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Can you remember what you were passionate about at age 10? Bike rides? Video games? Beach fun? For Kauai native Kailani Hart, it’s “living the yogic way,” and she is currently the youngest 200-hour RYT instructor in the U.S. Hart started her training at Buti Yoga headquarters in Scottsdale, Ariz. and completed her training last fall in Kona under the tutelage of Buti yoga founder Bizzie Gold and master trainer Tara Winterhalter.

Yoga is a family legacy — her mother and grandparents were also yoga teachers — but Hart’s mission goes beyond sharing yoga with the world. A vegan, animal lover, and environmentalist, she also spreads the virtue of living gently on this planet. For more on her service mission, check out her YouTube vlog series, “Rainbow World,” which chronicles a family trip to six states in a month without consuming any plastic.

What kind of yoga do you teach?

I am trained to teach vinyasa and Buti Yoga. I currently teach a weekly class I named “Aloha Ohana” in Hanalei, Kauai.  It is a family yoga class with both keiki and their families. 

How do you teach yoga?

I teach my yoga classes with enthusiasm to remind the students that yoga isn’t only being serious in the pose, but about having fun throughout the class. I teach using stories, crystals, cards, pranayama, asanas, dance, games, partner, and even acro yoga. At the end of every class we all lie down in savasana. During this time, we calm our bodies and minds and focus on our breathing. To close every class, we all sit in half lotus or lotus, hold our hands in a mudra, and recite “The Shanti Path.”

Why do you teach yoga?

I teach yoga to make other people feel happy and calm. I enjoy teaching my family and friends, and in turn, they enjoy practicing yoga with me. I learned that my great-grandmother and great-grandfather practiced yoga and taught my mother.  She started teaching yoga when she was 22, and also taught while I was growing in her belly. She then started teaching a class for families and my friends, and I have been learning from her since we were babies. I knew I wanted to carry on the legacy of teaching yoga. 

Who is your favorite yoga teacher?

My favorite yoga teacher is Tara Winterhalter from Fall River, Mass. I like her classes because they are energetic, super-fun, the flow is great, and — I love the dancing part. Of course, my other favorite teacher is my mom. She encourages me to try my best without pushing too hard. She likes to smile and make others smile while in class. She’s playful and makes everything fun. When I was little, she used to make up yoga stories and we would do postures to the stories. The yoga games and stories I grew up with still make me smile when we teach them now. 

Do you live what you teach?

My Aloha Ohana yoga classes are donation-based, and the money goes to animal welfare here on Kauai.  I think this virtue of “giving” is exactly what I teach in yoga. Ahimsa — one of the principles in The Eight Limbs of Yoga — means non-violence. I teach peace in my class, I do not eat meat, and I like to help animals. So yes, I try my best to live what I teach. 

Can you laugh at yourself?

I can so laugh at myself! I love to get goofy. My mom and I put on records and make silly dances together that makes us both laugh. I also like to pull silly pranks on our parents with my friends. Every Wednesday is prank day, and we all laugh so hard. 

Did you fall in love with yoga your first time?

I don’t actually remember the first time I did yoga. But I do remember being little and falling down quite a bit. I would get a little frustrated but would get back up again. I actually really remember climbing on my mom when she would do yoga, and I loved that! 

Do you remember when you thought you could teach yoga? 

I remember when I wasn’t sure that I could actually teach adults. I had been teaching kids for a few years already but that wasn’t hard because I felt comfortable in front of them. When it was time to teach adults, I was a little intimidated. But then I thought, “I really know what I am doing.” After that, I was able to do it, and felt really good about my hard work. Everyone was happy for me; that made me feel happy. 

Why do you think some people would be intimidated by yoga? 

I think people are sometimes intimidated because of the really challenging postures. When there are so many images out there of yogis doing hard poses, people may be afraid to try yoga. I think we all have to remember that yoga is good for everyone, and we all look amazing within our own practice.

What is your advice for yoga students?

