yoga are real. Yoga is truly universal. Most people find that they can practice Yoga without any conflict with their religious beliefs.

Has it been “proved” that Yoga is good for you? Studies in the United States and India suggest that Yoga can help conditions such as stress, anxiety, and even epilepsy. Western science has been studying yoga for nearly 50 years and evidence suggests numerous physical and psychological benefits.

What are the benefits of yoga? Improves muscle tone, flexibility, strength and stamina. Lowers fat, Improves circulation, Stimulates the immune system keeps one young. Younger biological age i.e. one is younger than one’s chronological age. Lowers levels of cortisol, lactate, cholesterol etc… Maintains blood pressure. And that’s just the surface stuff. In fact, most of the benefits mentioned above are secondary to yoga’s original purpose.

Reduces stress and tension, anxiety, depression, irritability and moodiness. Boosts self esteem, Improves concentration and creativity Heals old traumas Increases brain wave coherence. Improves comprehensive ability and memory. Enhances emotional stability. Brings happiness and leads to vitality and rejuvenation. Promotes an interdependence between mind, body, and spirit. Helps you live the concept of oneness. Sets one free from one’s illusions and preconceptions that prevents from fulfilling oneself. Attains the union between a person’s own consciousness and the cosmic consciousness.

When should a patient take Yoga Treatment? When a Patient needs quick relief he takes Allopathic ,Ayurveda or Homeopathy treatment. But when such treatment does not bring in the required effect a patient takes Yoga Treatment because these treatments cure without medicine.

How many styles of yoga are there? Hatha Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Raja Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Karma Yoga, Tantra Yoga are considered the main yogas, but there are many other types. The various yoga practices are a methodology for reaching the same destination.

What is the meaning of Asana? Asana is a steady and comfortable posture of body.

How many asanas are there in Yoga? It is very difficult to say How many asanas are there in Yoga? Patanjali has defined asana as “Sthir Sukham Asanam” that is “Asana means steady and comfortable posture”. There can be thousands of probable states and so, it is difficult to fix total no of asana.

What is Pranayama? Pranayama means controlling the Prana i.e. bio energy which is behind all activities of the body.

What is Om and why is it chanted? The syllable Om is composed of the three sounds a-u-m which represent several important triads: the three worlds of earth, atmosphere, and heaven; the three major Hindu gods, Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva; and the three sacred Vedic scriptures, Rig, Yajur, and Sama. Thus Om mystically embodies the essence of the entire universe. It is uttered at the beginning and end of Hindu prayers, chants, and meditations. It often is used as a mantra during meditation. Although often pronounced as if it rhymed with “home,” it is also pronounced “ah-oo-mm.”

What is mantra? Mantras are handed down since ancient times by religious seers who had attained self- realization by chanting them, mantras are words or syllables in Sanskrit which when repeated in meditation helps you transcend into a higher state of consciousness. As sound energies that have always existed the universe, they cannot be created or destroyed and command the power to heal you physically & spiritually. At the very basic level mantras help you to concentrate in meditation. And once you enter its auspicious circle, the mind instantly gets focused.

Which are the diseases that can be cured by Yoga? Yoga can be useful in reducing the effects of the diseases like Hypertension, Spondilities, Asthma, Arthritis, Slip disc, Digestive disorders, menstrual disorders, mental disorders and sleeplessness and many more like these.

How can Yoga be helpful to improve your personality? The physical development as well as psychological improvement can be obtained by Yoga. The proportionate body structure can lead to increase your confidence. The stability of mind, increase in the concentration of the mind can be obtained with the help of Yoga.

Is there any age limit while performing Yoga? There is no limitation of age. Yoga can be practiced at all ages above twelve 12 years .It can be practiced at the age of 80, years. But one should do only those asanas that are suitable to one’s physical conditions.

Which is the best time to perform Yoga? Early in the morning. But if not possible then, you can practice Yoga in the evening at least Four hours after your lunch. It’s best to do the asanas in the early morning or the early evening at least Four hours after or before meals.

What should I wear? Comfortable loose clothing, particularily around the waist so that you can breath and stretch freely. Tight clothes may restrict the circulation to some areas of the body. This would defeat one of the purposes of the asanas, that of increasing the circulation to various parts of the body. Make sure you can kneel, squat and reach down toward your toes without being encumbered by clothing. Avoid wearing very large T-shirts and tight fitting pants other than exercise pants that stretch. Shorts, sweats, leggings, non-bulky T-shirts, leotards, and fitness wear are all appropriate.

Is it okay to eat before yoga asana? No, never exercise on a full stomach. Before exercising, wait at least three hours after eating a main meal, about one hour after eating a light snack such as a piece of fruit and about half an hour after drinking juices. After finishing the asanas, wait about a quarter of an hour before eating.

Will yoga help me to reduce weight? Yes definitely. Yogasana and Pranayama can improve the digestion capacity of the body which reduces excessive fat consumption of the body. Yoga can help you to lose weight gradually and permanently when you practice regularly and eat reasonably. You will look and feel better very soon. As you become stronger and develop greater stamina, a more intensive Yoga practice will help your body maintain weight control and excellent tone.

Should women do Yoga during menses? Mostly it’s a matter of personal preference. Some women don’t want to do Yoga during their period, many don’t mind and continue to practice during