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Get Real, Guys. You Need Yoga.

What will convince you, man, to unroll a yoga mat and try a yoga class? It is probably safe to say that chanting OM at the end of a class will not get you to practice a Downward Facing Dog. Nor will it be the teachings of Iyengar that will get you to hold Eagle Pose for any length of time, right? And it certainly will not be the lessons from the Bhaghavad Gita that will inspire you to twist your body into Revolving Triangle Pose. So what WILL convince you to practice yoga, guys? 

Who Practices Yoga 

If you troll the media and look at your favorite sports teams or rock bands, with some deep diving, you might discover that some of your favorite athletes and musicians practice yoga. Did you know that Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens has been practicing yoga for a number of years? Third baseman Evan Longoria of the Tampa Bay Rays embraced yoga to find peace of mind. And even LeBron James of the Miami Heat hits the yoga mat regularly. Whether you are a sports fan or not, you can’t deny that it’s quite impressive that these manly men don some yoga shorts to imbibe in some yoga flow. 

You certainly do not have to be famous to step into a yoga studio or practice in your living room to a YouTube video. It really doesn’t matter who you are or what you do. You don’t have to be a David Beckham or an Adam Levine to practice yoga. You can be the civil engineer, the school teacher, the stay-at-home dad, the gardener, the chef, the chemist, even the guy that has turned his nose up to the whole idea. Forget all that for a minute and think about what yoga can do for YOU. 

What The Heck is Yoga Anyway 

If you didn’t already know, yoga is an ancient philosophy originating more than 5,000 years ago. It’s teachings were intended to provide guidelines for a healthy and fulfilling life. These lessons were taught primarily to boys and men. It has spanned the test of time, evolving extensively over the centuries, to land on how we practice today: group classes with lots of movement in a yoga studio. One significant difference is that more women today are practicing yoga, but that doesn’t mean you should not. Don’t let the fact that more women do yoga than men. No need to get caught up in the yoga jargon, history, or philosophy. 

Pattabhi Jois (don’t worry about who that is right now) declared that yoga is “99% practice, 1% theory.” What this yoga scholar meant is that you do not have to worry so much about the history and philosophy of yoga. You do not have to take too much of your time trying to understand the ins and outs of yoga. All you have to do is practice. Get your body onto the mat and move and breathe. That’s it. 

Why Men Should Do Yoga Today 

Think about the early eras of yoga, this was a devotional practice that taught boys to be strong and intelligent men. It was seen as a lifelong practice; seeing the discipline as a way to continue opening one’s mind and perspective only to result in wisdom and brilliance. 

Men are missing this today. Men aspire toward great wealth, meaningful career accomplishments, sustainable health and wellness, and a long list of attainable fortunes. Some actually achieve these successes, but are they able to maintain them? Often, even after reaching the finish line of these life goals, the stature of the man begins to decline on many levels. Running successful businesses can lead to stress. These stresses are related to future health decline and chronic mental illness like anxiety, depression, addiction, heart disease, and strokes. With so little time left in a busy day, less energy is given to physical maintenance like exercise and consuming adequate nutrition. The result is the same: more stress, more health decline, and more weight around the mid section. 

Every man needs to devote some attention to “Number One” (that’s you, by the way.) It is not a selfish or egotistical act to take care of yourself. It is probably one of the most important things you can do to attain and sustain the wealth you deserve in life. What would be the use of pouring all of your endurance into the external riches of the world without taking care of the vessel that is producing it all: you! 

Guys, you need to build, maintain, and preserve your precious gifts. There is no sense in giving it all away if you cannot relax in the pool of your achievements. 

Is It Too Late To Start Yoga 

It needs to start early; you need to start young (ideally) if you want to have a lifestyle that is enriched with physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual strength. But it’s not too late to start; you can start today. Maybe you don’t have a boat parked at the dock. Perhaps you do not possess the doctorate from the prestigious university. And maybe you just can’t get rid of that beer belly that mysteriously showed up out of thin air. These things do not matter if you really want to start yoga. You don’t already have to be flexible and be able to touch your toes. It’s not necessary for you to understand the odd words and phrases an instructor may spew at you. You certainly do not need to have the expensive designer yoga clothes to step into a yoga studio. Show up just the way you are. Throw on a pair of sweats, grab a buddy (who also has that mysterious beer belly) and go to an Intro To Yoga class. Leave any shame or embarrassment at the door. Ok, that might be a tall order, but suck it up, guys, and just go! You won’t regret it. 

What Will You Learn 

With a good instructor, you’ll learn how to breathe more effectively. You’ll experience how taking simple deep breaths actually do calm your monkey mind. And even if you cannot do all the poses perfectly, you’ll see that the stretches you felt in your body may really relieve that back pain you’ve been complaining about. Ninety-nine percent practice. One percent theory. Just show up. Come as you are. Do your best. That’s all you can really do. There is no judgement when it comes to yoga. You are there to take care of yourself, to broaden your perspective of yourself, to know a little bit more about yourself. Yes, you’ll discover the flaws in the midst of the shiny parts. The fact is, once you find those not-so-appealing parts about yourself, you can begin to change them. Not that you have to necessarily go to therapy to “fix” those “problems.” Actually, just by showing up on the mat, many of these so-called flaws begin to dissipate. Through movement into these awkwardly named yoga poses and breathing, many of these shifts seem to happen automatically. One day you’ll wake up, look in the mirror, and see a new man.  

You will see the reflection of a person who feels happier, less stressed, more eager, less afraid. You’ll feel physically and mentally  stronger. You’ll embody a powerfulness that suggests you can take on any challenge. And this all came without knowing who Patanjali was or understanding the Namas and Niyamas or practicing Kundalini. It’s all because you took a chance on yourself. You decided to put on those basketball shorts that live in the corner of your bedroom and saunter down to your local yoga studio, borrow a yoga mat, and try something new knowing deep inside that this will only be good for you. 

Maybe this article did not totally convince you to buy your own yoga mat, but maybe it planted a seed. Remember that the early yoga practitioners were men. It was designed to offer a path to a healthy and fulfilling life. If that is something you have at least wondered about, then this article has done its job. It made you think about the potential and possibility that resides inside of you to be your very best – even in a pair of sweat pants. 

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