I think it’s important to always stay calm. Not just in yoga poses but in real life as well, when you find yourself at your edge, just breath through it. Recently, my band — The Flying Phoenix — played in front of the whole school, and we were nervous. I taught them the pranayama (breathing) technique of nadi shodana (the “rainbow breath”), and it helped calm us down. We were then able to play music with a balanced mind. 

What is your approach to yoga?

My approach is to be playful and fun. The more we can all laugh and smile together, the better. I use yoga a lot in real-world scenarios, such as at school. When there are a lot of distractions, I know I can practice pranayama, and that the calming breath will help. I also follow the yogi code of ethics to help me live a good life.

If one continues to practice what benefits can they receive? 

As people continue to do yoga they are able to breath through the challenges that occur in life. They also get the benefits of being more flexible in the body and mind. 

What do you find rewarding about being a yoga instructor?

I really like being able to help as many people as possible be calm and happy in their lives. By being a yoga instructor, I can teach tools that have been used for over 6,000 years to help people with their mind, body and spirit. 

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Yoga Hawaii Magazine by Administrator - 2w ago
What is a chakra?

Each of the many energy centers in the body is called a chakra. In Sanskrit, chakra means “wheel” or “circle.” You have seven major chakras in your body, all located along your spine. These chakras function like hubs of information and expression, affecting everything from your physical movements to subtle emotions and energy vibrations.

According to yogic texts, energy flows through the human body in three major channels, or nāḍīs. These major nāḍīs are: suṣumṇā, pingalā and iḍā. At each intersection of these major nāḍīs is one of the seven major chakras (there are numerous minor chakras located throughout the body).

These major nāḍīs turn the chakra “wheels” by their circulation of prāṇa. Often translated as “breath,” prāṇa is the life force energy that flows through us all. When prāṇa flow is uneven, the chakra energy is disturbed, out of balance, either overacting or underacting.

Where are the seven major chakras?

Located along the spine, the seven major chakras correspond to nerve plexuses in the body, to the endocrine system, to the cardiovascular system, and more.

Here are the seven major chakras and their physical locations:

1   Root chakra

Coccygeal plexus, pelvic floor, colon, connected to the legs.

2   Sacral plexus chakra

Sacrum, low back/belly muscles, reproductive organs.

3   Solar plexus chakra

Abdominal muscles, stomach, kidneys, adrenal glands.

4   Heart chakra

Heart, upper chest/back muscles, thymus gland.

5   Throat chakra

Throat, vocal cords, neck muscles, thyroid gland.

6   Third eye chakra

Forehead, facial/scalp muscles, pituitary gland, brain.

7  Crown chakra

Top of head, above spine, non-physical location.

Where are the three major nāḍīs?

1. Suṣumṇā nāḍī — the central channel, situated inside the spinal column; also called brahma nāḍī

2. Pingalā nāḍī — starts in the right nostril, moves up to the crown of the head and criss-crosses down the spine to the tailbone; also called sūrya nāḍī

3. Iḍā nāḍī — starts in the left nostril, also moves up to the crown of the head and criss-crosses down the spine to the tailbone, exactly opposite pingalā nāḍī; also called chandra nāḍī, or candra nāḍī

Why are chakras important to yogāsana practice?

In yogāsana practice (the practice of physical postures), we stimulate and express all chakras. However, I’ve chosen to focus mainly on three chakras to provide a clear jumping-off point for further exploration. These chakras are: svādhiṣṭhāna (the reproductive center), maṇipūra (the solar plexus), and anāhata (the heart center).

These three chakras are often regarded common sites of imbalance in many people. Focusing on healing and strengthening these three chakras while practicing yogāsana is a wonderful way to support your connection to the subtle energies of your body.

Svādhiṣṭhāna

This chakra is located in the low belly, low back region, above and including the reproductive organs. This includes the lumbar spine and connected muscles.

Physically, this energy center guides the deep abdominal muscles, the sex organs and the hips. Energetically, this chakra guides creativity, deep-seated emotions and close relationships.

When svādhiṣṭhāna chakra is functioning in balance, creative and sexual energy abound, the emotional body is open and responsive, and relationships are clear and nourishing. When this area is challenged, the energy lags, libido drops, the emotional body becomes guarded, and the hips tense up.

