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CONTENT Caught in the headlights: From muscle cars to luxury grand touring
Wear a watch strap made from the finest leather in the world—leather with luxurious texture and visual appeal
The Making of a Watchmaker – Part IX: A Vintage Rolex meticulously repaired
From Dirt to Dinner Parties: The Breitling Cockpit B50 Night Mission
Yoga: The Art of Contemplation and Transformation
The top EDC toys
The Bugatti Aérolithe Performance is driven by the proprietary PF335 movement, which boasts a flyback chronograph module. It is decorated with “Côtes de Genève”, a classic finish which complements this round watch, buoyed by the energy of the legendary car which served as its inspiration.
Letter from the Editor
Welcome to Issue #10 of Timepiece Magazine. Have you ever looked back in nostalgia to the “good old days” when you drove around in your shiny new automobile without a care in the world? When you drove a car that is today considered an icon, a collector’s piece that makes you think, “If only.” You can read about some storied cars in “Caught in the headlights: From muscle cars to luxury grand touring.” Perhaps you’ll be able to relate to the stories I tell and the cars I drove. And talking about vintage, if you have a passion for vintage watches read about the meticulous restoration of a 1970s Rolex Submariner. Or you can look at a contemporary watch that is considered a “workhouse that is worth the price tag,” the Breitling Cockpit B50 Night Mission. Read the article and find out if it’s a watch that will fit your lifestyle. We’re not talking about reading a list of features, that you can get anywhere—we’re talking about reading the characteristics and lifestyle of a particular watch. While we’re on the subject of our passion for cars and watches, read the article about Greg Stevens who had a lifelong passion for watches and leather products. It’s amazing where our passions lead us. In his case, they eventually led him to building a successful business—Greg Stevens Design—and a new lifestyle. He has an interesting and inspirational story to tell. Now let’s switch gears and talk about yoga. If you think it’s for sissies, a passive activity where you assume the Lotus position while visualizing rainbows and sunflowers, then you couldn’t be more mistaken. Read “Yoga: The Art of Contemplation and Transformation,” then try it. You’ll be surprised and restored—just like the 1970s Rolex Submariner. We hope we have succeeded in delivering articles that are not just informative, but are diverting and stimulating as well.
E. Mark Baran Publisher
CAUGHT IN THE HEADLIGHTS: From muscle cars to luxury grand touring By E. Mark Baran I’m a firm believer that a person’s experiences in late adolescence influence their lives forever. In our adolescent years, we begin to develop various likes and dislikes for many things experimentally. Those things that interest us enough to warrant self-propelled learning and education seem to be the things that are destined to stick. In my particular instance, it appears to have been a general lust for knowledge on how things work. My interest in automotive and mechanical things started when I was growing up on a farm in southern Indiana. This interest was sparked by being forced to learn how to repair mechanical things when they broke, which they often did. I learned first as an observer, then as a “student,” and then as the person tasked with the repair work. Fixing broken things is a wonderful, and most often frustrating, way to understand them. You learn early to spot something that was well made and just worn out from something that was made poorly and pretty much had to break sooner rather than later.
The Rolex Submariner – An esoteric attachment
My first good watch was gifted to me by a friend of my father’s, who was also my flight instructor from the age of fifteen or so. The gift was to honor receipt of my private pilot’s license. It was an early version of the Rolex Submariner that I knew little about at the time. I was told it was a very good watch and that I should take commensurate care of it. I did. And I also read whatever I could find about the watch and the brand—we didn’t have things like the internet in those days—and I also spoke with some local jewelers about the watch whenever I could get any face time. This has led to an entire lifetime of acquiring knowledge on the topic, especially the mechanical side of the industry. Call it an odd esoteric attachment if you will.
The untouchable cars
I learned early in life that cars and people develop attachments. My Grandfather was a multi-generation patriarch of a farming family that started in 1820. We had a lot of farm equipment, some of it very expensive. He also had a 1957 Ford Fairlane 500 coupe and a 1958 Ford Ranchero parked in his garage. Both were blue and white. Both had the seats covered in clear plastic. Both were kept in pristine condition. I was not allowed to touch, much less drive, either of them. Nor was anyone else.
