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Yoga: A Man's Game?

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  • Yoga: A Man's Game?

    So, here's the skinny. I'm a somewhat big guy 6'2, 210 lbs. I lift and sprint and all the fun stuff but my flexibility is HORRID. I'd like to loosen up a bit and I think yoga would be a good exercise. My question: is it worth the agony or will I get just get pissed off?

    Feel free to toss out some alternative solutions.

  • #2
    why not give it a try? i'm planning on using yoga to increase my mobility; there are all kinds of different things you can do, moves, speeds, flexibility routines, strength routines, etc. chances are you can find something that works for you.
    http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/thread60178.html

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    • #3
      I think I will! Have you tried other things that has helped?

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      • #4
        Different yoga studios are going to have different cultures and styles, so if you're concerned about being annoyed by the way classes are run or structured, you can always do some research and try out some drop-in classes to see if you like a given place.

        I see a lot of men doing yoga at the city-run sports centre where I work out. The classes are included as a drop-in with the fitness pass, so I think some of the guys who work out there feel more comfortable doing those classes than they might be with going to a fancy studio, and they offer good beginner level classes. The teachers they have seem well qualified, and it's an environment where some of those guys just feel more comfy. There's a man who teaches who looks nothing like what people might envision as a yoga dude. If you saw him in the grocery store, you'd maybe think he was a mechanic. You see big weightlifter types, lean marathoners, and just average guys.

        Also, it shouldn't be agony. A good teacher should be helping you push yourself without causing you massive pain. You might feel some discomfort with stretching, but agony? Not good.

        Anyhow, hopefully zoebird will come by and give you her opinion--she's a yoga instructor and is super helpful.
        “If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.” --Audre Lorde

        Owly's Journal

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        • #5
          unfortunately, mobility/flexibility is something i have really let lapse, so i'm trying to work it back into my lifestyle. mark has a few posts on mobility, and the mobilityWOD website is full of information; those will be regular resources for me. i expect that yoga and moving slowly will keep me as stretchy as i should be.
          http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/thread60178.html

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          • #6
            Oh man, yoga is a big no-no. Imagine what would happen if you got sexually aroused during a yoga session? It's not like you can hide an erection while doing an "upward bow" yoga pose

            Gymnastics is probably a better option for us guys.
            Yeah, my grammar sucks. Deal with it!

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            • #7
              Ha! @Kharnath Chicks doing gymnastics would probably do it more for me, frankly.

              @Primalrob that's good advice. I'll check out some of the stuff Mark was saying. It'd be nice to stay ahead of the curve in terms of mobility

              @Owly Thanks. The one yoga class I did try was all girls and I felt like a dweeb. Was sweating like a fool and even though it was a beginners class and I'm in decent shape...let's just say I wasn't impressing anyone.

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              • #8
                Heh, yeah, that's kind of how my partner felt in his first yoga class too. He's been active and fit his entire life, but it was really hard for him to do some of the movements. Fortunately he wasn't the only beginner (male or female) struggling in the class so he didn't feel too awkward. But honestly, most people are too busy paying attention to what they're doing to notice what you're doing.

                Remember that you're learning a skill and trying a new activity, and like any new athletic pursuit or sport, you're likely not going to be great at it immediately. Imagine what those girls might be like walking into the weight room and trying to bench press for the first time. They're probably going to look red and sweaty and clumsy too.

                Also, don't know if you're a single guy, but there are a lot of young women in yoga classes who think that any dude who tries out yoga is pretty awesome whatever his skill level. Just a thought.
                “If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.” --Audre Lorde

                Owly's Journal

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                • #9
                  I took one yoga class and enjoyed it a lot, and still utilize some of the breathing techniques. It was Kundalini yoga, and the teacher really emphasized the basics: the spiritual aspect, breathing techniques, and the asanas weren't "yogaerobics," everything was all done with emphasis on tradition. I don't think I'd like a lot of yoga classes offered by fitness centers, e.g.

                  Can't remember how many guys were there, definitely the minority, but it didn't bother me. I would do it again.
                  Last edited by Finnegans Wake; 12-05-2012, 09:19 AM.

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                  • #10
                    I've always been fairly flexible - but after a few years of yoga I'm SO much more flexible. Yoga will get you there but it probably won't (and shouldn't) be a super fast change. It might though - a lot of flexibility is body mechanics and your understanding of your personal mechanics, if that makes sense. I think that awareness is one of the greatest benefits I've had from yoga. Also if I am fairly regular in my yoga practice it basically negates some lingering injuries - they just don't hurt.

