Fellas. I get it. I really do.
Who wants to start yoga when it’s mean’t to be for skinny white women drinking chai lattes. Or the uber spiritual nomad that spends their days handstanding on beaches in Bali.
I shared your pre-yoga worries and threw out all the excuses that I could find with it.
“I’m not flexible enough to do yoga”, “I’m not that spiritual”, “Yoga is too feminine”. This list goes on.
But I’m hear to tell you, from experience, both personally and from clients, that ditching the ego and find your way to a downward dog could be the solution you’ve been looking for to ease your physical and mental tension.
My own personal journey into yoga was through a sense of physical trauma. I was continuously getting minor injuries as a professional cricketer, and there’s nothing more frustrating than being injured and not being able to do the thing that you love (and get paid to do!).
For others the simple frustration of not being able to move your body without feel aches and pains as you go about everyday life, is also a reality for many.
Yoga had a direct impact in improving my performance within my sport
Never the less, I needed a solution to these injuries and bit the bullet and start a yoga practice. Searching for a way in which to get the physical benefits (flexibility, strength, balance, mobility) from the movement practice. Soon enough, after adding it into my daily routine, I saw results. From suffering an injury every 3 months to not suffering a single soft tissue injury in 18 months. No change to training schedule (maybe more running) but feeling better every day.
From there, I was able to train more, at a better level, more consistently and be ready to go again the next day, feeling far more refreshed. Not to mention increasing my performance, I was more flexible, stronger (I thought I was strong before, how wrong it was), stable and all these lead to things such as increased power.
Now those of you that know my story, yes I retired due to injury. However no amount of yoga will stop a structural injury such as a stress fracture to the spine through the biomechanical force that bowling places on the body. Or maybe it did give me more time than I was mean’t to have? I’ll never know. All i know is that I was moving better, recovering far more effectively and my performances were benefitting (#winning).
It wasn’t until my injury and retirement that I then realised the power of the rest of yoga and the effect it had had on my body even in recovering from my injury.
I was able to get back to a good level of exercise quicker than expected but I was also engaging more with the idea of breath-work and mindfulness and meditation.
It had given me the tools to manage a bout of depression following the loss of my career. But also lead me to want to teach these tools to people that had the same stereotypical view and barriers that I once had to this practice.
My spinal injury ended my professional career in 2016
Due to its popularity, Nike has begun to sell yoga clothing for men
All that was missing was the way in which it was communicated. It was either too spiritual or too scientific. Or even there wasn’t a person that had come from my background, understood my barriers into this practice and principles but couldn’t communicate it well enough.
With the rise of yoga over the last 5 years, naturally a big area for growth has been the male market. And recently companies such as Nike have seen the demand and responded with a range designed for the male yogi.
Now you don’t have to be a proper yogi to do yoga. Nor does your yoga HAVE to look like the supposedly enlightened instagram influencer. It can be what you want it to be.
So what is my advise to Men looking to add yoga (or lets call it yoga-based movement) into their lives.
Ditch the Ego
In a world where it’s easy to feel insecurity or judgement from peers around you. Look to inspire others with showing how much better your can be in body and mind by making a simple change to your life. I’ve had messages from some of the most ‘manly’ of men pleading to help them.
Get a mat
The same way you would buy a new pair of running shoes or gym kit. It will help motivate you into action. I’d recommend investing in something substantial, the higher priced mats last and see it as in investment rather than a quick cheap buy.
Whatever you do just start. Start simple maybe just a couple of moves, poses after a gym session to recover your body. Then build from there. I started in the comfort of my own home, away from a public class. That way if I really didn’t want to dent my ego and look like a fool, then I could do it without watchful eyes.
Don’t call it yoga
If the idea of yoga is really off putting. Rename it. I do. Many classes are being named as mobility classes, movement classes. It allows you to see it as something different and maybe more attracttive to you. The main focus is that you are moving your body and improving yourself.
If you are looking to add a movement practice into your daily life then why not give The Sport Yogi platform a go.
Designed to allow you to Prepare, Perform and Recover better, improving your performance in sport and life.
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