Seems like every time I go to a yoga class there are more guys on the mat. But I still have male friends who are hesitant to give it a try. Well, they need to get over it. Because chicks dig guys who do yoga.
10. They develop patience – going to yoga regularly forces you to become patient with yourself, your body, and all things outside of your control. Many guys have become accustomed to control and instant gratification. Yoga is one of the few things that can help reverse that.
9. They become more aware – yoga teaches you to pay attention to your body and your inner voice. It’s rare to find a guy who notices and appreciates the small, quiet details that often make or break a relationship.
8. They’re courageous – for most guys, yoga is foreign and closer to feminine dance than anything else they’ve ever done. For most guys, yoga is completely out of their comfort zone, and it takes some courage for them to walk into that first class.
7. Yoga does great things for a guy’s a*s – this one doesn’t need an explanation.
6. Yoga does great things for a guy’s arms – neither does this one.
5. Yoga does great things for a guy’s abs – definitely not this one, either.
4. They embrace imperfections – when most guys walk into their first yoga class, their muscles are tight and lack physical flexibility. They struggle through the first class. So the ones who return accept that they won’t be awesome at everything right away.
3. They are confident – guys don’t show up to a yoga class because it’ll be cool. In fact, their friends may give them a hard time for it. That takes a strong sense of self. Which usually leads to great abs. ;)
2. They value balance – it’s rare to find a guy who values emotional and spiritual development. Yoga helps us all redefine “happiness” more broadly than society does for men.
1. They aren’t afraid to laugh at themselves – not only are they in a room full of women, but they may also have to try the splits in front of all those women. That takes a good sense of humor!
Today I tried my first barre class, which is a ballet-influenced exercise that incorporates some strength training and pilates moves. Having no formal dance training besides a kindergarten ballet class and busting some moves on the weekends, the ballet-inspired routine seemed a little intimidating to me. I had also heard horror stories of the intensity of barre workouts from girlfriends who had tried it in the past. Walking into the studio, I didn’t know exactly what I was signing up for.
We started the class with some lunges and squats with hand weights. During those first 10 minutes it felt as though the horror stories were true. My biceps and hips were rocked to the point of shutting down on me. Then we finally put the weights away and stepped up to the barre and eased into some ballet moves, which were a little more forgiving than the warm-up exercises. Not to say I didn’t still feel a burn (and I’m sure I will be feeling more of that burn tomorrow morning), but I was distracted by the fun of playing ballerina for an hour.
Barre was a fun change-up to my workout routine, and here are a few reasons why you should give barre a shot…
It rocks your whole bod: Barre combines butt- and leg-toning squats along with core-blasting pilates moves. Couple that with some resistance training and a few yoga moves to stretch out your bod, you hit just about every muscle in your body in a short 1-hour class. Regularly attending barre classes helps build a lean, strong physique.
It’s graceful: Even with two weights in my hands, I felt like a ballerina floating between first and fifth position. Similar to how yoga and pilates stress the importance of form, barre focuses on posture and body alignment, which makes you feel that much more light and graceful. You’re also encouraged not to grip the barre, reminding you to remain relaxed and easy.
It helps balance and coordination: Barre’s focus on alignment and posture also challenges you to stay balanced as you rise up onto your toes and squat down into a plie. Leg lifts and other pilates exercises help further refine your coordination and stability.
Get out of your comfort zone and try something new. You’ll be surprised how much fun you might have with it. :-)
There are some age-old sayings that can’t be drilled in us enough. Eat your veggies. Floss your teeth. And one of them being…drink water.
It is especially important to keep up with your water intake if you are exercising regularly - meaning you should probably be drinking even more than the daily recommended 8 cups a day.
Water helps keep our bodies balanced and can make us feel more energized and alert. Drinking lots of water also flushes out nasty toxins that our bodies need to get rid of.
Water also plays a huge role in proper muscle functioning. Cells that can’t maintain a proper balance of fluids and electrolytes shrivel, resulting in muscle fatigue. Power your workouts with proper hydration.
Here are some ways to sneak more water into your day…
Spice up your water: Let’s face it, straight-up water is pretty dull and drinking it can seem like a chore. Add some healthy infusions to make your cup of water extra tasty. Here are some interesting ideas you can add to your cup: Cucumber and mint. Lemon slices. Orange slices. Berry slices. Crushed cilantro and a little agave syrup.
Eat more water-rich foods: Watermelon is 92% water by weight, tomatoes are 95% water and eggs are 74% water. Incorporate these and other water-dense foods in your diet and you’ll get the added benefit of eating more fruits, veggies and healthy proteins, too!
