Archive for July, 2013

“Practice, and all is coming”

– Sri K. Pattabhi Jois

I have so many clients, especially male clients,  that come to in search of the best way to stay pain free and the simple response is to stretch more. The usual response that I get is “I don’t like to stretch, it’s boring” or “I don’t know how to do it right.” There is an easy solution to this, Yoga. I don’t practice nearly as much as I should, however; I am a huge advocate of utilizing the technique to optimize flexibility and health. To help explain the many benefits of Yoga and how it can positively effect an man’s health, I will put the following entry in the hands of Ken Immer. Ken is one of my clients and friends who hosts weekly yoga sessions catered to men specifically.

Men &Yoga

By: Ken Immerken1

 

I have been teaching yoga for over 10 years, and to this day, it surprises me that more men are not practicing yoga. When new men show up for their first class with me, I always ask them how they feel after my class, and the answer 99% of the time is “It’s not what I thought it was… at all.” This response can sometimes be a surprise because I may have actually talked to the guy before hand and convinced him to come check it out. Clearly, the invitation was understood and taken, but the message about what a yoga class IS often was not. The guys always say that “It was a lot harder than I expected” or “That was an amazing workout.” or “I can’t believe how relaxed I feel.” These are the messages that I want to convey: yes, it is a tough workout, you will sweat, and yes, you will feel relaxed and rejuvenated after practicing. All yoga classes, however, are not created equal when it comes to the first two, and that’s where some of the confusion comes in, but every class will always give you the last one. Which is one of the biggest reason to do it. We all could use a little less stress. The difference with the first two is your own current fitness level and attitude, and there is a yoga for everyone out there.

 yogaken
Most men believe that yoga is something soft and feminine, and it can be. But a key attribute of yoga practice is balance, so along with a feminine side, there is a stronger, harder, masculine side. Yoga was originally designed BY men FOR men’s bodies. We have a natural tendency to be stronger, and many yoga practices develop and rely on this strength, but are often omitted from yoga classes that are mostly attended by women. So, yeah, what you may have heard is sometimes true, but not always, and it depends on the style of yoga and the individual teacher. Sounds confusing, right? Well how do you get to the right class? The answer is just going to your first class and giving it a try.  However, at first it’s important to understand a little about a yoga practice. It’s a lot like any other exercise or sport. When you first start lifting weights, you don’t just go right for the 400 lb. bench press. A good trainer will first use lighter weights to help you learn good form first, and then start to add more weight gradually once you have the fundamentals. Yoga is the same. Your first beginner’s class, for most, will not be the hardest workout of your life, although if you are starting very out of shape, it will likely take some wind out of you and make you sweat, but a seasoned athlete will likely not consider it incredibly challenging. This is completely normal. Your first class is simply learning form and function. Getting used to being barefoot (did they tell you we don’t wear shoes in class?), understanding the format of the class (which often begins with a meditative ‘centering’ and some basic breathing practices, and ends with a complete, on-your-back-with-eyes-closed resting period called “corpse pose” or “savasana” (that’s the technical term, but we won’t get into that here.). Your second class, you might actually start to hear some of the more subtle cues that a good instructor will give instead of just trying to figure out how to get your foot up to the top of the mat, or sit still for as long as the teacher might ask you to. The fact is, it’s an alien world for your first several classes, but believe me when I tell you that it’s worth the investment, and if you give it the chance, you actually start to get the benefits from day 1. So what are these benefits, you ask? Greater flexibility, greater lung capacity, better balance, a truly stronger core that you can feel all the way out to your arms, and of course, there is the benefits of increased sex drive and performance, just to name a few. Once you learn some basic fundamentals, a whole new world of body awareness seems to blossom in front of your eyes. Muscles that you never knew you had start to get stronger, and at the same time, your flexibility will INCREASE, which is quite the opposite that happens with dedicated weight training. Your body becomes more efficient because the breathing exercises help to draw more oxygen into your bloodstream and your breathing becomes deeper. All of these benefits add up to a more relaxed and vital you! This is why the practice is so amazing: it will improve your overall performance in all physical areas of your life. You will sleep better, you will feel better, you will have better balance, and you will feel stronger at the core of your being. And best of all, you can advance at your own rate, attending more and more challenging classes as you feel ready.
 yogaman1
Some men do well using nothing but yoga as an exercise, others will find that regular yoga practice (even only once per week) will benefit all other exercise routines and sports. So if you’re interested in achieving top performance and seeing breakthrough results in your life, yoga is the key. So the elusive, “right class for you” becomes the $64k question. How do I find a studio/teacher that is right for me? You have to ask around! Call the local studios and ask them about how their style of yoga might be for you. One of the fundamental teachings of yoga is that everyone is an individual, and there is no “one right way” to practice. This is why there are so many styles and types of yoga. Living in Charleston, we have an amazing array of styles, teachers, and methods to choose from so it may take some looking and experimenting, but remember, each class is delivering on that long list of benefits, even when you don’t feel like the particular class was “for you”. So it’s never a waste of time. There is an incredible online resource www.yogaformen.comand it’s brother facebook page that I would recommend you check out if you are ready to start exploring the yoga path. It can help you sort through the variety, and actually connect you with other men who are seeking and who have found their yoga practice. There are currently two specific “Men’s only” yoga classes in North Charleston that are offered weekly on Mondays and Thursdays, which can be great for guys who might be apprehensive to a room full of super-flexible women. Every studio in town also has a “beginner’s series” that they will offer at least monthly, and there are always at least a FEW guys in each beginner series, so you won’t be the only one.
The biggest piece of advice I can ever give a man who is giving yoga a try is to do it for at LEAST 6 weeks (1 or 2 times per week) before your make any decisions about its results. It can take this long just to get acclimated because it is so different from anything you have ever done. The reason you are considering it is because you are still looking to increase performance, right? Or maybe it’s because you simply need a form of exercise that is less dangerous and impactful than your current choice. Whatever the reason, yoga IS different, and it can be for you. All you have to do is be open minded to the possibility that it is for you.
Yoga4Menyogaman2
Thursdays, 6:30pm – 7:45pm
Armory Park
5000 Lackawana Blvd.
North Charleston, SC 29405
$5-10 (donation class)
Men’s Yoga
Mondays, 6:30pm – 7:30pm
Barefoot Yoga Studio
1050 E. Montague Ave.
North Charleston, SC 29405
$15 drop in, ($12 with membership)
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“Training gives us an outlet for suppressed energies created by stress and thus tones the spirit just as exercise conditions the body. ”
Arnold Schwarzenegger

