If you’re into yoga, then I’m sure you’re aware of the great mental and physical health benefits associated with the ancient Hindu practice. It decreases stress, relieves anxiety, fights depression, can improve heart health, and more. It is something that everyone, both men and women, is highly encouraged to participate in.
After suffering from a heart condition that he says forced him to transform his lifestyle, Changa Bell started to use yoga as a way to improve his physical and mental health. He grew up watching his father do yoga, but it wasn’t until he suffered a major health infraction that Bell turned to the yoga studio to “save his own life.”
“I was raised in the ’80s and yoga was totally not the cool things to do, but I always grew up having yoga as a part of my life,” the 46-year-old Baltimore native tells PEOPLE. “I had a major health infraction and I wanted to do better. I needed to turn my life around. I was in the yoga studio to save my own life.”
Bell began to take yoga seriously, eventually becoming a certified instructor. As a way to encourage fellow black men to find the same healing he did by practicing yoga, Changa Bell created the Black Male Yoga Initiative (BMYI) in 2015. He says one of the reasons he founded the organization was to create a space where black men didn’t feel out of place.
“A major factor was my own personal discomfort in yoga studios. I didn’t feel anybody cared about whether I was there or not. It seemed like I was being judged over my appearance and I didn’t fit the mold,” Bell admits. “I just didn’t want others to feel that way. And once I did indeed get myself better, I wanted to make sure other men didn’t feel the same way I did. I wanted to create a space where they could be themselves and be better.”
Within the last year or two, the conversation surrounding mental health in the black community has become a very hot topic. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, African Americans are 20 percent more likely to experience serious mental health issues than the general population, including depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. We are also at greater risk for societal circumstances that increase the risk of mental illness, such as homelessness and exposure to violence. Bell admits that it’s not easy to persuade black men to take on yoga.
“It’s still a work in progress,” says Bell. “Getting men to follow you as a yogi is hard, so I have to model the lifestyle. I just try to stay centered and be who I am and that resonates with people. I show that it’s okay to love openly, it’s okay to love yourself. It’s really modeling this openness and ability to grow spiritually that I think really resonates.”
Since starting BMYI in 2015, Changa Bell has been able to encourage dozens of black men to attend his yoga classes and hopes to help at least 1,000 Black men become licensed yoga instructors.
According to PEOPLE, Bell now travels around the country teaching and talking about the importance of holistic health. The loved ones of those he has been able to reach says they’ve seen positive changes in their partners both mentally and physically.
“I’ve seen changes in their emotions,” Bell said. “They’ve talked to us about changes in their home life, in terms of literally being ‘different people.’ Sometimes their wives will come in and say, ‘I don’t know what you’re doing, but keep on doing it!’ Right now it’s been a lot of emotions, mood, and anger management changes for the positive!”
Have you ever wanted to try yoga but you aren’t sure of what kind of yoga practice is right for you? Well in honor of #National Yoga Day, we are breaking down all the types of yoga classes you can attend from physical, to mental, or spiritual, here are five types of yoga practices that anyone can master.
Acro Yoga: AcroYoga blends the wisdom of yoga, the dynamic power of acrobatics, and the loving kindness of healing arts. These three form the foundation of a practice that cultivates trust, playfulness, and community. This is my personal favorite type of yoga style, although it can be intense, it is worth it. Acro yoga strengthens your core, balance skills, and upper body strength. I would highly recommend eating before practicing this type of yoga style because you will exude a lot of energy.
Hot Yoga: Just like the name, hot yoga is hot. During hot yoga you are doing a combination of yoga poses in a 105-degree room for 90 minutes. The benefits of Hot Yoga include flexibility and less warm-up time. While hot yoga has become a popular trend, it is important to take some safety measures, drink lots of water to stay dehydrated because extreme cases, it can lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Hatha Yoga: Hatha derives from the Sanskrit term ” This physical-based yoga is the most popular and has numerous styles. Hatha yoga classes are best for beginners since they are usually paced slower than other yoga styles. Hatha classes today are a classic approach to breathing and exercises. If you are brand-new to yoga, hatha yoga is a great entry point to the practice.
