Yoga FAQ's With Kristi: Part 3!

Questions in this FAQ range from wanting to know about different styles and positions to integrating yoga and weightlifting. To see if your questions get answered read below.

[ Part One ] [ Part Two ] [ Part Three ]

Thank you for all the great questions and positive feedback so far. Below are my answers to some of the more common questions I have received this month; I am sure they will help to guide you in your yoga journeys. Be safe, be well and keep those questions coming!

[ Q ] Hi Kristi,

I saw your articles on Bodybuilding.com and am interested in getting started on incorporating yoga into my weight lifting regimen. Will yoga hinder my weight lifting in any way? What type of yoga should I look in too since I do not want to eliminate my weight lifting routine? Any answers are greatly appreciated.

Lance

    A: Hi Lance,

    Congrats on opening yourself up to the wonderful world of Yoga!

    Yoga will benefit your weightlifting regimen in many ways; did you have a chance to read the extended article "Yoga For Increased Performance" on my own site?

    Yoga 101.
    In this article learn all about the different types of yoga and much more!
    The best way I can help you at this stage is to recommend two books. The first is " Total Body Transformation" by Steve Ilg. This book covers all aspects of weight training, cardio, meditation and Yoga and it is a wonderful book to read and work through.

    The second book is "Real Men Do Yoga" By John Capouya which focuses just on yoga asana from a "guys" perspective. Get your hands on both of those books and you will be set!

    Any Yoga would be good, but I normally suggest starting out with a basic Iyengar style class (if you can) and go from there. Iyengar is great for beginners because it focuses a lot on alignment, breathing and the use of props to assist you in the postures.

    Hope all that helps and be sure to let me know how you go!


[ Q ] Hello.

I am a former mixed martial arts fighter and have developed a slight sciatic nerve problem in my left leg from years of beatings on my back and spine (not as barbaric as it sounds). I was wondering if you think that yoga has shown to be beneficial in this area.

Thanks.
Charles

    A: Hi Charles,

    As far as I am concerned yoga has a cure for everything, sciatic nerves included.

    What Is The Sciatic Nerve?
    The sciatic nerve is a large nerve that runs down the lower limb. It is the longest single nerve in the body.

    Arising from the lower part of the sacral plexus, the sciatic nerve enters the gluteal region by the greater sciatic foramen of the hip bone.

    It continues down the posterior compartment of the thigh, until it separates into the tibial nerve and the common peroneal nerve. The location of this division varies between people. Pain along the sciatic nerve is called sciatica.

    Have a read through these links; the information is more specific to the problem than I could give you in an email:

    If yoga can cure my old teacher's slipped disc problem (from many years of football playing) and keep him out of a wheelchair I have no doubt that it will help ease your sciatica!

    Let me know if the articles are useful and/or if you have any more questions.


[ Q ] A fitness instructor at my gym told me that I should really be weight lifting on top of all the yoga classes I'm taking. I realize the benefits of weightlifting but she gave the reason that if you only do yoga you could get a really boxy, square shape. Is there any truth to this?

    A: Not too my knowledge.... boxy square shape? I don't know what your instructor is basing that on. She obviously hasn't seen any of the hard-core Ashtanga yogis!

    Firstly it depends on the kind of Yoga you are doing as well as your own individual body type. Everyone is different and some people are just prone to certain shapes regardless of the exercise they do.

    However it is important to add some other form of exercise into your program. Personally I have noticed great things since adding weight training and cardio into my routine. Not only in my physical appearance but also it has actually helped my yoga practice.

    At the end of the day it is up to you and depends on what your goals are. You don't have to go too hard with your weight lifting but you might want to give it a go and see if you like it.


[ Q ] I'm a martial artist (emphasis on non violent martial arts) and I lost my flexibility (in terms of the splits) from some months of inactivity. I am trying to get the splits back now (I didn't have it all the way before but I was close) but I've had no luck. I took a look through your website and I see that you can do the front splits and I'm guessing you can do the side splits as well, (that is when your torso is in the middle and your legs are 180 degrees apart). Can you help me with this?

Thanks

May you and all beings be well and free from suffering.
Neo

    A: Hello Neo,

    Thank you for taking the time to send me an email.

    Upavistha Konasana is the Sanskrit name of the variation of the splits you are talking about (there are many ways to do this pose depending on your flexibility) and Hanumanasana is the name of the full splits pose you also mentioned.

    What Is Sanskrit?
    Sanskrit is an ancient language of India (the language of the Vedas and of Hinduism); an official language of India although it is now used only for religious purposes

    Doing the splits calls for an overall flexibility so be mindful not to be too narrow and rigid in your approach. When I first began yoga I had no "goal" or "aim" but one day I thought I would try to do the splits just to see... and voilà I had it without my knowledge!!