Supplement with juices and other healthy alternatives: Orange juice, cranberry juice, coconut water, tea…all drinks have some element of water, but BE CAREFUL! Watch out for sugar-laden substitutes like these…
You’re halfway through your spin class - your quads are burning, the intensity keeps increasing and thinking about finishing the last 30 minutes seems insurmountable.
Some people say 90% of success is just showing up, but it’s that last 10% of yourself that can lead to incredible results. During those times when you are tempted to give up, you would be amazed how much strength you have in you to power through. Here are a few tips to keep in mind to help you conquer those breakthroughs…
Stay present, stay focused: It can be overwhelming to get ahead of yourself and worry that you’re going to run out of gas before you hit the 10 mile marker in a half marathon or the 45-minute marker in an intense hour-long core-blasting pilates class. Focus on your breath and focus on the moment you’re in. The pain is only temporary, whereas your pride of achievement and endorphin-induced ‘hi’ will have a much more lasting effect.
Trust what you’re made of: Your mind is your biggest obstacle in getting yourself to the next level. Trust that by pushing yourself you will uncover incredible strength and endurance that your inner voice would have tricked you into overlooking.
Honor your successes: Feeling that ‘hi’ at the end of a workout - that euphoric state that makes you feel invincible - is an important sensation to relish. It powers your next feat and boosts your confidence in knowing that you have it in you to achieve incredible things.
Get out there, kick some ass, feel awesome about it, and do it all over again.
I talk to at least one friend everyday who’s been meaning to try yoga, but is hesitant to take the first step into a yoga studio. Why you scared, hun? As a good friend, I work hard to pressure, shame and bribe them into going. Shockingly, these scare-tactics don’t always work!
The fact is, most people (maybe you!) have common fears we all had before trying yoga. They’re common misconceptions, so let’s address them once and for all:
But I’m not flexible! Most people who can do those cool yoga poses are NOT super-flexi-bendy during their first class. They used yoga to become more flexible over time… they didn’t start out that way! Some poses are easier to do if you’re flexible, but each one also has easier variations so you can move at your own pace. Bottom line: yoga is for normal people who want to improve their flexibility, not for gymnasts who want to show off their splits.
I’ll look stupid! There are super-bendy people in every yoga class, and I bet you think they’ll judge your lack of skill during every pose. Guess what? They’re not looking at you. Advanced practitioners flow through poses in a meditative state. In fact, the only people glancing around the room are… other beginners! Also, yoga isn’t about achievement or awesome poses – it’s about the process and the journey. It’s one of the few places where you can fall on your face and everyone supports your courage and humility.
But I’ll get bored! Many hard-core cardio enthusiasts think yoga is a lazy-man’s workout. But with a little effort and concentration, you’ll sweat just as much in a yoga class as you do in a boot-camp class. An intermediate student can burn over 500 calories in a fast-paced Vinyasa flow class. Yoga is also more holistic and provides more effective body-sculpting
But I’m not a hippie! We get it, yoga has a hippie-new-age reputation. But that’s a relic of decades past. Yoga has reached the mainstream and most studios understand that not every student will be comfortable with chants or “oms”. Lots of classes don’t include those components at all, and even if they do, you can just chill on your mat and wait for it to pass. Yoga’s cool like that, no one will judge.
There, I think that covers it! Did I forget any other fears you have or you’ve heard other people ask about?
So, it’s time to round the bases with yoga by committing to your very own mat. Welcome to happiness, friend! But choosing a yoga mat isn’t easy, is it? There are so many options out there, where do you start?
Think about what you need from a yoga mat in terms of material, grip, sweat absorption, and thickness:
Material – Many of the most affordable yoga mats are made with PVC. Unfortunately, the manufacturing process for PVC is damaging to the environment and the material itself gives off toxic chemicals. Just think, your skin will be in direct contact with that mat, as you breathe deeply during your practice. Do you really want that happening on a toxic mat? The alternatives are made with latex, rubber, and vinyl.
Grip and sweat absorption – “Sticky” mats have the best grip, and are usually made from an “open-cell” material. The material is loosely woven to provide more flexibility, traction, and absorption. But open-cell mats also tend to be more expensive. Also, because they absorb sweat, they need to be cleaned religiously because they’re prone to bacteria. But remember, a slippery mat can make even simple asanas extremely difficult!
Thickness – Some of the best-selling mats are only about 1/8 of an inch thick. But some of the more high-end options are much thicker. Obviously, the thicker mats will also be heavier to carry. But they will protect your knees and provide a comfortable surface for sitting.
What do you need now? You might want to start with a less optimal, but more affordable option while you figure out whether this yoga thing is for you (trust us, it is!). But you don’t want a less-than-optimal mat to give you a bad yoga experience.