By the time I’d reached fifteen years of age and was allowed to drive a combine all day, which cost as much as five Fords, I began to understand why. They were his personal things. They were not farm equipment that would inevitably be beat up in the fields, rusted by the rains, or have axles broken from a hole in the field. And I surmised that unlike all the other equipment that would perish from the dirt, dust, hot sun, and other elements, he wanted these two things to remain “as new,” as long as it was in his power anyway.
The 400 horsepower Detroit Muscle Car with the latest technology
I must have inherited Grandfather Arad’s genetics. My first car after high school was a brand new piece of Detroit Muscle Car history. Sleek, modern, shiny, with 400 horsepower under the hood, and the ability to transfer much of that power to the new technology “wide oval” tires it was fitted with. I fell in love with it when I picked it up at the local dealership one dark, rainy late spring evening. I opened the driver’s door and just stood gazing into the interior for a long while. My parents and the sales guy left after I assured them nothing was wrong with me. Got in it and learned the controls. Played with the shift pattern on the console. Depressed the clutch enough times that I was sure I knew where the pressure point was. Then I realized what I was doing mentally: I was fighting the idea of getting
it wet out in the elements that awaited me. Eventually I pulled it out of the dealership garage into the nighttime rain. In doing so, I knew I was obligating myself to keep it “as new,” as long as it was in my power to do so.
The BMW 320 with M10 straight six two-liter fuel injected engine
Lots of tumultuous years have gone by since that spring evening. And quite a few vehicles. After undergraduate school, I was dating a gal whose mother owned a BMW 2002tii. At first I thought it looked a bit boxy and kind of funky. I had owned other “imported” cars by then and thought I knew all there was to know about cars. Boy, was I wrong. The tii was something to drive. Tight, nimble, with accelerative capability far beyond what I expected from a relatively small four-cylinder engine. About five years later I found myself living and working in Indianapolis, Indiana. I read an article about a new BMW dealership opening in the area and paid them a visit. On the showroom floor sat a new 320I. It was silver with a dark blue leather interior. It was outfitted with the M10 straight six two-liter fuel injected engine and a Getrag automatic transmission. I took it out for a short test drive—the dealership was very particular about letting people drive the only one they had—and was even more impressed
with the handling and performance than I was previously with the 2002tii. It performed exceptionally well for an engine that was rated at only 123 horsepower. And I was fascinated by the car’s engine. I had never seen this level of technology in a manual fuel injection system. I had some previous experience with a fuel injected Chevrolet engine. But this was way more advanced. During my short test drive, the sales guy kept taking about the car as an “entry level luxury” car. That made no since at all to me. This was a sports coupe, with nimble handling and an astounding power curve. But at that point, I had not developed any experience with marketing speak, so I just nodded my head and signed the purchase contract thereafter. The 320 was another love affair. The technology was the most impressive thing about it. It was nimble, responsive, fast, but still performed well on the snow and nasty iced roadways that were common in Indianapolis winters. I spent many recreational hours washing, waxing, and maintaining that car. Right up until it was ordered over to my first wife in the divorce. C’est la vie.
Moving on to the BMW 1983 E24 series
My career led me to Dallas, Texas, in the early 1980s, and to another BMW. This time, it was a 633csi that caught my attention on another dealer’s showroom floor. It was a 1983 E24 series that was clad in the gold/silver metallic paint that was popular at the time. It featured the 194 horsepower M30 engine with a five-speed close ratio gearbox and gold BBS wheels with as wide a set of mixed front and rear tires as the suspension and wheel wells would allow. The 633 was one of the best engineered and built cars I’ve ever owned. The engine was amazingly powerful for an inline six. Granted it was an evolution from the M10 that was in my 320, but with a whole lot of improvements to performance. It was also one of the best driving cars I’ve ever owned. It tracked solid, was stable at high speed, and the steering was beautifully precise.
