Here is a guest blog post from Alexandra Katsarelis, former student of STY and new resident of Chicago, Illinois (we miss her very much!)
A common misconception about yoga is that the practice is mainly for women. This couldn’t be farther from the truth, as yoga is for everybody and every body. Yoga can bring many benefits to people of any gender and body type, including increased flexibility, strength, and mind-body wellness. Here, some of the male students at Southtown Yoga share why they choose to practice yoga—and what keeps them coming back.
“At first it was for fitness. I never liked the gym and as a runner wasn't really building muscle. I added yoga as a form of cross-training and after several consistent months I was seeing results. But then I found the other facets of practice, beyond the body… It just makes me happier. It's one of the few things that I do 100% for myself, and it's a healthy vice.”
-Patrick Knobloch, age 34
“I choose to practice yoga because it makes my entire life better for me and those around me. It is the feeling of being ready to take on the day after practice. Being at STY is a really comfortable environment that challenges me every time I’m in. Also I feel as though I learn something almost every time I’m there!”
-Kyle Seaman, age 36
“I was invited to come to Yogahour by a friend. The first time was very, very difficult. I looked around the room at all these bendy people and thought ‘there's no way I could ever do that.’ But I kept going. And kept sweating and tried to practice two or three times a week… I began having more energy. Fewer headaches. I was more comfortable in my life and in my body and in my mind. Some days I can really push, and some days I can just squeak through the hour and I have to modify or take breaks. But that's okay. That's not the point. The point is to accept where I am on any given day and work with that. It's my plan to continue this practice for the rest of my life.”
-Stephen Neale-Oestreicher, age 44
“I choose to practice for increased flexibility. What keeps me coming back to my mat is overall wellness.”
-Dave Rajchart, age 40
“I’ve been practicing for 7 years, as much as possible. I yoga because it’s a smarter, faster way to build the body, mind, and spirit correctly, as one. I practice yoga for the following benefits, far beyond what can be achieved through weight lifting: Increased functional body strength through balance and joint mobility.
Increased self-awareness of the human body’s full potential. Through practice, I have learned how to use ALL muscle groups more collectively to achieve that potential.
Aha moments – I have felt how to properly use muscles for the 1st time despite years of sports & lifting!
Increased coordination. Neuromuscular pathways can be developed and constantly improved!
Humbling, challenging strength & cardio workout.
Poses have stages. I can choose to push forward into more difficult positions as I progress.
Practice shines light on daily health and well-being as an interaction between mind, body, and spirit.
Supportive atmosphere of amazing teachers & classmates from all talent levels with different strengths and weaknesses. No one judges. We admire all those who choose to practice.
A daily escape.
Afterwards I feel mobile, strong, warmed up, READY. I never feel stiff like after lifting weights.”
-Steve Callahan, age 29
“The kula (the friendships, the other students, the teachers, the feel of the place and community itself) keeps me coming back. I practice yoga to keep my body strong and flexible and because I find it reduces my stress level and makes me a more mindful person off of the mat.”
-Josh Mazur, age 31
“What started as a workout continues to be one of the most challenging and ever-evolving things I have ever found myself getting associated with. My time on the mat has brought an awareness to the beauty of the asanas and the challenge of their finer details. It has sparked a control of my body in certain ways that I hadn’t had prior, in regards to alignment and breath work, stamina, and absolute determination. A symptom of just showing up was that I also noticed a degree of calmness and discipline that carried over to the entirety of my life. My practice has surpassed my expectations of having been a pastime and turned into a lifestyle.”
-Joshua Bright, age 33