Earlier this week you may have witnessed my laughable attempt at practicing Bikram yoga after a two-year hiatus. That’s why I consulted brutally honest friend, Ralph Craig, whom you may remember as Kim and Kourtney Kardashian’s notorious yoga teacher. When I asked Ralph if I was posing correctly, he assured me that I was just stretching and not really doing yoga (yeah, thought so). A New Orleans native, Ralph has been studying under various yogis in India since he was just 15-years-old. Needless to say, he is my go-to person for anything and everything yoga-related. This week he answered a few of my pressing yoga questions, including the best yoga poses for beginners and which ones to avoid. Read on.
What’s the best time of day to do yoga and why? Is there anything wrong with doing yoga at night?
Traditionally, yoga practice follows the rhythms of the day. The best time to practice is between 3 and 6 a.m., before the sun rises. The mind and the environment are considered to be most serene during this time. It is also easier to enter and sustain deep concentrated states during this time.
A restorative yoga practice; deep meditation; or calming breathing practices (Pranayama) are the only kinds of yoga practice to be performed at night. Vinyasa, Flow, Power, Hot yoga etc. are NOT good for the night time.
What’s the best pose for strengthening the back?
It is important to realize that the body does not work by isolation. If there is a problem in the back, you must look at the front. If there is a problem in front, look at the back. If there is a problem on the left, look right. If there is a problem on the right, look left. Same goes for top and bottom.
Are there any poses that you would advise against for beginners? If so, which ones?
I would advise beginners to start with Sun Salutations and standing postures to develop endurance and strength in the legs while ironing out the kinks in the spine. Anything else is presumptuous for a beginner.
How can yoga enhance our mental state? Is it similar to meditation?
So, meditation can be said to be included within yoga.
How do you know you’ve reached a theoretical understanding of yoga? And how does it affect the practice?