General Yoga FAQs


The term “yoga” refers to many many different styles/types/forms/philosophies of practice. Not surprisingly, people come to the world of yoga with a lot of questions. This page is a resource to help answer some of the most Frequently Asked Questions that we hear about the world of yoga – in general.

If you are looking for specifics on What to Expect from a class at The Funky Buddha, click here to see “What to Expect.”

What is yoga?

The word “yoga” comes from the Sanskrit word yuj, which translates broadly to “union.” The practice is over 5,000 years old (and many argue, much older), originating in India. The “classical” era of yoga is most commonly attributed to the Indian sage Patanjali, who systemized the practices of yoga with the writing of the Yoga Sutras around 200-400 AD. The Yoga Sutras are a collection of 195 philosophical statements designed to guide practitioners through their yoga and life journey. The Yoga Sutras also outline the “8 limbs of yoga,” which are still practiced and referenced today.  (For more information about the 8 Limbs of Yoga, click here)

Most modern practitioners of yoga are engaging in the third & fourth limbs, asana & pranayama, which refer to the series of physical postures (asana and coordination of breath through those postures (pranayama).

What are the different types of yoga?

Contemporary yoga offerings can vary dramatically from class to class. While we can’t list all the variations, below are some of the most common types of yoga that you may see.   

Hatha Yoga – Hatha Yoga (pronounced as it looks, Ha- Tha) is a relatively generic term that means that the practice will be comprised of a series of yoga poses (asanas). Almost all yoga taught in the United States would fall under the “Hatha Umbrella.”  

Ashtanga Yoga – Ashtanga Yoga (pronounced Ah-Shhh-Tan-Ga) is a specific series of poses, ancient in its history and popularized in the United States in the 1970’s. This is a breath-based practice, similar to Vinaysa Yoga, but it differs in its strict adherence to a specific sequence.  

Vinyasa Yoga – Vinyasa Yoga (pronounced Vin-Yah-Sah) is yoga practiced in smooth continuous sequence. It is sometimes referred to as “Flow Yoga.” In Vinyasa Yoga, the transitions between the poses are emphasized, as well as the poses themselves. It is common for a portion of the class to link “one breath to one movement.”   

Power Yoga – Power Yoga is a fitness based practiced typically based on an Ashtanga or Vinyasa-style practice. It was popularized in the United States by Baron Baptiste, and is often, but not always practiced in a heated room.   

Funky Buddha Yoga – Funky Buddha Yoga is professionally delivered hot power vinyasa. Practiced in a 95 degree room, Funky Buddha Yoga is a contemporary adaptation of the more traditional Vinyasa-style practices. It focused on addressing the physical and mental stresses of modern life – combining traditional yoga wisdom, functional movement study, and modern movement and brain science.

Bikram – Bikram Yoga (pronounced Bee-Krum) is a contemporary Ashtanga-style practice created by Bikram Choudhury. Bikram took the Ashtanga idea and added heat. 105 degrees of heat. The Bikram practice is similar to Ashtanga Yoga, in that it follows a set sequence that does not change; however, the Bikram and Ashtanga sequences are different.  

Yin Yoga – Yin Yoga is a slow-paced passive practice that holds poses for extended periods of time, from 30 seconds to 5 minutes (or longer). Yin Yoga practices are generally comprised of seated and supine (laying down) postures. The passive nature of the practice combined with the long holds allows access to the facia and connective tissue.     

Yoga Nidra – Yoga Nidra (pronounced Need-Ra) is a meditative practice that aims to keep the practitioner in the space between wakefulness and sleep. Also called “Sleep Yoga,” it is a practice of deep relaxation and meditation.

I'm not flexible. Can I do yoga?

YES!!! Being naturally flexible is NOT a prerequisite for yoga.

We get this question a surprising amount. Asking if you need to be flexible to take a yoga class is sort of like asking if you need to be good at playing golf to take golf lessons. If you aren’t flexible, you will benefit from yoga. If you are flexible, you will benefit from yoga. Come exactly as you are and see where your practice takes you.    

A regular yoga practice has innumerable benefits, one of which is increased flexibility. Other benefits include, but are not limited to: increase strength, improved balance, stress relief, and improved focus.

Is yoga a religion?

The historical origins of yoga can be traced back to “the Vedas.”  Which are “the Indian holy texts that were composed from around 1900BC. Besides yoga, three major religions came from those texts – Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism (1)”

However, while many people find the meditative nature of yoga part of their own “spiritual” practice, most contemporary yoga practices are not specifically religious in nature.  

Many yoga institutions, like The Funky Buddha, make a point of highlighting the physical and psychological benefits of the practice in a deliberately non-denominational way, in order to make the practice more accessible.  

But one of the wonderful things about the increased popularity of yoga is that there is so much variety in the offerings. There is a practice and a pace that is right for everyone.  

(1) From: Does doing yoga make you a Hindu? By the BBC

What do I need to begin?

First, you just need to show up. That is the most important (and sometimes most difficult) step. Besides that, the basics are: a mat, a towel, and a water bottle. Yoga mats are very easy to find nowadays, and most yoga studios will offer mat rental (but you might want to check just to be sure).  

There are some other props (blocks, straps, cushions) which you may find helpful in your practice. But like the mat, most yoga studios will have props for you to use should you need them.  

Some of the gear is specific to the type of yoga you are trying. There are special mats and towels for hot yoga that may not be necessary for an unheated class. If you are coming to a Funky Buddha Yoga Hothouse location, click here for FAQ’s specific to hot yoga.  

As a beginner, our advice is to keep it simple. Show up. If you have a mat, bring it. If you don’t have a mat, call ahead and see if you can rent one. Wear comfortable sweat wicking clothing. Bring a water bottle and a towel. Enjoy yourself.  

More Questions?

Call us!

Eastown: (616) 459-9642
Holland: (616) 940-8831
Forest Hills (616) 392-3225

Or, use the Contact form below.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.