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Into Yoga Newsletter

January 2009 - Issue 25

Well, another year come and gone!  What have your experiences over the past year taught you? What new things will 2009 invite into your life?  I hope 2008 brought you many wonderful experiences, and that 2009 will bring you many more.

I spoke with several people over the holidays who had a sudden change in plans when they found themselves snowbound.  I hope that you were able to enjoy your family and friends over the holidays, together or long distance.

My townhome has been behind scaffolding and under tarps since the beginning of December.  With an estimate of another three months before our cocoon transforms into a butterfly, I know I must really practice my "off the mat" Yoga.  Being displaced in your own home can be somewhat unnerving.  But, I look forward to the beautiful outcome.

We have a full array of classes to greet you this year.  Please visit our entire website at www.intoyoga.ca, or go directly to our classes page at www.intoyoga.ca/classes.htm

In this issue you will find the following topics:

     1)    Winter Classes

     2)    Event Invite
     3)    Free Yoga Classes
     4)    Corporate Class Promotion   
     5)    17th Annual Wellness Show
     6)    Where Are All the Men?
     7)    Try This Pose
     8)    Recipe - Carot Cake
     9)    Quips and Quotes
    10)    Past Newsletters
    11)    Your Contributions Welcome
    12)    Our Privacy Policy
    13)    Email A Friend

1)    Winter Classes

Registration has begun and many classes are filling up quickly.  We will be offering some new classes this term including Baby Sign Language at the Roundhouse Community Center at the corner of Pacific and Drake in Vancouver on Mondays at 1:45pm and Yamuna Body Rolling being offered at Kerrisdale Community Center on Mondays at 12:00pm.

Our Burnaby and Coquitlam classes will allow you the option to add a Nutritional Cleanse Package with your Yoga classes.  *Nutritional Cleansing will help your body dispose of the impurities that are absorbed from the foods we eat, the water we drink, and the air we breathe. Release unwanted pounds and inches (and keep them off) easily and quickly using our nutritional cleanse products and coupling it with Yoga classes. Benefits can include improved strength, clear complexion, increased energy, reduced stress, deeper sleep, fat loss, and more. Feel, look and be healthier and more vibrant. Get the results you want without unwanted side effects of a traditional cleanse. Products, yoga classes and unlimited coaching included.

*Nutritional Cleanse products may be purchased without the Yoga classes at an adjusted cost.  Call us at 604-421-9872 for more details.

See what else is now by going to www.intoyoga.ca and click on the classes link.

2)    Event Invite

We've had a lot of interest lately in the nutritional cleansing that we offer.  For the month of January we will be offering presentations in Vancouver, North Vancouver and Burnaby on a daily basis so you can learn more.  If you'd like to find out when and where they are, or would like to be put on our email list for information regarding cleansing, please email sheri@cleanseyourbody.ca.

3)    Free Classes

On Saturday January 3, we will be offering two FREE Yoga classes for you to try at Sunset Community Center, 6810 Main Street.  I hope you can join us.

1:00pm - 1:45pm
Dynamic Flow Yoga

2:35pm - 3:20pm
Partner Yoga

Please visit www.intoyoga.ca/class_descriptions.htm for a description of each class.

4)    Corporate Yoga Class Promotion

Were you and your co-workers among the many people who gained 7lbs to 10lbs this past holiday?  Are you finding yourself more stressed at work, after being away a few days?  We'd like to offer you a solution.

When you book 10 on site Yoga classes for your workplace which begin in January 2009, we'll give you a guaranteed rate of $75 per class as long as there are at least 8 people registered.  Split the fee among everyone registered.  So with 10 people, each person pays $7.50 per class, with 15 participants, each pays $5 per class, 20 people pay $3.75 per class.  This is for new clients only, and classes must be booked to begin this month.

We want to help create a stress-free environment at work.  We believe that staff who take the time to breathe and realign themselves, work better and enjoy their jobs more.

Benefits to the Participant
* improved memory, focus and concentration
* reduced stress and tension
* boosted immune system
* lower blood pressure
* improved circulation
* increased energy
* improved self esteem
* a more firmed, toned and flexible body
* relief of common ailments such as backache and fatigue

Benefits to the Employer
* less absenteeism
* improved productivity
* enhanced decision making
* boosted morale
* reduced burnout
* less turnover
* increased motivation
* better team spirit
* lower health care costs
* increased efficiency
* enhanced company/employee relationship

Call 604-421-9872 or email info@intoyoga.ca.  Visit our Corporate page on our website at www.intoyoga.ca/corporate.htm.

