Meeting some friends at a local joint, I arrived early and ordered a margarita. The waiter, an imposing figure of six-foot-plus with a smooth bald head, gave me a wink and a friendly smile. As the place sat empty, we chatted a bit. Think Mr. Clean without the gold hoop. Somehow yoga and flexibility popped into the conversation . . . Imagine that.
This guy pushed two hundred fifty pounds of trim and fit so when he mentioned his first yoga class I grinned.
“How’d that go?” I asked.
“I loved it!” He said. “It was so much tougher than I thought and I ache in places I didn’t realize existed, but I feel great.”
I smiled. “I love it when men come to class. They don’t realize yoga isn’t for sissies. I hope you’ll go back!”
“Oh yeah, I need to find something not at five in the morning, but I definitely need to improve my flexibility.”
“Yoga isn’t just flexibility. It’s strength AND flexibility,” I said, trying to keep the lecture out of my tone.
He grinned. “Yeah, it’s important as we get older. I’ve arrived at the ‘I can’t reach to scratch’ phase. I judge architecture based on whether I can scratch my back against it.”
I laughed. “I’m so going to steal that.”
Yoga—for people who can’t reach places on their body to scratch.
Here’s the deal. Yoga is hard. I won’t blow smoke up your ass. Learning to lift and manipulate your own body weight is tough. We are heavy, and gravity is a bitch in more ways than one. Do I lie, ladies?
Big muscles are short muscles. Being strong is more than just lifting a lot of weight. It’s also about being in control of your body weight. Healthy alignment, joint mobility, and muscle flexibility is a recipe for physical longevity. Frankly, some of us have already missed the mental acuity bus. Cough, cough.
Another recent conversation with one of the trainers at the gym highlighted a general resistance to stretching in general. “I tell my clients if they just took a beginning yoga class and started a regular practice, they’d improve their performance in all of their activities,” he said. “They just think it’s too namby pamby.”
The trick is to find a beginning class (hint, hint, me. Pick me!) designed for healthy alignment because all of those giant muscles mean you are more prone to injury. Don’t jump into a flow class expecting to change your life. Of course, that goes for everyone.
Men, I encourage you to find a yoga class. Just understand, you’ll use all of the big muscles you have in new and different ways. It won’t be a question of how much you can lift, but how you hold yourself. Curling one hundred pound dumbbells can create massive, short biceps. Be ready to keep those enormous biceps above your chest for three to six long, slow breaths.
Don’t give up! I love having regular male clients in class!
Not just to even out the gender gap, but men groan. They moan and grunt. They embrace the struggle and voice it. It’s FANTASTIC! Women tend to struggle in silence (no jokes from the clown car), and when a male client lets out a long, steady lament, it reminds everyone how hard they are working. So get to a yoga class and work and suffer out loud.