As a healing therapy yoga has proven beneficial for a wide range of physical conditions, but when misaligned postures and hyper-extended stretches push the body beyond its limits the practice hurts more than it helps. It is important to note that when taught by an instructor with a sound understanding of anatomy and physiology asanas are considered to be some of the safest and most gentle of exercises. In the vast practice known as yoga, which includes many different styles both old and new, there is plenty of room for anatomical error.
How did I go from being a 5’10”, 285-lb borderline pre-diabetic, to 5’11″ (Yes, I grew an inch!), and, as of this writing, 259 lbs, looking a feeling better than I ever have in my life? In a nutshell, I embraced yoga and plant-based eating.
So, for almost 12 years I only practiced yoga for exercise. I do live an active life, and have mostly had jobs that require an amount of labor, so yoga has not been the only thing to keep me moving. However, when faced with the idea of lifting weights, or adding in a regular “cardio” session, I always turned it down. After all, “yoga is all I need” or so I thought. Lifting body weight, and doing vinyasa flow (including Ashtanga Primary Series) seemed to cover those bases, 3-4 yoga classes per week gave me plenty of activity to increase and maintain flexibility, as well as maintain a healthy body. But I did tend to have about a 10 pound weight swing every 2 years or so, and each year, it seemed like it was becoming more and more challenging to ‘right the ship’. So on my 39th birthday, I thought it was time to do something different, and try something new. What would it be like to add in some weight and/or resistance training on a regular basis? Would I lose flexibility? Would my binds become less available because of increased muscle mass? Wasn’t yoga “enough”? It was time to try and see. After all, one of the reasons us yoga teachers want others to practice is to increase performance in other physical activities! As a yoga teacher, I would surely benefit by having some personal evidence to back this up.
Eastern medicine such as TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic Medicine) suggest that cleansing during the transitions of seasons is crucial. Ayurveda points out that the windows of transition, the natural progression from one season to another is September (from summer to fall), January (from winter to spring) and May (from spring to summer.) If you’re not able to do all 3 then at least the spring time is the best time. Continue reading
A visual study/exploration of the body in motion with a focus on yoga poses.
Our goal for this piece was to create a realistic representation of radiological (x-ray) imaging.
Instead of just creating a still image, however, we wanted to combine the beautiful moves of yoga with this new visual approach to bring the full human skeleton to life.
Technical challenges included aspects such as achieving proper bone densities and representing actual bone marrow inside each individual bone.
via Hybrid Medical
I’ve lived my life based on the notion of keeping things “real”. In other words, working with what I’ve got from where I’m at. Little did I know that that kind of thinking is actually Yogic in nature: never knew I was a philosophy kinda guy. I also have this tendency to tell it like it is, call a spade a spade: I think you get the picture.
Since I began my Yoga practice I’ve noted a few things here and there out in the Yoga world; specifically, things that come into play when I’m on my own mat in a self-practice or leading a class.
Without labeling things that give rise to the Ego, here’s a topic that really hit home in a class recently and I figured I’d share it here.
Restorative Yoga is something that I’ve become a huge fan of over the last year. I find that it’s a terrific complement to the more powerful vinyasa practices that I do. Often in fact, I take breaks from doing any vinyasa flows and just stick with Restorative for a week or two depending on how I’m feeling and what else I have going on in my life.
Looking for a strong 75 minute practice video? Mark Gonzales takes you through the paces to get you focused, strong and controlled. This is a challenging sequence that will strengthen you from the inside out and will test beginners and more experienced yogis alike. But if you are a beginner, Mark shows you the modifications and variations you’ll need to customize the practice to your needs.
Charlie Samos guides us through a fast take on the shoulders, hips and hamstrings. Moving between yoga poses that open the shoulders and ones that open the hips, hamstrings, and the whole leg in general, this short sequence is great for guys who are experiencing tension in the shoulders, neck, or hips and hamstrings.
Athletes and runners in particular may benefit from this sequence, and as always, take your time, move slowly and remember to breathe.
Something that I’ve been working on a lot in my own practice as of late is “floating”. Floating is done frequently in Ashtanga yoga but it’s also something that can be added to any yoga asana practice. Floating requires deep core strength, focus, and economical and efficient use of alignment. But even more importantly, proper and smooth floating demands that you get in touch with Mula bandha and Uddiyana bandha as learning to connect the bandhas together will add lightness and lift to your movement.
One of the most common questions we get at Yoga for Men is “How can I begin my home Yoga practice?” While there are many answers to this broad question, the solution varies greatly depending upon which stage of practice you are in, and what your prior physical history has been up until this point. While I’m not going to get too deep and throw a bunch of Sanskrit words at you…yet, I do ask that you give your Yoga practice an honest effort and keep an open mind to possibility.
Recently, I was asked by someone as to what to expect from his first yoga class. This person, oh, I’ll call him…”Wayne”, really wants to go down the yoga rabbit hole so to speak, but he’s intimidated by thought of being splayed-out, sweaty and inflexible in front of a room full of strangers, uncertain as to what posture to do next, or if he’d even be ABLE to do whatever posture comes next.
Yeah, I get that. Totally.
Strength. Wisdom. Grace.
Each of these portraits embody all of these characteristics. Strength and flexibility for the posture combined with a gracefulness that comes from a quiet mind. Self awareness, patience, and inner wisdom are powerfully present with each photograph.
I am interested in focusing my series on male yogis simply because the current mainstream view of yoga is that it’s for women. The majority of magazines and advertisements for the yoga industry feature women in beautiful, elegant, and enviable poses. I want to show how elegant, graceful as well as masculine men can look while practicing yoga.