Frequently Asked Questions about Yoga and Bhangra Dance Classes
in Santa Barbara and Goleta
Please click on the questions below to see the answers. If you have a question that is not answered here, please feel free to contact us.
- Where is the YogaDancePower/RussaYog Studio in Santa Barbara?
- What should I know before coming to a class?
- Do beginners need a private lesson first?
- What happens during a typical class?
- Are there other YogaDancePower/RussaYog® studios?
- How much does a class cost?
- Can anyone do YogaDancePower/RussaYog®?
- What kind of clothes should I wear to do YogaDancePower/RussaYog®?
- What is yoga?
- Should I wear gloves for the rope-based yoga class? Do I need to bring gloves?
- Should I take any special precautions while doing YogaDancePower/RussaYog®?
- Can I bring my child with me to class?? Do you offer classes for youth?
- How often should I do YogaDancePower/RussaYog®? How many times per week should I practice?
- What is the beautiful song played in class during shavasan?
- Can YogaDancePower/RussaYog® help me lose weight?
- How is RussaYog® different from traditional yoga?
- How does RussaYog® influence the aging process?
- Does RussaYog® improve sexual abilities?
- How does yoga in general and RussaYog® in particular contribute to spiritual health?
- What kind of body “look” does RussaYog® create?
- How does RussaYog® compare to weight training?
- Will RussaYog® make me feel good while I’m doing it and after?
- Sometimes my mind is locked into negative thoughts. Can RussaYog® help me get out of these states?
- What is “karmic” wealth as mentioned in the preface of your book? How does yoga allow us to generate and enjoy “karmic wealth?”
- Are ropes part of traditional yoga in India?
- Can anyone learn and then teach RussaYog®?
- Do I have to chant?
- What is Chai? How is it made?
- Making Homemade Chai
Where is the new Santa Barbara Studio?
The YogaDancePower Studio is the new RussaYog, located at 1213 State Street, suite L, Santa Barbara. This space is located between Victoria and Anapamu streets. 75-minute free parking is available in the "SOHO" lot off Chapala.
What should I know before coming to a class?
YogaDancePower/RussaYog® is an easy-to-learn yoga system, but it is still challenging and energizing. Beginners are welcome to drop-in to most classes. Let the instructor know you are new, and inform him/her of any modifications you may need due to injuries or pregnancy. You do not need a mat: the floors are covered with mats! Wear comfortable clothes which allow you to move with ease. Try not to eat for about 2 hours in advance.
- Arrive 10 minutes before class.
- Take off your footwear. You may wear socks, but you could slip in socks. Bare feet is best.
- Discuss injuries or current pregnancies with the instructor.
- Turn off pager and/or cell phones before class begins.
Do beginners need a private lesson first?
A private lesson is a good idea for those new to yoga, but the classes are designed so that beginners can join in without much prior experience. If you are looking for restorative yoga or would like to begin slow, a private lesson is a good way to find out what RussaYog® can do for your specific needs. Find out more about scheduling a private lesson here.
What happens during a typical class?
You enter a room with brightly-colored mats, jute ropes suspended from anchors, and gentle music playing. The ropes help you stretch your body, feeling a sense of release. The instructor takes you through pranayam (breathing exercises), kriyas (movements), asans (postures), ending in shavasan (rest). Your muscles and ligament groups are strengthened. Your balance is challenged, symmetry is tested. RussaYog® embodies the strength and power of a weight-training workout, the inner calm and outer awareness provided by yoga. Your body and mind become light and alert. After the workout ends, spend a few minutes meeting friends and indulging in homemade Chai tea and snacks as you enjoy the fruit of the yoga session.
Where are other YogaDancePower/RussaYog® studios?
The studio is owned and operated by RussaYog LLC (members Jasprit & Teresa Singh). The original location was in Ann Arbor, MI, which closed in May of 2015. Our current Santa Barbara studio is located at 1213 State street, Suite L.
Please click below to see more information regarding classes and instructors:
How much does a class cost?
YogaDancePower/RussaYog® has very reasonable rates. Packages of classes are available for a discounted price. Please click below to see a detailed explanation of our rates:
Can anyone do YogaDancePower/RussaYog®?
