Listen up, men!
Here's what yoga isn't. It isn't about sitting around chanting or meditating. It isn't about sharing your feelings with the class (unless you want to). It isn't just for women. In fact, women weren't even allowed to practice yoga in the beginning.
Although yoga dates back thousands of years, the yoga we know is only about a century old. Krishnamacharya was born during the era of British rule in India at a time when yoga was discouraged. But he learned the practice and studied other classical Indian disciplines including Sanskrit and Ayurveda (Indian medicine). In the 1930s, he developed
Ashtanga yoga, a physically demanding style ideal for fit and active youth and men.
Indira Devi finally persuaded Krishnamacharya to teach her and she became the first female yoga teacher. In 1947 she opened the first yoga studio in this country, in Hollywood, where Marilyn Monroe, Greta Garbo, and Gloria Swanson were her students. Now yoga is marketed almost exclusively to women with fashion, Instagram photo contests and accessories.
But...real men do practice yoga.
of the Cleveland Cavaliers, who has been practicing yoga for six years. Or the
entire Seattle Seahawks
team. Or Mark Divine, retired Navy Seal and creator of Sealfit and
You can't get more macho than Special Ops.
These athletes and warriors know what yoga can do for them:
improve their balance and stability, making it easier for those fast twists and directional changes needed for sports, combat;
teach them breath control, helping with pre-game and battle jitters;
strengthen their muscles, especially the core, where much of our power starts.
Yoga is beneficial off the mat too. That core stability and strength comes in handy when you have to lift a heavy load, such as a firefighter might. And yoga's emphasis on focusing on the breath can be a big help when feeling anxious about that big presentation to the boss.
Want a full-body workout? Try yoga. You don't even have to be an advanced practitioner who can do Peacock pose to reap all the benefits (but if you can, more power to you!).