Can We Bend Like That? Yoga for Men

In Fitness by Greg Biggerstaff

Sitting man doing yoga on shore of ocean
I never gave this guy much credit for anything other than my vehement distaste for yoga, until I started my own personal health journey.
We all have that one friend. I’ll just call him Yoga Guy. He always tells us how awesome yoga is, and tries to lure us with the not-so-subtle bait: “guests are free the first time if you wanna come with.” When he sees we are unimpressed, he goes on about how yoga is really a two-fer because it gets you in shape and melts away stress. Then he puts his leg behind his head as a party trick, like a total asshole.

I never gave this guy much credit for anything other than my vehement distaste for yoga, until I started my own personal health journey. I was looking for the perfect fitness and conditioning routine, and nothing sounded appealing, especially for the long-term. In the end, I chose to try yoga because it offered the path of least resistance. There was a yoga studio close to my house, I could borrow my wife’s yoga mat, and it didn’t require me to go to a gym. This is important because I fucking hate gyms.

Yoga: Not Just For Ladies

Full disclosure: What really made me not like yoga was that I thought it was for women. I’m a little embarrassed at my previous closed-mindedness on this issue. What a caveman I was, thinking that this particular choice of fitness was too feminine. But, can you blame me? I was an uninformed dolt in a society where every ad/movie scene/anecdote about yoga only featured women. A stroll down the fitness aisle at my local big-box athletic store turned up yoga mats in jewel tones, with or without a cartoon fertility goddess on it. And then there was the problem of the actual poses. Yoga seemed impossible due to the curse/blessing of the extra equipment between my legs.

When I finally started going to classes, I was usually the only guy in a class of at least 10 women. Now, to some guys, (I’m looking at you, single dudes) this is a massive benefit. And I later found out that this was Yoga Guy’s primary reason for choosing yoga. But even my yoga instructor contributed to the sexist view of yoga being a woman’s athletic pursuit. She often tailored her instruction to the female majority while cooing: “Looking good ladies,” or “Now flip your palm toward the sky and pretend you are serving a tray of sweet tea like a hostess with the mostest.” Sexist? Yes. Charming? Also yes. I decided to quiet the hooligan in my brain and let the feminine vibes wash over me. And It. Felt. Great. I was serving the shit out of that sweet tea.

A Legitimate Fitness Regimen

During my personal health journey, I changed how and what I ate, lost a ton of weight, and began running, but eventually I plateaued in both my weight loss and my muscle toning. I considered weight lifting, but I couldn’t get motivated and I was worried about the negative long-term effects or possible injuries. It’s possible that I, like a lot of guys, was scared away from yoga because it seemed less like real exercise and more like pre-game stretching with incense burning while listening to Enya. But you only need to take one class to realize that this shit is for real. It is acutely physical, if done properly, and very challenging. My first class was extremely difficult for me, and I remember being in certain poses and secretly wishing death upon my instructor for not letting us get out of them as fast as I wanted to. I felt an intense burn in almost every muscle – including some muscles I didn’t even know existed. Also, holding in gas in a class full of ladies (who never fart, EVER, I’m told, and certainly not in public) requires the core strength of an MMA Fighter.

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