5)    17th Annual Wellness Show

Need help finding balance in your life? Join us in Vancouver for one of the West Coast's premiere consumer shows focusing on all aspects of health and vital living. Listed as one of the largest trade & consumer shows by Business in Vancouver and the fastest growing show by the Province, the Wellness Show features a comprehensive program including keynote speakers, demonstrations and special events reflecting the most up-to-date information on wellness and healthy living.

Join us February 6, 7, 8 2009 at booth #700.  Once again we will be promoting our Isagenix Nutritional Cleanse products.  Drop by to say hi and enter our give away draw!

Please go to http://www.thewellnessshow.com/index.html for more details.

6)    Where Are All the Men?
by Andrew Tiln at http://www.yogajournal.com

It's a beautiful Saturday morning and I am in, of all places, a yoga studio. While my cycling buddies set out for a ride, I waited by racks of flowery yoga clothes, then filed in for class. While my pals pedaled and, no doubt, rapped about racing, I unrolled my black mat near someone else's pink one, beside someone else's painted toenails and a pile of voguish flip-flops. Now, my fellow riders are probably engaged in some testosterone-fueled sprint, while I'm grunting loudly to stay balanced on my forearms. I'm inverted and self-conscious: In a class filled with women, I alone am emitting primal noises.

A world turned upside down—that's yoga for most of us men. We still run most of the government and hit the major league home runs, but yoga is a woman's domain. According to a 2005 Yoga Journal market study, 77 percent of the yoga practitioners in America are female. Anecdotally, longtime teachers like Anusara Yoga founder John Friend and Power Yoga instructor Baron Baptiste, who both regularly crisscross the nation hosting workshops, believe the numbers might be even more skewed. After all, only about 1 in 10 subscribers to this magazine is male. "What I find myself constantly contemplating," says Michael Lechonczak, a yoga instructor who teaches at Equinox Fitness in Manhattan, "is how to get more guys into class."

It's not that we don't know what we're missing. Nowadays, there seems to be a yoga studio on every corner; our girlfriends and wives are walking, talking testimonies to the practice. At home, we watch them rushing out the front door, brows furrowed, only to return standing tall, with big, tranquil smiles on their faces and compassion in their eyes. Because my wife Madeleine is a yoga instructor and an avid student, I witness this stress-to-bliss transformation several times a week. When she comes home, I often mumble to myself, "Don't I want to be that happy?" Yet I haven't practiced yoga consistently for years.

So I asked highly qualified doctors, scientists, and veteran yoga teachers exactly why so many men stick to yoga's sidelines. I also polled members of that rare breed known as the male practitioner—from pro athletes to busy investment managers—to find out how they came to embrace yoga. In the end, I discovered social, physical, and emotional realities that discourage men from practicing. I also heard about the moments of inspiration that got men over such barriers—and ideas about what might help other men make the leap, too. If you're a man who's hesitated to try yoga—or you know a man you'd like to introduce to the practice—read on.

Social Obstacles: Yoga Takes a Brave Man

Getting men to identify with yoga has long been a challenge in this country. It doesn't matter that yoga, since its beginnings in India thousands of years ago, has mainly been taught and studied by men. Restrictive American immigration laws of the early 1900s stunted the spread of Indian culture on these shores, and only a handful of influential yogis arrived here through the decades. One such important teacher was Indra Devi. Russian born and Indian taught, she came to the United States in the 1940s and was championed by none other than celebrity cosmetologist Elizabeth Arden. That name resonated, of course, with the women who gobbled up her products, and Arden encouraged her customers to try yoga. A few years later, teacher Richard Hittleman published yoga books and landed on TV—but always had women perform the poses. Yoga's next media celebrity was a young instructor named Lilias Folan, who began teaching asanas on public television in the 1970s. Folan had a gentle style that empowered millions of stay-at-home moms to follow right along. By the time Power Yoga emerged in the 1980s and began attracting more men, the mainstream view of the practice had, fairly or not, taken root: Yoga was for housewives.

