If you are just beginning to practice yoga, try performing the Complete Yoga Session presented here a number of times so that you become familiar with and feel easy in each pose. Once you've practiced for a period of time, you can try adapting the session to meet your own personal needs.
Yoga poses are commonly categorized into several key groups depending upon the major movement that is generated by the posture—thus, most yoga asanas are classified as backward bends, forward bends, balancing poses, inversions, or twists. If your goal is to get a complete body workout, try incorporating at least one posture from each group of exercises. You could adapt the Complete Yoga Session to a shorter practice time by performing one complete round of Sun Salutation, one forward bend (Head-to-Knee Posture), one backward bend (Cobra, Bow, or Bridge Pose), a balancing pose (Tree Pose), an inversion (Shoulderstand or Plow Pose), and a twist (Seated Spinal Twist). If you decide to practice an abbreviated program on a more regular basis, see if you can vary the pose you choose from each group in each session or each week (for instance, alternating Cobra with Bow Pose as your backward bending exercise).
If your time is really limited, you may want to do several rounds of the Sun Saluta-tion—this powerful series of movements was designed to stretch and strengthen the entire body. If you are concerned about one particular area—for example, opening up the chest— you might want to focus on doing backward bending exercises. If you have tight hamstring and lower back muscles, you may want to focus on forward bending exercises. Remember, though, that it is always best to balance one type of posture by its opposite—for instance, a forward bend by a backward bend.
In addition to the asanas provided in "A Complete Yoga Practice Session for Men," you'll find various additional postures presented in the chapters in this book that are devoted to a man's specific needs. Try incorporating some of these poses into your yoga routine as you gain more experience and confidence with yoga.
This Complete Yoga Session is intended for fit men in good physical condition. The particular manner in which you pursue your yoga practice will depend upon your age and physical condition. If you are young and energetic, you may want to practice all the poses regularly and with a number of repetitions of each pose. If you're older or not so physically fit, you may want to start off gently, with only some of the poses and modifying them to your abilities, with fewer repetitions. With time and disciplined practice, though, you should be able to increase your stamina in your yoga practice, whatever your starting point.
When developing your yoga practice, regular practice is invaluable. If possible, see if you can incorporate a one-hour yoga practice session two to three times a week into your routine. If that proves too much, see if you can practice yoga for one hour once a week, or three times a week for a 20-minute session each time. It is better to choose fewer postures and perform them with awareness than to try to cram a lot of postures into a short time period. The benefits of yoga come with time—so if you're just beginning your yoga practice, try to commit yourself to a regular practice. Even if you may not feel the benefits after the first or second session, make a contract with yourself to continue for a stated period of time—at least four to six weeks—to give yoga the opportunity to have its effect on you. Chances are you'll be glad you did.
As you progress in your yoga practice, remember that yoga is more than just about physical exercise. It can also help promote the health and vitality of the mind, emotions, and spirit. Consider incorporating meditation and breathing practices into your yoga program for a complete yoga workout. You'll find more information on these practices in Chapter 16.
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