Most men hear “yoga” and immediately zone out. Yoga, after all, is for women. It can hardly be considered a workout for the weight-lifting, sweat-dripping Adonis of the gym, right? Wrong. Yoga is what you make of it. It’s an exercise that involves strength, flexibility, balance and determination. Although it’s female-dominated, more and more guys (like the members of the Tennessee Titans and Germany’s National Soccer Team) are discovering the benefits of yoga. And you, oh manliest of men, should, too.
Your life is full of stress and void of time. You go to the gym to grunt, lift and sweat out the frustrations of your day . . . and to stay in shape. You want to feel and see results. Yoga can help with that. Squeezing in yoga poses between strength-training reps can reduce soreness. It can also ensure that the areas you may be overworking have an opportunity to recover, and that the areas you’re ignoring (the lower half of your body?) have a chance to catch up to your bulging biceps. If you’re a runner, yoga can improve your lung capacity, by straightening out your back. Like most runners, you probably hunch, reducing the amount of air you can inhale. Yoga will target your posture, allowing you to run tall and breathe easily. Finally, yoga will help with your abs. There’s nothing more frustrating than doing hundreds of crunches and seeing limited results. A few wisely selected poses will help develop your six-pack, while giving you a break from the monotony of sit-ups.
But before you start strengthening your chakra, remember that not all yoga-moves are created equal. There are some that will ruin your chances of reaping any type of reward, such as:
• Hitting on your fellow yogis – many men are taking up yoga not for the physical benefits but for the social ones. If your primary focus is the girl on the mat next to you, you won’t get any of the perks. By all means, talk to her (tactfully), but wait until she comes out of downward dog.
• Anticipating superiority – you may run circles around the other runners and lift more than any other, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to be the star pupil at yoga class. Yoga is tough, especially for guys with a lot of muscle mass. You’re going to have to work on it, and you’re going to have to expect that many of the women will be better than you, at least in the beginning.
Restrict your expectations to exclude the above two, and you’ll be fine (and still delightfully macho).