Frequently Asked Questions
What style of yoga do you teach?
Jo teaches an integral style of yoga that includes asana (postures) pranayama (breathwork), chanting, meditation and deep relaxation. We believe that the practices of yoga allow us to develope the whole person, body, mind & spirit. There is a strong emphasis on alignment within the poses and we encourage a deep awareness on the breath, on internalisation and connection with yourself. There is a deep meditative aspect to the class as you move from asana to asana. Surya Namaskar is practiced with mantra to make this a complete practice for body, mind & spirit. Classes are structrured and taught in a way that makes the postures accessible for every body, lots of modifications are offered, as not all yoga poses are suitable for all bodies, but we can practice a version of the pose that fits with our range of movement. Its always okay to skip a posture or to ask for a modification or alternative posture. We believe that yoga is about standing firm, strong and balanced on our feet not on our heads. And though headstands do have many benefits, we don’t teach them at HY, scroll on down for our A to your Q on headstands and handstands.
Do you practice Chanting?
Yes, we do practice chanting. Chanting is a very big part of a yogic practice, and is so beneficial for us on all levels of our being.
This can be a new experience for some people and we invite you to just sit and listen if it is a new practice for you and to join in when you feel too.
Chanting of the mantra om is incredibly calming for the body-mind, it harmonizes the body, mind, emotions and spirit.
Om (aum) is said to be the original sound of the universe, the sound that was made when the universe came into being. When we chant together in a group, the effect is uplifting, we can experience a profound peace through chanting, it expands our awareness and sense of connection with other and the whole universe.
We also chant other mantras at the beginning of each class, mantras for peace, for wisdom and for healing.
The mantras are not difficult to learn and you are given a chant sheet so you can easily read the words, the vowel sounds of sanskrit are the same (or very similar) to Maori vowel sounds, so quite easy for kiwis to read and speak.
What do I need to bring to class?
You simply need to bring yourself, in warm comfortable clothing you can move easily in. Layers are great as we warm up during the practices. We practice in bare feet, please leave your shoes in the reception area, no shoes in the studio. See our questions about yoga mats, and bringing water next.
Do I need to bring a yoga mat?
You are welcome to bring your own yoga mat, and if you are going to be coming to class regularly, we recommend you do purchase a yoga mat. Your mat becomes like a good friend, and you know who has and hasn’t been on it! There are lots of places to buy mats, you can get cheapies at The Warehouse, this is okay to start with, but a good mat is a great investment. Rebel sports have some good quality mats, and for eco friendly recyclable mats Eco Yoga Mats, & Love Earth Yoga Mats.
What do I wear?
There are no special yoga clothes that you need, what you would wear to the gym or for a run or walk is great. Tights or trackpants, and a comfortable t-shirt or tank are perfect.
Whatever you wear should be light, warm and comfortable, clothing that you can bend, stretch and move easily in. Layers are great as we warm up during the practices.
Should I bring a water bottle?
Please keep water bottle usage to a minimum and preferably not at all during class, have a good drink before and after class. Its okay for us to build heat during the practice and also okay to sweat a little bit. If we are constantly reaching for a drink bottle after each pose, it is a distraction for you and for others also. Yoga is a practice of internalisation of really getting in touch with your body, your mind and your higher self, oftentimes things like needing to sip water constantly are the minds way of bringings us out of that state of union, and we are unwittingly using it as a distraction from what we are really meant to be doing, we are breaking the connection so to speak. If you have a medical condition or a valid reason for needing to drink during class, of course, please do so, otherwise, we do have a cups and water available if you need a drink.
What time should I arrive?
If you are a new student, please come 10-15 minutes before the class start time, to meet the teacher, to fill out our student registration form (you can also do this online here), and to familiarise yourself with the space, get yourself set up with yoga mat and props, and so there is time to discuss any health conditions you may have and also any questions you may have about the class structure.
Regular students, please arrive at least 5 minutes before class begins – doors are open 15 minutes before the start of each class, it gives you time to settle in before we begin, and ensures the rest of the class are not disrupted by late arrivals while we are in the opening stage of the class which is quiet and sacred time for internalising and preparing yourself for the practice of yoga.
Do you have changing facilities?
Yes, we have changing facilities and a bathroom at the studio.
Please leave shoes, bags, phones & extra clothing in the reception area. Ensure your self phone is off and please do not use cellphones during class (this includes the time before class begins). Please keep chat and talking to a minimum (that means sshhhh people!) once you come into the class.
Yoga is a practice of internalisation, you have all day and evening before and after your yoga class to talk. We come to yoga to have space away from the barrage of information coming at us all day, every day. If you really need to talk to a class mate about something, please leave the room, or wait until after class and you have left the studio.
People come to yoga for some much needed time out from their busy lives. The yoga space is sacred space, once you are settled on your mat with everything you need, please sit or lie quietly until class begins.
