Thursday, July 23, 2015

Yogi Next Door - Chris Vargas

Photo: Instagram @diggster

Chris Vargas


Mental Health Associate/ Full-time nursing student (2 more months!)

How long have you been practicing yoga?
7 months

What was your motivation to start?
I take this boot camp class at the gym I go to. For one month, the instructor, had us do this yoga challenge, just within our workout group. When I saw how yoga started to positively affect my cardio endurance, my ability to lift, any back pains, even my mood, I started taking yoga seriously. As much as I hated the stigma that “real men” don’t do yoga, I kept at it because it offered me a physical challenge that I didn’t find elsewhere, as well as allowed me to unite my mental and spiritual health. Now I participate in these month long yoga challenges via Instagram where I get to connect with other yogis and get to be inspired in my own practice.

Favorite yoga pose?
I’m torn between Eka Pada Koudinyasana II (One legged arm balance) and Astavakrasana (Eight-angle pose). These two are my favorite because when I first began my practice, I saw these and thought, wow, what a beautiful pose that incorporates balance, strength and flexibility!

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned through your practice?
Out of all the different exercises I do, yoga is the only practice that allows me to focus my mind on my physical, mental and spiritual health. When I first approached yoga, I only wanted to increase my strength and flexibility. The more I practiced, I started to experience yoga’s added beneficial aspects like its ability to help control my anxiety. In addition, it boosted my confidence, understanding my own limitations and that with time, all will fall into place through perseverance and effort. However, the most important thing I learned was to love and accept my body for where it is at. As a guy, I’ll have moments where yeah, I wish I looked more aesthetically appealing, but then yoga reminds me that physical appearance doesn’t matter.. I don’t believe there’s any harm in trying to improve yourself, but during the journey, continue to open your heart while honoring and loving your body.

Hobbies off the mat?
I love traveling, finding adventures, getting to know people, playing piano, jammin’ out in my car, reading, playing with puppies, doing obstacle course races, cooking and of course, eating.

Personal motto?
Every day is a great day! There was a time in my life where I would do nothing but complain about anything and everything. When I started to see how it negatively impacted my relationships and my attitude, I knew I needed a change. Now every morning, I constantly remind myself that even if today was going to be the worst day ever, it’s still a great day solely based on the fact that I’m alive and able to live it out.

Favorite quote?
“Be happy for this moment, for this moment is your life.” I actually have this quote woven into my sleeve tattoo on my left arm! :D I found this quote in a daily meditation book I have that I utilize every morning, in conjunction with a 20 minute yoga flow, always ending in a short prayer to jump start my day. I love this quote because it serves as a gentle reminder to live in the present moment, because it is in that present moment, that life is happening.. take every moment in and savor it.

Advice for new yogis?
Stick with it! Yoga may not be for everybody but out of all the workouts out there, yoga is for every body. As a guy, I know that yoga isn’t widely advertised because it’s not “masculine” or it’s only for chicks who are already “flexible”. Let me say this now guys, you want to get your ass to the grass in squats? Try yoga. You want to prevent injury from all those heavy deadlifts and chest presses? Do yoga! To me, yoga is not being about being super flexible and doing all these crazy postures and what not. Yes, they are fun to try and cool to look at, but at the end of the day, just like anything else you dedicate time and effort to, you get out of your practice what you put into it. One of the most important things I have to do before every session is to set my intention, a reason why I practice. It might be dedicated to a person, an event, a quote, a thought, whatever it is… set your intention. When you set that intention, you have that goal in mind, and every time you meet that goal, you’re honoring your body and your craft, which in turn will hopefully ignite someone else’s fire.

What is yoga to you?
Yoga means to unite: my life is not exempt from devastation or inclusive to love; rather, my practice teaches me to find harmony in the midst of this chaos.

Follow Chris on IG @diggster