Mixing it up with jeeps and land rovers
The late 90s into the early 2000s were spent mostly in states of the mountain west. So, my car needs turned to Jeeps and Land Rovers to match the environment. The mountain states gave way to California in 2004 and found me back in BMWs again. Fall 2013 found me behind the wheel of a BMW X5 V8 SUV. It was a comfortable car that was great for its intended purpose, but not really “fun” to drive. I had leased it, with a lease termination date of November 2016. In March 2016, I was notified that the car was equipped with a Takata driver’s side airbag and was being recalled. Problem was, they had no replacement parts and did not know when they would have any. So anyone who had nine months or less left on their lease was invited to turn the car in and walk away from the lease. As I was nearing the mileage limit under the terms of the lease, and the tires would have had to be replaced by the lease termination date, the offer caught my attention.
The technically advanced and evil BMW – Solidly glued to the road
As much as I enjoyed the BMW X5, it was simply too large for my needs. So I ventured off to the dealership to look at something smaller. I tried driving an X6 with the same V8 motor as the X5. Very nice car. It was pretty close to scoring on the fun meter. But it was $120,000 and I didn’t want to take on that level of financial obligation. Then I tried an X4 “M Series.” It was nice, but rather boring in comparison to the X6. And I really didn’t want to get into what was just a smaller, and somewhat underpowered version of what I’d been driving for two plus years. So I started looking at “4 Series” coupes. Then I saw it. Silver paint, black wheels, black trim, and a black carbon fiber roof. It was very reminiscent of my first 320i. Except a whole lot more technically advanced and a bit more “evil” in appearance. In fact, it was 425 horsepower coupled to all the best technology BMW had to offer. My friend, who was the sales guy, gave me the “key.” When the door opened, I stood there for a bit thinking, “WOW, this is really one hell-of-a piece of equipment.” It was the first “M Car” I’d driven in a few years. I’d driven a couple M3s during the V8 model years, and was impressed. But I continue to prefer the straight six engines in the M cars. I drove it off the lot and headed north on a wide interstate with little traffic at the time. The engine, suspension, and steering are variable at three levels. I had all the settings on “Sport” just to see what it would do in the intermediate mode. Once I cleared traffic, I pushed the throttle slowly until I reached the 120 mark. At that speed it was flat and solidly “glued” to the road. I had a few wide open lanes of roadway, so I pushed it up another ten and tried driving centered on the lane divider between two lanes with one hand at twelve o’clock on the steering wheel. The car’s response was amazing. Minor changes to the point of the “needle” on the wheel and the car did exactly what you told it to do. No hesitation, no correction time, just a perfect driving experience. Exhilarating, needless to say. With no radar detector, it was time to cut this exercise short. I found a slower, but much more winding way back to the dealership. Whatever I asked the car to do, it did. When all the controls were set up to “Sport Plus” it didn’t take long to realize those settings are not meant for use on a public highway. Yes, it’s very easy to break the rear tires loose, if you like that sort of thing. But off the track, that usually amounts to the abuse of a fine piece of machinery. And yes, the torque can be rather gut-punching, if you like that sort of thing. By the time I returned to the dealership, there was no question in my mind what I would be driving home. After the paperwork, I stood next to the car before I drove off the lot again. Somewhere in the back of my head was that night at the dealership in Indiana many years ago. And some of that memory comes back every time I get in it and turn it on, along with a smile.
WEAR A WATCH STRAP MADE FROM THE FINEST LEATHER IN THE WORLD LEATHER WITH LUXURIOUS TEXTURE AND VISUAL APPEAL By Máire Jacqueline O’Callaghan
You’ve bought a high-end, luxury watch and you’re not happy with the strap—it’s not quite your style and it’s not that comfortable. You’ve looked at watch straps, but found nothing that fits your personality or that wraps around your wrist so comfortably you’d think it was made for it.
ENTER GREG STEVENS DESIGN.