Kundalini Yoga: Do you feel like your life is slightly unbalanced and you want to get centered? If so, Kundalini you is for you! This type of yoga focuses on your spirituality and physical being. During this yoga practice you releases the energy in your body said to be trapped in the lower spine. These classes really work your core and breathing with fast moving. These classes also can involve chanting, mantra, and meditation.
Iyengar Yoga: Iyengar yoga focuses on alignment as well as detailed and precise movements. During this class, you will be taken through a series of postures while practicing breath control. Generally, poses are held for a long time while adjusting the minutiae of the pose. Iyengar relies heavily on props to help students perfect their form and go deeper into poses in a safe manner This style is really great for people with injuries who need to work slowly and methodically.
The life of an entrepreneur is a tough one but one with many rewards, both internally and externally. Entrepreneurs have the ability to control a majority of their life and although that sounds like a walk in the park, the everyday life of an entrepreneur can be filled with a lot of responsibility, stress, and anxiety.
As an owner of a business or a brand, garnering positive results and high revenue with your business is 100 percent up to you and the work that you put in. Instead of working a 9-5, most entrepreneurs are working diligently 24/7.
The Live Civil brand is all about entrepreneurship and being your own boss. We know that it can get hard sometimes but for us, entrepreneurship is always worth it. The security of knowing that what you have created and built is all yours and nobody can take it away from you is incredible. The security of knowing that if you needed to take a break or vacation for whatever reason you are able to do so without getting fired or worrying if you will be replaced. The security of knowing that all of your hard work is monetized into measurable dollars that you can physically see – and know that it’s all yours. The fact that you will leave a noticeable and unique mark on this world.
Can you say, THE LIFE?!
As we said, entrepreneurship is great, but can also be quite stressful. Some things we find helpful for us include yoga and other meditation activities. Not only do these activities relieve stress in a productive way, but they even blossom creativity and spark the next “big idea.” It is tremendously important for entrepreneurs to be not only physically fit but mentally fit in order to endure all that comes with the lifestyle. We want you all to be your best selves all around, so here is why practicing yoga and meditation are beneficial for the new wave entrepreneur.
Letting Go Of Control
As an entrepreneur, we spend most of our time making decisions and calling the shots. During yoga class, you will no longer be in control. All egos are left at the door when you enter yoga and it is your chance to give someone else the chance to lead and a time to give yourself the chance to dive into the unfamiliar and be instructed. You will gain an appreciation for being instructed and this increases empathy with your employees. This will help you put more trust into your team and managers when it is time for them to take over while you take the back seat.
Shake Off Self-criticism & Build Confidence
Yoga helps to get rid of all negative thoughts that create fear and destroy confidence. As an entrepreneur, we are expected to be on top of our game, strong, courageous, and bold at all times. In reality, we all have negative thoughts and some days we are just not on our A game. Yoga and meditation quiet the loud negative voices and makes the soft positive voice within all of us louder. The truth is, we are all beautifully and wonderfully made, and we are capable of doing everything we set our mind to. The only thing that holds us back is ourselves, but with yoga and meditation, you will learn how to stop holding yourself back and be all that you have the potential to be!
Quieting The Mind (You control your to-do list, your to-do list doesn’t control you.)
To-do lists are the new wave and early entrepreneurs best friend. As entrepreneurs, we feel as though we can always be working on something to better ourselves or our brand and that can become paralyzing. Nine times out of ten your to-do list will never end and you need to practice quieting your mind and realize that it is okay to not get everything done on that list. During yoga and meditation, breathing is a major component of the practice. Slow and intentional breathing separates the mind from your never ending thoughts. During yoga practice, you learn how to acknowledge your thoughts but not let them control or take over you. You learn to live in the moment and do exactly what you can in that moment while remaining balanced and at peace.
