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Om Yoga Blog
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Experience Om Yoga and be encouraged to deepen the awareness of the body, mind and spirit bringing forth your highest qualities. Be Inspired to live daily in a way that promotes peace, mindfulness, humility and growth.
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10:24 pm

Poses that Relieve Stress

“I was a little excited but mostly blorft. “Blorft” is an adjective I just made up that means ‘Completely overwhelmed but proceeding as if everything is fine and reacting to the stress with the torpor of a possum.’ I have been blorft every day for the past seven years.” ~ Tina Fey, Bossypants Lately, I’ve been doing a weekly yoga focus, which has been receiving some great feedback. However, for December, I have decided to focus on stress reduction for the entire month. It’s so prevalent in our society at the moment that I feel it deserves to be the focus for more than just one week. As you know, the holiday season can be a time of great joy, but also of great stress. There are gifts to buy, parties to attend, family issues to deal with. All the while, we’re expected to continue doing everything else we normally do (like go to work, school, etc.). The “busyness” of everything thrown at us during this time of year can be overwhelming, and if we’re not careful, it can become detrimental to our health. Personally, this season is proving to be quite stressful for me. I can’t exactly put my finger on why, but I’m noticing that my insomnia is back with a vengeance, I’m getting short of breath and short of temper, and generally just don’t feel like myself. Two weeks ago in my blog post about starting over, I mentioned that I was going to make sure I get on my mat every day for at least 30 minutes. For the most part, I have been able to do this. I’ve only missed two days, and there have been a couple of days where I’ve only had time for 20 minutes. But you know what? It’s a start, right? At least I am getting more mat time than I have been lately, so I’ll take it! Yesterday, I started wondering, “Why am I so stressed, then, when I am getting on my mat MORE? What gives?!” I’m not sure I can answer this yet, but I do know that though yoga as a whole is a great form of exercise for stress relief, it’s essential to make sure to include certain types of poses. So for December, work on making sure to incorporate a variety of the types of poses mentioned below as a way to center yourself, and to become more mindful of the true meaning of this time of year.

  • Warrior Poses: Any of the three warrior poses (Warrior 1, Warrior 2 and Warrior 3) are great to incorporate into your practice…choosing to do all three will provide you with the maximum benefits. These standing poses encourage the building of physical strength and stamina. They are also wonderful in nurturing our internal strength, and are excellent in improving self-esteem.
  • Twists: Twists are very beneficial for the health of the spine by encouraging spinal circulation, and helping relieve blocked energy channels to the spine. Twists also detoxify organ systems. For example, digestive organs get massaged when you twist, which helps to digest, assimilate and eliminate food. Also, twisting stimulates the whole lymphatic system, which encourages it to release toxins and waste products.
  • Inversions: Inversions help our bodies in so many ways! They help detoxify and re-balance the whole body, regulate the thyroid, calm the nervous system, and improve sleep. It doesn’t have to be as complicated as a Headstand. My favorite one, that is accessible to most everyone, is Legs Up the Wall pose(Viparita Karani).
  • Backbends: Any backbend will do, but even a simple supported backbend is an antidote to our habitual posture of rounding forward, and will leave you feeling refreshed. To perform a simple supported backbend, all you need is a towel or blanket, and a bolster or firm pillow. Just lie down on your back, and place the bolster or pillow under your shoulder blades, and the towel (slightly rolled) under your neck. Bend your knees and relax your arms above the bolster or pillow on the floor. Stay in the pose for one minute.
  • Forward Bends: Again, any forward bend will do, but I love the Ragdoll version of Standard Forward Fold (Uttanasana). Use this as an opportunity to let go of all the tension in your jaws, shoulders, and head. Bend the knees if you have to, and just play with letting the back roll down and relax.
  • Centering: Always return to a pose of centering to finish your practice.  Final Relaxation (Savasana) is ideal. If you have the time, try to make time for at least 5 minutes in any pose that you find relaxing.

So what are your favorite poses to do when you’re stressed? What about other things that you do to rid yourself of stress (i.e., meditation, breathing exercises, shopping)? I love hearing what works for all of you out there in Blog Land, so please comment and share your tips and tricks. One of my hopes is that by sharing our knowledge with each other, we can truly make a difference in each other’s lives. It’s what yoga is all about!

