FAQs - Helen's website 2017

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Questions about yoga
Are the classes suitable for anyone?
Iyengar yoga classes are suitable for everyone regardless of age, gender, race or religion. Mixed ability classes are suitable for people with any level of experience (beginners or experienced students).

Poses can be modified as necessary or supported with props to help each student.
I am not very flexible, does that matter?
You don't need to be fit or flexible to take part. Practised regularly, yoga will gradually undo tight muscles and joints, improve your flexibility and build strength and stamina.

In yoga over-flexibility can sometimes be a drawback, bringing injuries because there can be a lack of stability and awareness.

I have a medical condition; can I do yoga?
There are certain health conditions that it is important to let your teacher know about before the class starts.

It won’t necessarily mean you can’t attend a class but some poses may have to be modified. These include:
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Conditions associated with heart disease (including angina)
  • Respiratory conditions
  • Epilepsy (minor/major)
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer or benign tumours
  • Detached retina/glaucoma
  • Menière’s disease
  • MS (Multiple Sclerosis)
  • ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis)
  • Recent post-operative conditions
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Joint problems- knees, back, shoulder, hips

Mention any recent health concerns such as headache, cold, tiredness or not at your best on that particular day.
I have an injury; can I attend classes?
It depends on the nature and extent of injury. For example, tell your teacher about injuries such as a slipped disc or a dislocated shoulder. If you have any health issues you would like to discuss before coming to your first class please call me (07881 385208 or 0114 268 0458).

If necessary, poses can be modified or supported with props to help each student achieve the general form of pose.

Sometimes it is advisable to rest and let the body recover before coming to class. In many instances yoga will help with the problem as long as the practice is done carefully and with expert guidance. It might be necessary to adapt some poses, use props or avoid others. It may be a one-to-one session would help to focus specifically on your difficulty.
I have some back pain; can I still attend a yoga class?
Most probably yes, but please talk to me first, so we can discuss what would suit you best.

You may like to consider a special programme for lower backs; if so contact me for information.

Also look at www.yogaforbacks.co.uk for more information.

I am pregnant; can I come to yoga?
Congratulations on being pregnant!

Yoga is an excellent way yo prepare for labour and birth, but if you are (or think you might be) pregnant please tell your teacher immediately.

If you are a regular yoga student you can still come to class. However if you have never done yoga before it is not advisable to begin a general class at this point, but instead look out for a specialist yoga for pregnancy class.

It is important to take especial care during weeks 8-14, as this is a delicate time in pregnancy and it is best to avoid all vigorous exercise. Make sure you follow the guidance of your teacher, who will modify postures for you as your pregnancy advances.
Do I need to book classes in advance?
Booking a block of classes in advance is the best way forward:
  • It helps classes to remain small and stable, especially important for those who are newer to yoga.
  • It motivates students to come to class and once they come they always say they are glad they did.
  • It means you will be less tempted to miss classes and the other demands of life are less likely to encroach on your "me time"!

Each class is different, and it is advisable to attend at least one block before deciding whether or not 'yoga is for you'. Classes build your experience and understanding of yoga week by week. You will benefit most by consistent and regular attendance.

However if you are unable to commit to a block of classes you can pay at the drop-in rate. Please note: this may not be possible for classes at the yoga space at Southgrove Road.
Can I join a yoga class mid-way through a 'block'?
Providing there is space, you can join at any time.
Can I eat before class?
You should leave at least four hours after a main meal and one hour after a light snack before practising yoga. Otherwise you will be diverting your body from its attempts to digest and you will feel uncomfortable.

What equipment do I need?
You don’t need to bring any equipment to classes at Sheffield Yoga Centre, Zag Yoga or Southgrove Road.

You can buy equipment from me or from:
What should I wear to yoga classes?
Wear unrestrictive clothing with ankles and knees visible. Shorts and a t-shirt are ideal. Leggings are good as long as they are not baggy or trailing on the floor.

Yoga is practised in bare feet.

Socks and warmer clothes can be worn for savasana (relaxation) at the end especially if it is cold.
What can I expect in a class?
The teaching of Iyengar Yoga is progressive and safe. Beginners work according to their capabilities, learning to stretch, relax and increase stamina in basic postures before progressing to complicated postures. Breath awareness and pranayama (breath control) are gradually introduced.

You can expect the teacher to demonstrate postures, give clear instructions and where necessary give adjustments or use props (yoga blocks, belts or chairs) so that everyone can benefit and participate. Often there may be a theme for the class.

You will be guided through structured sequences of asanas or postures enabling students of all levels to progress safely. You can expect to be introduced over time to a range of postures including all the major types; standing poses, back bends, forward bends, twists, inversions and restorative postures.

As students develop they move on to more refined ways of working and may hold certain asanas for some time. This allows the body to settle, the pattern of the breath to become established, the mind can quieten and subtle observations can be made from within and through the body.

Classes end with savasana and/or meditation – a quiet centring to assimilate the teachings and absorb the experience of the class.

Can I ask questions in class?
We are all unique with much to learn from each other. Ask your teacher if you haven't understood something or need help with an alignment point – no question is a stupid one!

If you have difficulties, which could affect your practice or if you experience pain, dizziness, breathlessness or light-headedness in the postures it is important to let your teacher know. Adjustments can be made.
How often should I practice?
Whatever you practise in yourself grows stronger. Practice brings results!

The first thing is to get your mat out and get on it! Try and find a clean, well-lit space and set aside a few minutes each day when you can practice. Fifteen to twenty minutes is usually adequate in the beginning.

Short regular periods of practice bring greater benefits than longer occasional periods. A small amount, even 5 or 10 minutes each day, done every day, day after day can go a long way, it can make a huge, huge difference.

Establishing an independent home practice is an essential step for you to experience your own yoga. It’s the point at which you really learn to move at your own pace, listen and respond to your body, and develop greater consistency and frequency in your yoga practice.

Use the practice sheets below and/or find a book that you like as a guide to your home practice:

There are some suggestions for useful books to have on the 'Further reading' page.
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