Men and Yoga

Yoga has a very long list of benefits, both in improving physical and mental health. Now that yoga has entered a more mainstream place in fitness, those benefits are being touted by many people. Men are starting to get the idea that they might see some benefits from a yoga class, and guess what, they totally can. To make your manly first trip to the yoga studio a little easier, here are some idea of what to expect, and ways to come prepared.

Who Will You Find in a Yoga Class

You might have seen a lot of yoga classes in movies and television shows; they show a lot of women who are in great shape, all wearing really tight and revealing clothing. That is only a portion of the type of people that regularly attend yoga classes. You will also find ladies who are working on improving their figure, or they may be large and find yoga gives them more than just a slimmer waist. You might find a fellow dude or even some ladies who are kind of dude-like. The point is, yoga attracts a large audience, and they come from all different walks of life. In your first session, you may feel a little out of place. However, so did everyone else, and you can overcome it.

Beginner classes are going to have an extremely helpful instructor. They are used to having new yogis in their classes and expect to demonstrate and correct even the beginner poses. That is what they are there for, so do not be afraid to ask for help or clarity on the instructions. Check out this 10-minute helpful video by Sean Vigue to get into yoga.

What to Bring and Wear

You will want to check with the studio or gym that is offering the yoga class. Many places have yoga mats available for use, but some don’t and you may need to bring your own. For most beginner classes, a yoga mat is going to be the only yoga specific equipment you will need. A water bottle is something else you are going to want to bring, and if you are a sweaty guy a towel might be good too. Yoga is soothing, but it can still get your blood flowing and your body warm. If you are a beginner then you will definitely find this video demonstration useful.

As for apparel, a simple pair of sweatpants and a comfortable tee should be just fine. You will find a range of clothing for yoga, from yoga pants, well-coordinated, form-fitting outfits to random band tee shirts and loosely fitting slacks.The important part is that you can move easily in what you wear, and
comfort is the king when it comes to many things in the yoga studio.

You may feel like your presence is strange in a yoga class, but that is something that evaporates quickly. Most of it is in your mind, and you can expect pretty much anyone to join a yoga class. Wear something comfortable and you can move freely in, and bring an open mind. You will find that your awkwardness goes away quickly once you get moving. Try it out, get into it, and reap the benefits that yoga can bring you.

Read More

How to do the Perfect Alignment Downward Facing Dog

 

 

Almost all yogis are familiar with downward facing dog. It’s a very popular pose and has sort of become the “go-to” pose in the world of yoga. There are many styles of yoga that can fit most people’s desires and are able to accommodate most people’s goals, but it does leave a lot of room for variation. When trying to learn how to perfect your downward facing dog, it can be hard if you are jumping from teacher to teacher since they will probably give you slightly different instructions. In today’s article, you will learn how to do the perfect downward facing dog in the alignment-based/Iyengar style.

Getting into Downward Facing Dog

You can get into downward facing dog in multiple ways, but two of the most common ones are starting from a forward fold and starting on your hands and knees (table top pose). Today, we are focusing on how to properly practice downward facing dog from a table top pose. It’s important to know that no matter what pose you start in, you should be moving into downward facing dog on an exhalation.

When starting from the table top position, you want to start by making sure your hands are directly underneath each shoulder and that each knee is planted directly underneath each hip. You will also need to check that your feet and ankles are in-line with your knees; everything should be square to the front of your mat. Tuck your toes under so that your toe pads are touching the mat and make sure your hands are firmly pressing into the mat as well. Your neck needs to be in-line with your back; you should be looking towards the floor underneath your head. This is the position you will move from into downward dog.

 

The Basic Alignment-Based Downward Facing Dog

As you exhale, press into your hands and feet while straightening your legs. Your hips will be up to the sky; like the top of a triangle. This is the basic downward facing dog pose. Since you are reading all of this, obviously you don’t want a basic downward facing dog.

The Perfect Alignment-Based Downward Facing Dog

While you are in the basic downward facing dog position, here are a few other things to make you stand out. Let’s start with your arms. Make sure your elbows are in-line with your hands and shoulders; avoid hyperextension. However, if your arms do not go perfectly straight, that is completely normal. Some people’s bone structure is not made to fully straighten at the elbows. Next, focus on your shoulders; make sure they are strong and pulled away from your ears. Your spine should be straight all the way from your tailbone through the crown of your head. You should be looking between the ground and your shoulders when your head is at a neutral position. Your legs should be straight, but if it is too much of a strain, you can bend them slightly. Lastly, stretch your heels towards the floor; even if they do not reach. Just like with elbows, some people’s bone structure is not made to be able to touch the floor; it’s totally fine.

 

That’s a lot of pointers, but if you focus on just one tip a week, you will have a perfect alignment-based downward facing dog in no time. Good luck!

Read More

Laughter Yoga

Laughter yoga is a new form of yoga that promotes the use of laughter as a form of physical exercise. It doesn’t seem like a physical exercise but it is! Yoga is typically a quiet and meditative practice so it may seem odd to have a style of yoga that is so loud. Below is further information regarding this new form of yoga.

Background

Laughter yoga was created in India in the mid-1990’s. It quickly spread resulting in community laughter clubs that promote a non-political, non-religious, non-threatening, non-racial, non-competitive and happy environment. Everyone knows how to laugh so it’s not an intimidating form of practice which is why it quickly gained followers. You don’t have to tell jokes, have a sense of humor, or even be happy to practice laughter yoga. It invites people to laugh for no reason; to fake it until it becomes real.

Benefits

Laughter yoga is not just some random crazy idea; it actually provides a lot of benefits to the body. Laughing strengthens all of your immune systems functions, brings more oxygen to your brain, and can invoke positive feelings. Laughing releases serotonin, which makes you feel more positive and happy. When your body is not feeling the best or you are feeling down, laughter is often the best kind of medicine.

Breath

Even though laughter and yoga seem like they are the complete opposites, they actually have one thing in common; breath. Laughter yoga teaches pranayama (Yogic breathing) exercises as a way to relax the mind and body in between laughter exercises. Yoga teaches the mind and body to work together by linking the two with breath. Breathing techniques help to calm the mind and body and allow you to simply live in the present moment. The rotation between the bursts of laughter and calming breathing results in a mentally and physically clearing practice.

Practice

Laughter Yoga classes are led by a laughter leader who gives commands to start and complete different laughter exercises. The leader guides the practitioners through their laughter journey. During class, practitioners keep moving while establishing eye contact with others in the group. The class is focused on enjoyment rather than force. It creates a very childlike atmosphere that promotes youthful thinking among practitioners.

Laughter yoga might seem silly, but that’s because it is! Life is often taken too seriously and this style of yoga allows people to let loose and have fun. If you need a therapeutic break from the adult world, this is the perfect yoga class for you. Check out this video to learn some of the most popular laughing exercises!

Read More