Breathe And Let Your Mind Free — Simple Yoga For Men

Based on my previous blog, we’ve talked about warming up, doing the right sets of workouts, and making sure that you buy the right equipment for your workout. On today’s blog we’ll be having an intro for simple yoga for men by starting with the four super powers of yoga.

While yoga has somewhat recently become popular in the West, in India, it’s birthplace, the practice dates back over 5,000 years and is considered by many to be one of the oldest forms of exercise and breathwork known to mankind.  

Yoga actually means “union” or “connection” of mind and body. By helping you leap over the traps of triumph and advance at a much quicker pace it represents one of the most critical assets in creating superhuman powers.

For instance, should you encounter a stressful situation like a car accident, loss of job, battling a virus or family member (which could be worse), yoga can help you to become less reactive and more powerful by utilizing breath, movement and mind control.  

Multiple studies have confirmed that yoga is indeed one of the most effective methods for reducing stress and anxiety and has been proven to lower levels of cortisol. And since you just learned that one of the many negative effects of stress is the need for more recovery time and the lowering of exacerbated cortisol levels, this should be even better news. 

Most people know yoga as a form of exercise using a set of postures or poses (aka asana) combined with movement, but these are just two components of yoga. 

In Fired Up, we aren’t going to go into a full technical description of hundreds of yoga concepts and schools. Instead, I’ve condensed the most important elements into what I call “The 4 Super Powers of Yoga.”  

These 4 powers will help you release tension, lower stress and cortisol, build strength, mobility, energy, and testosterone while enhancing concentration, confidence, and creating new results.   

The origins of these 4 elements come from the eight limbs of yoga as outlined in an ancient text called the “Yoga Sutras.” If at some point in the future you develop an advanced practice, I highly recommend you explore the rest of the eight limbs.  

The 4 Super Powers Of Yoga

  1. Yoga postures – Asana
  2. Breathwork – Pranayama
  3. Self Reflection – Pratyahara 
  4. Concentration – Dharana

Yoga PosturesAsana 

Yoga postures, or Asana, are physical positions that are either held for a period of time or linked together in a sequence of movement.  

Holding or moving in and out of these postures has a host of benefits including flexibility, agility, strengthening and toning of your muscles, building bone density, improving balance, athletic performance, cardiovascular health and the prevention of injuries (amongst others).  

PranayamaLife Force

Pranayama is two concepts combined, which includes “Prana” or “Life Force” and “Yama” or “Control / Life Force Extension.” While this is the literal translation, when we break it down further, “Prana” or “Life Force” is a complete study of its own, containing volumes of both scientific and spiritual studies. So in the interest of keeping it simple, we’ll refer to it as “Energy.”  

For instance, when you go to sleep you regenerate cells, muscles, organs and wake up feeling refreshed with more energy or “Life Force,” and other bonuses – like more libido. While sleeping to increase your life force is important and we’ll talk about that later, you can manipulate oxygen by channeling it with various yogic breathing techniques (AKA breathwork) to increase your energy at any time. 

Pranayama is all about gaining mastery over your breath, which essentially means recognizing the connection between your breath, your mind, your body and your emotions.  

For example, notice what happens with your breath when you’re stressed, fearful or contemplating a difficult task that is unfamiliar. Your heart will most likely beat more rapidly, your muscles will tense up and your breath will become shorter because you’re probably nervous and guess what happens when you’re nervous?  

Most of your oxygen is redirected to your extremities preparing you for fight or flight while your brain gets the short end of the oxygen stick, which makes it more difficult to think clearly. Regrettably, when you can’t think clearly you make poor decisions or no decisions and more often than not, get regrettable results.  

To avoid this pitfall, in Fired Up, we’ll be doing breathwork with an ancient breathing technique called Ujjayi Breathing, which is one of the quickest ways to lower stress, become confident and make better decisions.   

Pratyahara – Self Reflection

If you live in a developed country, chances are you’ve been exposed to and conditioned by multiple influences from your external world. This could range from what your friends and family think of you, to the media and advertisers who tell you how your life should or shouldn’t be, which is all coming from outside of you.