Possible causes of svādhiṣṭhāna dysfunction include: tension in the hips or low back due to movement patterns or injury, sexual or reproductive trauma, emotional hardship, or challenges in relationships with close friends or family.

Keep svādhiṣṭhāna balanced by stimulating the muscles in the area with swirling, freeing movements and strength-building exercises. To calm this energy center, use standing balance poses to help cultivate stability and containment. Encourage students to release judgments and inhibitions when working with this area, being mindful that this release may be difficult, sudden, and/or painful.

Maṇipūra

Maṇipūra chakra is located in the belly, mid-spine area, digestive organs, and detoxifying organs. This includes the kidneys, adrenal glands, stomach and intestines.

Physically, this energy center guides the strong abdominal muscles, gut function and the back muscles. Energetically, this chakra guides the power of will, determination and inner strength. Maṇipūra chakra has a sharp intelligence all its own, evidenced by common sayings such as “gut feeling,” “s/he’s got guts,” and “sick to my stomach.”

When this chakra is activated, willpower and feelings of personal empowerment are strong. However, when maṇipūra gets burned out, fatigue and low confidence ensue.

Possible causes of maṇipūra dysfunction include persistent stress, hot or humid weather, over-exercising, overwork, dehydration, and lack of sleep.

Keep maṇipūra balanced with harmonious practices that honor the environment and practice circumstances – not too fiery; not too easy. Take time to cool your body down after a vigorous class with appropriate supine poses and calming breathing techniques. Also, remember that chakras are not just facing front; chakra energy is basically spherical, which means that “core work” should include front abdominals, obliques and back muscles.

Anāhata

This chakra is located at the heart center and includes the chest, heart, lungs, upper back, shoulders, and arms.

Anāhata chakra functions as a bridge between the upper three chakras, which are more ethereal, and the lower three chakras, which are more earthly. When balanced, this energy center guides feelings of unconditional acceptance, compassion, and love. When unbalanced, injured, or depleted, this chakra engenders feelings of fear, judgment, and hatred.

The dual nature of anāhata chakra is evidenced in common sayings, such as “heavy-hearted” and “light-hearted; ”hard-hearted” and “soft-hearted.”

Possible causes of anāhata dysfunction include stress in relationships (suffering from a “broken heart”), lack of quiet time, insufficient self-care, high or low blood pressure, and arrhythmia.

Keep anāhata balanced with physical practices that bridge the divide between fear and compassion. Arm balances, while not typically thought of as heart-centered poses, can be a wonderfully effective way to learn to integrate the dual nature of this chakra. Ask yourself: can I practice being gentle with myself even when I fall? Can I be firm and also loving with myself as I try and try again? Many people actually have an overactive anāhata chakra, which means that restorative yoga is another effective way to balance this energy center.

How do I start working with my chakras?

Most students will benefit from any form of chakra work, because the energy body goes largely unrecognized in modern cultures. Most people don’t know how to take care of their chakras, probably because they don’t know that chakras exist.

Introducing chakra work into your practice can be very simple. Try the following four-minute practice to start. Put your hands over your belly and notice the heat there. You might tell yourself, “Feel the fire in your belly.” For four minutes, keep your awareness on the area under your hands. Note any emotions or sensations that arise, and notice if they change. There’s no need for fancy Sanskrit terminology, no anatomical details; just the pure truth of feeling. You can repeat this exercise for all of the chakras in this article.

As your awareness of your own chakra system grows, you will learn the intricacies of caring for your own energy body. You will find your own favorite strategies for balancing, activating and soothing each chakra as you move through your practices and your life. As yogīs, we acknowledge our responsibility to take care of ourselves so that we can take care of others. This responsibility includes being aware of our own subtle energies and attending to them consistently. Don’t let lack of familiarity stop you — explore your chakras with curiosity and you’ll awaken more than you ever thought possible.

