Getting Started

How to Use This Book

When we begin studying yoga—whether by way of asanas, pranayama, meditation, or studying the Yoga Sutra—the way in which we learn is the same. The more we progress, the more we become aware of the holistic nature of our being, realizing that we are made of body, breath, mind, and more So let us not forget, we can begin practicing yoga from any starting point, but if we are to be complete human beings we must incorporate all aspects of ourselves, and do so step by step.1

Yoga is hot. Major newspapers and national circulation magazines are devoting more and more feature articles to the booming interest in yoga. Health clubs are capitalizing on the craze for yoga by offering new and innovative classes, and private sessions with trainers and teachers in a dizzying array of styles. Celebrities are signing up personal yoga coaches, and cutting-edge healthcare practitioners, such as Dr. Dean Ornish, M.D., are incorporating yoga into programs designed to help individuals maintain their health and prevent or reverse the onset of disease.

Yoga for Men is intended to answer the questions of every man, or, for that matter, anyone who has interest in this exciting field. This includes those men who may be interested in yoga but confused about where to begin their exploration of it, as well as the millions of men who are already practicing yoga. Yoga for Men is for any man who has any interest in his own body and health; any man who has read about the various types of yoga advertised by the local health club, spa, or yoga center; any man with any interest in his own body and min; and any man who may not even have thought about yoga—until now. Although the title of this book is Yoga for Men, the subject of yoga is not in and of itself gender-specific. The information contained in this book can also be of valuable assistance to women who are interested in yoga, who may wish to help their male friends, partners, and loved ones benefit from yoga, and who may wish to learn for themselves the many benefits of yoga.

This book is designed to be as simple, clear, complete, and user-friendly as possible. You'll find a wealth of information on yoga, including its history, the philosophy behind it, and detailed presentations of the most widely popular styles of yoga practiced today, including a step-by-step description of a complete yoga practice session that incorporates a full series of postures for healthy, stress-free living.

While this book can be read as a whole from start to finish, each chapter can also be read on its own. Yoga for Men is divided into six parts. Following a brief introduction, Part I presents an overview of the principal branches of yoga. Part II takes an in-depth look at the major styles that comprise the hatha yoga tradition, which includes the physical exercises that many people associate with yoga. Part III presents exciting contemporary adaptations of yoga by Western practitioners, mainly American, in addition to some more traditional approaches to this ancient Eastern art. Part IV focuses on how yoga can be used to address specific male needs. Part V addresses the yoga lifestyle, with helpful information for every man regarding a yogic diet, breathing exercises, and meditation techniques. Part VI presents invaluable resource information on how you can find out more about yoga and issues related to men's health, including yoga retreats, books, yoga props, and even some of the most innovative and popular yoga Websites on the Internet. Interspersed throughout the text, you'll find insights from some of America's top male yoga teachers and practitioners on how yoga can be of particular benefit to men. The section titled "A Complete Yoga Practice Session for Men" (pages 112—146) provides illustrations and descriptions to complement your practice. The Afterword provides guidance on how you can put all the pieces of yoga together to custom tailor a practice to meet your own personal needs. A selective general bibliography completes the book, while providing a helpful starting point for continuing your own personal exploration of yoga. Throughout the text, photographs help illustrate the various practices that are being described.

Yoga is first and foremost an experience. According to some venerated sages, the aim of yoga is to allow men to transcend both the body and the mind in a state of original bliss. This feeling-state is a lived experience, not just an intellectual exercise. For this reason, it is essential for each individual man to experiment with yoga in his own way. The presentations of various yoga practices in this book will help you determine which styles or approaches you are most drawn to, and will help you start incorporating them into your life. However, because yoga is a lived experience, it can be very helpful to work with someone who is knowledgeable about yoga and who already has substantial experience incorporating yoga into his or her life.

The best way to learn the practice of yoga is under the guidance of a competent teacher. It is especially helpful for beginning yoga practitioners to study under the supervision of an experienced teacher. Fortunately, the major yoga associations have centers located throughout the United States and the rest of the world. In addition, there are even more qualified private instructors available who are located within convenient reach of virtually any town or city in not only the United States, but also the entire world. Yoga for Men contains a detailed listing of resources to help you continue your exploration of this exciting and dynamic field on your own.

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