My first experience with yoga was when an Ex-girlfriend finally convinced me to join her at a Bikram Yoga session in Denver Colorado many years ago. I was nervous, as I had no idea what to expect. I wasn’t sure if there were basics that I had to be aware of, or were just assumed, so then I end up embarrassing myself by holding the class up by being “that dude”. Thankfully I made it through my first experience without embarrassing myself, and found the experience both harder and easier than my preconceptions I had about yoga.
Let me explain what I mean. I found it easier in the way that I didn’t have to have any prior knowledge of what was expected and how to go about it. I could just show up, get on my mat (which I rented) and follow along. It wasn’t fast paced and the instructor would give easy to understand directions that everyone followed. If you weren’t sure what she meant, you could just pop your head up and watch what she was talking about, or look around at any of the other fit girls in yoga pants that filled the class.
It was harder than I expected with regard to the physical aspect. I was only in my mid 20s and quite fit, in a blokey sort of way. I had just slowed down from my full time snowboarding days and also played football (AFL). Yes, even in the US you can track down a way to enjoy your favorite sports that you grew up with. Which meant I was also a regular in the gym throwing weights around too. So any thoughts of inadequate dexterity had not even entered my mind until about half way through the 60minute class, as all I could concentrate on were the ever increasing drips of sweat that were creating a puddle on my mat beneath me, as I tried to hold poses that looked easy, until you were actually in them.
I was a soaking wet mess by the end, due to the heated environment that is Bikram Yoga. 30 degrees is the usual room temperature for that style, which had me dizzy and light headed for an hour or so afterwards, due to the amount of fluid that I lost. I had no idea that stretching and holding poses would be so difficult.
Over the next 10-ish years I would try the odd yoga class here and there, but it never held my attention and just seemed like a stretching session. I had always looked at fitness in a traditional way. Work hard, lift hard, breathe hard. Seemed simple enough. But this way of thinking was failing me in a motivational sense. After our Wedding and Honeymoon I finally hung up the boots from Footy after an injury, but I just couldn’t drag myself back in to the gym, and the times that I did, I had no intensity.
My only fitness outlet was surfing now. Being a beginner, it was quite taxing, but getting easier, so my gorgeous wife suggested I join her at one of Lina’s mini retreats.
I’m not sure if it was just that time in my life when a guy starts to see, feel and realize that the invincible, if not bordering on “immortal” feeling that a fit guy in his 20s has, starts to wane ever so slightly. Perhaps I was just starting to mature enough to begin accepting that my long held beliefs were not necessarily the only way of going about things, but that first 2hr session with Lina resonated with me in a way that triggered a drive to want to really embrace what yoga was.
Now I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I have booked a one way ticket to Tibet and rid myself of all my material possessions, take it easy slick! That’s not what this is about. What it is about is how I finally started to see that yoga is so much more than stretching and yoga pants.
I think Lina’s style is just as informative as it is challenging, I was able to understand the importance of breathing (well, y’know, other than the obvious) and how it effects not just your yoga, but how you can use it to relax, kind of on cue. Her ability to present the basic mantra as much more than just a physical adaptation of a very in depth way of life, in a manner that a bloke like me not only understands, but can embrace without feeling like I have to give up any of my “manliness”
I think one of the most understated benefits of Yoga that guys don’t seem to understand, is just how good of a workout it is. It doesn’t matter how often you do it, there is always more to achieve if you require that type of drive. The strength required in a lot of the moves/poses due to the lack of flexibility in most of us guys means that you will be toning muscles you didn’t even know you had, as well as gradually increasing your flexibility. It’s the type of place that is actually beneficial to check your ego at the door and accept that there is a gradual process involved with improving. Lina has been instrumental in helping me understand that process.
If you’re looking for a “get fit quick” fix, this ain’t it. There are plenty of guys with shaved legs and tight polo shirts to help you with that. But try incorporating a few yoga sessions with it, and see which one feels like it will be sustainable over a long period of time.
Yoga is a personal journey and we love hearing your stories. Lachlan has been a student of Pure Bliss Yoga for over 12mths now and is dedicated and tenacious in his practice. It is inspiring to watch students grow as their body and mind set changes. Thank you Lachlan for sharing your journey...