STEPHANIE KEIKO KONG

Stephanie Keiko Kong, E-RYT 200, teaches yoga in India, Japan, Australia and the US. Born and raised in Wahiawa, Hawaii, she
would love to meet your mom.
Catch Stephanie moonlighting as a featured actor with the Hawaii Shakespeare Festival.

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Yoga Hawaii Magazine by Administrator - 2w ago

When you hear the term “Military Yoga,” you may think of a rigorous Boot Camp vinyasa flow with a drill sergeant yelling at you. But there is no “military style” of yoga. The term “military yoga” refers to a practice tailored to the needs of the military community rather than an original style of its own. It is yoga therapy with a certified and trained yoga instructor who focuses on the physical, emotional and mental needs of our active duty military and our veterans to recover, restore, and find balance in their lives. 

The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit word yuj, which means to yoke or bind. This humble practice of uniting the breath, mind, and body — and thus a peaceful inner state of being — is especially beneficial for members of the military.

The military environment can often be described as chaotic and dynamic. Bringing yoga — and thus balance and calm — into the military discipline has been the goal of many yoga practitioners. 

In recent years, Hawaii has become an integral part of a growing trend in yoga among the military. To backtrack, military presence in Hawaii was minimal up to the first half of the 20th century. The Pearl Harbor attack of 1941 drastically changed the tone of the islands, as the U.S. entered World War II to counter the Japanese military from the Pacific isles. Today, Hawaii is home to the United States Pacific Command (USPACOM), which comprises of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force, as well as Coast Guard, providing unique services to the islands and the Pacific. Since World War II, marines, soldiers, sailors, airmen, and coast guardsmen have been deployed to all corners of the world from Hawaii. Not surprisingly, the latest wars fought in Iraq and Afghanistan have weighed down on service members and their families.

As our brave men and woman in uniform fight for our freedom, they are also often struggling with their own internal battles such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Military Sexual Trauma (MST) in addition to physical and mental injuries, just to name a few. Our active duty service members and veterans deal with these issues daily, while trying to maintain “normal” civilian lives.

To cope with PTSD, anxiety, and depression, active military and our veterans are often given medications that temporarily “fade” the memory or trauma. But in reality, fear of never-ending battle usually persist. This is where yoga has become a sign of hope for those living with distress, as a healthier means to regain health and balance. In fact, studies have shown multiple benefits of yoga for military personnel, one being a healthier alternative to taking conventional drugs.

Many service members who practice yoga have found a significant change in themselves when their dependency transitioned from pills to the mat. Yoga had allowed them to face physical and mental challenges while being “in the moment,” helping them cultivate not only a calm mind, but a relief from mental and physical stress. In a sense, yoga helps soldiers tune into a skill that they’ve been trained to acquire for battle: to stay calm and analyze; to stay focused; to solve difficult situations.

Being conscious and aware in yoga encourages a stronger connection to the body and the mind, providing a sense of physical and mental control. The practice of controlling their own body and their own thoughts can create a sense of empowerment and safety.

PTSD is an anxiety disorder that can arise from prolonged or sudden exposure to danger and other threatening experiences. The nervous system “freezes,” causing the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system to react under stress. Unlike prescription medications that treat the disorder, calming effects of yoga have been known to “unfreeze the nervous system.” In a sense, yoga — with its combination of stretching and deep breathing — creates a “thawing out” effect on the nervous system. 

Another healthy outcome of a routine yoga practice among members of the military is community. Yoga forges bonds and close relationships with groups of other veterans and civilians.

“Yoga is one of the few places where I go to be the ‘real Timmy,’” says Sgt. Timothy Thompson, “The practice itself, the essence of it, and the energy and encouragement I get from those that practice with me… It’s hard to explain, but I just know that being at yoga makes me feel happier.”

“Maybe it’s the smiles I see, maybe it’s the warm greetings I get from others that practice; maybe it’s the thrill of finally getting an asana technique correct,” Thompson continues. Developing connections that feel comfortable, and being able to share these experiences with other veterans and civilians who understand and support the process, are invaluable to this veteran’s healing journey. 

Thompson appreciates the mentality that “all are equal” in yoga. “It all just makes me happier,” he says. 