Namaste,
Melanie


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9:29 pm

Are You All In?

“I’m letting go of everything I once was…I’m all in, I’m all in…” ~ by Toby Mac
 

In yoga, we need to focus on our journey yoga, not the destination. Easier said than done for many of us, wouldn’t you agree? If you’ve been trying to focus in your practice on the mat (or off the mat, for that matter) and have been having some trouble, remember this…it takes practice and repetition. But it also takes you making the CHOICE to do what needs to be done. You can practice your yoga poses over and over, and gain a lot of experience in the process. But until you make the choice — the decision that you are going to succeed — it’s just alot of MOVEMENT. There’s a shift that happens in your mind when you finally decide to let go and give it your all. Instead of thinking about trying to MAYBE make something happen, you think about how you WILL make it happen, no matter what. When you give your all, it’s amazing how much easier the path becomes. Suddenly, it doesn’t feel like such a chore anymore, and you stop questioning yourself so much. When you’ve given all of your heart to something, it’s easier to take on challenges that arise and persevere, because all of you is invested. Many of us start by doing this on our yoga mats. We may make a conscious decision to do whatever it takes to reduce our stress, relax more, loosen up tight body parts, strengthen weak parts. Those are all good things to start with, for sure. For me, it started back in 1999 with the decision that I needed to get on the mat to reduce stresss and sciatic nerve pain, because nothing else seemed to be working. It was torture for me the first few classes, because I had such a hard time focusing my mind on the task at hand, and I was constantly frustrating myself with my lack of flexibility compared to the other students in the room with me. But I was in it for the long haul. I had made the decision to go all in so that I could move forward in my life in such a way that made me happy and healthy. Pretty soon, I stopped looking around at everyone else in class and just focused on my teacher’s instructions. I turned my attention to my breath, noticing how it gravitated towards my tight and/or weak spots and worked at opening me up. Noticing how once I started doing that, it became easier to focus on what I was doing in the moment, instead of all the things that were stressing me out in my life. It wasn’t long before I saw this spilling over into my life off the mat. All of a sudden, I noticed I was able to look within myself more honestly, and there were some things I didn’t like. The fact that I always tend to avoid conflict, and that I am always bending over backwards to make sure everyone around me is happy, regardless of my own feelings. The fact that I shut down when things get tough. Now remember from up above that in yoga, we focus on the journey, right? Well, for me, I’m still on my journey. It has not been easy for me to make the changes I need to make. I definitely have more work to do, because self doubt constantly makes its way in. But as of late, I have recommitted to letting go of what I once was…I’m all in, so to speak. I’m saying to myself that I am worth doing whatever it takes to make my life the best it can be. On the mat and off. What about you? Will you join me on this journey? Will you take an honest look at your life and decide where changes need to be made, and then commit to doing whatever it takes to make the changes a reality? If you do, who knows what will happen? I can promise you this: no matter how things end up, you will know that if you were truly invested with your whole heart, then the result is what was meant for you. And how can that be bad?

Namaste,
Melanie

Melanie Deal, RYT-200, lives in Fort Mill, SC and has been practicing yoga since 1999 and began teaching in 2002. She earned her 200-hour teacher training certification with YogaFit and is a registered yoga teacher with the Yoga Alliance organization. Melanie is currently pursuing her RYT-500 certification through the Asheville Yoga Center.
 

