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Stags, It's Time to Get Your Om On

May 6, 2010

Erica Bellman
Stags, It's Time to Get Your Om On

Moga: men doing yoga. For some Stags, this may be a frightening (or laughable) concept. The stereotypical male yogi has more facial hair than Tom Hanks in Castaway, doesn't own a single pair of shoes, and smells worse than Berger on a Sunday morning. Heavy breathing and awkward pretzel-like poses while some dude wails to a classes are total jokes, right? Wrong. These myths have probably deterred you from grabbing a mat and heading to one of Claremont's many yoga classes. Plenty of CMC's fine young men, however, can attest to yoga's overwhelmingly positive effects. "The complete feeling of relaxation and calm after I finish a class is pretty awesome," says Solon Christensen-Szalanski CM '10. "Yoga also really helps with coordination and fine muscle control." Professional athletes-- LeBron James, Andy Murray, Shaq-- swear by the addition of yoga into their workout routines.

Mentally, this activity will soothe your stressin' psyche and help you focus for finals.  Physically, you will not only become more flexible, but also will get toned, improve overall strength, and increase your stamina. "I like the feeling of balance," Brian Hoffstein CM '12 explains. "In combining strength and flexibility with meditation, yoga synthesizes exercise with relaxation."

Finally, the social benefits of yoga are superb...especially if you're looking for a lady. Solon was led to yoga by an ex-crush who dragged him to classes.  "Things didn't work out with the girl, but I've done yoga consistently ever since," the senior yogi claims. Plus, the famed yoga butt is one of this activity's true stereotypes...need I say more? Gentlemen, take a deep, cleansing breath (in for a count of 8, hold, out for a count of 8...) and resolve to get your Om on sometime in the near future. You'll never regret your decision.

The 5Cs offer a multitude of yoga classes that students can take for Physical Education credit next semester. Any of these classes can meet your GE requirement, or just join in for kicks. If terms like "downward dog" or "breath of fire" just sound like crazy talk, the Portal's listings may baffle you. For easy enrollment, here are next fall's offerings.

Hatha Yoga, the most popular method in the US, is the granddaddy of most yoga styles. Perfect for a beginner seeking a taste of what the activity has to offer, a Hatha class typically incorporates Asanas (postures), Pranayama (conscious breathing), and meditation-- great for stress management and physical exercise. Pomona and Scripps will hold Hatha classes regularly next fall, some even taught by 5C students and professors like CMC's own Lit lady Audrey Bilger.

Anusara Yoga is another style taught at the 5Cs. From this Pomona class, you should expect a heightened Hatha experience: Anusara uses principles of alignment to open the body and the mind to discover one's true self by being more accepting of new ideas. For budding yogis seeking the most positive, joyful yoga practice, Anusara is the style to choose. Practitioners are encouraged to embrace ideals of creativity and freedom, making an Anusara class an ever-changing, light-hearted experience. You'll leave this class beaming.

For a more invigorating type of yoga, CMCers should try one of Scripps's Power Yoga classes. Power yoga emphasizes the development of physical flexibility and personal discipline--this isn't your mama's yoga class. Poses are held for extended periods of time while the breath is synchronized with the body, creating a trance-like movement.  Mental and physical stamina will improve dramatically through Power Yoga, and you'll definitely break a serious sweat. You've been warned: Power Yoga is going to kick your booty the first couple classes.

Kundalini Yoga focuses on awakening the storehouse of energy that yogis believe exists at the base of the spine. Skeptical? Drop in on a class at Pomona's Rains Center to give this style a test run. Kundalini requires yogis to chant mantras, meditate, and engage in visualizations during class. For some, this type of yoga is incredibly cleansing and psychologically beneficial; powerful endorphins are released through breath control and basic poses.  For others, however, Kundalini Yoga is borderline awkward: try the Breath of Fire yourself to see if Kundalini is the practice for you.

If it's the most endurance-testing yoga experience you seek, Bikram (or "Hot Yoga") may be the practice for you. Bikram Yoga classes are offered daily in the Village for a discounted price if you enroll for Phys. Ed. on the Portal. The rigorous classes take place in a room heated to anywhere between 95 and 100 degrees with 40 percent humidity. High temperatures allow for maximum muscle loosening and intense sweating, a process thought to purify the body of toxins and improve circulation.  Feeling beat after a weekend of partying? A single Bikram class will cleanse and revive your system. A series of 26 poses, each held for a long duration, will increase strength and stamina. Despite the buckets of sweat you'll be drenched in, Bikram is notoriously addictive. Just remember: hydrate.

CMC's administration seems to have realized the benefits of yoga. A recent email from Jim Nauls regarding the Yogathon on May 7 at the Tranquada Health Center is tagged as a way to relieve stress before finals. RSVP for the event to

A yoga revolution is definitely sweeping campus...and not just among the female student body. "The biggest myth about yoga is that it's for pansies," Hoffstein claims. "Real men are the true yogis." Whoever says the Stags can't dominate on the yoga mat has clearly not been enlightened. See you in the studio, CMC!

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