Fortunately for many on the island, the military is recognizing the benefits of yoga for recovery, and is building a curriculum that integrates yoga-like movements as part of physical therapy programs.

“Teaching yoga to the active duty soldiers for multiple-unit PT sessions for several months has shown me that for them, a regular practice of yoga can help them mentally relax with breathing techniques, meditation and mindful movement,” says Warriors At Ease and “Vetoga” instructor Christina Finely who, as an Army veteran herself, teaches on the island. “I am truly amazed by the progress each makes.”

Yoga brings hope to service members by helping them face issues and conquer them, rather than to ignore them. Yoga is by far a more meaningful and healthier method of coping than pills and drugs. As a civilian and yoga teacher, it is my goal to give back; to offer my services to those who have served and continue to serve, as well as bring awareness to the benefits of yoga for our service members.

The opinions contained in this article are solely of those individuals involved in the article and not of any branch of military service or the U.S. government.

For more information on yoga for military personnel, please reach out to these organizations in Hawaii; Vet Center Honolulu and West Oahu, Warriors At Ease (WAE), Team Red White and Blue Honolulu (Team RWB Honolulu), and Meghan’s Foundation.

Alexis Zurdo

Alexis has been practicing yoga strongly for 10 years and teaching for 8 years. She is a certified Yoga Alliance 200 RYT and certified with Warriors At Ease (WAE).

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Are you new to yoga? Are you excited (and a little nervous) about how it will go and what to expect? You’ve taken the steps to purchase your introductory yoga pass, yoga mat and yoga towel, and now a myriad of questions arise: “What will class be like? Am I ready for this? Will I be good at it? Will I be able to keep up? How will I look while practicing? How in the world will I get my hands to my feet?” Rest assured that you are not alone!

Whether you are new to yoga or a seasoned practitioner, my number one suggestion is to have fun. Find a teacher or community you connect with, and a studio or yoga environment where you feel you can learn, grow and thrive. Listen to your body, rest when you need it, doubt your doubts and enjoy the journey and richness of self-discovery.

A beginner’s mindset is truly where it’s at, no matter how long you’ve been practicing yoga. Gratitude and curiosity go a long way, as do laughter and a smile. While you may have a lot of questions about yoga when you first begin, remember to remain open, patient and loving with yourself. The best way to learn is through commitment, consistency and practice. Trust the process.

Okay, so you’ve finally made it to your first yoga class. Congratulations! The toughest part — getting there — is over. Once you’re settled in, you begin the practice of moving and breathing. It seems you’re figuring things out and getting the hang of it, but then you’re surprised to feel someone’s hands pull your hips back in downward facing dog. You are relieved to find it’s your yoga teacher, but you quickly scramble to move your hands back to your feet, thinking you must be doing something wrong. Don’t worry my friend, you are not alone! Nor are you doing anything wrong.

Providing hands-on assists, or adjustments, is one of several ways that teachers communicate instructions while teaching yoga. It is very common in yoga studios across the globe. In addition to physical hands-on assists, yoga teachers can relay information through verbal instructions and visual demonstrations, but hands-on assists can encourage action, ease, depth and connection in a way that dialogue and demos cannot.

Assists can provide opportunity for greater alignment, integrity, depth, focus, and space. When assists are performed mindfully and with intention, they allow you to discover something new within your body. Experienced yoga teachers assist in a way that encourages possibility, creates balance between effort and ease, and does not feel invasive, “touchy-feely,” or inappropriate.

There are three main types of assists in a yoga class: directional, stabilizing, and deepening. Directional assists are used to guide a body along a path in which to move. The teacher will use her or his hands to gently direct the movement of a body part. For example, you may feel your yoga teacher take two fists to your outer hips in chair pose to squeeze in toward your center line and down toward the ground, directing your chair into deeper expression. Directional assists are suggestive to the action principles of the pose.