If you can, shower before class, if you do not have time, please ensure the body is free of strong odours, this includes strong perfumes or deodorants.
Do you teach headstand & arm balancing poses?
The short answer is, in most general classes no. We do teach handstand and basic arm balancing asana in our Wednesday night class. If you love this type of asana, and are looking for a practice that includes inversions, advanced asana or a class that offers a power/vinyasa style of yoga email Jo and she will point you in the right direction, we have amazing teachers and studios in the Hutt and Wellington region that do. It is our experience that many of us today don’t have the upper body or core strength needed to practice inversions and balances safely and effectively within a general class environment. We can get all the benefits of inversions with safer and easier versions of the asana, like bridge pose, downward dog, legs up the wall pose, half shoulder stand and preparatory headstand poses.
Do you teach pregnancy yoga classes.
Hi there, congrats on your pregnancy. I am not teaching pre or post natal classes at the moment. But Anahata Yoga Studio in Petone has pregnancy yoga classes, you can visit their website here.
Can I practice yoga if I have just had a serious illness or have physical issues that prevent me from exercising normally?
Everybody can practice yoga, there are no age, gender, size, or religious restrictions.
However, if you are suffering from a serious illness or disorder, or if you are taking medication to manage an illness or imbalance in the body, you must seek medical advise before beginning any exercise programme, and ensure you discuss this with your yoga teacher before you begin a yoga practice.
If you have an ongoing condition, have had a recent medical event, surgery, cancer, heart attack, we may ask for a certificate from your GP or specialist to ensure that a general yoga class is suitable for you at this time.
Yoga is very prominent in our minds these days as a bit of a cure all, it seems it is good for every malady under the sun. But, this does not necessarily mean your every day general yoga class at your local studio will be suitable for you.
The physical practices of yoga are quite demanding and unless you are attending a class that is designed specifically for a condition, ‘gentle yoga’ or ‘yoga for breast cancer’ for example, it is really important you speak to the teacher before you attend your first class to ensure the class is right for you.
Yoga is wonderful for many conditions, but often the practices you need for your specific condition won’t be included in a general class. Yoga Therapy is totally different to a general class, it is one on one work with a qualified yoga therapist in which you will receive a practice that is created for your specific needs. We have some wonderful yoga therapists in Wellington and New Zealand, if you are looking for a yoga therapist, please get in touch with me.
Simple guidlines for your physical practice.
There should be no strain while holding the postures, do not use excess force, always move into and out of the postures with full awareness and with the breath, paying close attention to how your body feels in that moment.
If the breath becomes laboured, or there is pain while doing the asana, adjust your body untll the posture feels comfortable. Always respect your body and your intuition keeping in mind.
The yoga sutra regarding asana (postures) says – “Sthiram sukham asanam – the posture should be steady & comfortable”.
We do not have to push or strain in the postures to receive the full benefits of the practices.
Yoga is the practice of breath led movement, we move the body in synchronization with either the inhalation or the exhalation (you teacher will guide you through this). When we move the body in this way, we only come as far as our natural range of movement allows, this makes for a safe and effective practice.
Guidlines for the breath while practicing yoga.
The breath while we practice asana (postures) is in and out through the nose, unless specific instructions for a breath work practice are given, or you have a condition that makes mouth breathing essential for you.
Guidlines for where to place your awareness whilst practicing yoga.
Keep the awareness on the body, and the breath.
If the mind wanders, and this is the nature of the mind, to think, simply bring the attention back to the breath.
In yoga we also work with focusing the gaze whilst in the postures, this is called Dristhi.
Utilising the tool of dristhi can really deepen your practice, though the gaze is outward, the effect is one of internatlisation. It developes concentration and helps the mind to become steady.
Guidlines on eating before class
It is best to do yoga on a fairly empty stomach, 2-4 hours after a main meal and 1/2 to 1 hour after a snack. It is fine to have a small snack before class, just don’t come with a fully tummy.
When we are practicing it takes energy, and we really want to conserve our energy for our practice. If you have just eaten a large meal, not only will some of the postures feel uncomfortable, your energy will be going into the digestive process, and not so readily available for your practice.
Please note that if you have a medical condition, such as diabetes, you must follow medical guidelines for food intake and exercise.
A to your Q on dietary and lifestyle for yoga practitioners.
There are no dietary restrictions, and you do not have to be a vegetarian, a teetotaller or non-smoker to practice yoga.
You will gain the benefits of a regular practice no matter what your lifestyle. However, when practicing regularly, many people find that their diet changes to a lighter and healthier food intake, and the desire for many of the things we use for stress release, alcohol, drugs, cigarettes start to take a back seat as the body adjusts to the feel-good factor of yoga.
We get the ‘Yoga Bug’ , and instead of doing all the other stuff we normally do to make ourselves feel good, we just do more yoga!