How many times have you caught yourself avoiding working out because you are too sore or are not getting the results that you are looking for with weight training due to the lack of that extra push? What if there was a way to get around those obstacles? Thereis a way – Therapeutic Massage!
Lactic acids build up in the muscles due to exercise leads to DOMS or delayed
onset muscle soreness, poor muscle fiber and joint movement, and difficulty in the healing of the muscles. Studies have shown that massage flushes the muscles of built up toxins, including lactic acid. Massage also loosens the muscle fibers increasing the joints’ range of motions; therefore, allowing the muscles to repair and increase in size and strength at an accelerated rate. Receiving regular therapeutic massage in conjunction with your normal workout routines will not only help the muscles heal faster, but also
significantly reduces pain and soreness. By having the ability for your muscles to recover and build strength faster, you are able to get back to training sooner and gain more of your desired results.
Studies have also shown that massage is also a great way to decrease blood
pressure and increase energy giving you a euphoric effect that will make working out more fun and more desirable. The best part of it all is that therapeutic massage is not targeted at one specific group. The benefits of therapeutic massage can be appreciated by everyone from the competing body builder to the semi-pro athlete to the everyday person trying to get back in shape and stay fit.

“The power of intuitive understanding will protect you from harm until the end of your days.”

-Lao Tzu

the new primal games

Two weeks ago, I participated in the 3rd annual Primal Games which is an event that tests your strength, endurance, skill, and drive.  It’s commonly referred to as “The Caveman Olympics” because it is full of events that we as human beings should be able to accomplish because they stem from functional primal patterns. However due to evolution and modernization such as office jobs, computer interaction, texting, and much more,  many people have forgot how to facilitate these innate patterns. Participating in the games got me thinking about 2 things:

1. Do people realize how primal massage therapy is?

2. Why wouldn’t people be more apt to utilize massage therapy to help and restore these primal patterns?

Interesting thoughts I know, but let me explain my thought process here. Anyone who knows me knows that movement patterns and fitness are always on my mind and in one way or another lead to how massage could influence everyday matters such as these ideas.

Plain and simple, massage is as primal it gets! Think about it, when you hurt yourself what is the first thing you do? You rub the area to ease the pain…massage! When a child or even young animal is upset what do the parents do? They console them and pat their back or rub their head….both essence of massage. And if you want to go as far as to ask what is one of the first things we experience when we are brought into this world? The muscle contractions utilized to deliver young are a form of massage! Massage has been used all over the world dating back thousands and thousands of years because it is innate and instinctive. Touch, when applied correctly and in a positive nature, helps to heal and optimize the functions of the body. Now due to certain stigmas and taboos, massage gets a bad rep and many people avoid it like the plague not understanding that it is primal and can benefit us greatly.

Now that we understand that massage is primal lets understand how it can help return us to our primal patterns more efficiently. Posture and movement are everything in the human body. When looking at movement there is nothing more true than the old phrase, “use it or lose it.” If you do not actively move your body in the primal patterns then over time the brain will forget to maintain them as well as letting proper posture slide into a decline. Once your posture is compromise the body starts tightening up muscles and laying down scar tissue to protect itself from getting any worse, but yet if nothing is done to prevent it or reset it it will get worse. We are seeing this situation more and more everyday as people invest more time playing video games, watching TV, or stuck in an office all day and less time being active and addressing their over all physical fitness not to mention an abundance of stress coming from all aspects of life.  Enter massage! Massage at it’s simplest form acts to calm the muscular and nervous system to release tension. Massage is also utilized to break down scar tissue and align muscle fibers to promote healing, optimize posture, and restore function in the body. Seems a little to easy and to good to be true, but it’s not. As I stated before civilizations around the world have been administering massage therapy techniques to recover warriors, prepare athletes, and nurture their fellow man for centuries.

primal movement

It seems very difficult to believe that people would be be so timid and reluctant to utilize massage therapy when it is so primal and can help us get back to our functional nature. It’s easy, fairly painless, and best of all it’s drug free!

To learn more or if you have any questions, just comment below…

#liveprimal