Sure enough, the first thing many men notice on entering a yoga studio is that they're in foreign territory. Pensive women readying for class sets as strong a tone as a locker room of guys snapping towels. "Men walk in needing a challenge," says Judith Lasater, who has authored six yoga books during her 35 years as a teacher. "Women often come to the mat seeking refuge."

The instructor can be equally alien. A female teacher might seem like just another pretty face in the intimidating crowd. A male teacher, who will likely be more humble and sensitive than your average tough-love personal trainer, may be met with disdain. "A student walks in from corporate America, and he encounters this man who exists in such a different realm," Baptiste says. "The instructor might not be a guy's guy."

Lechonczak, who consulted on the book Real Men Do Yoga, sympathizes with such concerns. Before coming to the practice nearly 20 years ago, he had a consuming business career and was a weekend warrior who ran and played basketball. Lechonczak thinks more men might be willing to try yoga if they perceived it as yet another test. Albeit a unique one. "The guys coming to yoga have to be ready for the next level, be ready to let down their defenses," he says. "They have to have heart."

A guy's first act of yogic bravery, Lechonczak says, is to introduce himself to the teacher. "Find out if the class is appropriate," he advises. "Admit any fears or anxieties."

Once the line of communication is open, a good instructor will tailor a class for individual students—male or female. Scott Achelis, a 54-year-old general contractor in Walnut Creek, California, began taking classes locally early last year because his back was tweaked from decades of construction work. The key was a positive first experience at the Yoga & Movement Center: a men's only, one-day workshop held by studio director Diane Valentine. Her agenda? Make it fun, and let guys be guys. "It was unthreatening," Achelis says. "We were all stretching and making off-color jokes."

Achelis quickly became a regular in a coed class. "It's still difficult for me when I'm partnered with a woman. I'm uncomfortable touching anybody who's not my wife the way you have to in yoga," he admits. But otherwise being a man among women no longer bothers him. He couldn't care less who's in the room, or that some very unathletic-looking females can enter poses that he can't. "I don't feel like I'm doing 10 percent of something being done by a woman next to me," Achelis says. "I'm doing 100 percent of what I'm able to do."

Physical Hurdles: Overcoming Groins and Gray Matter

Get a man past his reservations about asana time with the ladies and he'll still have a well-founded reason to drag his feet to a studio: Yoga can be painful.

Men, it seems, are naturally tight. Boys and girls may be born equally limber, with an ability to comfortably put their feet behind their heads. But by adolescence, boys generally lose flexibility faster than girls, and as boys become men, the differences in flexibility tend to grow. Researchers have noted this gap, although they can't specifically link it to differences in hormones, musculature, or connective tissue. "It's hard to attribute to any one thing," says Lynn Millar, a professor of physical therapy at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan.

 Whatever is to blame, the typical man's pursuits and lifestyle, from sitting at a desk all day to grabbing beers after a twilight softball game, put little importance on flexibility.

Lasater says stretching takes a back seat in a male's life as early as high school. "Look at the way they stretch in football—they push on each other and bounce. It hurts," she says. "How could anyone emerge from that with a positive view of flexibility?" Investment manager Ron Bernstein was certainly ambivalent about stretching—until his 80-hour workweeks caught up with him. Back in 1998, Bernstein, a former competitive high school golfer who's a managing director for the investment firm Marathon Real Estate in New York City, realized that "everything hurt," he says. "My wife was doing some yoga and suggested that stretching would be good."

Bernstein, 37, went to a class in lower Manhattan and muddled through. "On my walk home, my back felt so much better. All those Upward and Downward Dogs really worked."

Physical Benefits

Today a more limber Bernstein is religious about his one-day-a-week private sessions. He attributes his daily vitality and still-strong golf game to Warrior Pose variations that open his shoulders, hips, and back. "My handicap was 10 as a kid and I'm still at about 13," he says. "Not bad for a guy who works all the time." Elasticity also helps men who are determined to play all day. Barry Zito, the 28-year-old star pitcher who's spent most of his career with the Oakland A's, serves as a role model for any jock who's determined to stay injury free. Building up muscle mass and repeating the same athletic motions day after day and year after year only adds to a body's tightness. Which is all the more reason why Zito, who's been in the majors since 2000, likes to brag about a statistic other than wins and losses. "I've never missed a start," he says.

