Yoga is a type of meditation ~ and done properly it’s difficult.
Calling this post Yoga for Men isn’t as sexist or as misogynistic as you may think. When I was a much younger chap, far more cynical, and much less worldly-wise, I used to think yoga was a bit ‘strange’. In my mind yoga was something that girls did, and perhaps men who were a bit metrosexual. Now that I’ve grown up a bit I realise that yoga can be a strenuous and difficult workout ~ the kind of workout that hurts while you’re doing it and makes you ache afterwards.
It turns out that there are lots of reasons why more men should regularly practice yoga. Some say that yoga strengthens your immune system and relieves stress. And, that regular yoga improves muscle tone, flexibility, agility, posture, stamina, and core strength. All I know is that regular yoga exercises and nurtures my body, mind, and spirit. Some also say that yoga will give you a better sex life.
Just in case you don’t know, yoga involves holding postures, and holding some of these postures for any length of time can be damn difficult. Even the few, (simple), postures I use require a great deal of strength, balance, and concentration. Because holding these postures take a lot of strength and stamina, your muscles become more toned and develop greater power and endurance.
Yoga also helps with proper breathing, better posture, better balance, better concentration, better digestion, and increased mindfulness and serenity. Regular and difficult yoga improves the way you look, stand, walk, and talk. I have been told, by a very close friend, that regular yoga also greatly improves one’s sex life, and increases the pleasure you can give to your partner. Also, some yoga poses work as great sex positions and increase the intensity of the female orgasm. Allegedly, it’s possible for women to have an orgasm just from doing yoga. Who knew?
So, these are the yoga positions I use regularly, and if I have the names wrong… well I’m not a yoga instructor.
The Tree. This classical, impressive, and elegant position promotes strength and balance in your feet, ankles, legs, and core. Like all yoga positions I’ve tried it also aids concentration, calms your breathing, and improves your grasp of mindfulness. Don’t worry too much if at first you keep losing your balance, what’s probably happening is that you’ve lost your mental focus. The tree pose puts all your weight on one leg at a time, but the balance, poise, and elegance has to come from the whole body.
Downward Facing Dog. Allegedly, this is one of those yoga poses that’s also a great sexual position ~ I can see that. This position throws a lot of weight on the upper body, wrists, arms, shoulders, and chest. It stretches the whole of the back of your legs and body ~ your spine, arms, shoulders, ankles, calves, and hamstrings. For me, unless I’m doing it wrong, it also strengthens my knees.
The Bridge. This position is especially designed to strengthen your pelvic floor, (and backside), which is good for all kinds of reasons, up to and including sex. The bridge position builds strength in your core and lower body ~ personally I can really feel this in my lower abdomen. This is another of those yoga positions which is also a fabulous sexual position ~ or so I’m told. When I do this, I keep my back straight and my belly flat ~ I have no idea if that’s a good idea or not.
The Plank. I find this pose tremendously difficult, not because I don’t know how to do it, but because it calls for a tremendous amount of strength. Done properly the entirety of one’s body weight is brought into play to build core body strength, exercise the arms and shoulders, and increase one’s fortitude. There are three basic variations of the plank, and the easiest is to rest on your knees rather than stretch out your whole body and rest on your toes. The second easiest is to support your upper body on your forearms, while the hardest of all is to be in a push-up position with all one’s weight on your toes and hands. Right now, I can hold this position for one minute only ~ which is a bit pathetic really.
The Warrior. This should be so easy, trust me, it isn’t. The warrior pose stretches and strengthens the legs and core muscles of the body. For me it also works the arms and shoulders. More than that, this is the one position that should be so easy that I want to do it properly and elegantly. Where that gets difficult is the whole being straight, having one’s belly and backside tight, steadiness and ease thing. The lady in the picture looks a bit wimpy because her right arm is dropping.
Right now I only use these five positions, and the list above is in the order I do this stuff. I hold each position for as long as I can, and that varies from 5 minutes per position, to less than a minute, depending on the pose and how I’m feeling that day. And, again depending on how I’m feeling, I’ll probably run through all five positions a couple or maybe even three times.
However, there are stacks more great yoga positions, and if you really want to learn about yoga, then I should strongly suggest that you take a proper class, there will be one near you. There are even a bunch of good online yoga classes. (I took one actual class at my local gym, once, and never went back ~ but that’s just me). Who knows, you may find yourself alongside some fit, supple, young women. Who will probably make you feel totally inadequate.
Procrastination is the foundation of all disasters.
You can grasp the important essentials of effective time management in 20 minutes ~ living with it, really using your time wisely and to your own best advantage, well that takes a little more work.