For Greg Stevens, being laid off was a bad news, good news story. The good news: the Greg Stevens Design company that eschews mass-produced, machine-made products for custom, hand-made products such as watch straps, wallets, and belts. On a typically Utah late fall day, the founder of Greg Stevens Design talked to me about his early life, his philosophy, his business, and his family. The thread that ran through his narrative was his lifelong philosophy: Be honest and treat people with kindness and respect. When you look at Greg’s life, it seems at first glance to be a juxtaposition of opposites. A closer look and you can see the parallels: his characteristics and creativity from growing up in San Jose, California, in the 1960s and 1970s to running his own company in Utah in the 2000s, remain a constant. Greg’s passion for watches and leather products has never wavered. “I’ve always loved watches and have worn one since second grade,” said Greg. “I also loved nice leather, selling shoes in college and building a shoe collection. It’s interesting, looking back, at how today watches and leather products, my two lifelong passions, have merged to become a successful business.” As Greg puts it, “I’ve been blessed with large wrists.” A blessing because Greg’s large wrists eventually led to his highly successful company, Greg Stevens Design. At that time, there weren’t many custom watch strap options and Greg had several disappointing experiences with some after-market, off-the-shelf products. It was then he decided to design and make his own watch strap. He visited a local leather shop, buying glue, a couple of knives, a ruler, and leather remnants. With these rudimentary tools, Greg fashioned a watch strap customized to fit his large wrist. After he graduated from college, Greg didn’t choose a career founded on his passion for watches and leather products. He chose sales, and spent almost 18 years working as a sales director for a large, service related company. He relished the creative and personal aspects of his responsibilities such as business development, marketing, and training. Unknown to Greg, his high-level executive responsibilities, which included hitting and exceeding annual sales targets, developing and executing strategic plans, and building and maintaining strong, long-lasting customer relationships, laid the foundation for his future as an entrepreneur and a successful business owner. That came in 2009. The economy collapsed. Thousands of people lost their jobs and were forced to economize and to cancel what they considered unnecessary services. It was then that Greg had to transition from the stability and security of working for a well-established company with a regular pay cheque, to the oftentimes bumpy road of entrepreneurship. Greg’s passion for leather products had led to some relative success before being laid off. He had launched his business in 2005—after his successful attempt at making a watch strap for himself. So it was not a big leap of faith for him to jump into it full time after four years of successfully selling custom watch straps. Greg explained, “I found there was a one-size-fits-all mentality. People would buy a watch and the leather strap either didn’t fit or it was cheap. That’s when I made a strap tailored to fit my large wrist. And that’s when I saw the need, and desire, for an alternative to the after-market, off-the-shelf product.”
Greg had initially started his business by becoming active on different internet watch forums. “The first time I posted, I sold two. And then I sold two more. What started as a hobby, slowly transitioned into a business.” And that was four years before Greg left his executive position: four years of working as a sales director during the week, and of working as a custom leather watch strap manufacturer evenings and weekends. In 2009, with his fledgling business still on wobbly legs, Greg decided to invest his energy and passion into building his business—to becoming a full-time entrepreneur— but he faced an unusual challenge: “My wife said you have six weeks, and if after six weeks we’re not paying the bills or eating, then you have to find a real job.” It’s been nearly eight years since that six-week ultimatum and the business continues to grow and the product line continues to diversify and expand. I asked Greg where he got his inspiration to conceive such exclusive products: “I’m textural. I like the way things feel and the way they look. I don’t like anything overly ostentatious. My design philosophy is straightforward: I like simplicity and functionality. I use the best materials and build my products with old-world techniques, ensuring that my custom watch straps and other products have character and substance, and that they are a complete departure from the sterile, mass-produced, machine-made products we see all too often. I don’t have to stamp genuine leather on any of my products because you can feel it. Really good leather is obvious.” Greg has three main sources for his leather: Horween Leather Company, Chicago, founded in 1905; Wickett & Craig, Pennsylvania, founded in 1867; and Hermann Oake Leather Co., St. Louis, founded in 1881. They are all world renowned for the high quality of their leather, which is used to craft luxury goods like Greg’s watch straps, wallets, and belts. He also repurposes old military surplus ammunition pouches that date back to the early 1950s and 1960s, adding to the diversity and exclusiveness of his product range.
