This is a very Interesting topic for me. And a personal one. We all know and most of you have experienced some of the benefits of regular yoga practice. The physical, the mental and everything in between.
When you look around the room in a yoga class you will probably find the majority of the class is made up of females. However yoga practice among men is on the rise thanks to numerous sporting professionals, actors and the like commenting on how the practical and functional application of good yoga practice has helped them in their careers whether that be on a physical level preventing injuries and improving physical performance or indeed on a mental level providing them with the tools to stay focused, rejuvenated and relaxed.
I personally believe that yoga is a wonderful thing...for everyone! It doesn't have to be a vocation. You don't have to dedicate your life to it to experience positive changes in your mental and physical health in your everyday life. I know it has definitely helped throughout my life and career.
Yoga, Football and acting
Growing up (before Yoga) I played alot of sport mostly football. I'd train, Stretch, dedicate myself to the disciplines that helped you to improve. There where good lessons from good coaches, not just about the game but lessons about and for life itself. Things that have stayed with me.
I found Yoga in my mid 20's long after i'd stopped playing football (at least competitively) and at that time I needed something to help me in my acting career. In a highly
competitve and pressured business where the demands on your physical and mental state where elevated.
I found that a lot of parallels and lessons in my yoga practice and what i'd learned playing sport where now coming together and propelling my career as a professional actor
(Sofie Grabol and I in 'The James Plays'. National Theatre London)
1.Stretching for an obvious start to keep my body healthy and free from injuries.
2.Keeping calm and centred under pressure, mentally focused and aware.
3. thinking about the game as a whole, the bigger picture and understanding that all things are moving in, out and all around you.
4. Breathing this works hand in hand with centering and with my voice projection and singing.
5. physical strength.
6. Creating a good relationship between my mind and body.
7. Banishing my ego.
8. learning to let go - auditions, lifes' problems etc.
(Alex Ferns and I in 'The Hardman'. Scottish Theatre Consortium)
With all these benefits and parallels with in sport, life and the arts for example. I wonder why a lot more men don't take up yoga!
I recently had a conversation where I discovered that a lot of men (though certainly not all) view yoga as being more for women. That all this centering and breathing stuff was, well.....not for them.
Doing yoga without knowing it was yoga
I tend to counter these points by expanding on some of the points i've made here. The stretching you do or did for football, Rugby, Golf, Tennis...Whatever. Are all Yoga based. The sporting philosophy they grew up with no matter how light was all based on a practice from a few thousand years ago whereby someone thought that putting your body and mind under undue stress and pressure is not a good thing and that to be at your most fluent you need not only physical strength but a focused and relaxed out look.
I would maybe use examples of famous sports personalities whose career was either saved, elevated or prolonged because, in part, of the 'functional' application of yoga to their particular sport.. Ryan Giggs, Teddy Sheringham, Martina Navratilova, Michael Jordan, Michael Phelps, Novak Djokovic to name a few. Have all paid a homage to their yoga practice when alleviating pain or injury, recovery, better balance, focus and explosive movement particularily on their weaker side.
Yoga is for everyone!
It doesn't matter if you are a world class athlete looking to sharpen every edge of your skills or joe blog just looking to make everyday living more relaxed and centred. All that matters is allowing yourself time to step onto a yoga mat to feel better not only for yourself but for your family too. Wouldn't it be great to feel fit and strong and balanced at say 40+ and still playing 5 asides or swinging away on the golf course with your mates and not suffering injuries or unnecessary clicks and pulls because you've stretched and practiced in a bit of yoga?.
Then there's the knock on effect. If your stiff and sore your more likely to be in a down state. Maybe in a bad or irritable mood. If not...then your not!...Yoga puts you in a better place to deal with the day. Yes! there are physical, introspectful and mindful benefits to yoga... but there's also practical and domestic benefits too. From my own experiences. I can honestly say that yoga helps make my highs higher ...but here's the thing... my lows are higher also.
I'd like to see more guys involve themselves in yoga. I'd like to see the stigma dissolve. I'd like for us all to move through life as easily as possible. feeling stronger and lighter and able to deal the days drolls from a better place. Yoga keeps you younger for longer it's that simple. A lovely, grounded philosophy through a flexible but focused practice.
So Gentlemen!. If you're out there! Get involved. Find out for yourself! Do something beneficial for yourself, Do something different and challenging. Something that will, in a relatively short space of time benefit your body and mind and enhance your overall out look and your everyday grind.
Ok! That's it for now. Thanks for reading. If any of you have any questions about this topic then please feel free to get in touch and we will see you all in class very soon.
Nicky and Angela