The other day at the gym, I got to talking to a gentleman who eventually asked me what I did for a living. After telling him I was a yoga teacher, he told me that yoga would probably be good for stretching and would probably be harder for him than weightlifting. I laughed and told him everyone is a little different. He followed that up by telling me that, no offense, yoga is more for women and that women's bodies are just better for yoga.
You should've seen his face when I told him the yoga asana practice was originally invented by men for men.
Regardless of the history of the practice, yoga is extremely beneficial for men and women alike. In addition to teaching yoga, I was a studio administrator and manager and have recently become a marketing specialist for a yoga studio. That said, anytime a man calls, I know there’s at least an 80% I’m going to hear the question, “So, are there other guys that are going to be in class?”
My answer, of course, is yes, and not just because I am trying to make a sale. In reality, I am starting to see more men feeling comfortable to come to classes and see what all this “yoga stuff” is all about. Still, I receive those skeptical phone calls at least once a week where I then find myself explaining all the benefits that a yoga asana practice has for all of us—men included.
If you have not yet worked up the courage to pick up the phone and call your local yoga studio to ask some these questions, allow for me to save you some time:
3. Relieves Back Pain
On a similar note, yoga is great for helping to relieve back pain. Back pain is probably one of the top three ailments I find from my students (men and women.) Though back pain may reveal itself in many forms from many causes, yoga asanas increases ROM in the different motions of the spine (forward bending, backwards bending, side bending, twisting, and circumduction.) In addition to this, yoga asanas strengthen the core from all different angles by strengthening the front, back, and sides. By doing these things, you keep the vertebrae lubrication, the muscles mobile and flexible, and the back and core strong.
4. Activates Stabilizing Muscles
With the combination between static poses and fluid poses, yoga requires coordination, balance, and stabilization. These smaller, stabilizing muscles are often times not activated if we live a fairly sedentary lifestyle; to that extent, even regulars at the gym may be lacking strength in stabilizing muscles due to the lack of ROM that many gym exercises exhibit. By practicing yoga asana and flowing through the postures, you will begin to notice new, smaller muscles kicking in to take on some of the work. These muscles are found throughout the body, from the neck and upper body all the way down into the ankles and feet. By strengthening these muscles, you can reduce the risk of injury in the future by distributing the work load, thus relieving or preventing joint pain as well.
5. Challenges You
As my new friend mentioned, yoga can sometimes seem to be more challenging than other forms of yoga. Not only can yoga be a new way of moving and a new form of physical activity, but yoga also challenges the mind by putting you in a new space and beginning to change thought patterns. In the instance of my gentlemen (and my ladies who might be hesitant), I challenge you to get on the mat!
Have questions about yoga classes or just yoga in general? Have any information you think we missed? Leave a comment below!
In a vinyasa class, you will be taught to “link movement with the breath.” As a vinyasa teacher myself, I encourage my students to find the relationship between movement and breath and to find the calmness that permeates between the two. Each movement is paired with either an inhale or an exhale. A simple example of this would be cat-cow; inhale as you drop the belly and arch into cow pose and exhale as you draw the belly button towards the spine and arch into cat pose.
Having its origins in Hatha yoga (for reasons of simplicity, think of Hatha yoga as a generic term to mean a type of yoga that uses physical postures to allow for you to achieve relaxation, but may not necessarily “flow”) Vinyasa yoga is not only interested in the poses themselves, but also the movements and transitions into the poses. To understand this, sun salutations may serve as an excellent tool.
I first fell in love with vinyasa yoga because its diversity. The sequences (i.e. “flows”) and postures practiced are different each time, thus forcing me to stay present and mindful throughout the practice. If you get bored easily or become tired of routines, vinyasa might just be the yoga for you.
While you keep in mind your calm, steady breath, and keep in heart your intention, a vinyasa class will “flow” from posture to posture, linking the movements almost like a dance. Many vinyasa classes will play upbeat music (I myself like to throw in some indie/alternative music… and sometimes some Jimmy Buffett), though the playlists you find will vary from teacher to teacher. Because of the faster pace, these classes help you to tone, strengthen, and sweat while also giving you the stretching, relaxation, and clarity you need to bring balance into your life.
