The Lion roars…
For some people, Yoga is compelling force and they are called to do it. One such person is Joseph Parra. Currently an instructor with Green Leaf Studios in Whittier, CA Joseph took his first Yoga class with a friend in 2001 and he quickly realized that he had found his calling. Yoga for Men took this opportunity to get “On the Mat” with Joseph and find out why he thinks that Yoga practice is not only a complete workout, but is a transformative and unifying discipline as well.
Joseph’s motto is YOGA is for EVERY BODY! He believes that Yoga is an essential part of everyone’s fitness routine. His motto is we must stay fit Physically, Mentally, and Emotionally. During a time of extreme stress in his life, Joseph found Yoga to be the one thing that covers all three of these. He is a Kundalini, Vinyasa and Prenatal Yoga teacher.
Joseph can be reached at JosephParra.com
How did you find Yoga, or better yet, how did Yoga find you?
I found yoga in 2001 through a friend and practiced on my own at home, until I found a local studio and after that couldn’t stop. I found my passion and started teaching in 2008.
Which other physical activities/exercise do you enjoy besides Yoga?
I run, swim, and strength train
How do you feel that Yoga helps you perform better in those other physical activities, or in your day-to-day life?
Yoga helps me physically because it has helped prevent injuries from other activities, as well helped improve my strength
Which asanas (postures) do you feel are particularly beneficial to men and why?
Forward folds for tight hamstrings, Pigeon for tight hips, and chest expansion for guys who work out their chests.
What would like more “average-Joe” men to know about Yoga?
That it’s not as easy as it looks. Don’t give up and just keep going, like any other exercise it takes patience and practice.
What are you working toward right now in your personal practice? (i.e. solving a physical, emotional or spiritual issue)
My Vinyasa practice I’m working on my flexibility of my leg muscles. Just finished my first half marathon and now I’m really tight. Kundalini helps keep in touch with the divine!
How would you best define or describe your personal form of Yoga?
My personal form is very focused on foundation and strength. As a teacher I think these are 2 important aspects to any good practice. As a practitioner I like to escape within myself and let go, so it’s more spiritual.
What are your tips for someone just beginning their practice?
Let go of any judgment or expectations and just allow your body to do what it can do safely. It’s not a competition so it doesn’t matter if the guy next to you can put his leg around his neck or not.
How does your diet regimen affect your Yoga practice?
If and when I eat healthy I feel lighter and my body likes the asanas much more than when I eat non-healthy.
How has Yoga grounded you more in your daily life? Do you find yourself to be more calm and more at ease?
Yoga has taught me the tools I need to deal everyday stress and challenges. Through pranayama, meditation I am able to stay focused and loose sight of the true reality of the situation.
Which positive latent qualities about yourself do you feel that Yoga enhances most?
Yoga has inspired me to give back to the community. As a teacher my goal is take and teach Yoga to groups such as cancer and HIV/Aids patients who can truly benefit from Yoga
What advice would you give to a guy who has never been to a Yoga class before and might be somewhat intimidated?
Let the fear go! It’s just like any other exercise, you need to practice regularly and you will see the benefits in all other physical activities.
Which style of Yoga do you practice and why?
Vinyasa to feel better physically, Kundalini to help keep me on track spiritually & emotionally, and Yaapana to relax!
Which asana (posture) is currently your favorite and how are you benefitting from it?
Savasana! It reminds me to let go and surrender, my body needs rest!
Shameless Plug: What personal, business or studio projects are you currently working on that you want people to know more about?
In 2012 I plan to become a 500hr RYT to be able to train other teachers. Want to start a foundation to bring Yoga to those who have Cancer, Leukemia, and or HIV/Aids. I believe in giving back to the community is very important.
*photo courtesy of Joseph Parra