Meditation promotes creative thinking and can bring about new and fresh ideas. As an entrepreneur, we are constantly developing new ways to push our product or our brand. Creativity is a must and is something that is supposed to come naturally. A lot of the times we find ourselves stuck in the same routine way of doing things, we are in tunnel vision mode and it is hard to break out of it and create something new and refreshing. Social media can either help our harm your creativity because you have access to see what everyone else is doing, it makes it so easy to bite and not be original. Yoga and meditation create the space in your brain for it to be creative.
According to Uplift, meditation and reflection can increase frontal cortex activity which is linked to focus, calmness, and concentration. Yoga and meditation can even enlarge that part of your brain. We know this isn’t biology class but let’s learn. Alpha brain states are where brilliant ideas arise and where athletes find their zone. Numerous studies have shown that breathing practices increase the Alpha brain waves associated with lower levels of stress and greater levels of creativity. A lot of people are born with this unstoppable creativity but some of us need a little extra help, yoga and meditation are perfect to give you that push to the immaculate ideas that you know are inside of you.
Patience & People
Being an entrepreneur you are usually dealing with tons of people and lots of different personalities on an everyday basis. In order to be an effective leader and all around a likable person, you have to have patience and know how to deal with people, even if you may not be too fond of them. Yoga and meditation help create the mindfulness to look at people and situations from multiple perspectives without judgment. The practice helps you understand yourself better and in return, you will understand others better. The practice also helps create a certain serenity that disables us from “popping off” when one of our employees, friends, or family members pisses us off. *Namaste*
Yoga and meditation also take practice and patience to get a grasp of. Progress in the practice is developed slowly just like a business. When practicing you will find yourself humbled by the experience of working towards something and not seeing the results instantly, it takes time to see the results of yoga and meditation. Businesses take time to grow and it is rare that entrepreneurs see revenue as soon as they launch their business. Yoga and meditation will teach you how to be patient and appreciate how far you have come and how far you are going to go if you just relax.
We hope this information finds you well and if you are a new entrepreneur or an old one looking to get into new habits we advise you to take on yoga and meditation! If you don’t know where to start we are here to help.
Get a membership at a yoga center near you
Find a free class and your cities park
Groupon is the GOAT for inexpensive yoga/meditation classes, download the app!
Take on yoga and meditation right inside your own home. There are thousands of classes and tutorials on youtube, just purchase a mat and get to work!
Remember that you will not become the ultimate yogi like Russell Simmons after one or two classes, it is a continual practice. With a dedication to the practice, you will become your best self. Mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
Namaste! Let’s continue to be great and Live Civil.
Forms of discipline in the education system vary across schools and cultures. In America, we are used to the star/smiley face system, detention, all day isolation, or if you’re really cutting up, an alternative school. Discipline is a touchy subject and to each, it’s own when it comes to determining what is the most effective approach. One school has innovatively created a new technique that even adults can use to get their act right.
Robert W. Coleman Elementary School in Baltimore sends kids who aren’t following the rules to the “Mindful Moment Room” instead of detention. The “Mindful Moment Room” is a purple cozy room any yogi would love to spend the day in, filled with pillows, light, and minimal decor.
Children may act disruptively when their mind and emotions are not working in harmony. From a psychological standpoint, the purple room will contribute to the harmony of mind and emotions and help support meditation. A harmonious relationship between the mind and emotions results in mental balance and stability, a link between thought and activity which is what is happening when these kids get sent to the “Mindful Moment Room”.
To some, this method may seem like the kids are getting a vacation from school instead of a punishment that will teach them a lesson but it works. There have been absolutely zero suspensions at Robert W. Coleman Elementary, ZERO!
The Holistic Life Foundation plays a major role in the development of the “Mindful Moment Room”. The local non-profit also has an after-school program called Holistic Me that guides children through their yoga/meditation practice.
Yoga and meditation have proven their positive effects on one’s mental health and well-being time and time again. One benefit to this new technique is the long lasting and even lifetime effects that it will have on the children. This approach won’t just “fix” the children for the moment but will contribute to a lifetime of self-awareness and mindful thinking.
What do you like about this new approach? Do you think this new technique is effective? Why or Why not? Let us know in the comments below!
