Frequently Asked Yoga Questions
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I’m not flexible. Don’t you have to be flexible to do yoga?
Know what makes you flexible? Yoga.
I’m broke. Isn’t yoga really expensive?
Incorrect. Most studios will offer your first class free and a discounted monthly rate for new students. There are often donation-based classes, discounts for students/teachers/servicemen and volume-based discounts if you buy a bunch of classes in a package. At my studio we also have a volunteer program where you can clean mats or scrub showers for a free class. Call around and see what studios in your area are offering and, if need be, bounce around for a while to get the new student rates at each one. You can also speak with the owner directly about your financial situation. Keep in mind you’re dealing with yogis here; they’re really nice people. Most will work with you to make yoga available at a reasonable rate. It’s a business and they want to make money, yes, but at the end of the day they just want more people doing more yoga.
I don’t know the poses. Won’t I look stupid?
That’s why there’s a teacher there, silly. There will be others in the same boat as you. There will also be other students who do know what they’re doing. Watch and learn. Also, there was once a time when you didn’t know how to not poop in your pants. These things can be learned, you see.
I’m a man. Isn’t yoga for girls and girly men?
Patthabi Jois. Vishnudevananda. Baron Baptiste. Rod Stryker. Rolf Gates. Michael Gannon. Dave Farmer. Bikram Choudhury. I could keep going. This excuse is the dumbest of the dumb. And sexist as all hell. Puh-lease is really all I have to say about that. Also. Here’s a link to a list of pro athletes who practice yoga. Now go crush a beer can on your head or something you neanderthal.
I’m still concerned about looking stupid. Are people going to be looking at me?
When you’re nervous about trying something for the first time, it’s natural to feel like all eyes are on you. But here’s the thing: no one cares what you’re doing over there, Wobbles McGee. People come to yoga for their own practice, not yours. Other students will be focusing on their breath, their alignment, their drishti, their bandhas, their balance, trying not to vomit and anything other than the person on the next mat over. Don’t even worry about it.
I’m very busy and important. How do I find time for yoga?
If you can’t make it to a studio for a full practice, quick 5-minute meditation in the mornings, 15 minutes of sun salutations (A and B–that’s my teacher Tanner, PS) or a 30-minute yoga DVD will do a body good. But I’d encourage you to identify what it is that’s eating up your time and see if things can be re-prioritized to buy you some time on the mat. It’s worth it.
What kind of mat do you use?
I practice on a Jade Harmony Pro 3/16″ or lululemon’s the mat. Both retail about $70. I use these mats without a towel and have no problem sticking without slipping. I like them both, but the Jade gets extra points for being eco-friendly.
What kind of mat should I buy?
Start with the $15 mats you find at TJ Maxx, Target and the like. No sense in dropping cash on something you’re not sure you’ll stick with yet. YogaRat and Wai Lana are some good cheap brands I’ve found on discount at TJ, but you really don’t need to get brand specific at this point. You can rent a mat at most studios but I would never, ever do this. Especially at a hot studio. Ack, the horror. I consider a yoga mat to be a personal item—like a thong or a toothbrush or chapstick—never to be shared. But hey, I’m a germaphobe.
When you’re ready to invest in something more substantial, ask around and see what everyone else is using. I can already tell you they’ll be using Manduka. It’s the Cadillac of yoga mats, so I’ve heard. I have strong opinions about yoga mats and think I’m the only person in the world who hates Manduka. I find them to be unnecessarily heavy and incredibly slippery when wet.
Do I need a towel? What kind?
Most people will practice hot yoga with a towel over their mats to prevent slipping. Yogitoes skidless towels are the top choice among most with Manduka’s Equa towels in a close second. Personally, I think Jade’s organic yoga towels are the best in terms of sticking to the mat and not acquiring a wretched stench over time. The thing about these towels is they run like $60 a pop, which is completely absurd. I do own five of them (that I purchased slowly over time and when I had a real job) but have stopped using them since finding mats that don’t slip (see above). Now that I’ve rid myself of my towel habit, I can’t stand to practice with one. I feel like it just gets in my way. I do still bring one to class to wipe sweat off my body and to roll out over my mat before ground work and savasana at the very end.
For your first class, a beach or bath towel will work just fine. A small hand towel for wiping sweat off your face is also good.