The word yoga sourced from the Sanskrit word yuj, means to yoke or bind, and is often interpreted as "union" or a method of discipline.

A male who practices yoga is called a yogi, a female practitioner, a yogini.

The Indian sage Patanjali is believed to have collated the practice of yoga into the Yoga Sutra an estimated 2,000 years ago. The Sutra is a collection of 195 statements that serves as a philosophical guidebook for most of the yoga that is practiced today. It also outlines eight limbs of yoga: the yamas (restraints), niyamas (observances), asana (postures), pranayama (breathing), pratyahara (withdrawal of senses), dharana (concentration), dhyani (meditation), and samadhi (absorption). As we explore these eight limbs, we begin by refining our behavior in the outer world, and then we focus inwardly until we reach samadhi (liberation, enlightenment).

Today, most people practicing yoga are engaged in the third limb, asana, which is a program of physical postures designed to purify the body and provide the physical strength and stamina required for long periods of meditation.

Yoga is amazing—even if you only practice for one hour a week, you will experience the benefits. If you can do more than that, you will certainly experience more benefits. We recommend starting with two or three times a week, for an hour or an hour and a half each time. If you can only do 20 minutes per session, that's fine too. Don't let time constraints or unrealistic goals be an obstacle—do what you can and don't worry about it. You will likely find that after a while your desire to practice expands naturally and you will find yourself doing more and more.

Yoga is not a religion. It is not necessary to surrender your own current religious beliefs to practice yoga. Yoga is a philosophy that began in India an estimated 5,000 years ago. The father of classical ashtanga yoga (the eight-limbed path) is said to be Patanjali, who wrote the Yoga Sutra. These scriptures provide a framework for spiritual growth and mastery over the physical and mental body. While Yoga sometimes interweaves other philosophies such as Hinduism or Buddhism, but it is not necessary to study those paths in order to practice or study yoga.

The morning is a great time to practice; you wake up stiff from the night, so opening up your body with some yoga sets you up nicely for the day. In the evening, yoga can be a nice way to unwind. In the afternoon it can be a great way to release tiredness from the working day and re-energize after work. Basically, it comes down to whenever you can fit yoga in, that’s the right time for you! 

Yoga has many physical benefits: It creates a flexible, toned and strong body and it improves breathing, energy and metabolism. Yoga improves circulatory and cardiac health. It improves fitness levels, relieves pain and improves posture. Yoga also provides mental benefits: it makes you happier, more balanced and emotionally calmer. It helps you relax so you can handle stress better. Yoga encourages self-confidence and helps you to focus your energy. 

The spiritual benefits of yoga are also key: Yoga teaches you to be aware of what is going on inside and outside of you. Yoga teaches you to be present in your surroundings and open to what is all around.

You will feel some benefits immediately, such as physically feeling tension release and the body opening and muscle strengthening - the "feel good" feeling that keeps people hooked on yoga. Other benefits depend on how much you practice and every person is different. But most people will feel a positive change after a few weeks, if not before.

The simple answer is no. If you are not flexible, yoga is a great way to become more flexible.

Yes, you can practice yoga at any weight, size, and fitness level. A good yoga instructor can help you adjust poses and positions to accommodate your body type and shape.

Om -or- Aum is a mantra, or vibration, that is traditionally chanted at the beginning and end of yoga sessions. It is said to be the sound of the universe. What does that mean?

Everything that exists pulsates, creating a rhythmic vibration that the ancient yogis acknowledged with the sound of Om -or- Aum. While we may not always be aware of this sound in our daily lives, when we quietly listen and concentrate, we can hear it in the rustling of the autumn leaves, the waves on the shore, the inside of a seashell.

Chanting Om -or- Aum allows us to recognize our experience as a reflection of how the whole universe moves—the setting sun, the rising moon, the ebb and flow of the tides, the beating of our hearts. As we chant Om -or- Aum, it takes us for a ride on this universal movement, through our breath, our awareness, and our physical energy, and we begin to sense a bigger connection that is both uplifting and soothing.