So, just what is this time management thing? Effective time management ~ it’s all about making a little go a long way. It’s about improving the way in which you use the 86,400 seconds you get every single day. Time management is about doing away with; displacement activities, delay, deviation, distractions, hesitation, indecision, indulgence, procrastination, repetition, sloth, stress, tardiness, and waste.
I am definitely going to take a course on time management… just as soon as I can work it into my schedule. ~ Louis E. Boone.
Effective time management is all about doing the important things, at the right time, and spending the right amount of time on them. Like everything good and important in life, effective time management is also about control, restraint, and self-discipline. What time management is not about is making certain that you are doing the right things ~ that’s something else entirely, something we will talk about at a later date.
You already know the basic techniques for effective time management, it’s just that you never use them. So here’s what you should do, from now on, every single damn day.
- Make a list. Start with a to-do list. These are the things you should / must / want to do today. (Actually, tomorrow, because you should start writing your to-do list the night before.) You can even buy a ready-made to-do list App, packed with colourful features and supposed benefits. Don’t bother to waste your time and money. Get a notebook, or just some sheets of paper, and write down what you need to do. You can use different colours for different categories or importance of tasks if you like. Personally, I merely number things, in order of importance.
- Cross tasks off your list only when they’re completely done and tangibly, measurably delivered, and then forget all about them and move onto the next task with a clear mind.
- Do the worst / most unpleasant / most important things first. Getting the nasty stuff out-of-the-way early in the day makes the rest of the day both easier and much more enjoyable.
- Make more lists. These extra lists are for sub-tasks. For example your to-do list may say ‘do grocery shopping’ ~ so you need a shopping list, (never, never, ever go into a store without a list of what you want / need / would like to buy).
- Break big and unwieldy tasks down into smaller and more manageable bits. This is called chunking, and it can be used in all kinds of situations.
- Keep a journal. As well as writing down what has happened and how you feel about it, you can also use your journal as a detailed day planner, and as a place to plan and manage future events / tasks / projects. Properly used a journal will stop you turning up for things unprepared / on the wrong day / without your passport.
- Avoid meaningless distractions. These come in all kinds of shapes, but the most insidious and pointless time-wasting evil right now is social media. If you use social media at work, or first thing in the morning, or last thing at night, or during your lunch break, then stop it. You are just wasting time while turning your brain into mouldy dough.
- Take regular breaks. Just sitting at your desk for 4, 6, 8, 10, or 12 hours a day is not the way to be productive. Worse than that, sitting at your desk for long periods is literally killing you.
- Get plenty of good quality sleep. If you are tired and irritable you are also unfocused and unproductive.
- Develop good regular habits. If you can run part of your day on auto-pilot, if doing some routine essential tasks becomes a habit, you are saving a hell of a lot of time and mental energy for the really difficult stuff.
- Learn how to say NO! Agreeing to things that are unimportant / meaningless / we don’t want to do anyway, uses up a huge amount of our time, mental effort, and spiritual energies. Along with that, drop people who waste your life and suck up your energies.
- Multi-task the routine stuff. For example, prepare dinner while the bath is running, and let it cook while you’re soaking away the aches and pains of the day. But be wary, multi-tasking doesn’t work for important stuff.
And then there is the tricky and oh so important number 13.
13. STOP DICKING AROUND. There a billion things you could do instead of actually doing the stuff you really want to do, should do, need to do, absolutely must do. Recently I read where a guy got sacked for spending all day at work looking at internet porn on his cell phone ~ if that’s not a definition of dicking around then I don’t know what is.
All of this is pretty much common sense, actually you knew most of this already, so why aren’t you using these good practices? Probably because you’ve been lazy, lacking in self-discipline, or you think that ordinary rules and good advice don’t apply to you. Well, let me tell you, little sister, you’d better shape up if you want that good quality, rewarding, spiritual, healthy life you’ve been promising yourself.
Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone. ~ Pablo Picasso
Procrastination doesn’t cut it.
Through meditation the higher self is experienced.
True health and fitness can only be experienced and enjoyed when the body, mind, and spirit are all in balance. You cannot be healthy in one part of your being, if you are not healthy in all.
You should pray for a healthy mind in a healthy body. ~ Juvenal
To be truly fit and healthy one must exercise, take care of, and nurture all aspects of our being. Although physical health is deeply connected to mental and emotional health, I believe there is little point in just ‘hitting the gym’ because all that is likely to do is strengthen our body at the expense of our mind and spirit. I firmly believe that to balance our body, mind, and soul we need to incorporate an integrated health regime into the totality of our lives.
