By Koru Clark, Yoga Instructor at ClubSport Fremont & ClubSport San Jose
I’ve spent most of my life doing sporty, athletic-type stuff. I’m a Marine Corps veteran, have a black belt in Kenpo Karate, and love obstacle course races and running really long distances on trails. But out of everything I do, yoga is by far the most challenging of all of them.
Even thinking about the first time I took a yoga class makes my muscles tremble a little. That very first class I went to was packed! Not only was it being taught by a popular teacher, but it was her last class at that studio. On top of that, everyone looked very serious about their practice. They had the best mats, personal towels, and straps. Young men were shirtless, showing their ripped bodies. Nothing intimidating there, right? The only yoga I had ever taken up until that point was P90X Yoga, so I just told myself to do my best.
That class kicked my butt in a way it had never been kicked before. I was gasping for breath, shaking, and dripping in sweat through most of the class. When we got to the final pose, Savasana (the corpse pose), I was out! I woke up knowing I had found the next physical and spiritual part of my journey.
What I also discovered was that yoga, contrary to popular belief, isn’t just for women or flexible people. Think about the first time you started working out with weights, playing basketball, tennis, or any other sport or activity. Did you know exactly what to do on your first try? What about the second week? Third month? Probably not. It takes time to develop a new skill set, and yoga is no different. Some people do pick it up quicker, but that’s the case with just about anything.
So as someone who has never tried yoga, where do you start? Step One: Find a class. You can do what I did and go to a teacher that someone recommends. Ask people you see coming out of a class what they think about yoga and that particular teacher. Talk to a few yoga teachers and ask questions to get a feel for who they are as a person. It’s my personal opinion that if a yoga teacher tells you their class is too advanced for you, they are not the right teacher for you.
Second: Be prepared. Eat at least 1 ½ hours before a yoga class. You are in an inverted (head below your heart) pose called Downward Facing Dog quite a bit in some classes. Plus, you twist and stretch your stomach, so it’s best to not be full when you take a class. Eat something light, like a small smoothie, a small bowl of oatmeal or grits and a handful of almonds, or a banana and a handful of cashews.
Also, wear something you can move in comfortably. I wear running shorts and a wicking (fast-drying) shirt or tank top for unrestricted mobility through the shoulder, which is a trouble spot for a lot of men. I’ve also seen some guys wear compression gear. The bottom line here, though, is to wear whatever works for you.
The last thing you should know is that yoga works on multiple levels, and here’s why men should practice it regularly.
- It closes the gap to our inner selves, a gap that we’ve been creating for a large part of our lives. Now, how much you allow that gap to close is completely up to you but yoga will take you there.
- Without you even knowing it, you become more mindful about what you feel in your body, what it feels like to really breathe, aware of your posture and spine, and of so many more things in your life.
- Yoga gives you more stamina (yes, in that area, too), which means you can do your favorite sport or activity longer and be better at it! Physically, yoga helps increase lung capacity, so you get more oxygenated blood flowing throughout your body, and it also improves muscle flexibility, which allows you to produce more power. Mentally, yoga increases your focus and mental acuity, (a result of all that oxygenated blood), and this helps you think outside the box.
- You’ll have better balance; not just the kind of balance that helps you stand on one foot without tipping over, but also internal balance. Yoga seamlessly brings this internal balance into your life.
So now you know that, through yoga, you can have longer, more powerful muscles, a great sense of physical and internal balance, and an intense focus, I’ll see you in class.
Meet Christine Fitzgerald
Christine Fitzgerald is a two-time published author, a certified nutritionist, and holds a Master’s in Nutrition. Christine specializes in hormone education, testing, and balance; weight management; athletic performance; and recovery. She holds quarterly nutrition seminars across all ClubSport clubs.