The practice of yoga is now a part of main-stream America. Despite some claims, promotions, magazine covers, and local pitches, yoga is not just for women. Some schools are now offering yoga classes as part of their physical education program. Yoga is not a religion even though it is practiced in Hinduism and Buddhism. Early Christianity used many of the techniques attributed to yoga, especially those used for the quieting of the mind.
Early signs of yoga practices appear in ancient Shamanism. Artifacts dating back to 3000 BCE provide evidence of yoga practices. And there is reference in the Rig-Veda, the oldest existing text known. The prestigious Smithsonian is currently exhibiting artifacts showing yoga poses.
Traditionally, men seek physical programs that build six-pack abs and this is fine if you are a twenty or thirty something. But what if you are a sixty or seventy or an eighty something? Choices open to the mature male adult are basically a local 'fitness' gym with a variety of machines. Of course, one may always jog. But not quite so fast. As the late songstress, Peggy Lee used to sing, “Is that all there is?”
Physically, yoga poses help the individual to condition the body and the mind. Some of the poses, the yoga asanas for example, focuses on moving energy up and down the spinal column. Other poses focus on awareness of various body parts: spine, hips, neck, and shoulders. Underpinning all aspects of yoga is the emphasis on proper breathing-controlled breathing.
Not only does proper yoga breathing energize the flow of blood and there before, needed nutrients to all parts of the body, it also can calm the heart and mind. The positive effects thought about on balance, and physical well-being are well documented.
Many of the yoga poses can be done at home, in the office, or workspace. Stress release is crucial and many easy-to-do yoga poses provide that release. If you are a person who works hours at a computer or some other task in which you remain relatively stationary, standing and doing a few squats or taking a hold of the back of a chair and bending the head down does wonders.
Norman W Wilson, PhD