Students say/ask the darndest things! Here’s a brief sampling, with some suggestions for appropriate responses:

1. Why do we have to chant in Sanskrit?

A: Sanskrit was created by sages who believed that certain sounds generate “good vibrations” in the chanter. Specifically, they were fond of “s” and “sh” and “ay” and “ah” sounds, among others.

2. What do you think of hot yoga/ashtanga yoga/aerial yoga/yoga kickbox taebo/TRX/PDQ?

A: I teach alignment-based flow yoga because I believe that an anatomically sound, dynamic practice strengthens and opens the body, facilitates the breath, clears the mind, and lightens the heart. Since I don’t teach those other forms of yoga/physical activity, I recommend you try them out for yourself. I can direct you to teachers I know in some of those disciplines

3. How come I can’t bind my arms?

A: We bind the arms in some poses to help open the chest and shoulder/arm muscles. Your body may not be flexible enough yet to clasp your hands behind your back. Or you may have broad shoulders and short arms (in which case you may never be able to reach). Either way, hold a strap in each hand to bridge the gap.

4. I don’t do headstand.

A: Why? If the student has a sound anatomical reason (high blood pressure, detached retina, a previous injury/trauma to the neck or head, bulging or herniated disks), offer them a safe alternative that shares some of the benefits of headstand. If they are just scared to go upside down, stay with them and guide/adjust them into a safe stage/preparation of the pose for their body.

5. I’m menstruating. Can I do inverted postures?

A: Huge topic of much debate within the yoga world. No consensus in the field of anatomy either. Briefly supply what you know about the topic, including if relevant your own experience, and urge the student to make her own choices and observe how it goes.

6. What’s a girl with a Ph.D. from Princeton doing teaching yoga?

A: I have two siblings, and the evidence is in: not a straight arrow in the bunch. But we are all happy.

7. Are you a Buddhist?

A: Yoga and Buddhism are two related, but separate paths. And both yoga and Buddhism further split into many intertwining streams. Buddhism’s core teachings align most closely with the early Classical Yoga of Patanjali, though Tantric Buddhism connects to later Tantric Yoga. It’s complicated.

8. Are you a vegetarian/vegan?

A: The classic yogic diet is lacto-vegetarian (dairy-based, no meat, fish, or fowl), which was both hygienic and healthful in India at the time of its origins. Since then, we’ve made such a mess of the planet that there’s really no safe diet. Stay informed, and find a way of eating that keeps you thriving

with minimal damage to planet Earth.

9. Is yoga a religion?

A: No. It is a “spiritual technology,” a toolbox of practices that can be used by people of any or no faith.

10. Can I keep running marathons?

A: Yes, but please run with your feet parallel, in good shoes, and back off if you started “feeling things” in your knees.