Do you have any additional questions or comments? We would love to hear them! What is your favorite style of yoga? Let us know in the comments below!
Teaching yoga is one of my greatest passions. I am grateful for the energy shared between students and teacher, humbled to be able to help others, and blessed that I get to do what I love every day.
But sometimes, I see some things in my classes that make me need a yoga class. No matter how many deep, cleansing breaths your teacher takes, here’s my top 5 list of things that make your teacher crazy.
1. The buzzing cell phone. Take my word for it; I get it. Sometimes, we all forget to turn off our phones or silence them completely. Perhaps I, as a teacher, can take some blame for this one for not reminding you to double-check your cell phone. But to that extent, I, as a student, turn my phone completely off before I even open the door.
And, by the way, “vibrate” is not the same as “silent.” #nuffsaid
When you come to the mat, you give yourself an opportunity to be present and not let the mind and the thoughts become affected by something that may be going on elsewhere. When you take a peek at your phone, you disturb your own healing and disturb your own energy level. If these reasons aren’t important to you, imagine how the others in the room feel. Your fellow students who have come to unplug and detach are now distracted and disturbed, be it from your typing or from the mere light shining from your screen, while your teacher feels greatly disrespected.
breath is getting short and choppy, find a better position for you. If something is causing you pain, release the pose. If you feel like you need to laugh, cry, or just take a break, go for it. Come to the mat for you.
Respect your teacher, share positivity with members of your community, and honor yourself! Is there something I should add to the list? Let me know in the comments below!
My mom's stories about working out at home crack me up. I was so excited when she agreed to share some of her adventures for our blog this Mother's Day. Share with a mama who knows the struggle and enjoy! (Thanks Mama G for the laugh!)
I think to myself, that’s it! I am definitely going to start exercising tomorrow.
I’ll wait until my husband leaves and then I will get right to it.
I have my mat; I will just pull it out and do it.
That night, I ask my husband what time program the coffee pot to brew so I know what time he is leaving the next day so I can exercise.
The next morning the coffee pot starts brewing and I say to my husband, I thought that you had to leave early. He replies, “No I texted someone and told them I would be there later.”
Foiled! The rest of the morning my husband is on the phone trying to convince a subcontractor to do their job. Or something. I guess I will just run out and get some groceries.
Later that day, I have already given up. Maybe tomorrow. I think to myself, if my husband does not go out to the jobs, maybe I could just go in the other room and close the glass doors. I wish I had a curtain; anyone can look in and watch me. Okay, maybe that is what I will do. I continue to think. Oh, but I cannot get online with the TV in the living room. I guess I could use my old workout VCR tape. No, we got rid of the VCR in that room. Oh well, I guess I will just have to wait until he goes to work and workout in the family room.
I continue to think about my planned work out. What should I wear? I don’t like when the long pants roll up, and I like to be barefoot. I guess I could wear the pair I cut into capris. They hold my stomach in nicely. I guess I could just wear my comfy tee shirt. But I wish I had a comfortable bra. My bra is so uncomfortable, maybe I won’t wear one. But then I visualize my husband looking in on me in the family room working out without a bra on, and at my age, that isn’t pretty. Okay, I guess I could wear my new wire free lace bra… oh, but I don’t like the way it rubs my shoulders, and it is a racer back and the straps show. I have a sports bra but it is so tight and hard to get on…someone should invent a comfortable sports bra. Thinking about my workout, I will just roll my mat out of the carpet in the family room.
The next morning I decide to skip my coffee and just go exercise. Then I hear my husband say, I poured your coffee. I can’t turn it down, so I decide to have my coffee and then work out. I sit down to talk and have coffee with my husband. The next thing I know, it is late morning. I have got to get in the office and get some work done and by the end of the day. No work out. Later, I decide that maybe I should just go some place and take a few classes, just to get me back in the swing of things again. But lately, I don’t like going out on a regular basis and I would not know where to go or what class to take. Maybe I could go to that place where my daughter learned to teach, but no hot yoga, I am so hot already. I thought of a line I heard in a movie, an older woman in menopause said that she needs frozen yoga! I get it; I thought that was funny and told my daughter once, and she seriously told me how bad that would be. I still thought it was funny. I verbalize to my husband my thoughts about taking a few classes at a studio just to get me started and he freaks out because in his mind each class is $50 or $65. (I don’t know where he his information). I corrected him, but was not ready to go to debate over this one so I say; Nicole (our daughter) told me that I could find some great classes online, so I’m back to that. I decide to wear my planned workout outfit to bed so I am already dressed for my workout the next day. I try the coffee pot programming question again. 9:00 AM, yes! I am back on for tomorrow.