Do you have any tips for picking out a good yoga mat? What’s your favorite brand?
Have you ever thought about carrying a mantra with you throughout your day? An inspirational phrase that helps you apply your thoughts and energies in a certain way. It could be as simple as the golden rule or as focused as a specific goal you want to achieve.
Mantras can have tremendous transformational effects. They help to focus your mind on something you want to embody or achieve.
Here are a few steps towards incorporating a mantra into your day:
Think about your goals: are you trying to achieve something in the short term, such as making something awesome out of every day, or are you trying to implement more long-term change like practicing patience? Thinking about your goals can help you discern what mantra might be right for you.
Take a moment: Throughout your day, stop and take a moment to focus on your breathing. As you breathe, close your eyes, think about your mantra and envision yourself in that ideal state. Maybe it’s a vision of you with a calm mind or Whatever it is, take a moment to think and feel what that looks like for you.
Power your day with your mantra: Think about how you can apply your mantra to everyday activities. If your mantra is to practice patient, focus on breathing and staying calm when you’re stuck in rush hour traffic. If your goal is to be more forgiving, practice being kind to those who irritate you. The more you visit your mantra and experience it in a variety of ways, the better you are able to achieve that aspiration.
Check out activeHi’ Pinterest for some inspirational mantras.
Have you ever wondered how many miles you should be getting out of your running shoes? Or any athletic shoe for that matter? If you are a regular jogger, the suggested amount of mileage you should log on your shoes is 300-500 miles. So if you do a 3 mile jog 4 days a week, you should plan on replacing those kicks within 6 months. If you’re an even more serious runner, you should be thinking about cycling through those shoes every 3-4 months.
How about if your shoes are getting some wear and tear in those blood-pumping fitness classes? You should consider getting a new pair after about 45-60 hours of aerobic workouts on your feet.
Take a look at the midsole of your shoe, which is the part of the shoes that provides cushioning and stability. The midsole normally wears out before the bottom of the shoe shows major signs of wear. In other words, don’t use the treads of your shoe as an indicator for when to upgrade. Check for creasing and unevenness. Also just listen to your body - if you are feeling more achey or sore than normal, your shoes might be the culprit.
General rule of thumb:
Fitness gurus: replace every ~3-4 months
Regular sweat-breakers: replacs every ~6 months
Casual exercisers: can wait about a year to replace
Wearing shoes past their prime can have some detrimental effects on your body, such as achey feet, leg muscles, knees and hip joints. Show them some love by making sure your kicks are in good shape.
You read that right. It’s confession time, kids! My confession: I’ve been working on the startup, but I have NOT been working on my fitness lately.
I started working full-time on activeHi during the last week of October 2011. I decided then to also start 30-days of yoga. It. Was. Awesome. activeHi is all about inspiring you to commit to a healthy, active life… motivating you to chase that “Hi” everyday. In those 30 days, I was living my Hi, every single day!
Things have certainly changed! Startup life has taken quite a toll on my commitment to fitness. Yep, building a fitness startup has had a negative impact on my own fitness! Believe me, the irony doesn’t escape me. Starting a company is a Big Life Change – like moving, starting a new job, getting married/divorced, having a baby. BLCs (yeah, we’re giving them an official acronym) shake things up and force you to find a new balance. You can no longer fall back on old routines. I bet I’m not the only one who loses focus and discipline during these times. The key is to accept and embrace the change, and the new life that comes with it. Then, focus on what’s ahead, not what was.
I need to do all of the above in order to find the space in my life to get back on my fitness. I’ll keep you updated on my progress! How about you? Have you experienced any BLCs that have thrown you off your fitness game? How’d you deal?
Want to know one of the biggest secrets for reaching your hi? That hi that enlivens you. That hi that brings you to a euphoric state that makes everything seem right in the world. It’s your breath. Breathing helps you to re-center yourself and power you through the day. It helps to circulate blood flow and keeps you alert and energized. Focusing on the breath helps to keep you present and composed, no matter what the day throws at you.
Here are a couple tips to help you incorporate rich, invigorating breaths into your day.
Take a moment: Whether it’s when you first wake up or right before you go to bed, close your eyes and take a moment. Think about that little space right under your nostrils and focus on the breath flowing in and out of your nose. If it helps you to stay focused, think about a word or short phrase that inspires you and just enjoy being in that present moment, even if it’s just for a short while.
Take long, deep breaths: Think about the air coming in, filling up your lungs in all directions, and then empty out every last ounce of air with the exhale. Sometimes it helps to count to pace your breath. Count to 5 as you inhale and count to 8 as you exhale. Having a longer count on the exhale helps to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system - that nerve center in your body that helps you relax.