Real Men Do Yoga
“How can I take this yoga serious, when all it ever gives me is a pain in my posteriors?” sang Elvis Presley as he fumbled through a yoga class in the 1967 movie Easy Come, Easy Go. Today, men and yoga still aren’t getting along, as evidenced by the 2016 Yoga in America study conducted by Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance, which found that only 28 percent of yoga practitioners are men. The male teachers at Molly’s Yoga Corner, however, are out to change that.
Carl Hoffman, Jonathan Hoose and Jesse Pemberton teach and practice yoga. Each of them decided to teach after discovering the incredible benefits it brought into their own lives. For Hoffman, practicing yoga improved his health and gave him a more peaceful mental outlook. When Hoose started practicing yoga in college, he found he had more energy and could focus better in class. Pemberton experienced the ability to let go of old thought patterns and live in the present moment. Each of these men found that yoga is not only physically challenging, but it brings balance, health and relaxation into every aspect of life, including work and relationships.
“Yoga hits on the physical, the mental, and the spiritual,” explains Pemberton, “Those three aspects of health are all connected. If you don’t have all three of those in harmony, then you won’t be in balance.” This balance was the goal of the ancient Indians who developed yoga. According to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, written around 400 CE, the physical aspect of holding postures was just one of the eight limbs of yoga. Together with other limbs like meditation and breath work, the Sutras enable the individual to reach a higher state of consciousness. Because modern American yoga was built on this tradition, practicing it supports one’s spiritual and mental well-being, as well as being physically challenging.
“The guy who tries yoga for the first time,” says Hoffman, “may well be surprised at what he finds.” A typical yoga class at Molly’s involves holding postures, paying attention to the body and moving with the breath. While this may not surprise most men, the level of strength and flexibility yoga takes probably will. Hoose, Hoffman and Pemberton all agree that most men’s bodies are fairly tight, especially in the shoulders, hips and hamstrings, which can make certain postures a challenge. Opening up these and other areas of the body, they explain, has the obvious benefit of increased flexibility but can also promote an emotional release. Opening the heart center, for example, can cause increased feelings of compassion, and opening up the shoulders and throat area can result in an enhanced ability to speak one’s truth.
According to these men, the challenge of opening the body through yoga is worth the difficulty. Pemberton explains, “If your body hasn’t gone to a place or done a certain pose, your body’s going to talk to you, and it’s going to manifest as shaking, or vibrating. If you’re feeling vibrations in your muscles, that’s a good thing. That means you’re growing. See if you can stay in pose for 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 25 seconds. If you want to grow past this point, you have to go through discomfort.” In order to ease students past the discomfort, these teachers recommend modifying the pose, sometimes using props like blocks or bolsters. They keep a close eye on each student, making sure that the needs of each are being met in a safe and beneficial way.
For some men, the idea of not being able to perform a pose as well as another student may be a challenge in itself. But these teachers encourage their students to focus only on what is happening on their own mat, no matter how many people are around them. “The more you do it, there’s less ego involved, and you’re just there with the pose,” says Hoffman. While holding a posture, yoga students must be fully present in their own bodies in order to determine how far they can or should go.
This inward concentration leads to acceptance of what one’s body is capable of, and this acceptance, in turn, leads to increased confidence in one’s abilities. “Bring this feeling with you wherever you go,” says Pemberton. The idea of being true to oneself is one of many yoga lessons that can be beneficial both on and off the mat.
Some men find the physical practice of yoga to be more challenging than other forms of exercise since each pose engages the entire body, including the mind and the breath. Unlike weight training, in which only one muscle group at a time is generally the focus, every yoga pose— simple to complex—is a full-body challenge. In addition, practicing yoga can complement the other forms of exercise. A runner that practices yoga may experience more flexibility in his hips and hamstrings and an enhanced ability to concentrate on his stride.
But many men turn to yoga only after other forms of exercise have caused them injury. As Hoose reports, “I’ve seen an increase in the number of male students who have had some sort of injury from other kinds of exercise, like back surgery or knee replacement, and come to yoga as a part of their recuperation.” What these teachers would like men to know is that while yoga can be restorative to a body in distress, it shouldn’t be a last resort.