Anyone can do most of RussaYog®. However, since many asans require a strong grip and upper body/trunk strength, practitioners should slowly build up to them. Athletes who are already participating in sports (runners, swimmers, football players, rowers, etc.) should have no problem doing the full offering of asans. A good rule of thumb for anyone would be the following:
Can you grip a bar and hold your body hanging off the ground for 5-10 seconds? If you cannot, it is good to do an easier version of the asans shown. Most asans are done in three steps: easy, harder, hardest. Certainly if you’ve had back, shoulder, knee, or wrist surgery, please check with your physician before starting. People who need modifications (due to injuries, differing abilities, etc.,) may request a private lesson.
What kind of clothes should I wear to do YogaDancePower/RussaYog®?
What is yoga?
Yog is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘union’ or ‘yoke.’ Another way to conceptualize yog is to think in terms of COHERENCE. Coherence between your beliefs and your actions and coherence between your physical body, your mental state, and your spiritual self. Learn more about RussaYog® here.
Should I wear gloves for the class? Do I need gloves?
You may wear gloves (made for weight-lifting or bicycling) to protect your hands. Most people do not need to wear gloves. The jute ropes have a natural feel, and we do not grip the ropes for the entire hour. There are gloves available at the studio for you to borrow if you like or you can bring your own.
Should I take any special precautions while doing RussaYog®?
Be sure to consult your physician before beginning any new form of exercise, especially if you have any condition for which you are under a doctor’s care. It is important, as in any demanding exercise program, to warm up. A special warm-up procedure has been designed for RussaYog®. Additionally, you may wear gloves (for example, weight-training gloves) in case your hands are not used to gripping. After a few sessions the hands and wrists will strengthen.
Can I bring my child with me to class? Do you offer classes for youth?
RussaYog® for Youth is a great way to introduce young people to yoga. This rope-based yoga approach has been developed especially for youth. It involves jumping & stretching movements, safely lengthening and strengthening muscles. Yoga poses with ropes improves balance and concentration. The breathing techniques help the young person learn to face challenges with calmness.
For classes with adults, the general guideline is that your child should be able to maintain focus for about an hour without instruction from the parent.
How often should I do RussaYog®? How many times per week should I practice?
Ideally, everyday is the best way to enjoy the benefits of yoga. At the studio, you receive the benefit of a trained instructor, setting a pace and encouraging your best efforts, and the energy of others in class sharing the experience with you. However, realizing that most people cannot be at a studio daily, RussaYog® has created a video library and portable structures with instructional DVDs for you to use at home or while on-the-go to unburden yourself from daily stresses.
When you cannot attend class, begin practicing a few pranayam, kriyas, and asans during regular intervals during your day. As you become more regular in this practice, you will find that daily stresses do not build up to toxic levels, and you’ll be better equipped to deal with unexpected things in life.
What is the beautiful song played in class during shavasan?
This song is a Sikh shabad (hymn) called “Sukhmani: Tu Thakur.” It is lovingly sung by the daughters of the Australian Sikh musician named Dya Singh. You can donate to hear albums from Dya Singh through his website.
Can YogaDancePower/RussaYog® help me lose weight?
Weight loss has emerged as one of the most important physical and psychological health issues in “rich” societies. Four parameters control weight loss or gain:
- Caloric intake
- Efficiency of the body to convert food as energy
- Metabolism, i.e., rate of caloric use per unit of work done
- Energy expended
RussaYog®, like traditional yoga, is a calming exercise. It forces one to maintain balance under forces pulling from different directions. Unlike vigorously moving exercises, RussaYog® forces the practitioner to learn how to maintain balance and a mental vision of “detached-attachment.” Such a balance should allow one to modify the first parameter listed above (caloric intake). Just slowing down the eating process can greatly influence how much food one eats. An hour of RussaYog® burns about 300 calories. The resultant muscle growth also helps by burning calories faster. The human body is incredibly efficient—a single candy bar can allow a typical human to walk about 2 miles.
How is RussaYog® different from traditional yoga?
On a physical level, traditional yoga places the body in asans (poses) which test the body’s flexibility. In some asans, the practitioner also needs great balance and (usually) lower body strength. The asan is then held for anywhere from 10 seconds to minutes, to even hours. Usually an asan is rarely held more than one minute.
