About 5 years ago, I woke to the fact that I would not be gaining flexibility as I got older. I am naturally flexible already, but I could see the writing on the wall and decided to hedge off the stiffness of old age. Intrepidly, I got my first yoga mat and went to my first class. I was hooked.
I still go to the gym, and I find myself comparing my pace on the treadmill or my reps on the weights to other people. If the person next to me is on the elliptical machine for 30 minutes, I’m going to last 45 Р or die trying.
Yoga is different. My practice begins and ends at the edges of my mat. Never one to boast upper arm strength, I don’t worry if the person next to me can do one-arm balancing poses with ease. Likewise, if someone wants to spend 60 minutes in “child’s pose,” I don’t notice that either.
While yoga may be about the individual, that doesn’t mean it’s not a workout. I’ve sweat more in a yoga class than at the gym. I’ve gained more core strength, upper body strength, and my balance is markedly improved. I’ve seen yogis (men and women) who have strength and control that I can only dream about, but I accept where I’m at and vow to continue the practice.
Yoga isn’t for wimps, not physically and certainly not mentally. It takes willpower to stay in a pose when joints and muscles are saying “get out of this now!” It takes courage to quiet your mind, listen to your inner voice, and focus.
The inward contemplation and physical challenge of yoga has changed my outlook on life. Now, if I could just get my husband to check his self-consciousness at the door and leave his inhibitions on the mat. Namaste!
If there is a growth industry today, it could be yoga. Studios are popping up across the state and there doesn’t seem to be any limit to the number of women expressing interest in the ancient practice.
My wife sneers at me for not joining her at a Bountiful yoga studio. She tells me it would increase our “together time” and increase my range of motion. I respond that my presence would only show my lack of flexibility; once on the ground in a “downward-facing dog,” it might take a crane to prop me back up again.
Women are generally as physically fit as men, but they have a different idea of exercise. Women see exercise as a self-esteem issue whether using it to lose weight, build muscle, or “be one with the universe” through yoga.
Men, on the other hand, view exercise as a competitive sport. For men, it has little to do with self-esteem and more about sweating. Go to a gym and you’ll hear males grunting and wheezing; doing weights is an outlet for aggression. A good exercise for a man can be measured in perspiration.
Yoga is not linked to sweaty bodies. It’s about fitness, not competitiveness; most male exercise doesn’t involve accessories like yoga mats. Yoga is a very civilized form of exercise, and every time I tweak my back while picking up a dropped sock, I admit that I should accompany my wife to her yoga session.
But I’m a man. I am more belligerent. Take me to the weight room or lead me to a treadmill. That grunt you heard, just came from me.