The teachers at Molly’s Yoga Corner would like to issue Rochester men a challenge: To give yoga a chance. They recommend finding a good studio and spending time exploring the possibilities and challenges of yoga. One-on-one sessions or a beginner’s workshop are other ways to get started. “If guys need a challenge,” says Pemberton, “I challenge you not to think. Come hold a pose, move with your breath, and try not to hold onto a thought. Just focus on how your body is engaging.”
In Easy Come, Easy Go, Elvis Presley’s character couldn’t handle a yoga class. In today’s world, Hoffman, Hoose and Pemberton are proof that real men do yoga.
“Am I serving the right God?“ That is the question massage therapist Janet Shipman is finally able to answer. To Shipman, serving the right God means using her skills in a way that benefits all and detracts from none, especially herself. And only now, after 30 years of stress, work and raising a family, can Shipman finally answer that question with a resounding “Yes.”
Natural healing has interested Shipman ever since her first job as a graphic designer in the high-stress world of advertising. She looked at her boss, an overworked man with a wife, a child and an ulcer and decided there had to be a better way to live and work. A job shouldn’t be a source of stress, she thought, but a source of joy. Every day, she noticed people suffering and simply couldn’t accept that life and work could cause inevitable, incurable pain. She looked to natural healing as a solution to the chronic stress that seemed to go hand in hand with her career. Eventually, it became clear that while she loved illustration and design, she was meant to serve in a different way. And so, when she and her husband moved to a new city, she gave up graphic design and worked in administration while pursuing her interest in natural healing.
What excited her most about the then little known field of natural healing was the idea that the body is much more than a machine; it is an interconnected system of energy with the ability to heal itself. “The body is magical,” says Shipman. “It’s incredible.” She became interested in learning massage therapy, but as a full-time mom caring for three small children, the time wasn’t right to step into a new career. “I couldn’t just jump up and do what I wanted to, for the longest time,” says Shipman.
The right time finally came in 2013. “When my youngest daughter started college,” says Shipman, “I wanted to recreate myself, start over, be a new me.” She had just left an administrative job and decided not pursue similar work. “I was serving a good cause,” she explains, “but I was serving the wrong God.” Instead, Shipman took the time to evaluate her strengths using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, a method of identifying one’s psychological type. When massage therapy appeared on a list of recommended careers for her type, INFP (introversion, intuition, feeling, perception), she knew she had found exactly how she was meant to serve.
Shipman enrolled in the Onondaga School of Therapeutic Massage (OSTM), and by April 2015, she was a licensed massage therapist. Massage therapy not only fulfilled her dream of working as a natural healer, but it introduced her to a skill she never knew she had. During her hands-on work at the OSTM clinic, where students offer inexpensive 50-minute massages to the public, she began to feel strange sensations in her fingers and hands as she was working. “My fingers started to tingle,” explains Shipman, “the same feeling you would get by putting your tongue against a battery. That feeling told me I have a sensitivity to the body’s energy. It guides me. It’s not a spirit, it’s not a voice, but I feel it. And I follow where the energy is leading. It’s crazy, but it’s so cool!”
Not only did Shipman discover hidden talents, she discovered a profound passion for her new career. “Massage therapy is often seen as pampering, but it’s so much more than that,” says Shipman. “A lot of people don’t realize the training, the knowledge, that massage therapists have. We have to know every muscle in the body, and what its function is. Does it flex? Does it rotate? Does it extend? You’re thinking about all those things while you’re working on someone’s body. Yeah, you’ve got the pretty music going and the atmosphere and the aromatherapy, but you’re thinking. You’re letting the knowledge under your hands and your intuition guide what you do to help the client.”
Another aspect of massage therapy that Shipman deeply appreciates is its emphasis on continued learning. According to New York State law, message therapists must accrue 36 hours of approved continuing education every three years in order to renew their licenses. Shipman is currently studying Chinese acupressure, which utilizes a system of access points along the body’s natural energy channels in order to rebalance the natural energy flow, and she plans to incorporate it into her practice after the intensive hands-on class she will be taking at the end of July.
Becoming a massage therapist finally gave Shipman the chance to use her strengths and do fulfilling work. “What I love about massage therapy is that it’s science and it’s art at the same time. You’re using your hands. You’re using your mind. You’re using your spirit. You’re using those three parts of you to help other people. It’s a really beautiful combination.” No longer does Shipman dread the ulcers and chronic stress she once feared were the inevitable result of a job. In fact, she feels drawn to helping those who do suffer from stressful jobs and offers occasional specials directed towards them, such as the discount she offered to tax professionals this winter.