Stabilizing assists help build your postures from the ground up — as with your hands, feet and core — while encouraging you to stack your joints. These assists encourage proper alignment and therefore stability in your body, while supporting your foundation. When the body is stable, the breath can move more freely. You may feel the teacher press the edges of your feet to the floor, spread your fingers and toes, encourage your lower belly to pull in and the tailbone to drop down, or suggest specific muscles to activate. An example of a stabilizing assist in warrior two pose is for the teacher to anchor the student’s right knee over the right ankle with one hand, and to take the other hand to the right hip crease. This action stabilizes the femur (thigh bone) into the pelvis.

Deepening assists bring the possibility of greater depth and encourage you to explore your edge, which is often much further from your comfort zone than you’d think. Deepening assists support greater length of the upper body in poses such as forward folds, and encourage the spine to rotate more fully in twists. These adjustments often help the breath to flow more smoothly and result in a feeling of a new level of depth in your yoga asana experience. For example, you may feel your teacher’s hand press down and stabilize your lower back in a standing forward fold, shift your hips over your heels and trace the other hand down the length of your spine to your head. These actions can help you to deepen your forward fold.

Assists are not necessarily about fixing a pose. Assisting from a place of fixing implies something is wrong. There is nothing wrong with your practice of self-discovery. While assisting physical alignment through words and touch is important to establishing a safe yoga practice, beware of getting too caught up in your head and having to get it perfect. Stay in your body and breathe, don’t rush the process, and remain open to the joy of freedom in your body, mind and spirit through the moving meditation of yoga.

Yoga assists provide a gift to both the student and the teacher. Hands-on assists allow for connection, and when we are open to connection, we can be of service to one another. This will create a symbiotic relationship of trust and vitality, on and off the mat.

Next time you are in a yoga practice and feel your teacher about to apply a hands-on assist, resist the urge to fix something within your body. Instead, see if you can connect to the teacher’s suggestion, breathe into a new space of possibility, and practice “being in the moment.” Within that sacred space of connection between student and teacher, magic happens.

Jessica Stein

Jessica Stein is Founder and Director of Kauai Power Yoga Studio, located in Kapaa, Hi. Please visit kauaipoweryoga.com for upcoming 200 Hour Teacher Trainings.

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Yoga Hawaii Magazine by Administrator - 2w ago

When I was five, my brothers and I wanted to learn karate. My dad said we needed to take five years of ballet first. We obliged. In my last year of ballet (at age 10), I was the prince in the performance Cinderella. I remember praying that nobody I knew was in the audience because I didn’t want people to know I danced ballet. Fast forward to my adult years when I started yoga, some of those same feelings of embarrassment sprung up. Sure, I told people that I played football in college, lifted weights, cycled, ran, swam and if I did mention yoga at all, it was the last thing I mentioned.

The social norms of what a guy should do and what a girl should do are engrained and conditioned from the time of birth. I suppose it’s a part of being human, but being human also means we can break out of these social norms. Gender stereotypes, in my opinion, are one of the reasons why modern men have stayed away from yoga, even when the benefits of yoga are undisputed. Yoga is “a woman’s thing” and not a “macho man thing.” Society today shows the promise that many of these social “molds” are being broken.

It’s funny, that even though I was embarrassed about letting my peers know I did ballet, during class, I actually strived to be good. The feeling was the same on my yoga mat; I looked forward to yoga, and wanted to be better at it. Though I was not necessarily a “bendy,” person, I fell in love with how yoga made me feel after class, and yearned for more. No other sport or workout routine gave me that feeling of balance and calm.

Today, more professional male athletes in an array of sports like surfing, football, body building, triathlon and golf, are incorporating yoga into their training regimen, showing that social taboos of men doing yoga are finally — and rapidly — dissolving. Take Rich Miano, former Philadelphia Eagles professional football player and retired UH football coach. He’s now an avid yogi. Shortly before his 55th birthday, Rich set out a goal to get back into great shape. He discovered CorePower Yoga and started taking classes almost daily. His favorite CorePower class, Yoga Sculpt, was named among the top 10 workouts of 2018 by Men’s Journal Magazine. By his birthday, Rich had dropped a whopping 30 pounds.

