I’m a yogi.
No, I am “not your average kind of bear”.
A yogi is a practitioner of yoga. What is commonly known as “yoga” can be more accurately described by the Sanskrit word “asana” which refers to the practice of physical postures or “poses”. Many people think that yoga is about stretching the body. In actual fact, yoga is really about creating balance in the body through developing both strength and flexibility. This is done through performing a series of poses or postures, each of which has specific physical benefits. The poses can be done quickly in succession, creating heat in the body through this movement (known as vinyasa-style yoga) or more slowly to help improve stamina and to perfect the pose.
Yoga is a practice. While many of the yoga poses are repeated, the practice of yoga is always evolving and changing, bringing with it variety and challenge. It never really gets boring. It is non-competitive and encourages the liberation of the ego. Everyone who practices is doing their own thing and not focusing on the person next to them.
Breathing, chanting and meditation are often part of the practice of yoga along with inspirational readings provided by the yoga instructor.
Ok…that’s the essence of yoga. Here’s my take on it.
I am 45 years old and I have been practicing for only about 4 years and I absolutely love it. There are many reasons why I was drawn to yoga, continue to practice it and hope to keep with it for as long as I can. The first time I set foot inside the yoga studio, I went with my wife, at her suggestion (I was not forced). Our studio is very close to home so lame excuses were impossible to make up. Not knowing what to expect, I thought I would see a room filled with “koom-bya, granola-eating hippies” But, the sights were absolutely incredible! Imagine a room filled most young, green-tea drinking, Lululemon-wearing lean, toned bodies and me! I have never seen so many sublime looking rear-ends in one place (for the record, yes, my wife was one of them…she too, has a terrific looking behind…you do, honey…believe me!)
As I got into the practice, I noticed a couple of other things. First off, it’s freakin’ hard! Anyone who says yoga is easy, has never tried it. It’s impossible to not break a good sweat. I work extremely hard during my practice and feel incredibly relaxed and invigorated after each class.
Yoga is also about leaving your ego at the door. That is probably why so few men practice yoga. There is nothing competitive about yoga. It’s all about trying your best and not beating yourself up because you struggled with a certain pose. Each class brings a different experience on the mat. Some days, I go through the practice with relative ease and then there are other days where each posture seems impossible. Yoga is about coming to the mat, focusing on being in the moment (both in body and mind) and trying your absolute best.
I have also been exposed to some pretty awesome music. I have been fortunate to have a couple of yoga instructors who clearly want to make the class a complete and calming experience. As a result, I have spent a fortune on ITunes downloading all the cool, ambient, peaceful tunes I hear during my practice that my wife and I also enjoy at home.
The last pose of each practice is called “savasna” or “corpse-pose”. Some instructor’s call “savasna” the most difficult pose. It’s my favorite pose, one I really look forward to. As the name implies, you simply lie on your back, still, like a corpse and release your practice. This is the time for your body to totally relax and begin to recover from the practice. This is the easy part. The challenge is in letting your mind be completely devoid of any thought. But as is the case with yoga, its all about being present, body and mind, in the moment and not letting your thoughts go anywhere else. After working so hard at the practice, it’s really a wonderful pose to experience because you just get to chill-out for a few minutes on your back.
There are a lot of poses that I have yet to master, many I have never even tried, a few I highly doubt I will ever be able to do. But that’s ok. I am going at my own pace. Simply coming to the mat and finding an hour or two a couple of times a week, is half the battle. But, striving to become “enlightened male”, I know it’s worth the effort because of how incredibly calm, relaxed and centred I feel at the end of each practice…..regardless of my efforts on the mat.
Have you ever tried yoga? What has your experience been like? Have you ever thought about trying yoga? What is holding you back? Share your thoughts…what have you got to lose?