Starting over, for Shipman, was an exciting process that had to wait until the time was right. “I’ve learned that I can learn. I’ve learned that I can start over. I’ve learned about the body, and what I’m capable of. The pieces are falling into place now. I’m serving the right God now, and that’s the difference.”
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Our creative concept for your brand is expressed in a wide array of marketing collateral. We’re continually reaching higher for the fresh concepts and designs that will set you apart.
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We appreciate the fact that everything that can be printed presents an opportunity to create a work of art. We envision new ways to express your creative concept in your business cards, signs, flyers, menus, advertisements, and more. If it’s going to have your brand on it, we’ll make it strikingly beautiful.
Your web presence is a chance to explore the vast possibilities of the web. We create authentic online experiences that explore the possibilities of your creative concept while inspiring and motivating your customers.
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Urbane Media started with a vision. After 15 years amassing professional experience in a number of creative roles, Ysis James was inspired to establish an agency that honors the idea that creative vision comes from the infinite place of the soul.
Throughout her career, Ysis experienced time and again that her vision for her clients’ potential went far beyond what they saw for themselves and beyond the scope of her job and even the agency. She saw creative possibilities that went untapped, opportunities missed. She realized that design had to be innovative and inspirational.
Urbane Media was founded to be a new kind of company with a new kind of leadership. Based on an integrated approach to branding and design, Urbane Media is dedicated to exceeding clients’ expectations. At Urbane, top talent is cultivated, bold original ideas are the norm, and branding is an art form.
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Spring Cleaning: Good for your Health!
We all know how beneficial spring cleaning can be for our floors, furniture, and closets, but the advantages extend beyond the home. Spring cleaning can actually be good for your health in a number of surprising ways.
RESPIRATORY AND IMMUNE HEALTH
A house filled with dust, mold, and pet dander is a house filled with respiratory risk. The best way to reduce the risk is a thorough cleaning of your home. Be sure to clean under beds, in closet corners, behind furniture, and along baseboards. Also, don’t forget to clean those kitchen appliances where food splatters can sometimes host mold and bacteria. A good spring cleaning can support a healthy immune system!
Spring cleaning is a perfect time to safeguard your home from potential problems. Add these tasks to your spring cleaning checklist:
Check and replace the batteries in your smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, and flashlights.
Get rid of expired medications, ointments, and food.
Make sure your walkways are clear of clutter and cords to prevent injuries.
When it comes to clutter, many studies have proven its negative effects on mental health. Disorderly surroundings can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and stress. On the other hand, a clean, tidy environment can lead to feelings of calm, confidence, and happiness. Spring cleaning is a great time to create an orderly, clean environment that will support a healthy sense of self-worth. But don’t just tidy during the spring—making time to clean a little each day can help reduce stress.
According to the Journal of Neuroscience, your brain processes information more easily in a tidy environment than in an untidy one. That means a good spring cleaning can help you form better habits, like exercising and eating healthy foods. In fact, a study conducted at the University of Minnesota showed that people in orderly spaces were more likely to make healthier food choices than those in cluttered, disorderly spaces.
Believe it or not, a clean and tidy home can even improve your sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, a tidy bedroom, clean sheets, and fresh air (free of allergens) can lead to better, more restful sleep.
If keeping your home clean can make you happier, safer, and healthier, then what are waiting for? It’s time to dust, declutter, and clean your way to a healthier you!
SIDE BAR 1:
Keep your desk neat! With more people working from home, your home office is an important space to keep clean. According to a Princeton University study, clearing the clutter from your home work space can help improve your focus and make you more productive.
SIDE BAR 2:
Dust mites are microscopic bugs that feed on the dead skin cells that fall off of our bodies every day. Dust mites are common in most homes and, generally, don’t do any harm. People with allergies or asthma, however, can experience problems with dust mites. To reduce risk, dust regularly, wash your sheets weekly, put a protective cover on your mattress, and reduce the soft, humid places where dust mites can grow.
SIDE BAR 3:
You can’t clean clutter! Start your spring cleaning with a thorough decluttering. Go through your house, room by room, with a trash bag and three boxes labeled “Donate,” “Recycle.” And “Put Away.” After decluttering, take out the trash and deal with the three boxes as necessary. Be sure to actually get those items out of the house. Don’t just put that box somewhere else to deal with later!