The next day, I wake up in my work out clothes, have coffee and patiently wait until he leaves for the jobsite. Yes! Here I go. He leaves, and I roll out my mat, turn on the TV and try to read the cheat sheet for going online with the TV. Oh, but I forgot the name of the class my daughter told me about. I just decide to pull out my old workout tape. I open the drawer and find my VCR tapes, but then see a DVD workout that I forgot that I bought. I re-program the TV from Smart TV to DVD, change the sound surround so that I can hear it. I hit play and start my workout. I am in the swing of it and the phone rings, it’s my daughter. I hit pause. I always try to take her calls. I decide to pour another cup of coffee while we talk. After our conversation, I get ready to hit play, wow, I’m hungry. I leave the DVD on pause and get a little piece of cheese and go back to the mat. Play… Wow, it is hard to see what the teacher is doing in this position, I stand up, hit pause and re-wind. Oh, okay now I see. I lay down with the remote now lying by my side so I can hit pause if I have to again. Play…okay roll like a ball and “on the last one, stand up.” Oh, I like rolling like a ball…but on the last one I can’t stand up, I laugh at myself. During my laugh, my cell phone rings, I run out in the kitchen to answer the call. It is my husband who is asking why I am so out of breath. I tell him that I had to run to get the phone. He needs something done right away for the business. I hang up and go back to the DVR and rewind it to just before the place where I left off and hit pause. I work in the office for the rest of the day. At some point, I realized that I left the TV/DVR on. I quickly turn it off so no one will know that I was working out in case I don’t stick with it again or it could be a surprise when I start looking good again. Several weeks later, I notice the dust collected on my mat. I dust it and tell myself, maybe tomorrow.
As we move into another month of spring, we continue to blossom into a new atmosphere of growth. The very name of the month is indicative of this; "May," a simple three letter word, can be defined as "the expression of possibility" or "the expression of permission."
In conjunction with the ambitious and determined energy of Taurus, an earth sign, May is the perfect month to allow for your inner light and inner garden to grow.
This month, give yourself permission to bloom. Here are some of my top tips:
Peace, Wisdom, and Enlightenment
The thousand-petaled lotus residing at the top of our chakra system, the crown chakra is our center for inner wisdom, spirituality, and conscious. This chakra is our connection to the heavens and continues to be developed over the lifetime. Intelligence and thoughtfulness are very closely tied to this chakra, though once we engage with this chakra, we learn that the knowledge is not something we read in a textbook, but rather the knowledge and wisdom of the universe, or the collective conscious, that is within us.
We are spiritual beings having a human experience. Those who may not believe to have this inner wisdom or a sense of spirituality are often blinded by an attachment or by attachments from the lower chakras. Some people find themselves obsessed and attached to their bodies, others may be attached to their money or possessions; this list is endless. Other individuals may simply dismiss the ideas of divinity and spirituality out of ignorance (i.e. the lack of understanding about our spiritual nature) or fear. If you feel that you have lost connection with your crown chakra or with your inner light, I recommend cleansing your lower chakras as well.
When we work with our crown chakra, we continue on our path of liberation towards enlightenment. As we awaken or reawaken our inner wisdom, we reconnect with our inner light and divinity, which is the same light and divinity that resides within all of us.
If you are looking for ways to let your thousand-petal lotus bloom, here are some techniques you should try:
Intuition, Seeing, and KNowing
We all know that our two eyes help us to see, but what about our third eye? Residing between the two eyes, governing our pineal gland (largely involved in many physiological and hormonal functions and sensitive to light), our third eye helps us to see through a different form of vision. Our third eye helps us to connect with our intuition.