The holiday season is slowly coming to an end. We have all consumed far too many holiday meals, treats and drink. It’s time to get back on the right track. With all of the holiday celebrations our Nutrition and exercise routines tend to take a back seat to family and social gatherings. With all the commitments it is easy to be consumed with the holiday spirit and neglect your health and fitness.
– Christmas dinner that can include turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy and broccoli can be up to 1500 calories.
– One Heineken beer can equate to 150 calories.
– There can be up to 158 calories in one holiday mixed drink.
– There are over 450 calories in a regular size rum and egg nog.
– Four Christmas chocolates can contain up to 280 calories.
– And a serving of everyone’s favourite baked macaroni and cheese pie can be as much as 381 calories.
As you can see all of the holiday indulging can really add up the calories and fast. The more time with family at dinner parties and the more holiday staff parties you attended the more time you have probably spent away from your regular workout and nutritional routines.
One pound of fat is compromised of 3500 calories. When you add up all of those extra calories from the holidays you can easily gain unwanted pounds fast. Spring break is fast approaching and the last thing you want is excess baggage on your spring break vacation.
Here are a few tips that you can use to shed those holiday pounds fast:
1. Hire a personal trainer and if you can’t afford a trainer try purchasing an online program from one to keep yourself accountable. Check out this affordable workout ebook: www.trainitright.com/blog/store or you can purchase online training programs from www.trainitright.com
2. Drink a minimum of 2L of water a day. Water flushes toxins out of your body and keeps you hydrated to avoid water bloating.
3. Lift heavy weights. No you will not get big and bulky ladies. The more lean lean muscle you build the more calories you burn. This will have you looking toned and sexy faster than lifting high repetitions of light weights.
4. Sign up for a Yoga Class. If you don’t like the gym try signing up for a regular or even a hot yoga class. Yoga stretching requires body weighted strength and endurance and it’s great for toning and flexibility. It will help develop long lean looking muscles and help you drop the holiday fluff.
5. Supplement Zinc. According to Dr. oz at www.doctoroz.com “zinc is an essential mineral in your diet. It also accelerates the activity of approximately 100 different body enzymes. Supports healthy cell growth and development.” This means that when you are deficient in zinc it can effect your body’s ability to digest and absorb your nutrients properly.
6. Eat a minimum of three meals. When you skip meals your body goes into a type of starvation mode. Since it is unsure when it will get its next meal it will store fat for later energy needs. Ironically they key to weigh loss is to eat more often. Not only do you need to eat more often but you need to eat the right foods. That means plenty of lean meats, veggies, minimal fruits and low glycemic carbohydrates.
7. Snack on good fats (nuts, seeds, avocados). These foods are high in good fats and your body will use them for energy instead of storing them. This foods are also high in satiety which means that they keep you fuller longer.
8. Take a protein supplement post workout. Supplementing protein helps rebuild muscle and aids in recovery so you can work out at a high intensity for your next workout without muscle soreness. Also a diet higher I’m protein has been shown to lead to fat loss and better muscle toning.
9. Get 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Without proper sleep your body will have higher levels of the hormone cortisol. This hormone causes fat storage in your body and the target area is usually your midsection. Avoid this by getting proper sleep and make your sleeping times habitual.
10. Eliminate stresses in your life. Stress causes many adverse effects in the mody. One can be weight gain. If you eliminate stresses the more time you have to focus on your health and fitness and the less likely your body is to hold on to those excess pounds that you may have gained over the holidays.
A lot of American women are on the go. They are taking care of families and working full time hours. These women are sometimes so busy that it is hard to go to the gym everyday. Its popular to do fitness DVD’s at home. If you take a look at the top selling fitness DVD’s on Amazon Jillian Michaels is the current queen. She has four workout DVD’s amongst the top ten. Followed by Tracy Anderson who has two. Another two are yoga DVD’s with one is from Barbara Benagh. The other is from Michael Wohl. Interestingly enough there is only one DVD featuring African American women. This DVD is a total body weight-loss DVD featuring Ellen Ector and Lana Ector.
