Is Yoga just for Chics?

Ummm NO.

One of the most prevalent yoga myths is that yoga is only for women. This is honestly one of the craziest myths – especially considering that ancient yoga was a male-dominated practice. It was created for 14-year-old boys people!! Women were not even able to practice it. Now that being said, the West has changed yoga in a plethora of ways; some may say it better, some may say it has lost its way.

I digress…

Why do men believe this idea that yoga is just for women? I don’t know, maybe it has something to do with mainstream media highlighting women in fancy yoga poses. I see why men have the idea it must be for skinny young chics but come on, we know what you see in social media is not reality.

A few other reasons they may have not boarded the yoga train: yoga isn’t a good enough workout for men; it’s too touchy-feely; you have to be flexible beforehand, and men’s bodies aren’t naturally built for these poses.

Let me make this very clear: yoga offers a tremendous array of benefits for everyone. That certainly includes our dudes.

Unfortunately, this myth leads to a disappointing statistic: of the 20 million Americans who practice yoga, less than 18% of them are men. At Yoga Fever, we have plenty of men who show up on their mats day after day. But if you’ve never given it a try, I urge you to read on to discover the many benefits of overcoming this myth. Then, pop in to try your first yoga class!

3 Great Reasons to Give Yoga a Try

Yoga extends your muscles’ range of motion: Men typically target a select group of muscles at the gym, including hamstrings, glutes, abs, and shoulders. However, these muscles can only be trained so far. And, when exercised too heavily, they can become injured. However, yoga uses your natural body weight and resistance to build lean muscle mass, which improves blood flow and helps your muscles recover faster. I highly recommend complementing your gym exercises with a regular yoga practice.

Yoga provides a full spectrum of health: Unlike most male fitness regimes, yoga views health as more than visible muscle strength. And that’s because yoga strengthens more than just the physical body. It also teaches you to calm your mind and open your heart, leading to pain-free movement, increased flexibility, and decreased symptoms of anxiety, depression, and rage.

Yoga melts away your damaging competitive spirit: While this is certainly common in women too, men are often especially haunted by an intense spirit of competition. Yoga teaches you to keep your eyes – and focus – on your own mat. All that is asked of you is that you show up willing to respect the needs of your body, knowing that your worth has nothing to do with the person next to you.

Tips for Men Starting Yoga

Don’t force the movement: Many men have a gift of strength, but a tendency to work their body too hard, ignoring pain and discomfort. When you step on your mat, I encourage you to identify the difference between sensation and pain, learning when to modify to protect your body.

Focus on what’s working: You may not feel comfortable in certain poses, but powerful and masterful in others. Know that yoga is a practice where you have permission to take what you need. There will be no drill Sargent barking orders or requiring you to do anything you’re uncomfortable with!

Set aside your competitive spirit: As I mentioned before, know that you might not be the best yogi in the room. It’s time to get accustomed to that. The only thing you should be worried about is improving your own practice. And, sometimes, you may have to take a step backward before making progress.

Dump your belief that you must already be flexible: Thinking you have to be flexible to try yoga is like saying you have to be in shape to go to the gym or know how to cook to take a cooking class. The truth is, practicing yoga regularly will help you become more flexible over time.

Yoga truly is a strong, energetic, and challenging workout. But too many men never make it past that first-class or even show up at all. You may enter your first class as a skeptic, but I promise if you give it a few tries you’ll leave a sweaty convert! Oh, and one more tip—— yoga will improve your golf game by a mile. Now……who’s with me?

photo courtesy of wandering soul collective

Building a Toned Body through Yoga

Summer is here and that means ice cream, gorgeous sunsets, and…bathing suit weather. EEK!! Some of us are ready to show off our bikini-ready bodies, while others downright dread bathing suit season and just opt for the one-piece with the cover-up instead. What I notice is that the older I get, the harder it is to shape my midsection. Due to metabolism slowing down as we age, it takes extra attention on my part to eat healthily, and work out my body as a whole. For this reason, I LOVE teaching quintessential core strength practices and I love practicing them as well. If you long for a lean, graceful body, there’s no better way to achieve it than through a consistent yoga practice (keyword being consistent).

