An Introduction to Yoga with Sue Elkind
By Sue Elkind
Sue Elkind, a specialist in Hatha Yoga, will be discussing how to practice yoga.
The opinions expressed herein are the guests' alone and have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.
Moderator: Welcome to WebMD Live. Today we are chatting with Sue Elkind, who will be presenting an Introduction to Yoga.
Sue Elkind has been practicing yoga for over eleven years and teaching yoga since 1995. Sue is co-owner of City Yoga, the immensely popular yoga studio in Los Angeles. Sue has done extensive training at Yogaworks, one of the most reputable schools in the USA, and has studied with most of the top senior yoga teachers nationally and internationally. Her most recent and on-going training is with yoga master John Friend. Sue has been interviewed in US Magazine (Dec 98) and E! Entertainment, and her studio was recently written up in the Hollywood Reporter as writer's top pick. Her open-hearted approach to teaching encourages her students to respect their individuality while exploring their potential through the physical and spiritual aspects of yoga.
If you would like to ask Sue a question, type /ask followed by your question (e.g. "/ask How are you?")
Sue, welcome to WebMD Live.
Elkind: Thank you.
Moderator: What is yoga?
Elkind: So let me begin by saying that I've been practicing yoga for 12 years and yoga has meant different things to me over that time. When I first began yoga, I was about twenty years old and I was in search of something metaphysical. I had already become a vegetarian and I was interested in meditation and the yoga at that time was very slow ... As I began to practice yoga more throughout the years, it became more about physically working out and I spent about four years just getting into it physically and as yoga became more a part of my life, I found that it was more meaningful than just getting fit. And so it changes over time, and it's a very personal thing and so for me, yoga is a way of being, a way of living, a way of life. It's how I am in the yoga studio and outside, so it's not just physically moving my body.
Yoga actually, literally means "union." It is a balance between mental, physical and spiritual within each person. I think yoga is "becoming more sensitive to the world around you, and inside you." I want to clarify that yoga is not a religion, it's a philosophy. I own a yoga studio in West Hollywood called City Yoga ... I posed this question to my students, and the answers were all different. Yoga was a way of getting to know themselves, a way of physically and mentally life-changing ... a sense of community for many people. One of my students said, "It makes me a better person to be around."
Moderator: What are the roots of yoga?
Elkind: The history of yoga is actually very ambiguous. It's been around for over 2000 year, but nothing has been physically documented until only recent history. Other than the yoga scriptures of Patanjali and the Baghavad Gita, besides those two written thousands of years ago, the roots of yoga have really been documented more since the late 18th Century. There are many different styles of yoga. The word yoga is very broad. There are a lot of different "siblings" involved.
Moderator: What do you think makes yoga so popular today?
Elkind: Well, I think the desire for physical health gets many people involved in yoga, though that is not it's main goal. People are trying to get fit, but on an unconscious level it becomes more meaningful than regular activities. People have a lot of stress and people are more stressed than before. I think people are looking towards yoga to relieve the stress in their lives. They come to yoga to stretch and relax, and what happens is the longer you practice yoga, the more you begin to notice something more meaningful. You learn to relax and become more sensitive and to tune in to the more subtle parts of who you are, and to become more in tune with your surroundings.
Moderator: What are the physical benefits of yoga?
Elkind: The physical benefits are enormous. Yoga basically strengthens all of the systems in the body. It opens and strengthens the body. Working with the physical posture of yoga is meant to create balance, so you'll build muscles, but you'll lengthen and open your spine, becoming more flexible. Your spine is like the highway to all your organs, so it really affects every part of the body. Even mentally, it affects you by stimulating the glands, the pituitary, creating more clarity.