Zito began practicing yoga in 1998, when he heard about an off-season training program in Southern California that entwined baseball skills with yoga—"I've always been open to alternative forms of training," he says—and he's been doing asanas ever since.

Zito's daily regimen usually includes groin and hip openers like Pigeon, Frog, and Warrior poses because "they're kind of like the positions I find myself in when I'm pitching," he says. Zito happily demonstrates poses to his fellow major leaguers, although in the good ol' boy world of professional baseball, he keeps plenty to himself. "It's too foreign for them," he says. Zito believes, however, that such myopia may prevent players from staying in the lineup.

"Some guys aren't willing to do the things required to keep their health," Zito says. "I'm not judging anyone. I just know my own experience, and it's been really, really good."

Zito might have an even harder time spreading the gospel of yoga if men knew that, when it comes to life on the mat, their brains as well as their bodies are working against them. Science hasn't concluded that women have higher IQs. But women can boast about their mirror neurons.

These are brain cells that receive signals from another person and trigger similar reactions in the observer. Watching someone cry, for example, might more easily cause you to cry. While mirror neurons often detect emotions, they also help an observer match posture and breathing. "You use mirror neurons to watch and imitate your yoga instructor," says Louann Brizendine, a neuropsychiatrist at the University of California at San Francisco and the author of The Female Brain.

For men, says Brizendine, the catch is that they don't respond as well as women to such transmitted signals. Scientists are still speculating whether women have more of such cells, or just more active ones. Either way, the neurons don't inherently make women superior jocks, since men may have been born or raised with other athletic advantages. "But because females' mirror neurons are more easily activated," Brizendine says, "on average, women can mimic better than men."

Fortunately, men can raise the performance of their mirror neurons if they consistently employ them. But until then, men enter the yoga studio at a disadvantage. New poses will be harder for them to get right. "The instructors need to be more patient with the male students," Brizendine says. "They have to perform more demonstrations for them."

Emotional Challenge: Try Beating Yourself

Even if a guy turns a physical corner and starts adapting to yoga's demands, he may still miss out on many of the practice's benefits. Yoga's internal rewards—everything from better focus to less stress—are the hardest for men to realize.

Brizendine says that this problem, too, begins with men's wiring. Men's brains have a high capacity to process emotions like fear and aggression. Put an average, aggressive-feeling man on the mat, add thoughts about hostile takeovers or Shaq dunking a basketball, and you get someone who isn't looking to quiet his mind but to let go of pent-up energy. That's easy in traditional recreational sports, with their scores, times, and rivalries. But guys in Downward Dog may still be looking for something, or someone, to beat. "For men, physical activity—nonsexual physical activity—has always been closely associated with competition," Brizendine says. "Studies have shown that for the last 40 years."

Brizendine adds that with time and training, men's brains can get past such competitive urges, and the proof lies in the men who have found enormous benefits from tapping into yoga's more emotional offerings. Bill Gross, chief investment officer for asset management company Pimco and one of the most powerful men in his business, appreciates what 12 years of yoga has done for his head. Every morning, Gross, 62, leaves his Southern California office to gather his thoughts in a gym. Part of the workout always includes yoga. Gross loves doing Headstand. "Some of my best ideas come during Sirsasana," he says. And, he adds, often after his routine, "a light bulb turns on, and I'm on to something."

Away from the multiple computer screens and trading-room hubbub, Gross gets more than inspiration. The mat offers him a place to calm his nerves and breathe deeply. He returns to the office rejuvenated and relaxed, ready to work with a purpose. "Focus is a huge part of what I do," Gross says, "and when you are trusted with nearly $700 billion of other people's money, you'd better be focused. Because of my practice, I can sift the noise from the facts of an investment."

Yoga can also teach a guy who's overwhelmed by his many responsibilities that the best way to get things done is by being present—focusing on one thing at a time.

"If I go from breath to breath, I'll find myself at the end of class," says Zito. Similarly, when he's playing a game, he says, "If I go hitter to hitter as opposed to letting my mind drift, I'll suddenly be in the seventh inning."