Since 2005, when Greg built his first custom watch strap, he has sold thousands to clients all over the world. Over the years, he has expanded his offerings to include watches and accessories such as key fobs, zipper pulls, and field notes—notebooks that are an amazing old-world alternative to taking notes on a smartphone. Greg continues to diversify, currently designing leather watch straps in all sizes and colors for women as well. With more than thirty watch strap designs and leather options there is a watch strap for everyone. A strap made from the finest leather in the world—leather with luxurious texture and visual appeal. And a strap designed and created with passion and dedication, and with the desire to create the perfect complement to a person’s watch and personality. Greg turned his one-time simple hobby into a full-time successful business. He went from working for a company and traveling 120 days a year, to working for himself and staying at home. He has more time to enjoy family life with his wife and three children: “I’m now there for my family. It’s allowed my wife to go back to school and become a nurse. She wouldn’t have been able to do that if I still had my day job. It’s fantastic, she’s so happy.” He also gets to enjoy his stunning outdoor environment with its backdrop of the Wasatch Mountains, the western range of the Rocky Mountains, playing catch with Marty, a high-energy Australian Shepherd / Border Collie mix. The Greg Stevens Design company has been good news for all—human and animal alike.
Freak Blue Cruiser Flying carrousel-tourbillon 7-day power reserve Silicium technology T. 561.988.8600 ulysse-nardin.com
T H E E T E R NA L M OV E M E N T Ulysse Nardin, from the movement of the sea to the perpetual innovation of Haute Horlogerie. For over 170 years, the powerful movement of the ocean has inspired Ulysse Nardin in its singular quest: to push back the limits of mechanical watchmaking, time and time again.
The Making Part of a Watchmaker
The journey to become a master watchmaker continues By Máire O’Callaghan & Bas Quadaekers When you wear your prized vintage watch do you worry about who is going to service it? Who will treat it with the respect it deserves? If you are, then you should meet Bas Quadaekers. He is dedicated and single minded in his pursuit of his dream: becoming a master watchmaker. His care and consideration for watches, whether new, antique or vintage, will fill a much needed gap in the watch industry—both for service and repair and for master watchmakers. We have been following Bas’ progress at Vakschool Schoonhoven, Netherlands, for over two years. Since the end of April 2016, Bas has been interning at a Rolex Service Centre, returning to Vakschool Schoonhoven on January 9, 2017, for a full year of school, which will be followed by another 120-day internship period. During all this time, his passion for watchmaking as a career has never wavered. During Bas’ internship at the Rolex Service Centre, he worked on a 1970s Rolex Submariner watch. Here is his account in words and photographs of his servicing of this vintage Rolex—a watch built to last, a bit like a tank, but fragile, nevertheless.
A dinged and dented vintage Rolex
This is how the 1970s Rolex Submariner (Ref. 1680) looked when it arrived at the lab for servicing. It wasn’t keeping good time and the automatic system didn’t work properly. As well, the watch was badly scratched with dings on both the case, plexiglass and bracelet. I first took the movement out of the case, removing the valuable hands and dial and storing them safely. As it’s a classic vintage watch, the original elements can’t be replaced, especially since modern watch collecting is almost solely focused on the condition of the dial—specifically the dial patina. The Vintage Rolex Buyer’s Guide states that modern watch collecting is about the “all over matching patina,” so it was critical I took great care when disassembling the Rolex.
A Vintage Rolex meticulously repaired
A mismatched fake center gear
I cleaned the movement and checked all the parts for wear and tear. One thing I noticed was a fake center gear, which is common in the old 15xx calibers as many of them were serviced by watchmakers without a Rolex parts account—meaning they’d have to find aftermarket parts to get it working again. While these aftermarket parts usually worked just fine, they have to be replaced, even if they are not worn. You can clearly see that the gear on the left is a little crude and not as finished as the one on the right, the one on the left is the aftermarket part.
A revitalized base movement
Here the base movement is finished: I replaced all worn parts and cleaned the old and new replacement parts, then reassembled and lubricated it. It’s now time to regulate the movement.
