I am a 6-foot-tall black male. I could stand to lose some extra pounds to put it nicely.
I like football and basketball. When I work out, it’s with weights or I force myself to run.
Growing up I had no exposure to any yoga. Once, an actor from a soap opera said he stays fit by doing yoga (not that I ever watched soaps). He was very fit, so the thought to someday check yoga out did cross my mind.
It wasn’t until many years later that I would step foot into a yoga studio. My girlfriend, Monica, had gotten into it and urged me to try it.
I know the stereotype.
Women do yoga.
It’s a bunch of stretching and twisting yourself into different pretzel shapes.
I remember telling Monica:
“This is going to be nothing. I got this… I won’t even break a sweat!”
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
I was in the back of the room so as not to be noticed. My mat was soaked and I had trouble not only keeping up with the poses, but also keeping my breath.
I didn’t really care if I was flexible or not, but I realized that I really needed to work on balance.
I felt really good after that class but I was not expecting my muscles to be so sore for the next few days.
Really, I felt like I worked out harder than when I lift weights.
There are a lot of things in yoga that take time to build the strength for.
Monica started teaching yoga at Just B Yoga in Lansing. I started going to her lunchtime classes with my new found respect for yoga. The first class I went to she put me in the front of the room. I was so nervous that people would see me.
But as the class went on I began to focus more on the moves and less on what other people thought of me. I realized that everyone was so focused on their own postures that they didn’t care what I looked like. Also, you are often reminded to listen to your body and take a break if you need one. You are encouraged to move at your own pace.
The more I went to yoga, the more I gained confidence, strength and flexibility. This has really improved my basketball game. I used to feel old after playing.
If you’re looking for more info on yoga for athletes, just Google it, or try reading “Real Men Do Yoga” by John Capouya.
I started with more slow paced and gentle instruction and as I gained confidence I started going into more advanced classes. My favorite more challenging class is hip hop power hour with Belinda, owner of the Just B Yoga Studio.
I will just continue to encourage people to take a chance on yoga. You have no idea what you are missing.
1) Bring a towel. You will sweat. I bring one for my face, one for my mat.
2) Bring water. You will get thirsty or need a distraction.
3) Don’t worry that your pose looks way different than others
(Oh and bring your lady. She will leave feeling great and more yoga means more happiness. Really!!!)