Men, like women, can get addicted to yoga's emotional benefits. Mehmet Oz, a surgery professor at Columbia University who promotes holistic wellness in his book Healing from the Heart, is also a sports nut. But the doctor, who played football at Harvard and has a basketball court in his basement, sees his daily yoga practice as an escape, whether it's from surgery or scorekeeping.

"That's where the freedom comes in. You can let go," he says. "You realize that the bigger game you're playing in life isn't about competitiveness."

What life is about, Oz says, is awareness, equanimity, and keeping one's ego in check—after all, the world is a bigger place than any one...man. Indeed, in topping off the list of yoga's benefits for his male colleagues, Oz even uses the word "spirituality," although he's aware that some men might find that term a turnoff. "Try to get a man in contact with the spiritual element of yoga right from the start, and he'll be lost," he says. "He isn't ready for that."

Bernstein, the investment manager who has practiced yoga for seven years, admits that he still doesn't like "chanting Om too many times and closing my eyes." But these days Bernstein's biggest problem concerning yoga is an inability to share his experiences with the very wife who persuaded him to try it. She abandoned yoga eight years ago. "I have no idea why Keri quit," he says. "She just won't do it."

Maybe she needs a few more male practitioners to tell her what she's missing.

Andrew Tilin, a freelance writer living with his family in Oakland, California, contributes to Wired, Outside, and other publications

7)    Try this Pose - Side Bow

The Full Bow can be a very challenging posture.  Here's a much simpler, yet effective variation.

1. Lay on your right side, legs bent, head resting on extended arm.
2. Lift your left leg and bring the heel toward your buttock.
3. Inhaling, reach back with the left arm to grasp the foot or ankle.
4. Exhaling, contract abdominals while pushing the heel away from buttock still  holding the ankle.
5. Hold posture and breathe.
6. Release.
7. Repeat on opposite side.

NOTE:  Practice this posture at your own risk.

8)    Recipe
Carrot Cake (9 servings)
Dr Andrew Weil www.myoptimumhealthplan.com

Carrot cake is a perennial favorite, but it is often loaded with vegetable oil and laden with a cream cheese frosting. Our version is healthier, using a small amount of olive oil, a full cup of honey for moistness and flavor, and a combination of whole wheat pastry and unbleached flours. The crunchy walnuts even add a bit of omega-3 fats to this sweet treat. With a cup of hot green tea, this cake will make you forget about cream cheese frosting. Enjoy!

Ingredient List

2 cups firmly packed finely grated carrots (3 large)
Juice of 1 large orange
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup light olive oil
1 cup honey, liquefied in microwave (30 seconds)
1/2 cup crushed or chopped pineapple, drained
1 cup unbleached white flour
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped


1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. In a mixing bowl, stir together the carrots, orange juice, vanilla, olive oil, honey, and pineapple until well blended.
3. In another bowl, stir together the flours, baking soda, and spices. Mix in the walnuts.
4. Blend the dry ingredients into the carrot mixture, stirring until just mixed.
5. Pour the batter into a nonstick 8-inch-square baking pan and bake for 45-60 minutes until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven, let cool slightly, and remove from pan.

Nutritional Information

334 calories; 9 g total fat (1 g sat); 0 mg cholesterol; 62 g carbohydrate; 5 g protein; 4 g fiber; 25 mg sodium

9)    Quips and Quotes
The creative man seeks companions, not corpses or herds or believers. The creative man seeks fellow-creators, those who inscribe new values on new tables. The creative man seeks companions and fellow-harvesters: for with him everything is ripe for harvesting. ~ Zarathustra

10)    Past Newsletters

You may read past Newsletters on our website by going to www.intoyoga.ca/articles.htm and clicking on the Newsletters link.

11)    Your Contributions Welcome

If you would like to contribute in some way to upcoming newsletters, please contact us at info@intoyoga.ca.  We welcome your views, thoughts, enlightenments, articles, etc.  When contacting us, please be sure to let us know that you'd like to have your contribution inserted into our newsletter.

To submit articles for our website you can visit www.intoyoga.ca/articles.htm to review our guidelines.


We'd love to hear what you think of this issue!

Please send your comments, questions, and ideas for upcoming issues to info@intoyoga.ca. Your feedback matters to us!


12)    Our Privacy Policy

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13)    Email this Newsletter to a Friend

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