A surfeit of screws
When I regulated the movement I found it more difficult than the modern caliber 31xx. This is because there are a lot of screws on the balance wheel, making it difficult to stop the balance in the chosen position: the balance stop, which engages when you pull the crown into the second position, will stop in between two screws and it takes a bit of careful fiddling to get it into a position where you can adjust the screw designed for the microstella device. After regulating, it is time to assemble the automatic system; in this case, the reversing wheels had too much end shake—the space between the two ruby bearings—so I adjusted this with the Horia tool. When this was done, I assembled the dial and hands and carefully placed it aside.
A polish and a pressure test
With the case disassembled it was time for polishing. We always polish the watches unless the owner explicitly states otherwise. After polishing, I took some new gaskets and new plexiglass and assembled the watch without the movement. I then conducted some pressure testing. The watch passed the test so I placed the movement inside the case.
VI A fine-tuned refreshed 1970s Rolex Submariner
At this final stage, we kept the Rolex on a winder to track its accuracy over 10 days, slightly regulating it a few times to make sure it is running to Rolex specifications.
to Dinner Parties
The Breitling Cockpit B50 Night Mission By Scott Randals
I must admit, sitting down to write a review on the Breitling Cockpit B50 seemed to be my Everest. After all, it appears as though most watch reviews I read all seem relatively the same. They give you the specs, a list of feature sets, and an overall impression. And in the end, that’s not what I wanted to deliver, nor did I think it was what our readers want. Because, let’s face it—I’m sure you all know how to use Google, so specs are not needed. Instead, let’s discuss what this watch does for me—with some background on my lifestyle, then perhaps you can decide whether this is the right timepiece for you. Now, firstly, let me say this: I’m not someone who treats their watches with much daily care. To me a timepiece is there to serve specific functions, it needs to be dependable and, most of all, it needs to be able to take one hell of beating. In the case of the Breitling Cockpit B50, my main goal was to find a watch that could go from something that looked good with a suit and tie, to something that would suddenly be thrust into the mountains in hellish conditions—all without so much as a thought about the consequences. The B50 proved to be that watch. Aside from my daily grind, I tend to spend much of my time deep in the wilderness, at times being heli-dropped into the harshest environments one can imagine. From rock faces, to lakes and streams, to pushing through unimaginably thick bush, my watches need to stand up to the elements or be left by the wayside. Starting from the top down, the B50 is my go-to watch. That is primarily due to the compass bezel. Now, I’ve read some reviews that have criticized the function, saying it’s useless. I could not disagree more. In extreme conditions, compasses can fail, so as a backup I continually use the compass bezel as a sanity check against my compass: I simply hold the watch horizontally and point the hour hand at the sun. Halfway between that point and the twelve o’clock mark points to the South. And something else that many may scoff at is the digital display. However, again in the pitch black of the northern boreal forest, there is something to be said for the ability to tell time and know when you can expect the sun to come up, and more. Additionally, the luminescence of the hands and number markers are a bonus. Then, of course, we have the digital functionality. For me, the pilot-centric functions mean little, though that is not to say I won’t try to figure those out one day when I have a little more time. However, the functions I love to use are the countdown functions, timers, and time zones—all of which cater to my travel habits. In fact, mere days from the date of publication of this article, I will be heading into the jungle of a tropical destination to climb through wet, humid, bug-infested conditions to reach the top of an island mountain. It’s this type of activity that also drew me to the overall quality and workmanship put into the Breitling watch. From the case to the quartz movement, this watch is as indestructible as the next. Right down to the black anodized finish and rubber strap—salt water, mud, rain, and dirt do little to deter this watch from doing its job. So why a $10K watch to abuse? That’s always the golden question. With so many watches to choose from, there is never a clear answer as to what drew me to the Breitling outside of its appearance, features and function. With its pseudo-tactical good looks that don’t draw attention, to its reputation as being incredibly rugged, I see this timepiece as an insurance policy. One that is there when I need it. So, for those who have the means—this workhorse is worth the price tag.