“I feel great and I’ve kept my muscle tone,” Miano says. “I even got my six-pack back. Best thing, I found a practice that I can do for years to come.”

Did you know that yoga was practiced only by men until Indra Devi, a female, was accepted to practice yoga in 1937 by a famous guru? Today, less than 30 percent of yogis are men, yet almost half of all yoga teachers across America are male, according to a 2016 study by Yoga Alliance and Yoga Journal Magazine. The disparity is intriguing.

In this article I’m focusing on the benefits of yoga for men, but please remember that our stories are (almost) always written for both men and women (unless they’re specifically about pregnancy, menopause, or Kegel exercises…). Go to yogahawaiimagazine.com and catch up on some great articles about the benefits of yoga:

Yoga Relieves StressBy Salina Storozuk

Yoga and the BeginnerBy Alana Michele 

Yoga and Weight LossBy Kamala Skipper

Yoga and the AthleteBy Megan Edgar

Yoga for all Body TypesBy Rebecca Remillard

I’m Too Inflexible To Do YogaBy Stephanie Keiko Kong

1. Yoga improves flexibility. Men, in general, are not as flexible as women. One of the most common reasons why professional athletes do yoga is to improve flexibility. Yoga helps them avoid injury and train more efficiently. Even if you are a weekend warrior, you know the importance of not getting injured.

2. Yoga increases your range of motion, which actually helps build larger muscles. This is a little different from flexibility. The weight lifter, for example, is more subject to a limited range of motion because lifting heavier weight results in tighter muscle groups. Increasing range of motion through yoga can actually increase muscle growth, as there is less limitation in pulling and pressing movements.

3. As a yoga class gets more intense, the breathing slows down rather than speeds up. This is very different from running, or any other sport for that matter. The slowed breath not only calms the mind, but deep inhales help expand lung capacity and allows more intake of oxygen in fewer breaths. This pattern of breathing helps oxygenate the body more efficiently, an important component for strength training, cardiovascular efficiency, and muscle building.

4. The technique of mind-body connection in yoga has been proven to not only reduce stress and anxiety, but also to promote weight loss and improve sleep. That means you have more will power to NOT open that refrigerator door late at night.

5. Many athletes incorporate active rest days into their regimen. Yoga can provide the perfect, active rest session, and depending on the format, will likely feel like a great work out as well. Best of all, you don’t need special equipment.

6. The more you are exposed to yoga, the more you hear about yoga philosophy. The topics are varied, but you’ll learn a lot about inner self, the ego, connectivity, gratitude, and spreading good karma. This may provide a sense of balance for the “macho” hetero male who focuses on money, women, and cars (boy, I’m really stereotyping my own demographic here).

7. Yoga leads to better sex. According to Men’s Fitness magazine, practicing yoga can result in better and longer sex. Increased concentration allows you to channel your sexual energy, helping prevent premature ejaculation, and also makes you more sensitive and responsive to your partner. I’m sure your flexibility will come in handy, too.

After five years of ballet, I never started those karate lessons. I played Pop Warner football instead, and I can honestly say that ballet certainly helped me become a star player. Football turned out to be my ticket to an Ivy League education. Today, my “pump monkey” days of living in the weight room are over, and running long distances is not sustainable for my joints. I know yoga will be with me for a long time and, as I get older, my body is happier for it. I feel “well-preserved,” and am confident that I can stay active for years to come. I hope to see you in class!

Eric Rosso

I am a 200 hour certified yoga instructor at Core Power Yoga. I have been teaching a fusion yoga class called Sculpt (yoga with weights) since 2013 and teach power vinyasa classes. I consider myself an athlete and have been involved in sports since a child playing football, baseball, basketball, and even ballet. I excelled in football where I was recruited and played at Brown University. Today I keep myself active with lots of yoga, cycling, swimming, running, weight lifting and more yoga.
Since I was young, one of my goals in life was to teach, but my passion to own and operate a marketing/advertising agency and raise two beautiful children took precedence. Today, fusing my passion to teach in the field of athletics is the ultimate job. To be able to aid in the physical and mental health of my community is the ultimate honor and privilege.

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