    Voilà!
    Click To Enlarge.

    This is a simple exercise I recommend for most people:

    A good gentle exercise to do is lying on the floor facing the ceiling with your backside against the wall. Start with your legs up the wall feet together toes flexed, stay here for awhile to stretch out the back of your legs. Then gradually spread your legs either side and let them slide away from each other down the wall (in a sideways splits position).

    When you get to your maximum, chill out, read a book whatever and then after a few minutes see if you can go a little further. Be gentle coming out, go through the reverse stages and rest with you legs vertically up the wall once more or bend the knees to the chest for a few moments before coming back up to sitting.


    Click To Enlarge.

    Also sitting on the floor with the soles of the feet together heels close to the body (baddha konasana) is a good one for that area. It is important not to press on the knees but instead try to work the muscles of the legs to bring your knees closer to the floor.


    Baddha Konasana
    Click To Enlarge.

    Here are a couple of links you also might like to take a look at:

    There is also a good section in Erich Shiffmanns book "Moving into Stillness" You should look at it if you can get your hands on a copy. It describes and illustrates a little sequence that can be very helpful in stretching out for the splits.

    Aside from all that watch your mind, if your mind becomes too fixed and rigid on your "goal" you will lose mental flexibility which will in turn decrease your physical flexibility. Watch your mind, watch your breath and be gentle with your body.

    Let me know how you go with everything.


[ Q ] Can you help me to find a yoga class in my area?

    A: Always happy to help anyone who is keen to get into yoga.

    These sites can be very helpful when looking for a teacher:

    Go to a beginner's class first, some studios even offer the first class for free so you can try it out at no risk. I encourage you to try a range of teachers and studios before making up your mind. It can take awhile to find a 'good' teacher so just go in with an open mind and be prepared to experiment.

    As always let me know how you go and have fun!


[ Q ] Hello there, I have been looking at your website for a few weeks now. It is very good and I enjoy it.

Recently, I have been pondering whether to take up Yoga. I looked at your section on Yoga and I think I will take it up. It seems to benefit a lot of people.

Please can I ask you a few questions? I'd really appreciate it if you could answer them.

  1. Can Yoga be done in the home or should one do it at a local hall in a Yoga class?

  2. What type of clothes are most appropriate for a male like myself to wear during Yoga?

  3. Does Yoga have to be done barefoot? Can you please tell me why Yoga has to be done barefoot? I had pondered whether it would be practical to wear socks or light shoes during Yoga but if it has to be done barefoot, can you please tell me why?

If you can answer the questions, I would really appreciate it. Thank you very much for your help.

Stephen

    A: Hi Stephen,

    Thank you for the email with your Yoga query. I am glad you have taken the time to look over my site and enjoy it. Be sure to keep checking back as I am updating it regularly and the journal section gets a new segment every week!

    1. Like any new sport or endeavor it is best done under the instruction of someone who knows the art. Tapes and books do have their place but when you are just starting it is best to do so under the instruction of a qualified teacher.

      This will give you a basic understanding of the postures (asanas) and from there you can continue your practice at home with the use of tapes if you wish.

      Do a quick search in a site like www.yogafinder.com and you will see that there is no shortage of teachers these days. Try a few different classes out before making a final decision, there are many teachers but not all of them are good ones. Find one that suits your personality so you look forward to going to class.

    2. It is best to wear clothing that you can comfortably move in. A baggy top and a pair of shorts of tracksuit pants are ideal. Keep in mind you don't want to be ripping any seams or having anything pop out unexpectedly during class! You also don't want to be over dressed as it could restrict your movement. The same sort of things you wear in the gym are generally fine.

    3. Yoga is done barefoot for many reasons. The first is purely for grip; on a yoga mat socks are very slippery which make it difficult to hold postures. Secondly many of the postures would be hard to get into with shoes and once again socks would prove to be slippery and be a hindrance in most cases.


      Postures Often Require Bare Feet.
      Click To Enlarge.

    The last and perhaps the most important reason is the fact that the feet are the most neglected part of our bodies, reflexology would have it that certain parts of our feet relate to certain parts of the body and by giving our feet a work out (as is done in yoga) you are also stimulating other organs. If you have issues with having bare feet they do make special yoga socks these days; however I have yet to see anyone wear them in class.

    Good luck with your search and welcome to the wonderful world of Yoga! :) If I can be of anymore help in your journey just let me know.

    Health and Happiness,
    Kristi

[ Part One ] [ Part Two ] [ Part Three ]