Many of us desire a strong, toned body. Contracting our muscles over and over again can cause the DOM’s (delayed onset muscle soreness) and pain if we don’t train mindfully. Beginners, as well as people who have never practiced, often think of yoga as a way to stretch and relax. This is partially true, of course, depending on the type of class and practice you are taking; however, a number of poses in Vinyasa classes require you to lift your own body weight. Think: Crow, arm balances and Plank poses. Yoga is the ultimate release and realignment tool because it not only builds strength but also sculpts a toned, sleek physique.

To build leg muscle:

Focus on poses that require standing for a longer amount of time. The Warrior poses (Virabhadrasanas in sanskrit) all strengthen your hamstrings and quadriceps, while also working on the rotation of the thighs, which is a serious challenge. Goddess pose (squats) build strength in the glutes & knee joint. Chair pose works your core, hip flexors, ankles, and calves (try chair up against a wall – -prepare for a super burn in the quad!). Tree pose stretches your thighs, while also strengthening your ankles.

To build core strength:

There are plenty of yoga poses that work your abdominal muscles. Plank pose and core planks are some of the best exercises for your core, especially as you work to hold it longer and longer. One of the most important tips to building strength in your core center is keeping the core engaged through the entire practice. Think of your 2 hip points like headlights shining forward. Now, it’s as if you were trying to draw those 2 hips points together to allow the headlights to cross at the navel. The abdominals draw toward one another and remain engaged throughout practice. We will continue to remind you to find a strong center as we often get lost with the other technicalities of the pose. Boat pose (Navasana in sanskrit) and low boat pose (Ardha Navasana) are also classic core yoga poses. Try mixing it up with some boat variations like twisting side to side or rocking your legs lower and higher, straightening your legs for a teaser. Power chair, leg raises, bicycle crunches and Locust are also great core poses. There’s seriously SO many core exercises to utilize in a yoga practice that it would be impossible to list them all.

To build arm strength:

When you’re ready to train your arms, try these poses. Side Plank (Vashistasana in sanskrit) requires you to support your body weight with only one arm, which works your shoulders and wrists. Crow pose is the one many people consider scary or impossible. With practice (and guidance) you’ll be able to master this fun asana. In fact, it is usually the first arm balance that we learn as beginners. The first time you reach Crow successfully, it’s like-whoa. — I can’t believe I didn’t face plant!

Each of these poses may feel like it’s targeting a specific part of your body. However, they actually require the use of multiple muscles at the same time. For example, side plank may make your arms quiver, but your obliques will hurt the next day too. Compound movements filtered into our Yoga Fever classes make building strength a more efficient reality because we encourage alignment and muscular engagement. It’s truly key to building strength and flexibility quickly. If you’re just moving your body from pose to pose without being cued how to engage and where, you are missing the Navasana (boat)!

As you can see, yoga is a great practice for building a lean, toned body. And all of these benefits are yours for the taking. But, don’t forget that like any exercise regimen, it takes work and commitment. Practicing yoga once or twice a week is just not going to cut it. Sadly, you’ll lose the physical advantage you gained and will take a step back if you miss too many days.

So if you’re still hoping to work on your summer beach bod, good for you! It’s definitely not too late. All you gotta do is check out our yoga class schedule to find the days and time slots that you can commit to. We can’t wait to help you build strength and physical fitness – along with the many other benefits of this glorious practice that we call YOGA.

Spice Up Your Yoga Practice

Have you ever felt like skipping right to savasana before yoga class even starts? Do you find your mind wandering during class or that you’re anxious to get to the next pose? You may need a yoga reboot.

Spring is officially here, my yogi brothers and sisters. And that means new life is everywhere. It’s the perfect time to spice up your yoga practice and return to that place where yoga is the highlight of your day. We have a few suggestions on how to breathe new life (literally) into your yoga practice. Read on and then get moving!!

Bring a Friend

Though yoga isn’t necessarily a social activity, finding a yoga buddy is a great way to add some fun to your practice. Whether you already have a friend interested in joining you, or you find someone who tends to go to the same weekly classes as you, your yoga pal can hold you accountable to show up on the mat several times each week and even enhance the bond you have with one another. Afterwards, grab a local brew or smoothie and discuss what you enjoyed, struggled with, or would like to try next time.

