Tuesday, July 27, 2010

10 Tips for Guys Who Do Yoga (or Want to Start)

There are Yoga Guys.  And there are Guys Who Do Yoga.  This post is dedicated to the latter.

Yoga Guys know their way around a yoga studio already and, for the most part, don't need my help.  They speak the lingo, dress the part, and can bust out a bakasana quicker than their counterparts- Guys Who Do Yoga- can crack open a beer, which isn't to say that one is better or cooler than the other, or that Yoga Guys don't drink beer, too, or Guys Who Do Yoga can't do advanced yoga poses like bakasana/crow, it's just that there's a difference.  

Yoga Guys are more experienced, while Guys Who Do Yoga are typically newer to the practice.  They might become Yoga Guys down the road (if desired), but for now, they could use a little help navigating the new found territory of yoga classes, where women frequently outnumber men.  For newcomers especially, yoga classes can be intimidating for even the most alpha males.  Have no fear, your Om Gal is here . . .

Top 10 Tips for Guys Who Do Yoga (Or Want to Start):

  1. Don't Ogle: I don't care if Giselle is practicing on the mat next to you, nothing brings bad boy karma like ogling at a fellow yogi (or the instructor) in class.  You can smile warmly, say hello before or after class, or even strike up pleasant conversation in the lobby, but for the love of all that is holy (yoga is a spiritual practice), keep your Lothario moves separate from your lolasana in class.  
  2. Don't Talk During Class: You wouldn't gab during your buddy's back swing on the links, so think of yoga class in the same way.  It requires maximum concentration and minimum distraction; therefore, please keep quiet.  This includes the few minutes when you might be waiting outside the studio for class to begin while a prior class is concluding.  Chances are they'll be in meditation: shhhhhh.  
  3. Don't Score Front Row Seats: This isn't a Sox game; forgo the front row and opt, instead, for the back of the class (this tip is for newbies only).  This way you can watch more experienced students and mimic their alignment in a pose.  Please note: visually learning from the yogi in front of you is not the same as ogling their "asana."  (See #1).  
  4. Don't Compete: Competition is a major source of male bonding, and it's the way the animal kingdom works; however, yoga is not a sport, nor an animal kingdom.  Nobody is keeping score, and nobody wins or loses.  The mental focus you'll develop will help you compete in other areas of life by teaching you to be more present, but there's no place for competition on the mat.  Your goal is to connect to yourself-- pure and simple, and the only opponent is your own ego. 
  5. Don't be Late: If you're doing yoga for the first time, arrive at the class early.  The added time will help you get acquainted with the teacher, stake out a spot in the back row (see #3), and ask any important questions, which leads me to the DOs . . .
  6. Do Ask Questions: How long is the class?  Is it heated?  Can I rent a mat?  Where are the nearest exits?  These are all important things to know.  If you're nursing an old football injury, for example, it's wise to tell the teacher in advance and, perhaps, ask for modifications.  (This is important for yogis of all skill levels).     
  7. Do Use What You Learned in the Boy Scouts: Be prepared by packing the essentials, such as water, a change of clothes, a towel (key for hot yoga), and even a snack.  Again, particularly if the class is heated, you want to be energized and well hydrated.  
  8. Do Bring a Friend: Bringing a buddy who knows the ropes (or even one who doesn't) is a great way to feel more at ease.  If you can't do this or prefer not to, it's always helpful to seek the insight of a friend who can recommend the right style of yoga, studio in your area, and instructor in advance.  All of these elements have a huge impact on your first experience, and a pal who knows you can help you make the best choices for your personality type and level of ability.
  9. Do Doff Your Cap: Nothing screams "I don't know what I'm doing here" like a guy who wears a baseball cap to yoga class.  You'll be upside down a lot of the time; it will fall off.  You'll keep adjusting it.  It will be annoying.  Take it off before stepping on your mat.  Please, just trust me on this one.    
  10. Do Watch What You Eat:  Try to curb your manly appetite before class, as having a full belly will hinder your range of motion in twisting poses and increase the likelihood of gas.  And there's nothing that will wear out your welcome in the girl's cabin faster than being the boy who stinks up their yoga class.   


JMR said...

Corollary to not competing: know your limitations. The fact is that most yoga classes are dominated by women, and men and women naturally excel at different types of poses. As a guy, it can be frustrating to see the ease with which everyone around you might be able to pull off, say, warrior c. As a newbie to yoga, it's important to realize that some poses will almost ALWAYS be more difficult for guys. Remember: It's ok. Men and women have different bodies. You might be frustrated with your tight hips, but the women around you probably find it frustrating that you can bust out countless perfect form chaturangas in your third class.

Anonymous said...

Nice post. Suggest middle of class better. I remember starting at the back and some poses resulted in me suddenly being at the front without a clue or someone to watch. Better still ask the teacher.

Slarty Melger said...

I once went to a yoga class just cause a cute girl invited me. Even though I tore a man card to pieces when I walked it, I actually really enjoyed it. I discovered a great way to monitor and handle my stress. I keep doing yoga today and it really helps me out through a lot of things. http://newleafbody.com/

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Tom Bulletsafe said...

Don't forget to breathe.

Anonymous said...

Make sure to wear the right shorts to hot yoga, boyz
My current faves are Hot Chakras Yoga.
They got solids, but I'm diggin' on their prints.
Get sweaty! Namaste