In RussaYog®, a free flowing rope, looped over an anchor in the ceiling (or on a RussaYog® portable structure, or a tree branch or a playground swing set, etc.) is gripped. This allows the user to manipulate the direction of the force of gravity. Now the Earth’s gravity does not just pull one downward, but can be used to place upward force and sideways force. This allows the RussaYog® practitioner to do asans that would require one or several “helpers.” The practitioner can not only develop flexibility and balance, but strength and stamina normally associated with weight training.
How does RussaYog® influence the aging process?
In the United States (and many other developed countries), the aging process is characterized by the following (statistically-based) changes:
- An increase in weight of 1 to 2 pounds per year from ages 25 to sixty. This is accompanied by a loss of about 1% muscle strength per year from age 25 onward.
- A combination of weakening abdominal muscles causes the abdomen to sag outward—even for thin people.
- A gravity-driven drooping of shoulders, breasts, and buttocks. A lowering of erection angle for men.
Other changes like hair loss, hair color loss, memory loss, loss of balance, etc., are also brought on by aging. It would be incorrect to say that a practitioner of RussaYog® will not age! However, the counter gravity use of ropes and strengthening of core trunk muscles can definitely postpone or even banish the first three aging related processes. A number of RussaYog® asans pull the body up and “gently backwards,” as if a physical therapist was working with you.
Does RussaYog® improve sexual abilities?
While sex involves complex physical and psychological issues, there is no question that the physical part is closely tied to physical fitness. An important part of erectile dysfunction is related to high cholesterol, obesity, and high blood pressure. After all, male erection and female arousal have to do with good blood flow. The lingam-yoni asans of RussaYog® are especially useful for developing the groin and abdominal muscles, the core muscles. In fact, the first sequence of asans should greatly help the physical aspect of sexual fitness.
How does yoga in general and RussaYog® in particular contribute to spiritual health?
Let us first define a general concept of our spiritual being—a sense that we are part of a bigger picture. The word “Ik Onkar“ or “one source, many manifestations” summarizes a spiritual view of the Universe. You are spiritual if you can go past the “me-versus-you” duality. The calming nature of yoga can help quiet the mind and look at the Universe with a “big picture” view—to simultaneously see our infinitesimal and infinite form.
RussaYog®, as will be apparent to the practitioner, creates a greater degree of imbalance (and, therefore the muscles are called upon to restore balance). During the period of high physical stress, the student learns to calm the mind, viewing the stress in a positive manner. It creates the intensity felt after a vigorous workout, yet you are left with an energized, uplifted sensation.
What kind of body “look” does RussaYog® create?
Many fitness programs are indeed associated with a certain kind of appearance. The strong but gaunt look of distance runners, the powerful look of sprinters, the heavily muscled look of body builders, etc. Based on the kind of asans practiced in RussaYog® and the muscles they stress, a practitioner should expect to slowly develop the lean, strong look of trapeze artists. A major difference being that RussaYog® asans are not aerial, nor are they fast-moving. Quite the opposite—RussaYog® is done with the body in virtual stillness.
How does RussaYog compare to weight training?
Weight training is based on using movable weights (either directly or through machines, such as pulleys) to stress muscles and thus strengthen them. Weight training is an excellent exercise to build strength and if done correctly, posture. Over the last several decades, there has been an intense effort made by equipment designers to take weight training away from “free weights” to large machine-based workouts. The benefits of this (apart from profits for equipment makers) trend has been that many more people, some with injuries or weaknesses that would not allow them to workout with free weights, can participate. The downside to this trend is that the user does not have to depend upon “balance” and use of many core muscles. Weight training can also cause an imbalanced body look sometimes sported by bodybuilders (huge upper body, tiny calves, etc.).
RussaYog® provides the muscle strength available through weight training, although one cannot build huge muscles, since one uses the body’s own weight for resistance. It is particularly good for core muscles and balance. It also “lifts” the body frame for an erect posture.
Will RussaYog make me feel good while I’m doing it and after?
Absolutely! Most students feel a sense of elation during and after an asan. The combination of quick, powerful movements and the calm holding asans releases a burst of endorphins. Many students feel a sense of optimism and a “pump” resulting from enhanced blood flow. In a biographical movie called “Pumping Iron” about Arnold Schwarzenegger (movie star, body builder, politician), he compares the pump he gets from training to the sensation of sex. Not only does RussaYog® produce a balanced mind and body, the process itself is a pleasure. You should see benefits even if you do the full RussaYog® session only once per week. For greater fitness, RussaYog® can be integrated daily and with other fitness programs.