When people tell me they can’t afford to join a gym, I tell them to go outside; planet Earth is a gym and we’re already members. Walk, run, climb, sweat, and enjoy all of the natural wonder that is available to you. ~ Steve Maraboli.
One of the activities I use to balance the physical, mental, and spiritual parts of my being is to get out into the sunshine and fresh air for a couple of hours brisk walk every day. Walking is excellent exercise, but more than that I can also practice walking meditation.
When I was much younger I thought that meditation was weird, nonsensical, even ‘girly’. But back then I also thought that prayer, self-discovery, spirituality, and yoga were also distinctly odd. These days I embrace all of these good practices ~ although I still don’t consciously pray to a ‘God’. With maturity I have begun to understand that these are methods by which I can know myself and become an emotionally healthy man. To be truly healthy we all need to get outdoors for at least an hour every day. We all need to exercise our own mind and spirit if we are going to escape from the fortress prison we have built for ourselves.
If there was a mature and peaceful woodland nearby I would take my daily walks there, enjoying forest bathing, what the Japanese call shinrin-yoku. This is a meditative and spiritual activity that is known to improve one’s mindfulness. Trees are well-known to possess healing powers.
However, in the here and now of my life it is more appropriate that I take my daily walk by the sea, under the open and ever-changing sky. Both the sea and the clouds are peaceful, they help me to experience serenity and mindfulness. The clouds fire my imagination. The sea is a primeval and primordial force of nature, a part of the Mother Goddess to which all things return at the end of days.
Walking meditation is an easy thing to do ~ providing one is not distracted by everyday activities. I don’t use my cell-phone on my meditative walks, I don’t use my camera when I’m in a meditative state, I walk alone, and I don’t talk with anyone ~ as a matter of fact I don’t even notice other people. Walking meditation is a peaceful part of my life where I can be in touch with the more enlightened part of myself. Time and space cease to exist in the normal way, the world becomes fully open for me to explore in my mind, I become open to appreciate all things with acceptance and understanding.
The secret to walking meditation is to get outside, on your own, and walk in nature for a while ~ an hour or more is good. Empty your mind of all immediate concerns. But most of all, walk.
Even if you have to walk fast for 30 minutes, five days a week, by all means do so. Never make excuses to why you don’t have time to work out. Your body deserves to enjoy the taste of a good health. Never settle for less. ~ Edmond Mbiaka.
Obviously, just taking a walk each day isn’t enough exercise to keep me fit and healthy. Walking does little for strength and mobility. For that I practice yoga. I used to believe that yoga was the sole preserve of incredibly fit and supple young women, but then I learned that yoga is also for men like me. Done properly, yoga will improve your health and fitness in body, mind, and spirit. Done properly, yoga for men hurts a little bit. If it feels right, you can incorporate yoga into your daily walk.
We can experience so much, appreciate so much, and understand so much, if we are brave enough to open our minds to the wonders of the Cosmos.
I enjoin you; get outside into the fresh air, and walk.
Sorry is not enough ~ sometimes you have to change.
What is a real and genuine apology? It’s an acknowledgement and acceptance that one has done something wrong. An apology is also an acceptance and acknowledgement of responsibility for the hurt one has caused, and a pledge to change one’s ways in the future. A real and genuine apology is an expression of guilt, regret, remorse, and a pledge to try harder to do better in the future. A real and genuine apology is not merely a platitude in order to placate the aggrieved party.
Feeling guilty is not a substitute for loving somebody; it is only an indicator that you have failed to love somebody. ~ Clifford Cohen.
Sometimes just saying that you’re sorry will not do. Ofttimes an apology is only an empty gesture made to ‘keep the peace’. Sometimes the things that we do and say, the books we read, the movies we like, the people we listen to, sometimes these things reveal a deeper truth and our glib apologies are shown for the fatuous banalities they so often are. An oft quoted line from John Wayne movies is; ‘Never apologise, mister, it’s a sign of weakness…’ A greater truth would have been if his character had said; ‘Never apologise, mister, it’s meaningless…’
If we are truly dedicated to the truth, and if we have good inside us, then we should never need to apologise, because we will never do anything so bad that we need to say ‘sorry…’ However, we Englishmen are prone to apologise, to say sorry all the time. If you tread on my toe, I will naturally say sorry. If you barge into me because you’re not looking where you’re going, I will naturally say sorry. Any English Gentleman of my generation has been brought up to be polite, to always show exemplary manners, to show women and girls the utmost respect. To mind one’s language, never swear in front of women and children, to be careful of the topics we discuss for fear of giving offence. And, an Englishman should never, ever, talk about; God, women we have ‘known’, how much money we make, and politics ~ not even with our closest friends. Englishmen regard politicians with utter contempt, and we extend that contempt to anyone who dares to lecture us on religion, or political matters, or how to make money, or how to be successful with women, or what the English do ‘wrong’.