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1:37 pm

Sun Salutations

“Sun salutations can energize and warm you, even on the darkest, coldest winter day.” -Carol Krucoff In general, Sun Salutations are used to warm the body at the beginning of a practice. However, Sun Salutations can be a complete practice in and of itself. If you’ve been to one of my classes, you’ve probably heard me say many times that if you have time for nothing else, you can get a complete workout just by doing a few rounds of Sun Salutations. The wonderful thing about them is that you cover strength and flexibility all at the same time. And if you move one breath for every movement, you may feel cardio benefits as well. There are 12 basic poses that make up a Sun Salutation. These 12 or so poses linked in a series can can distribute energy (prana) throughout the system, in addition to strengthening the body and adding flexibility. There are many Sun Salutation variations you can choose from, and you just need to choose the one that resonates with you the most. If you are a beginner to yoga, try this variation as a start. If you’re preference is a more active, powerful style, try this variation instead. There are so many benefits to incorporating Sun Salutations into your practice. From a physical standpoint, they open and strengthen the front and back of the body. From an emotional standpoint, they help in bringing the body, breath and mind into balance. And from a prescriptive standpoint, they’ve been shown to help with low energy and poor circulation issues. This week in class, we’ll be playing around with making Sun Salutations our own. The wonderful thing is that you can add or remove any pose you wish, just as long as you’re moving mindfully and with your breath. In my opinion, THIS is our chance to truly explore and play. Have fun!

Namaste,
Melanie

My name is Melanie and I live in Fort Mill, SC. I’ve been exercising regularly for years and have been a yoga teacher since 2002. Check out my blog- SC Yoga girl


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4:51 pm

How yoga changed me ♥

There is a saying that says "what you need comes to you when you need it", and on February 2nd 2011 it came to me, yoga is what I needed.  My really good friend Maria opened her own yoga studio near my apartment and one afternoon my sister and I decided to give it a try. Before practicing for the first time I had the impression that yoga was something boring where people sat in lotus position chanting OM and that it involved some type of stretching.  After my first class at OM Yoga I realized that yoga was much more than just stretching, it was something that was about to change my life.   From my very first class I realized that it was something I loved and was good at.  Every class my body started to change, my mind started to become calmer and my life changed in so many good and positive ways. Yes, it made my body stronger, extremely flexible and I started to do things I could never even imagine myself doing.  But, it also made me realize how taking this flexibility and strength from the mat to my everyday life would help me live a better and healthier life, and it did.   After practicing yoga for a year and a half, I realize that yoga has made me the person I am today. To me, yoga isn't just about practicing on my mat at a studio, yoga is about taking what you learn on the mat to the world. Its about being present, being a better person everyday, being more humble and never taking for granted the good things that surround you. These are just some of the ways yoga has changed me.   After practicing yoga for 11 months I decided to do a 200hr yoga teacher training. This experience changed my life, my mind and my practice. It made me see life from a different perspective, it made me realize that I'm the only person who can change my own life in any direction I want. It made me stronger, a lot stronger, mentally and physically.  If it wasn't for OMYoga, I would have never found my love and passion for yoga.

By Caroline Portugal


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2:25 pm

Yoga Poses for Runners

After a long run or race, your legs, back, and shoulders feel sore, achy, and tight. Practicing yoga can help you regain range of motion, reduce swelling in your legs, and improve circulation to speed your recovery. Erin shared some poses that benefit runners on her blog, she has been practicing at Om Yoga for over a year- "Stretching is so beneficial for runners because it really stretches out those tight muscles and hamstrings experienced after long runs. Stretching can prevent injuries to the muscles especially the hamstrings and IT band.. Try these poses at home!

1) Low Lunge: Opens and strengthens your thighs, hip flexors, and lower back.
  • Step forward with your right foot (toes forward) and drop down to your back knee, untucking your left toes.
  • Slide the left knee back until you feel a stretch. Be sure to align your right knee directly on top of your right foot. Do not let your right knee hang past your right foot (you should feel this in the thigh and groin area).
2) Crescent Lunge: This is a deeper stretch than the low lunge.
  • From low lunge, untuck back toes and lift knee off ground,
  • Press through the ball of the back foot.
  • A slight backbend helps stretch the abs and back and strengthens the core.
3) Intense Leg Stretch: Strengthens and stretches the inner and back thigh (hamstrings). I have really tight hamstrings so this pose really helps- and gosh do I feel it!
  • With feet together, step right foot forward. Right toes should be pointed straight ahead, left toes should be pointed to the left.
  • Square off the hips to the front and fold over the right leg, trying not to collapse the back. Keep the back long and straight.
  • If it helps, then look forward; one day your forehead will touch your shin!
  • Engage the quads.
4) Pigeon Pose: This is another hip opener and stretches the groin and psoas. This helps runners by increasing the ROM. Also, stress, tension and anxiety are naturally stored in the hips, so this pose helps to release those negative feelings.  
  • From a table top position (on your hands and knees), slide the right foot out meeting your left hand (right knee should be at your right hand).
  • Slide your left leg back with untucked toes. Try to keep hips squared.
  • If this feels good and you want more, begin to fold over that right leg. Be sure to keep your right foot aligned with your right knee (if you are using a mat, your shin should be parallel with the top of the mat).
  • For a more advanced stretch, push your body up and bring the left foot to the bend of your left elbow. Bring your right hand and clasp your left hand behind your head. This stretch is an intense quad stretch, so be aware of the quad in this pose!
Each stretch should be done on both sides to balance the body. I hope you try out these poses and let me know how you feel afterwards!