Intuition is the ability to understand/know (i.e. "see") without explanation. We all have the inborn capability of intuition and have more than likely experienced examples of this intuition. Unfortunately, for many individuals, the third eye is blocked, clogged, or closed. When our sixth chakra is deficient, we are more susceptible to illusions, delusions, and lies. This may be due to an abundance of distractions from the material world, such as an abundance of light pollution or disturbances from our technology (so many screens!) For many children, the third eye and sense of intuition can become a source of shame if the parent(s) tell him/her that what they are seeing is not real (how many of us had "imaginary friends," after all?)
Ajna: Opening Our Wisdom
Express and Be Heard
Our throat chakra is our center for speaking, creativity, and sound. Our voice is our personalized, completely unique instrument that allows for us to express ourselves and our truth. When our throat chakra is balanced and cleared, our truth can be heard clearly and without strain. This creates vibrations and frequencies that are harmonious and understood. Conversely, if our throat chakra is blocked or if we are disconnected from the center of communication, we can be misunderstood by others or even from ourselves; a blocked throat chakra often leads to confusion and hurt.
We can all probably recognize some damage caused to the throat chakra. As children, perhaps you were often told to be quiet, or worst, heard that children "are to be seen and not heard." Perhaps you have experienced rejection after expressing yourself or were told not to say certain things. Over time, this type of restriction can continue to manifest and create a weak throat chakra; individuals who struggle with this tend to have soft or weak voices, stiffness in the shoulders and neck, and tend to be very shy. Acknowledges these traits and experiences within yourself is the first step to begin to remove the restraints from the throat chakra and begin to express your truth.
Other individuals may find that they are constantly activating their throat chakra; they may have a loud voice and seem to always make themselves the center of attention. Just as we saw with those who are deficient in the fifth chakra, individuals who have an excess throat chakra often feel misunderstood and conflicted. Similarly from what we saw in the heart chakra, an excess throat chakra may actually be from a deficiency in the lower chakras; for instance, an individual who seems to dominate conversation may be compensating from low self-esteem (chakra three).
Vishuddha: Speaking Your Truth
What's Love Got To Do with It?
In our society as we know it today, we are obsessed with the idea of love. Think of the endless list of movies, television shows, books, songs (pull up America's Top 40 and see how many of them are talking about love), and so many more examples.
While love rests in our fourth chakra, this "love," an overly sensationalized and confusing emotion, is not what we are talking about. The love that we are reconnecting with is not a love that is earned or sought after, but rather the love that we are rightfully born with and entitled to. It is unconditional and everlasting.
Unfortunately, many individuals have been damaged by a convoluted love, be it from a family member, friend, romantic partner, etc. Today, we are talking about what it is that are heart chakra deserves as well as methods, exercises, and tips to reclaim that dazzling green gem residing within ourselves.
Anahata: reclaiming our right to love and be loved
On the other hand, individuals may have an excess heart chakra. These are individuals who never say no (who may even fear to say no), give recklessly, or who needs to be friends with everyone. People with these traits often do not understand rejection and take rejection very personally. Individuals with an excess heart chakra have the tendency to manifest these behavior due to poor grounding and self-acceptance. The mentality is often times, "If I do x, y, and z for this person/these people, I will be loved." If you feel that you exhibit these traits, I recommend you read my blog on the root chakra as well.
Have something you would like to add to our list? Leave us a comment below! We want to hear! And don't forget to like and share to show some love.(;
Climbing the Centers OF eNERGY
Yesterday we shared with you our tips to reclaim our roots and allow for nourishment for the season of growth. With the weeds being tamed and our roots firmly planted, we have set the foundation for our next two chakras, svadhisthana and manipura.
Svadhisthana: Finding feeling
Rather than shaming ourselves or suppressing our energy, we should embrace our second chakra in order to create a healthy channel of energy for the rest of our system.
Here are some exercises you can do to reconnect with or even heal your second chakra:
Manipura: Our Fire
How do you connect with your second and third chakra? Do you have any tips or exercises? Let us know in the comment section below!