Set Goals

An easy way to break the monotony of your yoga practice is to constantly set new goals, whether physically or mentally. If you’re finding yourself dragging, maybe it’s time to experiment with a pose that’s always frightened you (always honoring your body’s ability, of course). One of the challenges of life is really to conquer our fears so why not bring that aspect to our mat? Take baby steps, but you may be surprised what your body can do once you set your mind to it. We are good at what we do a lot of, so practicing the goal pose once a day will not only begin to build your confidence, but it will enrich your overall yoga practice. Maybe your yoga goals are more breath and mind related. If so, spend time each day practicing breath techniques and meditation using guides, focal points, or just a good ol’ fashion sit and watch – sit in a crossed legged position and watch what thoughts enter your mind.

Move your Mat

It may sound silly, but simply practicing in a new part of the studio can change your practice and your perspective. Most of the population loves routine; we sit in the same desks at school, eat lunch at the same time at work, and drive the same roads to our house. When we place our mat in a new location, we can activate different physical and mental reactions to certain poses or find a new line of sight to our teacher.

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change” – Dr. Wayne Dyer

Challenge your Intention

If you’re a yoga veteran, you’re used to the teacher asking students to set an intention before class. Often this is a positive word or phrase that serves as your motivation for the practice. For example, you might set your intention as “determination.” You’ll then try to stretch a little farther in each pose or hold plank just a bit longer. You might also use your breath to focus on the negative things in your life that you can’t control. With each exhale, give yourself the permission to surrender that worry, doubt and fear and let it go. When we let go of things we can’t control, we reserve valuable energy, time and space for new creativity, awareness and life.

If you are seasoned, and are ready to move past a simple intention, you could set  what we in the yoga world call a ‘sankalpa’. A sankalpa is a specific intention written by you, for you and used before, during and after your practice (or really whenever you want to find time to focus on your hearts desires). The idea of repeating a sankalpa is to create the life we are meant to enjoy and embrace. The sankalpa is impressed on the subconscious, planting the seed of manifestation in our soul. It must come from your mind,  your heart, and your hopes and dreams.

Specific intentions and sankalpas give you something to focus on other than what you’re making for dinner or the to-do list you still have to tackle later that day. They’re something you can come back to whenever you find your mind drifting or you want to center yourself.

Try a New Class

If you’re like me, you probably attend the same vinyasa yoga class(es) weekly because they fit your schedule. Maybe you swing by after work or once you drop your kids off at school. It’s easy to get in the routine of only attending the same time slot or style of class. Try switching it up whenever possible by mixing in our Hot Flow, Gentle Flow,  Slow Flow or a Warm Lunch Flow (with less sweat & humidity/heat). Try a new teacher, or substitute. Their style, energy, and lesson plans will force you to hone in on the instructor’s cues. The key ingredient is you are forced to pay attention. When you pay attention, you permeate the membrane of the present moment and you are here now (YES!!).

At Yoga Fever, we also offer private lessons designed specifically to meet your needs. Maybe you need to learn to modify your practice while recovering from an injury, or want some extra guidance either because you’re a beginner or experimenting with a new pose. In a private lesson, you receive one-on-one attention right from the owner or a teacher of your choice. There’s a ton of flexibility to practice what you’re interested in – with a heated or non-heated class. If an individual class isn’t for you, grab a group of friends for one of our private group classes or check out one of our workshops.

Why Men Should Do Yoga

Yoga is not just a sport for women

Fact: Yoga was originally designed for men. Yes, it’s true. Ashtanga was designed for 14-year-old boys many many moons ago. Women were not even allowed to practice yoga back in the day. Of course, times have changed. When yoga moved to the west it became female-dominated with men taking a back seat. However, the number of men rolling out their mats is growing by leaps and bounds each year.

Here are a few reasons why  yoga for men is beneficial:

You will gain flexibility

Fellas, with more flexibility you will be able to play recreational sports with ease. Practicing yoga will not only help with flexibility but also your range of motion, both of which can prevent sports injuries.

You will gain strength

For men that think yoga is girly, you should come try one of our hot yoga classes! Asanas or postures require a type of strength you cannot get in the gym. Yoga provides a ‘whole body’ work out that fires up your stabilizer muscles while you isometrically contract and strengthen the major muscle groups.

You will feel better

Yoga will help you in all aspects of your life. It will help you tame your inner beast and enhance your ability to focus. You may become less reactive to stressful situations with a stronger connection to peace of mind.  Yoga will harmonize the dimensions of your life including your relationships and your job. The act of mindfulness can help us deal with emotions we may otherwise internalize.

You may not be super bendy and hyper-mobile after your first yoga class. However, with a little patience, it will pay off with time.