By Erin

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1:14 pm

Maintain Perspective

I am a mother of two young children. Frequently, on Saturday evenings my husband and I get a babysitter so that we may enjoy and evening at the movies. Going to the movies in some ways has a correlation to yoga. While sitting in that darkened room you forget about everything else and are connected to the drama playing out in front you. Lost in the story. Just as when you are on your yoga mat you let go and focus on the moment. Lost in both your mental and physical selves. What happened in that Aurora, Colorado movie theater is so horrific and disturbing. I think about all those people who went into that theater for two hours of entertainment, and how many lives are changed by the senseless act of one evil man. Nothing is this world is fixed or permanent, according to Buddhism. Everything is subject to change and alteration. Change is the nature of all things in life, from the ebb and flow of the ocean waves, to the trees losing their leaves each Autumn. Without impermanence, life is not possible. Steve Jobs famously said "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." I cannot make sense of what happened in Colorado, nor will I step foot inside a movie theater without trepidation for a long time. But the next time I feel tempted to complain because my kids are driving me crazy, my husband is a slob, or the sub in my favorite yoga class was disappointing, I will certainly remember all those people in Aurora and know that none of that matters. I will simply be grateful. Enjoy each moment of your life!

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11:29 am

The Art of Letting Go…

Just recently I’ve noticed that one of the beautiful things yoga helps us with is letting go. I am a perfectionist by nature, which basically means I like to be in control of my life all the time. As a toddler it took me forever to walk because I waited until I was ready to stand up and walk across the room. The fear of falling or failing continued throughout my adolescence and into my adulthood. This is not a fear that is unique in our culture. We live in a society that tells us to succeed in everything. It’s not enough to be a pretty good athlete, have a healthy body, or have an average GPA. We are inundated with the message that we are only valuable if we are the best at what we do or have the perfect whatever. Furthermore, many of us feel like we are in control and responsible for the outcome of our efforts to succeed. This might be temporarily satisfying when we meet a high expectation, but where does it leave us when we don’t? We inevitably feel like a failure and become frightened to move forward. This realization started as I struggled for the 947th time to come into headstand. I have been practicing yoga for the last 10 years of my life and have always had an easy time with poses that require flexibility, but when it came to poses where I truly needed to let go like arm balances it was impossible. I looked in envy at everyone in the studio who would just float up into a graceful inversion or balancing pose. Then, one day I was alone on my mat at home and cautiously placed my hands on the mat and allowed my body to move into this unnatural feeling of being upside down. My legs started to float up, and I was overcome by this feeling of weightlessness and vulnerability. It lasted for half a second before I awkwardly somersaulted forward. I sat up and noticed it wasn’t the end of the world; I tried something and fell over-BIG DEAL. It was then that I had this epiphany: It is ok to try something and fall down! From that point I worked on head stand in every practice until one day I just went up and allowed myself to be comfortable with that feeling you get when you feel vulnerable, weightless, and not totally in control. It was completely freeing and has become one of my favorite postures because it is a physical reminder of a deeper lesson. Yoga teachings and practice relieves us from the overwhelming burden of feeling like we need to control our lives and be perfect. One of my favorite quotes from the Bhagavad Gita is, “The superior man is he who can control his senses with no attachment to results, he engages in the yoga of action… The whole world becomes a slave to its own activity. If you want to be truly free, perform all actions as worship.” To me this means that the process of moving towards what we strive for is much more important than the outcome. It is in this process that we grow and learn about ourselves and can become more connected with our true selves. This connection frees us because we realize that we are already valuable as we are, regardless of our external circumstances. We are a part of the Divine and have been created for a much higher calling than just fulfilling the expectations we place on ourselves. If we know that then we can offer up everything we do each day as an act of worship and trust that every outcome is part of the big picture and is meant to be. Namaste, Anastacia