In a time crunch? Looking for exercises for home? Trying to save money on classes or a gym membership? Yoga, pilates, and fitness classes are sometimes impossible to afford. Here are a few free solutions from YOUTUBE! Not only are they free but these workout’s you can do in your own home. Workout durations vary from a quick 5 minute blast all the way up to a 45 minute workout.
The top 10 Fitness Youtube Channels in no particular order are:
You may not be familiar with the name, but the face may strike a chord with you. This past November, following the heavily followed 72-Day-Matrimony/Divorce debacle of Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries, the appearance of 22-year-old Ralph Craig has been foggled by the media as one of the breaking points played out on “Kourtney and Kim Take New York.” The nude scene became the week’s top viral video and the media ate every little bit of it up. Now, we speak with Ralph Craig about the art of yoga and healthy living as well as how the Kardashians class came about, and he shares (what he can) about his participation in the infamous incident.
Learning Through Yoga
When I was 12, I was given by the principal of my school– but really my mentor in many ways– a copy of “Siddhartha” by Herman Hess, which is a novel. And the “Bhagavad Gita,” which is a myth from the Mahabarata. And I read them—I was just fascinated by them. But I didn’t know there was a practical shot at doing it. And at my school, they offered a yoga class, and I had started to dance. And I just thought it would be a nice compliment. So I started to take the yoga class. And I was one of like, four guys, but it was a lot of fun. And that was in middle school [in New Orleans]. I’ve been doing it every day since.
Growing With Yoga
Well, it’s a practical philosophy. It’s a practice, right. It’s applied philosophy. My father’s a minister and my mother is Roman Catholic, so I was raised in both the Roman Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Church. And I like the philosophy and the drama of the sermons, but it was the yoga that kind of tied it all together for me, in a practical way. Not only do you have to know how to think, but you also have to be free in your body. And the combination of the two I think is what really works—that could either be yoga philosophy or any other kind of philosophy, the two will keep you going.
My favorite yoga position, I really like all of the leg behind the head poses. Because they build up your back a lot. They strengthen your back. And if you spend for long periods of time in front of a computer like me, putting your leg behind your head is the best useful anecdote to that.
I kind of liken it to running. You know, when you go on your first run and the next day you feel like you died inside. And then you go running again, and it’s still pain, but after a while it becomes routine. It takes a while for things to become routine.
Yoga and Health Goes Hand in Hand?
It definitely goes hand in hand. I was vegan for a long time, and I was pescatarian for a long time, but now I’m not anymore. And to be honest, I eat whatever I want to. But I change what I want to eat, let’s say. But it’s definitely really important how you eat. I would even say how you eat is almost the most important part.
We’re just such a cerebral culture. We just think. And we’re always stressed. And things are just always going on in our minds and our bodies just kind of fall by the way-side. Yoga puts you in so many positions and so many different combinations of breath and movement, you get to explore yourself. The first month, you feel different; the second month, you seem different to yourself; and the third month, everybody else starts to look at you differently. And I think the proof is in the pudding. You look at yourself and you go ‘oh, alright, haha, owww!’
Healthy Eating Tips
I would say the most important thing is, if you’re gonna do any kind of working out or anything that requires a lot of energy, you need a sufficient amount of protein. And there’s this big thing—everybody is like anti-milk now. And I think that is absolutely ridiculous. I think as long as you have organic milk that’s not full of synthetics, you can do little worse for yourself than consume milk. So that’s one thing that I do.
And then to take vitamins; I can’t recommend enough. It would be different if we all eat really, really well every single day and then got all the vitamins and minerals we need, but since that’s not true, we need it. I think protein, fruits, and vegetables, and a good multi-vitamin. And I wouldn’t be fooled– a Flintstone vitamin is good enough. It has so much in it that you have to cut it to give it to a child, but as an adult, if you just take one whole Flintstone vitamin, you’re set.
On meeting the Kardashians
Let me preference this by saying—there’s only so much I can say legally, because I signed a contract. But I can say, I think without any kind of issue, that I actually had a really good time. And I kept the perspective that it was all for fun and it was something that they wanted to try. I would say, if that was a real yoga class, like in a studio or something, it would’ve been different. They were all very nice to me, including to some degree or another, the aforementioned husband [Kris Humphries].
