These are taken almost verbatim from Laurie Blakeney's Ann Arbor School of Yoga's website, because they are so useful and well written -- with gratitude for all of our teachers!
"What are some of the benefits of inversions?"
Inversions can improve circulation, regulate hormones, treat respiratory disorders, strengthen the immune system, improve sense of balance, increase mental alertness and focus, increase stamina and strength of the upper body -- the list goes on and on.
"I've heard that inversions are dangerous and I shouldn't practice them."
Inversions are dangerous only when a teacher does not provide proper instruction and/or when a student practices without body awareness or practice technique. Iyengar yoga approaches inversions the same way as it does other poses: with careful, detailed, sequenced instruction about how to practice a pose correctly both in class and at home. You will often use props, so that you can perform the inversion in correct alignment and there isn't strain on your neck, eyes, etc. The teacher will spot you if necessary and will not abandon you if you feel confused, overwhelmed, or in pain while you are inverted. No one will force you to perform a pose that you are uncomfortable with.
"Everyone will be better than me."
Iyengar Yoga is designed sequentially according to experience in the method, so you will be in a class with other people at a level similar to yours. If it's your first time at the studio, the teacher will help you set up with props and ask if you have any specific injuries or issues that might affect you during the class. Each asana (pose) is clearly described and demonstrated, and you are always free to ask questions. There is a wide range of experience, age, flexibility, weight, etc., at the studio -- no one is even going to notice your own personal body hang-ups.
"I'm not in shape."
Yoga is more than a physical activity; it is an entire philosophy based in the union of body, mind, and spirit. You do not need to be "in shape" to start practicing yoga -- you only need to be open to positive change in your life. Positive body changes, such as increased flexibility, improved posture, and toned muscles, often happen naturally as you progress in yoga -- but no one in Iyengar yoga expects you to be already the most "in shape" before you even start.
"I don't own any yoga gear."
You don't need to own any special equipment in order to study at Redbud Yoga. All the students use the studio props during classes -- you don't even need to bring a mat although you may bring your own if you prefer. It doesn't matter if you don't own any spandex or typical "yoga clothes." All you need is comfortable, modest, breathable clothing -- which can easily be just a pair of gym shorts and a t-shirt.
"I don't like 'slow' yoga."
Too much, too fast, too soon is a dangerous combination in yoga that can create injury and pain, both short-term and long-term. Iyengar Yoga may seem slower than other styles at first, but only because the teacher does not simply guide you in a series of poses with brief or no descriptions of each -- but rather, instructs you step-by-step. The teacher performs detailed demonstrations so that you gain real knowledge and practice before speeding up the poses and the transitions between them. This 'slower' style of teaching actually allows you to practice faster, properly, and safely for the rest of your life.
"It's too expensive."
Of course there are cheaper yoga classes available. However, at Redbud Yoga you are studying with well-qualified and highly experienced certified Iyengar teachers. Both Jan and Carol have studied with B.K.S. Iyengar and also study regularly with some of the most respected USA Iyengar yoga teachers, including Lois Steinberg, Ph.D. Iyengar yoga is an investment in your health. One journalist called Mr. Iyengar "the Michaelangelo of yoga." This is the tradition from which we are teaching.
"I don't feel committed enough to sign up for a whole semester."
While it can be appealing to drop in to different types of classes at multiple yoga studios -- for pricing and for variety -- it is more beneficial to study with one teacher over the course of an entire months-long sequence. Why? Well, think about it this way -- you wouldn't want to pay for piano lessons and then switch from teacher to teacher every week, or sign up for a college course and try to look up information from a different textbook for every class, or cook a meal and switch pots every time you added one ingredient. You sign up for a whole term in Iyengar Yoga because you gain real knowledge, understanding, and stability from the consistency.
"I've read that yoga is unsafe and causes injury."
Many activities can be unsafe if practiced incorrectly. Take walking, for example -- it taikes children quite a long time to build up the skills to be able to balance their whole body weight on their feet. You wouldn't force a baby that hadn't even begun crawling to stand up and walk -- the baby would fall and get hurt. Yoga is like that, too. If you rush into it and practice without the right knowledge and awareness, you can hurt yourself. On the other hand, it can positively influence your life if incorporated in the right way.
"My doctor says I can't do inversions."
No Iyengar Yoga teacher will force you to do inversions. There are many alternate poses that the teacher can give you to provide similar health benefits and to avoid putting pressure on the head and neck.