Sometimes my mind is locked into negative thoughts. Can RussaYog® help me get out of these states?
To escape negative thoughts (assuming one is not in need of medical treatment for depression) one needs to enter the chanchal state (dithering or sampling state). This requires playful activity. The Bal-Lila portion of the RussaYog® session is excellent for this.
What is “karmic” wealth mentioned in the preface of your book, “Create Your Own Good Life?” How does yoga allow us to generate and enjoy “karmic wealth”?
Karmic wealth represents the total worth of all of your life’s actions (karmas). Some of these actions and experiences are given a price tag by the market place, especially in advanced capitalist societies. However, a large fraction are “untagged.” In a hurried “rat-race” lifestyle, it is inevitable that we only value karmas that have a price tag. Material wealth is important, but only up to some threshold level. It would be unwise to ignore the larger karmic wealth. In the calm meditative state, one should be able to value karmas that are “free.” Sometimes the free karmas are actually more valuable than “tagged” karmas. It is estimated that an average American family fritters away about $70 K of “free” karmic wealth per year. This is more than the average annual income.
Are ropes part of traditional yoga in India?
The rope is central to Indian creation story. In the cyclical-destruction story the rope plays an essential role in the start of each cycle. Once the destruction cycle ends, a residue is left behind. The reside is called shesh. The gods then descend and make a rope from the residue. They use the rope (and a mythical turtle) to churn the ocean, creating energy. At the height of the churning process, the next cycle of creation begins! Vishnu, god of sustenance, is shown reclining on a sheshnaga, a multi-headed snake. In RussaYog®, one can see the power of the rope (russa) and how it engages and grows us.
Can anyone learn and then teach RussaYog®?
Anyone can use RussaYog® for personal use. Consult your physician before beginning a RussaYog® workout if you have any medical history which would preclude you from doing the workout. However for use for profit, one must become a trained RussaYog® instructor. RussaYog® sessions (warm-up and asans) have been developed after considerable research by Dr. Jasprit Singh. They are protected through intellectual property laws. You need permission/certification to teach.
Do I have to chant?
Nope! Chanting is not incorporated into the RussaYog® studio classes. It can however be a great way to practice your breathing and focus in on the asans. Maintaining an internal, silent mantra can also help stay focused during yogic practice.
What is chai? How is it made?
Chai, the Hindi word for tea, is a delicious, healthy, hot tea drink, ubiquitous all over India and other South Asian countries and the Middle East. “Masala chai” is a blended beverage of mixed spices, milk, and honey or sugar. It is a healthier alternative to hot chocolate, latte or cappuccino, and can be made with regular milk or dairy-free alternatives.
There are many different chai blends unique to their region of India, but the original recipe was created out of the need for a medicinal and healthy recipe to combat minor discomforts for those without easy access to medical care. It is perfect for cold winters, and surprisingly refreshing even on a hot summer day!
Below is the RussaYog® homemade chai recipe. It is easy to make. For a decaffeinated version, use decaffeinated black tea. The black tea and spices we use are purchased at the local Indian Grocery store. They can be found in your local grocery store, although you are more likely to find loose tea at the Indian grocery store.
Recipe for RussaYog® Homemade Chai:
For four cups of chai you’ll need:
What You’ll Need
2 qt. pot (large enough to hold 5 cups of liquid)
1 whole cardamom pod, crushed
1/2 inch (in length) stick of cinnamon
3 whole cloves
1/2 tablespoon of fresh ginger , peeled and grated
Set aside 2 teaspoons of black loose tea (or 4 bags of black tea)
1/4 can of skim evaporated milk (or whole milk, if you prefer)
4 teaspoons of sugar or honey (more or less; as you prefer)
Pour five cups of water into the pot. Add the spices. Turn the fire on high heat. Bring just to a boil, then add black tea. Turn the fire low. Brew 2–3 minutes. Add sugar and milk. Turn off the fire. Stir, then strain into teapot. Enjoy!
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The teachers bring a combination of dedication, knowledge, and wisdom to my yoga practice.Linda Theil