YOGA: THE ART OF CONTEMPLATION AND TRANSFORMATION By Máire Jacqueline O’Callaghan
Why do people practice yoga? And if they don’t, why should they? Here’s one reason. A Hatha yoga teacher I know told me that one of her clients came to her because he had suffered a severe cardiac event and had high blood pressure. His situation was tough: he worked in a high-powered, high-stress job and was on blood pressure medication. What could he do? He decided he had to take care of himself and chose Hatha yoga as the way to improve his health and wellbeing. Today, two years later, he no longer takes blood pressure medication as he has managed his blood pressure and kept it within a healthy range. He has learned to relax; for example, when in a stressful situation at work he uses a yoga breathing exercise to soothe, relax and revitalize his spirit. A recent review in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, December 15, 2014, concluded that “This meta-analysis revealed evidence for clinically important effects of yoga on most biological cardiovascular disease risk factors. Despite methodological drawbacks of the included studies, yoga can be considered as an ancillary intervention for the general population and for patients with increased risk of cardiovascular disease.”
Why people practice yoga
In 2012, Yoga Journal reported that 20.4 million people practice yoga in the U.S., which is a 29% increase over the previous 2008 study. Of these, 82.2% are women; 17.8% are men. So why do all these people practice yoga? According to Marlynn Wei, MD, JD, a board-certified Harvard and Yale-trained psychiatrist and certified yoga teacher, “More than 90% of people who come to yoga do so for physical exercise, improved health, or stress management.” These reasons are supported by the growing body of research on how yoga improves health concerns, including asthma, fatigue, obesity, chronic pain, and more.
Why people should practice yoga
If you aren’t practicing yoga already, then here’s why you should. In a Wired Magazine article by Ryan Tate, “In Silicon Valley, Sitting is the New Smoking,” Nilofer Merchant, a corporate director and former Autodesk executive, said, “People spend 9.3 hours per day on their derrieres, eclipsing even the 7.7 hours they spend sleeping. Their sedentary lifestyles contribute 10% of the risk of breast and colon cancer, 6% of the risk of heart disease, and 7% of the risk of type 2 diabetes.” Yoga counteracts the negative health effects of sitting in a chair and hunching over our keyboards for more than 2,000 hours every year—add to that the time we spend sitting and sleeping at home. Here are five health benefits associated with the practice of yoga—benefits that will help to counteract any negative effects your lifestyle has on your body:
1. Builds Strength
Yoga asanas (postures) use every muscle in the body, helping to increase strength from head to toe. They also help to relieve muscular tension. When you perform yoga asanas, your body is gently stretched into a position, held there and released. These gentle stretches greatly increase the flexibility of the whole body. Your body is firmed, toned, and strengthened.
2. Improves Breathing
Using yoga breathing or Pranayama, which literally means “to extend the vital life force,” or prana, you learn to take slower, deeper breaths, helping to improve lung function, trigger your body’s relaxation response, and increase the amount of oxygen available to the body. The increased oxygen stimulates the body cells and tissues, which calms the nervous system while controlling emotions and stabilizing the mind. Your yoga teacher will provide guidance on breathing, or Pranayama, techniques.
3. Increases Flexibility
While working through your asanas you increase your range of movement, helping to relieve back, neck, joint and muscle issues. As you continually use the correct muscles, you lengthen the tendons, ligaments and muscles, increasing your flexibility. You also improve your body alignment so you achieve a better posture. Over time, you will notice incremental improvements. When I started, the plank pose defeated me, and I would collapse after two breaths. Now I can hold the pose until I transition to the next pose. The plank pose tones all the core muscles, including the abdomen, chest, and low back, and it strengthens the arms, wrists, and shoulders.
4. Relieves Pain and Stress
By practicing yoga you reduce the physical effects of stress on your body: you lower your blood pressure and heart rate; you improve your digestion; and you boost your immune system. Studies have found that practicing yoga asanas and meditation can help relieve pain in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, back and neck pain.