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11:32 am

Yoga For Kids

When presented in a child's language, yoga can help counter the stress experienced by young people living in a hurry-up world. Our children live in a hurry-up world of busy parents, school pressures, incessant lessons, video games, malls, and competitive sports. We usually don't think of these influences as stressful for our kids, but often they are. The bustling pace of our children's lives can have a profound effect on their innate joy—and usually not for the better. I have found that yoga can help counter these pressures. When children learn techniques for self-health, relaxation, and inner fulfillment, they can navigate life's challenges with a little more ease. Yoga at an early age encourages self-esteem and body awareness with a physical activity that's noncompetitive. Fostering cooperation and compassion—instead of opposition—is a great gift to give our children. Children derive enormous benefits from yoga. Physically, it enhances their flexibility, strength, coordination, and body awareness. In addition, their concentration and sense of calmness and relaxation improves. Doing yoga, children exercise, play, connect more deeply with the inner self, and develop an intimate relationship with the natural world that surrounds them. Yoga brings that marvelous inner light that all children have to the surface. When yogis developed the asanas many thousands of years ago, they still lived close to the natural world and used animals and plants for inspiration—the sting of a scorpion, the grace of a swan, the grounded stature of a tree. When children imitate the movements and sounds of nature, they have a chance to get inside another being and imagine taking on its qualities. When they assume the pose of the lion (Simhasana) for example, they experience not only the power and behavior of the lion, but also their own sense of power: when to be aggressive, when to retreat. The physical movements introduce kids to yoga's true meaning: union, expression, and honor for oneself and one's part in the delicate web of life. A Child's Way Yoga with children offers many possibilities to exchange wisdom, share good times, and lay the foundation for a lifelong practice that will continue to deepen. All that's needed is a little flexibility on the adult's part because, as I quickly found out when I first started teaching the practice to preschoolers, yoga for children is quite different than yoga for adults. Six years ago, I had my first experience teaching yoga to kids at a local Montessori school. I looked forward to the opportunity with confidence—after all, I'd been teaching yoga to adults for quite a while, had two young children of my own, and had taught creative writing for several years in various Los Angeles schools. But after two classes with a group of 3- to 6-year-olds, I had to seriously reevaluate my approach. I needed to learn to let go (the very practice I had been preaching for years) of my agenda and my expectations of what yoga is and is not. When I began to honor the children's innate intelligence and tune in to how they were instructing me to instruct them, we began to co-create our classes. We used the yoga asanas as a springboard for exploration of many other areas—animal adaptations and behavior, music and playing instruments, storytelling, drawing—and our time together became a truly interdisciplinary approach to learning. Together we wove stories with our bodies and minds in a flow that could only happen in child's play. By Marsha Wenig

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3:28 am

Finding my Guru at Starbucks

One of the benefits of being a yoga teacher is having a captive audience to share your stories with. When something happens in my daily life that teaches or affirms a yogic lesson, my first thought is always “I can’t wait to share that with my yogis!” And of course I like to get as much mileage as possible out of a good story, so you may have already heard this one (and it’s absolutely true – my girlfriend Ada says I should write a book entitled “You Can’t Make This Sh-t Up,” but that’s another story….).

