What is yoga?

Yoga means to yoke or bind and is defined as union, the experience of wholeness of body, mind and spirit. It is acting and being in harmony with the Divine. The Indian sage Patanjali is believed to have collated the practice of yoga into the Yoga Sutra roughly 2,000 years ago. The Sutra is a collection of 195 statements that serves as a philosophical guidebook for most of the yoga that is practiced today. It also outlines eight limbs of yoga: the yamas (restraints), niyamas (observances), asana (postures), pranayama (breathing), pratyahara (withdrawal of senses), dharana (concentration), dhyani (meditation), and samadhi (enlightenment).

Most people practicing yoga in the United States are engaged in the third limb, asana, which is a program of physical postures designed to purify the body and provide the physical strength and stamina required for long periods of meditation.

What kind of yoga is taught at Kashi Atlanta?

We offer a variety of styles, with all sessions following a basic structure that includes an opening meditation/intention, flow series of physical postures or asanas, breathwork or pranayama, deep relaxation, and meditation. Yoga philosophy is integrated into all of the classes. Our basic teaching is classical yoga with its authentic spiritual depth intact.

How is yoga different from stretching or other kinds of fitness?

Yoga is more than just physical postures. Patanjali’s eight-limbed path illustrates how the physical practice is just one aspect of yoga. Even within the physical practice, yoga is unique because we connect the movement of the body and the fluctuations of the mind to the rhythm of our breath. Connecting the mind, body and breath helps us to direct our attention inward. Through this process of inward attention, we learn to recognize our habitual thought patterns without labeling them, judging them, or trying to change them. We become more aware of our experiences from moment to moment. The awareness that we cultivate is what makes yoga a practice, rather than a task or a goal to be completed. Your body will most likely become much more flexible by doing yoga, and so will your mind.

What should I wear to yoga and what should I bring?

Wear comfortable exercise clothing and bare feet. Please do not wear perfume or cologne. A yoga mat and bottle of water are recommended. We have yoga mats you can borrow until you get your own.

Do I need to come to my first class early?

Yes. Please arrive at least 15 minutes early to fill out a one-time registration form.

How often should I practice?

It is great to develop a daily practice, but if you can only practice once a week, that’s ok too – you’ll get out what you put in.

I’m not flexible. Can I do yoga?

Yes! Come as you are. Flexibility is required only for your mind; we will work on your body. Yoga meets you where you are, even if you can’t touch your toes yet.

What does “finding my edge” mean?

Take exceptional care of your body by respectfully finding your edge. Learn to listen to your body in your yoga postures, so that you open on new levels without going into strain, struggle, or ego.

What are the benefits of a yoga practice?

Yoga may very well be one of the world’s most perfect forms of spiritual, physical and mental self-development. Some of the earliest, most common benefits are reduced stress and anxiety, overall physical health and well-being, increased strength and flexibility, stronger immune and glandular function, balanced blood pressure, and peace of mind.

Is yoga a religion?

Yoga is not a religion. It is a philosophy that began in India more than 5,000 years ago. The father of the classical eight-limbed path of yoga, Patanjali, wrote the Yoga Sutra. It provides a framework for spiritual growth and mastery over the physical and mental body. Yoga sometimes interweaves other philosophies such as Hinduism or Buddhism, but it is not necessary to study those paths in order to practice or study yoga. Most importantly, it is not necessary to surrender your own religious beliefs to practice yoga.

What is an Ashram?

Ashrams have been a tradition in India for thousands of years, and are now spread throughout the world. An ashram is a hermitage, a holy sanctuary, or the residence and teaching center of a teacher or guru that often includes a yoga and meditation hall and a residence for students. Kashi Atlanta is one of guru Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati’s ashrams, and is an interfaith sanctuary based in the teachings of yoga, accepting all spiritual paths. It includes temples and shrines dedicated to many of the world’s religious and spiritual traditions. Kashi Atlanta is a residential spiritual community and is considered an “intentional community,” of which there are thousands around the globe. This means that people choose to live together and do so around a common purpose, in this case, the evolution of their own spirituality and service to humanity. Kashi Atlanta has four residences near the ashram where students dedicated to living the spiritual path of yoga live in community. There are also numerous members of Kashi Atlanta who live in the surrounding area.

Why do some of your teachers have spiritual names?

A spiritual name is a gift from the guru to the chela (student). Many of the teachers are chelas of Ma’s and have received their spiritual names from her. The names are in Sanskrit, which is a sacred vibrational language.

What is a swami and what does a swami do?

A swami is a yogi and spiritual teacher who has been initiated into a religious monastic order. He or she sets aside worldly pursuits in order to devote full-time effort to the highest spiritual realization and service to others. Kashi Atlanta is led by Swami Jaya Devi Bhagavati who serves as our spiritual teacher and community leader.

Since Kashi Atlanta is a nonprofit, what do my yoga fees support?

Fees support the administrative costs of running the ashram as well as our community service programs. Our service programs include street meals for homeless men at Peachtree-Pine Shelter, an art program at Children’s Hospital of Atlanta, and yoga for inmates at the Dekalb County Jail.  A contribution to Kashi Atlanta goes a long way: a $25 donation provides 50 meals for the homeless living on Atlanta’s streets.

Why is meditation important?

Meditation is an integral part of yoga. Allow yourself a space of deep stillness to feel the benefits of the practice. The ability to sit and meditate after a yoga session is greatly enhanced.

Why is chanting important?

Chanting is a traditional part of yoga, using the vibration of sound to help open the body and heart. Our voices are powerfully creative tools, and used with awareness, can affect our state of mind and being.

What is a mantra and why do we use it?

Mantra is used as a tool of transformation. It is a combination of particular words and sounds that embody different forms of Divine consciousness. The repetition of these sounds can open up your whole being and help heal and expand in any area where there is struggle. Mantra can also be used to create specific results by aligning us with the energies we wish to bring into our lives. Mantra can be done for self or directed to help others toward healing and peace. The ancient Hindu teachings say that chanting a mantra with more than one person exponentially empowers the purpose of the mantra and the energies it carries. The most commonly known mantra is Om, which is considered a seed or base sound in the sanskrit language.

What is a mudra?

A mudra is a gesture or position, usually of the hands, that locks and guides energy flow and reflexes to the brain.

What does “namaste” mean?

Namasté is a traditional greeting meaning “I honor the Divine within you.”

Why do you do community service as a yoga studio?

Classical yoga teaches you to live in the world with a deeper sense of connection and compassion. Reaching out to those in need helps you get out of your own chaos and experience a deepening sense of living as part of humanity. This develops the compassionate heart in the practitioner, and ultimately, the ability to live fearlessly in the world.

Why is there art on your walls?

The art on our walls was painted by the guru, or master teacher, of this lineage of yoga, Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati. It was painted in meditation and prayer, and depicts the varied aspects and beauty of the Divine. What are the different statues?

Yoga is an interfaith spiritual path that embraces all of the world’s religions. We have altars honoring some of these different paths and are open to having and learning more!