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The Men’s Guide to Yoga
The Origin of Yoga
Yoga traces back well over 3,000 years between 1000-500 BCE in the Vedic period, hailed from India. Practices of this fine art were written in the Vedas or scriptures of Hinduism; it was used as of means to surpass and calm the limitations of the mind by uniting ones consciousness, body and spirit. The term ‘Yoga” comes from the word “yuj” which means “unity”; unity of the mind and body as one. Yoga has been heavily practiced ever since from Asia to the Americas. In the last 5-10 years yoga has spread like wild fire and has far exceeded fitness trends such like kettle bell training, plyometrics and extremely fitness programs like Tony Horton’s P90x. There has been a consistent increase over the years of students, teachers, and class sizes. There also has been an increase in the amount of men who have become interested in this art. Whether it be because of physical enlightenment or to gander at the opposite sex; this exercise has transformed many and maintained repeat participants. More men have also become very health conscience, due to an increase in busy work schedules, unhealthy foods and ongoing stress and anxiety disorders. There are well over one hundred different techniques that are practiced around the world and continue to grow each year; however the most common are listed below along with level of difficulty.
The Common types of Yoga
Ashtanga/Power Yoga – Also known as Vinyasa yoga, Passed down by yoga teacher Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, this is an intermediate to advanced style of yoga that encompasses a series of poses performed in unison with breathing at a relatively fast pace. This improves circulation as well as detoxifies the body.
Bikram/Hot Yoga – Created by Bikram Choudhury, this is an intermediate to advanced style of yoga that is practiced in a room heated from 90°F -100°F. The heat coupled with an intense series of 26 poses or less helps to loosen muscles and detoxify the body as you sweat. The class lasts for 60-90 minutes in length, and is well worth the experience.
Hatha/Raja – Created by Yogi Swatmarama; also known as Classical Yoga. This technique is a slow paced style of yoga coupled with meditation and breathing techniques and is ideal for beginners.
Iyengar – Created by B. K. S. Iyengar this style of yoga is similar to Hatha/Raja however emphasizes an advanced holding of poses for longer periods and sanctions the use of props to help align the body and get the most out of the pose. Props consist of: Yoga blocks, straps, and blankets. The main focus is to correct posture and align the body.
Kundalini – This yoga technique is superbly advanced. The main focus is to develop awareness by channelling energy thus improving ones consciousness and character. This is done by holding positions coupled with breathing techniques and possible chanting. The main idea is to channelling all seven of the body’s chakras.
Moksha Hot Yoga – Moksha is an advanced concept of self realization of the psyche and one’s self. This is a realization rather than a particular style. Moksha hot yoga is conducted in a heated room much like Bikram hot yoga however is greater in series of poses ultimately loosening muscles, detoxifying the body and regaining self awareness in the world
Viniyoga – Developed by Sri T. Krishnamacharya and his son T.K.V. Desikachar. This style of yoga embodies a philosophy of focusing on the present and progressing to ones capabilities. State of mind is at ease eliminating any or all tendencies of negative thought. Classes are usually on a personalized individual basis between student and guru. This style of yoga is ideal for all difficulty levels; beginner, Intermediate and advanced.
Just as there are various techniques of yoga there are also many benefits to this art form which provide more than relaxation and improved health. Below is a list of benefits to consider if you are unsure whether or not yoga is right for you.
The Benefits of Yoga
Relieves stress & improves mental focus as well as concentration
Improves muscle tone and strength
Aides in weight loss
Improves flexibility & range of motion
Improves production & release of endorphins which balance the mind
Improves sexual performance
Reduces muscle fatigue & risk of muscle injury
Improves mood & well being
Flushes your system
Improves cardiovascular and respiratory efficiency
Improves endurance & energy levels
Improves immune system function
Improves balance & strengthens balance receptors
You can choose which yoga style suits your needs, click on the link below to see the directory for different yoga classes and studios available in Canada. This resource is a great hub to check out, simply just click on the link and take a look at yogadirectorycanada.com.
Written by: Michael de Freitas