One Sunday on the way to teach Karma class benefitting the Children’s Attention Home, I stopped into Starbucks for my standard “venti passion tea lemonade, 3 pumps classic one pump raspberry, light ice please.” The place was very busy, and as I stood in line with my yoga mat in tow I “rehearsed” in my head the things I wanted to say about Karma before class. In one context, Karma is simply the selfless giving of your energy to another. That energy can take many forms: money or material resources, service or time, prayer or mantra, for example. I planned to explain that a really nice act of Karma is dedicating your asana practice to someone who needs it – maybe to the children of the Children’s Attention Home, maybe to someone else. Just as I was thinking about this, an older gentleman came up to me. He wore a military veterans baseball cap, walked with a cane, and struggled a bit to get to me. When I smiled at him he nodded to my mat, and said “Would you do me a favor? When you go to your Pilates class today, how about doing some Pilates for me?” I said “Actually I’m practicing yoga today, but I would love to practice for you – what’s your name?” “I’m Dave,” he said. “You got it, Dave. I’m Ann, and it’s so nice to meet you. When I’m on my mat today, I’m going to be thinking about you and practicing yoga for you – it will be an honor.”

On the outside, Dave certainly didn’t look like your typical yoga guru, but in just those few moments, he taught me so much about being present, being thankful, having perspective, and about connection. A great yogi, Desikachar, said, “yoga exists in the world because everything is linked.” Everything is connected. We speak a lot about connection in yoga. The very word, "yoga," means connection or union. We connect body, mind, and spirit. We connect movement with breath. And ultimately we find that inner peace, that place within where we connect with the universe, our light, our source. How often have you experienced those wonderful little coincidences? A friend calls just when you were thinking of them, or you make a new friend at Starbucks at the exact perfect time. Yoga teaches that these things we call coincidences aren’t chance happenings at all, but proof of the profound connection we all share. Judith Lasater says “Wisdom is the ability to see the connection of all things. Our connection with the universe has existed, exists now, and will always exist. When we look inside ourselves for this connection, we will always find it. We are a reflection of it. When we can live with a deep faith in our connection to all that is, we fear less, want less and need less.” When you make yoga a part of your daily life on and off your mat, you can’t help become more aware, more sensitive to this beautiful connection. We are all connected by the light and love that dwells within each of us. And we honor that connection by saying to each other…Namaste. 

Namaste,
Ann

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5:52 am

Men and Yoga: Obstacles to Hitting the Mat?

Guys often don't give yoga that important first shot. So what's the biggest obstacle to getting a man to take his first class?

What's the biggest obstacle to getting a dude to hit the mat?

