I am honored to introduce Jonathan Bowra to Spira Power Yoga folks. Though Jonathan hardly needs introduction. If you know yoga, you know Jonathan. He has been practicing yoga for over 30 years. He is one of Regan’s mentors. I am delighted that he will share his fountain of knowledge and experience with us. I am (Dora) simply amazed that he has offered to teach at my studio. Ladies, if your man has not tried yoga for whatever reason… this is it.
Try Men’s Yoga Tribe™ Classes
10:30 AM – 12:00 PM
at Spira Yoga
regular drop in rate or membership
Experience the camaraderie of Men’s Yoga Tribe™, yoga for men. In a class designed specifically for men’s bodies and men’s needs, enjoy overcoming similar challenges together. Regardless of your experience level, flexibility, or physical limitations, the Men’s Yoga Tribe™ is key to your improved health and well-being.
I asked Jonathan to share with us a few thoughts on yoga. I asked him to address mostly two questions; Why only men? Why should men take yoga?
The “Men’s Yoga” Difference by Jonathan Bowra
Men’s Yoga is by men, for men. We men have a lot of competitive genetic programming which can distract us in the usual yoga class. Men’s Yoga Tribe™ has been created as a safe place for us to let down our guard, be fully present in the moment, and remove ourselves from the competitive worlds we live in day to day. Yoga is a process in my class, it is a path you walk to health and vitality. Every pose can be tailored to fit the stiffest hamstring, tightest neck, or sorest back, and – with regular attendance – your physical abilities will improve, along with the mental benefit of improved confidence.
Men’s Yoga Strengthens Mind and Body
Whether you are out of shape, over weight, stiff, tight, live with aches and pains – yoga is for you and you can regain your gusto and enjoyment of life. If you’re an athlete, golfer, runner, body builder, cyclist, hiker – yoga can increase your breath, stamina, strength, balance, coordination and overall awareness of your body, making you better at whatever you do.
Yoga is not easy, you will feel some soreness, and learning a new physical activity is challenging, feels awkward at times, and causes muscle soreness.
I teach in a way that makes you feel good about learning and good in your body. If you stick with it through the initial learning period you will be won over to the amazing benefits of yoga that will serve you for a lifetime.
1. Deep breathing
2. More relaxed
3. Less stressed
4. Better posture
5. More energy
7. Sharper focus
8. Increased flexibility
Take the first step to recapturing your vitality – come to a Men’s Yoga Tribe™ class.
When your body is healthy and strong you have more opportunity and inclination to create a better quality of life for yourself and those around you. If you are healthy, you are more likely to be happy, and if you are happy, you make others happy.
Establishing New Habits
Often we know what’s good for us and what will improve our quality of life but we don’t take the first step: Changing our habits. Starting a yoga practice is a matter of changing some habits, and the first step is to show up to a yoga class! If you show up to class, a good teacher will take it from there. They will lead you through the class at a pace that is both challenging and accessible for any student, providing simplified positions and postures until the student is ready to advance. There is no doubt that for many men, it can be challenging to begin yoga, but regular practice will also make you feel better, provide you with tremendous physical benefits, and become a tool you can use to refine your mind and body for a lifetime.
The Genesis of Men’s Yoga Tribe™
I have always been muscular and not very flexible. Building strength is important to me because it creates a strong foundation that makes physical learning easier. At some point in my yoga practice I noticed that even though I was fairly strong, my limited flexibility was hampering my practice. The muscular strength I built was preventing me from getting the most from some yoga poses, and excluding me altogether from others. It was clear to me that I needed to focus on increasing my flexibility, making it imperative for me to develop a yoga practice that was more suited to my body: a man’s body.
Drawing on my 30 years of yoga practice, and 9 years of individual instruction from my yoga mentor Ana Forrest, Men’s Yoga is designed for the male body.
My male body has its challenges and its benefits. Since I am physically strong it makes poses that require strength easier, but depending entirely on strength carries the risk that I will neglect to strengthen my weak areas, thus creating imbalances in my body. Some of the imbalances I have are a weak lower back – which leads to constant low level back pain – and overworking my shoulders, which leads to shoulder and neck tightness.
Slow and Focused
I am fairly flexible now, but that has not always been the case. A number of years ago I decided that I needed to modify my yoga practice to increase my flexibility. I needed to find a balance between strength and flexibility. To do this I slowed my practice down. Slowing down gave me a chance to relax into my flexibility instead of pushing into my flexibility. Pushing causes my muscles and mind to tense up and become rigid, whereas relaxing allows my muscles to let go of tension and relax, thereby increasing my flexibility. Still, flexibility without strength can lead to imbalances as well, that is why core strengthening (abs and leg strength) are such important parts of my yoga.
In The Room
Typically a class I teach starts with deep breathing exercises to help increase breath capacity. Deep breathing helps our bodies to de-stress and relax. After breathing exercises, we do slow stretches and easy spinal twists to warm up and stretch our muscles and to open our joints.
Then comes the core work. I use different abdominal exercises to strengthen abdominal muscles. Strong abs are beneficial in many ways; strong abs help to support the lower back. If your abs are strong there is more support for your low back, if your low back has support there is less likelihood of constant back pain.
After core work comes preliminary leg strengthening and abdominal releasing. One thing that is an important part of Men’s Yoga is the combination of building strength, while also relaxing and stretching muscles. During the core-strengthening segment of class I will often combine core strength with deep relaxation, we’ll do some strong core strengthening exercises and then deep relaxation.
Another aspect of Men’s Yoga is the importance of lengthening the muscles… strengthen then stretch. Long strong muscles are more resilient and ultimately stronger than short hard muscles. Once we have established deep breathing, warmed up our muscles and joints, ignited our core we are ready to move into the main body of the class.
Yoga has many traditional poses and more poses being created all the time, each pose has numerous benefits for the body and all together the poses create a dynamic workout that has tremendous healing and strengthening benefits for the body, mind and spirit.
In my classes I do not play music, I want you to focus on what is going on in your own body and music can be a distraction. I teach poses with attention to detail. I teach using the English names for the poses (mostly) so that it’s easy to understand and follow. I teach at a pace that includes everyone. I have taught literally thousands of students from beginners to advanced; I know how to make the class accessible and relevant for each student. I teach how to get into the pose, what to do in the pose and how to come out of the pose. The classes I teach have a smooth relaxed flow and at the same time you’ll be challenged at whatever level you’re at in your practice.
The Men’s Yoga Tribe™ works in a clear, no nonsense style with detailed personal instruction to help you understand and gain the benefits of men’s yoga.
My name is Jonathan Bowra and I have been a hoodlum, a Buddhist monk, a wanderer, and more, for 32 years I have practiced yoga and for the last 15 years I have been teaching yoga. I strongly believe that men who are attuned to their bodies through the regular practice of yoga are standing on a solid platform from which they can achieve great things. Join the Men’s Yoga Tribe™ and experience what putting your mind and body in balance can do for you.
Come and join Men’s Yoga Tribe starting at Spira in mid September!