5. Stimulates Relaxation
You perform your yoga asanas in a silent room, using deep, meditative breathing to free your body and mind of tension and to increase your energy. When completely relaxed, you decrease muscle tension, lower your blood pressure, and slow your heart and breath rates. It is the tension in the body and mind that drains the body of its natural strength and energy, so it is important to relax completely before starting your session, to relax after performing each posture, and to relax at the end of your session.
Find the right type of yoga for you
We talk about “yoga” as though it is one type of practice. But there are many different types of yoga, and I would recommend you research them and talk to yoga instructors about your reasons for practicing yoga. It is essential you find a teacher you enjoy, who you can relate to, and who understands your goals.
Here’s a brief introduction to some popular types of yoga:
Ashtanga is based on ancient yoga teaching. It was brought to North America in the 1970s by Pattabhi Jois and westernized. Ashtanga is a specific sequence of postures, or vinyasas, which means “breathing with movement.” It is said that breathing and moving together while doing the postures heats the blood, which is cleansing and supports healthy blood circulation. Ashtanga can be physically demanding, hot and sweaty.
Bikram Choudhury developed this type of yoga approximately 30 years ago. Classes are held in artificially heated rooms where you sweat profusely through a series of 26 poses—these poses always follow the same sequence. Hot yoga is based on the Bikram school of yoga, but deviates from Bikram’s sequence; thus, yoga studios that offer hot yoga classes are not permitted to call them Bikram.
B.K.S. lyengar developed this type of yoga which focuses on finding the proper alignment in a pose. A lyengar studio contains many yoga accessories such as blocks, straps, chairs, bolsters, blankets and a rope wall. B.K.S. lyengar is acclaimed for his tenet that “Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.”
Vinyasa is the Sanskrit word for “flow.” It offers a faster pace and more challenging poses synchronized to the breath. Classes are choreographed to smoothly transition from pose to pose. No two Vinyasa classes are the same, so if you want a constant challenge in your yoga practice, then try Vinyasa.
Hatha yoga is traditionally slower and gentler than other types of yoga. It is a set of physical exercises that are called asanas. These are designed to align the skin, muscles and bones and to open the many channels of the body, especially the spine which is the main channel, so that energy can flow freely. It improves balance and flexibility and boosts endurance. A 2005 study conducted by the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse found that after completing an eight-week Hatha yoga program, participants’ flexibility increased by 13%, especially in the shoulder and torso areas.
You can practice anytime, anywhere
The great beauty of yoga is that you can practice anytime, anywhere—while at work, at home, traveling, or on vacation. You could spend your vacation at a resort such as Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, Stockbridge, Massachusetts; or White Lotus Foundation Retreat Center, Santa Barbara, California; or Big Sky Yoga Retreats, Bozeman, Montana, where you can combine yoga and horseback riding, or yoga and Nordic skiing. Wherever you are, you can practice yoga at anytime—even if you’ve only 15 minutes to spare. Sun Salutation is a sequence of 12 yoga asanas and perfect for a just up in the morning workout. Or if you are sitting all day staring at a computer screen take 30 to 60 seconds for Downward Facing Dog, which stretches and strengthens many parts of the body, reduces tension in the shoulders, and relaxes the neck. There are many other asanas such as Mountain Pose and Slow Neck Stretches that you can do during the day to counteract the effects of sitting for 8 to 12 hours.
Why yoga is more than just another form of exercise
Many yoga students and yoga teachers have a change of heart about why they practice yoga. Their reasons often change to those of spirituality and self-actualization—a sense of fulfilling their potential. The self-reflection inherent in this change leads to taking ourselves completely as we are, and to being present not only to ourselves, but also to others. As the American Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron said, “Only in an open, nonjudgmental space can we acknowledge what we are feeling. Only in an open space where we’re not all caught up in our own version of reality can we see and hear and feel who others really are, which allows us to be with them and communicate with them properly.” Now you have an understanding of why people practice yoga. And if they don’t, why they should. It isn’t about touching your toes or standing on your head. It’s about contemplation and transformation of the self. As the Bhagavad Gita Hindu scripture says, “Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self.”
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