Yoga for Guys
(Special Father’s Day Edition)
by Kevin Diemer
Gentleman, if someone told you that there was something that could settle the mind, make you feel connected with yourself and others, give you vitality, strength, flexibility, and be more present, would you be interested? I would be skeptical too…but there is.
Guys, everywhere you turn now you hear the word yoga. If it’s not your doctor telling you it’s a “cure all” or your significant other telling you “A Lot of guys do yoga” as she shows you a picture on her phone that Gumby would tap out of, it’s the confusion…What is vinyasa? Should I start with hot yoga? (NO, just no), Do I need to learn this new language they say all the poses in? Is there going to be a goat jumping on me? Then, you realize you can’t touch your toes and you don’t even have a tattoo!!
You’re not alone brother, this is a microcosm of life and yoga. We all have these thoughts in life as we do before we enter a yoga class. Then we get there the anticipation is over as the teacher instructs us to take our first of three calming breaths…and then we are practicing.
My path to yoga wasn’t anything you write a documentary you need a box of tissues to get through, but it is my journey. I lifted weights, ran on the treadmill chasing the TV and it just didn’t fill me any more. Then I started to practice yoga videos on TV and hoped no one would open the door and see me. I know that there was something there.
Then the big day came when I would actually take a “real” yoga class, of course it had to be and intermediate, because I’m a guy and guys don’t take beginner classes ( yes they do and I strongly encourage it for all beginners). I remember filling out a form and one of the questions was “what kind of yoga do you practice?” and I’m thinking “what do you mean….yoga yoga”. No worries chap these questionnaires don’t get graded. As I rolled out my mat there were people doing splits and wondered what I got myself into. I survived and 8 years later I went from being an OK gym rat to having a practice with meaning to it far beyond the physical appearance…it was yoga ( union of the body and mind).
A practice that didn’t require machines, a practice I could do virtually anywhere, one that gets me through the tough times and makes me more present for the good ones.
A lot of us know the benefits of yoga, but it would be a disservice if I didn’t mention a few. Helps reduce anxiety and stress, improves functions of the body, calms the mind and body, improves self confidence, and it is an “adult play time”. This is why we see people 100 plus years old still practicing because it is sustainable and you become it.
I realize yoga is not for everyone but even for you guys out there who are resistant, it is a good practice to add to your “life tool box”, and will help to increase flexibility and lengthen muscles, or something that you can take slower and take it wherever you like. Try different teachers, classes or with a friend….most of all have FUN with it.
Happy Father’s Day and well wishes,
Yoga and Anxiety
by Crystal Delia
When I first began my physical practice of yoga, I did so for the increased flexibility and strength. I always loved Cirque DuSoleil and my imagination led me to think that yoga would enable me the ability to contort like one of the performers from the show. My practice was inconsistent and at times dangerous because I often attempted advanced asanas without any sort of physical warm up or preparation.
Fast forward and now I am working as a counselor within behavioral health. If you or someone you know has worked in behavioral health, then you understand the lasting effects of burnout. I struggled with anxiety while helping others through their anxiety. Physical movement has always been a healing outlet for me, whether it was Muay Thai, running, hiking, biking or dancing. During and immediately following these activities, I would experience peace and calm. This peace would often last for the remainder of the night or at least until the next stressful trigger presented itself. When I decided to enter yoga teacher training, I did so will the goal of self care and self improvement. My intention was not necessarily to teach but rather a tool I could implement in my counseling profession. Teacher training introduced me to the spiritual practice of yoga and how “my practice” is not just on my mat but always within my being.
What I have learned and experienced is that a regular practice of yoga will increase confidence as your balance improves, your awareness and focus become present and you become stronger. The breath is the most important aspect of your physical practice. As with thoughts, the breath is not easily seen nor touched and though it is always with us, we rarely ever pay attention to it. Anxiety is often a result of internal incongruence, fear and a sense of lacking control of the future, whether immediate or long term. Bringing attention to our breath and practicing pranayama, we learn to become aware of it and even control it. Linking our movements to our breath, as we do in vinyasa, our attention is drawn inward and within the moment we are freed from fear of the future. We may not even notice it when it is happening because we are truly practicing mindfulness! The more we learn to let go of outside triggers and focus on our breath and movement, the more confident we become in our own ability to grow. The more we practice mindfulness, the greater freedom we achieve from anxiety. The feelings we experience during and after a physical practice can continue if we allow our attention to the cleansing breath to continue to heal us throughout the day. The kindness and patience that we begin to show ourselves is naturally experienced by others around us. Energy flows where our attention goes and focusing on our internal selves can be positively energizing and empowering. When we feel empowered and confident, we are better able to care for ourselves as well as others. Practicing mindfulness as we learn in yoga, leaves little room for pestering anxiety to flourish. And in those moments where we might have felt overwhelmed with anxiety, we may now instead experience calm (go figure!) both on and off the mat. Namaste, my friends.
Crystal Delia, MS, LAC, NCC, RYT-200
Slingyasa with Regina
Regina will be leading this special one hour class on Wednesdays starting June 7th at 9:00 AM for the summer. This is an All Level Flow class that will incorporate the use of the Yoga Wall, Ropes & Slings to explore different asanas; focusing on alignment. Open yourself to a whole new level of understanding of your body in postures. The ability to move more freely with the support of the wall/ropes/slings, is a joyful experience! The principle rules of safety when practicing with ropes and slings will be reinforced. Regina has been certified through Alison West, considered one of the most influential yoga teachers, in New York at Yoga Union. Reservations are Required!…as the maximum limit for this class is 5 people in order to maintain highly individualized attention and safety. $15 Drop-In, memberships and packages do not apply. Register online at http://www.breathelifesangha.com or through the Mind Body Connect app on your mobile device.
Teacher Spotlight on:
Crystal began practicing yoga 13 years ago while still living in Queens, NY. As a counselor working in mental health and addictions treatment, she decided to earn her 200hr RYT from Align and Flow as a way to further assist people who are struggling with emotional and behavioral challenges to achieve positive change. Crystal identifies herself as a lover of nature, student of life and a servant to all living beings, volunteering her time with animal rescue and care. She recognizes that both the physical and spiritual practice of yoga are vital to wellness and growth and offers a strengthening vinyasa flow with emphasis on breath and mindfullness. Crystal teaches twice on Saturdays at the studio; 7:30AM Sunrise Salutations and 9:30AM Intermediate. You can also find her teaching beach yoga for Breathe Life Sangha in Lavallette (check the schedule online)!