A side effect of the English ideal of ‘Good Manners’ is that we look askance at most American men, and would rather not include any boorish American men in our circle of friends. The average Englishman doesn’t think the average American guy is a ‘good person’. Sometimes this means that even a cool, calm, patiently understanding Englishman will get angry with Americans. Recently we Englishmen have been quite annoyed / furious at Clinton, (both of them), Obama, Trump, Meryl Streep, and anyone who dares to lecture us about terrorism on English soil. Conversely, of English politicians we like Boris Johnson, (whom most Americans dislike intensely).
In order to rise from its own ashes, a phoenix must first burn. ~ Octavia E. Butler.
If an Englishman does get angry, then usually, after a while, his innate ‘good common-sense’ returns like a phoenix rising from the ashes, and he will attempt to rebuild burned bridges, to forgive and forget, to understand and accept. Disagreeing with the things people say, and then getting angry about it, is not the mark of a good man. There is a saying; ‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the Death your right to say it…’ Voltaire I think. I prefer the pithier and more honest; ‘You’re right, but I don’t agree…’ We may have to dig deep, but a real English Gentleman will eventually find the fountain of good within himself.
Look within. Within is the fountain of good, and it will ever bubble up if thou wilt ever dig. ~ Marcus Aurelius
I may like, care about, and respect some people in spite of their opinions, the things they do, the things they have done, and the things they are planning to do ~ even if I am hurt or profoundly disagree with their opinions and actions. After all, I cannot change what happens to me, I can only change how I respond and react. It matters not one iota whether another person ever feels the need to apologise when they have clearly been wrong and hurtful ~ after all, one should never apologise, it’s meaningless.
Lent is a Christian Festival ~ sometimes I don’t feel filled with Christian charity, and I will remedy that. For Lent this year I am giving up some of my most cherished character defects.
Between February 10th and March 24th I will not inflict my dangerously negative feelings upon anyone.
Among the things I will not be doing during Lent are that I will not be;
(Please feel free to tell me of any other unpleasant defects of character you would like a less than perfect man to lose.)
Only an inherently evil man like Mr.Hyde, (or an unreconstructed alcoholic), would be pleased to give free rein to actions which stem from those negative character traits. If I feel any of these vile and malevolent emotions and impulses, I will work very hard at not letting them show.
Actually, I am not going to do anything about those nasty, abusive, and negative character defects.
Instead, I am going to be positive and affirmative, calm and peaceful, honest and honourable. I shall walk softly and speak kindly. I will strive to become the perfect English Gentleman.
Also, I shall stay off the booze.
Sometimes making a success of my relationships is like trying to turn back the tide.
I have character defects, faults and flaws. I can be viciously unkind. Either by nature or due to my upbringing I tend towards being; antisocial, critical, egotistical, impatient, judgemental, opinionated, prideful, reckless, sarcastic, and uncharitable. If you ask my Lady, she will like as not tell you there are a lot more imperfections and shortcomings about my psyche.
Two important things I am not are that I am neither tolerant nor understanding of others, up to and including my closest friend. This tends to make for an angry and uncomfortable relationship, which would br destined to end sooner rather than later, and end very badly for all concerned. The fall-out and collateral damage would not be pretty.
After much thought, meditation and soul-searching I therefore resolved to embark upon a major work of self-improvement. As it goes, I have already been working on 3 important things for a while; being fit and active, eating a good diet, and really, really giving up the booze. On the premise that Rome wasn’t built in a day, I am committed to working on just one more important amelioration of my persona, ego, super ego, and id.
Make the most of yourself……. for that is all there is of you. ~ Ralf Waldo Emerson
This man will become more tolerant of others and much more understanding of my closest friend. That’s not going to be so easy. Self-improvement is something only the better among us even attempt with any determination. Often we involve life-coaches, psychologists, psychiatrists, support groups, sponsors, partners, (that’s a usually a mistake), religion, inspirational books, videos….
Personally, I will be treading this hard path with the help of my ‘higher power’ ~ who just happens to be the embodiment of everything feminine. The male part of me has so many negative macho traits that I need all the nurturing feminine help I can get.
I shall keep you appraised of my progress to becoming a better man.
After this, turning back the tide will be easy.