  • David Romanelli: The biggest obstacle is a dude feeling incompetent or intimidated by the learning curve. I have that issue with golf. I'm afraid to start golfing because it seems like such a steep, long learning curve. But yoga is different because you can have an epic experience your very first class. I remember one time Bryan Kest said he feels sorry for flexible people...because the tight people get the biggest high, the greatest release.
  • Bryan Kest: Them understanding just how important stretching is and what a great workout yoga can be.
  • Brock Cahill: Dudes' biggest obstacles to getting into practice are the stereotypes. As far as I am concerned, yoga is for everybody. There are so many blockages where people think... Yoga? That's for _____. Bullshit. Yoga is the catalyst toward becoming your most complete self, and living up to your fullest potential. Who doesn't want to do that? Well, I guess the peeps that find an excuse not to practice!
  • David Regelin: I think that most dudes approach yoga as they would a sport. You choose a sport based on your aptitude. Tall guys play basketball, burly guys play football, fast runners play soccer etc. So if you aren't flexible and have poor balance, you might think yoga is not for you because you won't start off with any competitive advantage. But that's exactly why it is for you. You become flexible, balanced and strong as you practice. And you learn to be efficient. You actually learn a method by which you learn to engage/release muscles at will. You also start to gain control of your mind by controlling your breath. Also If you show up to a yoga class as you would a sport, to compete, you're gonna be schooled by a bunch of women who have been doing it for years. You're gonna be the worst player on the field. So you have to be clear about your reasons for showing up. If you woke up one morning and couldn't turn your head in a certain direction, or couldn't straighten your arm all the way, you would be concerned. You would seek help (or suffer, or try to ignore it depending on who you are). The stiffness you take for granted as being part of life is not actually. If you don't use it, you lose it. Yoga is a way to reclaim the range and ease you were designed to have. If your body is an instrument, or a machine, yoga is an excellent way to tune it. I can now do postures that I used to see people doing and wonder why on earth they would want to. It happened gradually. I don't think the average person needs to go as far as I have with it. I sometimes get negative reactions from people when I practice outside -- in the form of gawking and snickering. Especially when i put my leg behind my head or do a deep backwards bend, it looks to some like a freakish contortion routine. When you develop something over many years as I have, you gain "extra"-ordinary abilities, but that takes time. You don't become a monkey overnight.
  • David Swenson: Don't worry what other people think! Get out there and have your own experience. If you then decide it is not for you, then great; but don't let some other person's opinion be the deciding factor of your trying something new.
  • Michael Taylor: What if I'm no good at it? I'll look dumb! I won't be the winner! Well, it's true, you might not be the winner. But riding the perpetual motion machine (sorry, elliptical trainer) and lifting heavy objects repeatedly aren't exactly the coolest things in the world -- they're just familiar. And interestingly enough, if we ease off on winning and looking so accomplished all the time, we may wind up accomplishing even greater things with far less effort. Yoga has a way of strengthening our abilities across our whole lives. It's well worth putting aside a little control and giving yourself a shot.
  • Derek Beres: Men find it challenging to sit in a studio full of women that are way more flexible and stronger than they are, in ways that they never even think of strength. Yoga is very yin -- the strength comes from a certain sense of softness that develops over time. It has nothing to do with large muscles; in fact, a healthy yogi's body has a little bit of love around the midsection. Asanas help the yogi become anatomically correct, not absurdly muscular. The inner strength is more important than any outward signs.
  • Sam Chase: Well, here I can only speak for myself, but I know in the beginning I just felt totally incompetent. Here I was in my first yoga class, being asked to use my body in a way I never had, to breathe in a way I never did, and to focus my mind in a way I wasn't used to. To top it all off, I was supposed to do it while listening to a bunch of sanskrit chanting. That's a pretty high bar for a lot of people--men or women. Everyone around me seemed to know exactly what was going on, and I couldn't tell my utkatasana from a hole in the ground. That first class takes a lot of courage and a lot of humility for anyone, but I walked away feeling so good I thought, "I have to figure out what the heck is going on here."
  • Rusty Wells: A big obstacle is that many guys initially tend to think that yoga won't be challenging enough for them. Pro-athletes have long discovered that yoga provides the platform for endurance, concentration and fortitude.
  • Vinnie Marino: Guys assume yoga will be a waste of their time and not produce results.
  • Noah Mazé: Yoga, at least how it is practiced in contemporary times, is more feminine encoded. It is about listening to your body and heart, moving in the natural cycles of your breath, to the inner experience of fulfillment. Identity, when it is feminine encoded, is self generated and comes from the inside out. An example is that girls become women from the natural cycles of their own biology. For beings overly encoded feminine, it is a natural thing to "listen to your breath, move with your breath, feel your heart," etc. Yoga from the inside-out is more feminine encoded. In this way, there is no goal as an outer object.The masculine code is to go outside to then receive the reflection back as the experience of identity. Men don't make themselves, as women do; we need other men. Competition, war, games with a goal, coaches and mentors, are all ways that we direct energy out to then receive back our self image. In yoga, we pursue and practice poses that have classical forms. This gives us objects to aspire to, to extend out into to receive back the image of oneself. Yoga from the outside-in is more masculine encoded. In this way, there is a goal; the successful attainment/performance of the form. Yoga moves us in both directions; inside-out AND outside-in. We all have masculine and feminine code, and gender is a slight preference of code in one direction. We all need both strategies, and yoga teaches us how to do both skillfully, even the strategy that feels less 'natural'. 

Jason Wachob, a Curator and one of the founders of MindBodyGreen, has a goal to make wellness and yoga accessible. After years of successfully trading equities on Wall Street, and traveling around the country running a national organic cookie company, Jason was told that he required back surgery. He opted for yoga instead of surgery and is now completely healed. Jason is a contributor to The Huffington Post and has been featured in the The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. He has a BA in History from Columbia University, where he played Varsity Basketball for four years. Jason lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife.

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