Sadly, most of what your external influences believe is not serving you.  

For example, for every “yes you’re awesome” you more than likely get four of: “you’re not that great,” or “you’re broken,” or “you’re not smart enough, tall enough, rich enough or beautiful enough, etc.” 

Fortunately, with self-reflection, you can toss all that garbage from the outside world into the proverbial waste can and celebrate since Pratyahara gives you more superpowers.   

Self-reflection or Pratyahara simply means go within. This practice allows you to let go of all the delusions and false limiting beliefs that you should somehow be perfect or fully enlightened. And instead of constantly looking outside for approval or domination, you can look within at yourself and ask: am I present and engaged 100% in what I’m doing right now or am I worried about the past or the future or what everyone thinks of me?  

Other not so obvious questions during self-reflection may also arise such as:

  • Am I progressing in life?
  • Am I conducting myself like a good human being?
  • Am I really happy with my work?  
  • Am I really happy with my relationships?    
  • What area of life am I holding back in and how can I advance to become truly happy and successful?  

With a good teacher, yoga can help you self reflect and let go of all the BS and clutter that drags you down in life and instead, really step up and savor each moment of life.

Dharana – Concentration

When in space, astronauts engage in hours upon hours of “Earth gazing.”  

As you can imagine, looking at the earth from afar is most likely quite captivating, mesmerizing, perhaps even a spiritual experience (especially if you see an alien).  

According to a 2018 paper called “The Overview Effect Awe and Self Transcendent Experience in Space Flight,” astronauts return to Earth with a new perspective and sense of purpose from all that earth gazing.  

Regrettably, when we gaze upon the common earthling here on planet Earth we find a large percentage of the population mesmerized by their smartphones, engaged in social media or some other form of entertainment, which doesn’t serve them. And instead of building concentration, taking bold action and making dreams a reality, we may find ourselves on the couch with ADD (attention deficit disorder) looking for the next distraction (sweets, drugs, liquor) with no semblance of action or purpose.  

However, in order to get Fired Up, make more money, find love or achieve any type of success we must concentrate for extended periods of time.  

This, of course, brings us to Dharana or yogic concentration, which similar to Earth gazing, can evoke a higher state of consciousness and give you more superpowers.  

Specifically, concentration is acquired when you engage in all three of the prior components (postures, breathwork and self-reflection) and begin to let go of all the distractions from past and future and fuse with the present. 

For example, when doing Lord of the Dance Pose (Natarajasana), you will need to stand on one leg while holding your other leg with one hand. You’ll also need to focus on your breath in order to calm your mind and let go of distractions. Finally, you’ll need to concentrate your eyes on one point for and extended period of time.  

As a natural consequence of this mental and physical challenge, you’ll begin to self-reflect and notice when your mind wants to freak out because the strain is too challenging or you lose your balance.  

Over time, as you practice yoga, you’ll become aware of your negative tendencies like overreacting, breathing shallow, looking all over the place and comparing yourself to others. This practice will eventually help you to correct your mistakes and become more calm, collected, clear-headed, decisive, centered, focused, present and most importantly… confidant! 

So let’s say in the past your tendency was pushing yourself too hard (Overkill) just because someone else in the class was more advanced than you. But once you incorporate the 4 Super Powers of Yoga, your new level of self-reflection and concentration begin to help you gauge just the right amount of push to challenge you and create growth, while at the same time, protecting you from injury. 

Or let’s say your tendency wasn’t overkill, instead, you just did whatever you felt was within your comfort zone.  

Once you practice yoga regularly (from a good teacher), you’ll start to interrupt long standing mental patterns of freaking out from fear. You’ll also have the added skill of breathwork to master your mind and its emotions, which will help you avoid the ravaging effects of cortisol and stress. At this point, you’ll more than likely take a leap forward, try something new and experience the true joy of following your passions and freely expressing yourself (not to mention all the success that comes with that).

Breathe In, Breathe Out. To learn more, I suggest checking out the Fired Up program here.

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