So you didn’t take any offense to anything that happened? Words that were said?
I really didn’t. I feel that, you know, whatever was said, it just didn’t have any effect on me. It just rolled like water on my back, it just rolled off. And you know, you brush your soldiers off and you keep going.
So how was the aftermath of that, have you been noticed on the streets now?
I actually have, oddly enough. I will say—I don’t watch television because I don’t have one, and so I just didn’t realize it’s a syndicated show worldwide. And I didn’t think about that at all. And so, I’ve been, you know, down in Florida, where my mother lives, home in New Orleans, here in New York, everywhere I go, usually there’s a few people who recognize. And some work has come out of it, just not related to that family at all. But some other work.
Naked on National Television
One funny thing is that my mother was in the grocery store and just happened to be reading over someone’s shoulder. You know, just standing in line, and they had a US Weekly magazine open. And my mother was reading over her shoulder and I hadn’t mentioned to my mother that I had done this. And she peered over the shoulder of this woman into the magazine and she goes ‘Oh my God, that’s my child!” And then my godmothercalled me and she goes ‘Why are you as naked as the day I sat in that hospital and saw you born?’ It was that type of thing.
Backlash from the Yoga Community
The American media, they kind of harp on stuff like that that—it’s sensational for them, so that’s always fun. But in the yoga community it was a big thing because you know–and I hate to be honest about it–but there’s so much pretentiousness in the yoga community and everybody wants to define what yoga is, how they think yoga should be, and what’s real yoga, and what’s not. So I got calls from some teacher friends of mine at Yoga Journal, a big yoga magazine, who were like ‘Yoga is being trivialized.’ But when I talked on the phone with many of those people, my honest response was ‘Blah blah blah blah blah.’ It’s yoga. You can do it in your underwear, do it naked, do it with clothes on, do it with a tracksuit on. It’s really ‘just do it.’
The Media versus The Body
I haven’t seen the episode, but really, they way I responded to the yoga community was, ‘get a grip, it’s ok.’ More than anything else, the show proved this whole Puritanical thing. You know, ‘oh the human body is disgusting, and anything that you do in public, you can’t involve the body’. It’s like, I’m sorry, could you read a book without a body?
I mean it’s sort of like Matthew McConaughey takes his shirt off, and literally it’s like he can’t sneeze without showing his six-pack. And it’s perfectly fine, all is well. But somebody like D’angelo does that video, or Christina Aguilera– a woman has that curvy figure– blood going down her leg, and Beyonce does a turn and it’s like, ‘Oh, the Heavens have fallen’ you know, we don’t respect anything anymore. And it’s just like—give me a break. I take my shirt off whenever I want to. Whenever it’s appropriate to do so. And so I think there’s a strong element and I don’t think that can be denied—I think there is a strong element just in the media, the yoga media or American news media, of that kind of stigma.
I mean, it’s the same thing, even watching this whole Whitney Houston situation, and you know—I was a big fan of Whtiney’s mother, because I’m a big fan of gospel music. And watching this whole thing and it’s in every other breath—when Michael Jackson died—it was in every other breath. You’d have sworn she sang one song and just shot up all her life. And it’s the same with Michael—you would have sworn he just moon-walked once and then was cracked out from that moment on. But then you take somebody like Elvis, who died on the toilet of the bathroom over pills, and it’s like ‘Oh, that was a mistake’. You know, that’s just a side note that drugs were involved.
My point in all of that was to say that, you know, there’s always that thing about Black athletes. There’s just always that ‘Black people are so muscular’ thing. I just remember thinking to myself ‘I am not now, nor have I ever been a Rastafarian. I am not now, nor have I ever been to Jamaica, Queens, or Jamaica the Island.’ So to refer to me as some Rastafarian yoga teacher, it’s just not what I am. Which is another reason it could just roll off my back because I was like, he can’t be talking to me. And there’s just always this thing about Ethnic people, and what they do with their bodies; it always has a little bit of a stigma to it.