Laughter. Easy conversation. Little footsteps scampering about. Giggles and shouts. Kitchen drawers opening and closing. These were the sounds that came echoing into my room where I lay sick while the rest of my family enjoyed Easter together. A few days before Easter, I was knocked down by the flu. It assaulted me with chills, headache, fever, congestion, tiredness, laryngitis, and coughing. It lay siege to my entire life. When the doctor put me on strict vocal rest, it sealed my condition as one of silence. But silence, I discovered, is not as quiet as it seems.
One of the days I spent sick was Easter Sunday. I listened for hours to sounds of levity and leisure coming from downstairs. I heard games being played and attentions being showered on my nieces and nephew. I heard the sounds of Easter dinner being prepared. I heard conversation and comments. None of these sounds were all that important by themselves, but together they were a symphony. I realized that had I been well and joined my voice to the music, it would have been just another note in the stream of sounds. Whether I would have shared earth-shattering revelations or mere idle chatter, mine would have been just another voice. A unique and valuable voice, but no better or worse than any other. Every voice was important, no matter what it was saying.
During the many days I spent in silence, I mostly had my own thoughts to listen to rather than a holiday houseful, and I noticed that my thoughts were just as noisy as they were. My restless thoughts had the audacity to parade around the mind of a patient sick with the flu. Thoughts about my future, my desires, and my purpose came flooding in with obnoxious confidence knowing I was too sick to swat them away. Everything I had ever regretted wormed its way in to my mind daring me to look at it. I thought about the sea of desires that wash over my mind, bathing me in the countless things upon which my happiness seems to depend. In my helpless state, I could take no action to better my situation aside from blowing my nose or having a drink of water. While I was listening to these tangled thoughts as they boldly dared me to believe them, I realized that while I held no judgment for the Easter noises and considered them as music, I felt it my duty to shamefully judge the thoughts in my own mind even if they contradicted one another. How are other people's thoughts, voiced on an Easter afternoon deemed acceptable while my own are not?
Whether Easter sounds crowded my ears or the endless drone of my thoughts, I never really had silence. There was always a thought to respond to. There was always a sound to listen to. Real silence, cultivated through meditation, must be, I thought, a thoroughly supernatural experience. Our humanity is so steeped with stimulation from within and without that the removal of stimulation must feel utterly extraordinary. I realized that like water in a brook, our minds are vessels of thoughts of every shape and kind, and it is only when we apply our judgment that the river of thoughts becomes an unbearable noise rather than the symphony it can be. We were made to be aware of the sounds that surround us, and so let them come. Let the thoughts sing to us. Let them flow in and out of our awareness. But remember, "I am not my thoughts" and they will become like musical notes making a brief appearance in the light of our consciousness.
Blueberry Bars and the Meaning of Life
Blog Post for a Creative Blog
Blueberries. Sugar. Butter. Flour. These are the primary ingredients for these Yummilicious Blueberry Crumb Bars. Each of these ingredients has a mission. A very clear purpose. Take butter, for instance. Butter is a tasty fat. That's how it is used in baking. This is how it enhances every food it encounters. Or sugar. Sugar is a sweetener. There is no mistaking its purpose. It clearly sweetens everything it comes into contact with. There are no questions, no grey areas, no wondering. These ingredients do what they're supposed to do. And very well, I might add. Especially in these Yummilicious Blueberry Crumb Bars.
But what about my purpose? My mission? Why isn't my mission in life as clear as sugar's mission? Why can't I achieve my purpose with the same ease as butter can? How is it that a brainless, ordinary thing like sugar can accomplish so much, so easily; when unique, extraordinary things like human beings find accomplishment so difficult?
I have no answers. I can only send these cosmic questions out into the webosphere. In any event, no matter how much I may be at a loss to accomplish, or to even know, my purpose, it is comforting to witness the perfect accomplishment of purpose of the ingredients for these Yummilicious Blueberry Crumb Bars. I found the recipe on Smitten Kitchen, and after tasting them, I had to add "yummilicious" to the name for obvious reasons.
So, when you are wondering what your purpose is or feel like you can't make things work, just make these blueberry bars and watch how easily and profoundly these simple ingredients all come together.
(Original post included the recipe.)