                    Agony - like mentioned before - should not enter into yoga! However - you could get pissed off just because of the way the classes are or whatever, it's kind of weird. I love yoga, but certain poses or ways of stringing poses together can cause actual anger to flare up. Most yoga is fairly balancing - but anytime I did the P90X yoga DVD, I'd get pissed off, and I couldn't explain why. Something in the way it flows literally causes my brain to get angry. So even though it's a fairly hard 1.5 hour yoga dvd - I don't do it because I don't like getting angry like that

                    Good luck!
                    ~It's All Relative!~
                    34 - 5'11" CW - 159 GW - 175 10% BF or less!

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                    • #11
                      Again, helpful. I appreciate the insight. I'll definitely pop into a few and see how they differ from one to another. I'll let you guys know how it goes.

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                      • #12
                        First, yoga is really good for all of this, and there are a lot of different styles of yoga out there -- so your class experience is going to vary. Even within a given style of yoga, teachers approach things differently, which means you're going to have a different experience.

                        Second, you don't need to "impress" anybody. As a yoga teacher, my see my job as teaching the student how to get into the proper alignment of the posture for their body, to get the most benefit from the pose. Having worked with people with only one arm, full hip replacements, and all manner of lack of mobility (whether from sports, general life, or age, or what have you), I can tell you that no one person looks the same as another, and trying to makes you look more foolish than just following the instructions.

                        If the teacher is good, s/he is looking for you to get to the best and most beneficial modification to you, and trying to go beyond that or look like someone else is *less impressive* than working diligently to do the posture right in order to get the benefits.

                        It would be the same if you went to the physio who gave you a specific movement to heal your shoulder (for example), but instead of doing the movement as shown, you went online and found a "full version!" of the movement from a really healthy, flexible person with the full range of motion there, and then "pushed" yourself to "look" like that. Hint: you do not look like that, for one, and for another thing, you are further injuring yourself.

                        The real "trick" of yoga is backing off and working toward finding the right position from you, and then developing your mobility from that point.

                        And anyone who knows anything about yoga would be *seriously* impressed with someone working to achieve *that*.

                        Third, sweating -- particularly for men and particularly in the beginning -- is really normal. According to the "legends" so to speak, you are "burning off impurities" but that I really think it is 'putting in more effort up front because you don't know the movement.'

                        Basically, you are inefficient. You don't know the moves, and you are trying really hard to get it right. IN addition, yoga is more vigorous than people expect, so they go in with the idea that it's easy, and it turns out that it's not (and it never gets easy, that's kind of the point). You don't know anything and you also dont' know how to regulate your breathing with this movement modality as you might with others. As such, you put out a lot of energy and sweat like a man-man.

                        It also supposedly really stirs up the "internal fire" or heat (in fact, over time, you learn to do this and not do this with the breath), and so that's another reason why you are sweating.

                        It's no big deal. And in general, men often sweat more in yoga than women just as they sweat more than women in general (even just standing there).

                        And, it'll decrease as you become more efficient in the movements (once you learn them, learn the modifications, and how to breathe while doing them).

                        Next, yoga just does good things. I'll give an example about "being in good shape."

                        For several years, the only movement that I did was walking and yoga (that's what I'm currently doing, even). My husband and his friend did hiking, running, and weight lifting. We were prepping for a big hiking/camping trip, where we would do 10-hr days on trails (then cushy camp in the evenings).

                        Over and over they kept telling me that I was going to die on these trails because I wasn't in as good shape as they were. They were running, hiking (or sport specific training), and doing their weight training! They were SUPERFIT!

                        So, we get to our first day. We wake up early and have a simple breakfast, then head out onto the trail. It was two miles in before heading up, and in the end, it was a 12 hr day (it was quite a difficult starter).

                        I was fine. my feet didn't hurt, even though I was wearing very thin tennis shoes rather than hiking or trail shoes. I had no loss of breath, no exhaustion in the legs during or after. I was a tiny bit sore the next day, but not big deal.

                        The boys, on the other hand, were wrecked. Feet were so sore, they had to take the next day off. Legs were super tired too. They wre winded for much of the hike.

                        Yoga trains you differently. I don't know why they were so "out of shape" --particularly since they were so sport specific. Maybe it was a mental game.

                        but Yoga seems to make it possible to adapt to a lot of things because the body is agile and you are used to working with your breath (and adjusting it) based on the shifting changes of the practice itself (sequencing of postures, the postures themselves as you progress into deeper versions and 'sister/cousin' postures, etc).

                        So, even though you are in decent shape for a lot of things, yoga -- like rock climbing and several other things -- are really difficult on a body that doesn't have the mobility training and is trying to figure out the new movement. It's just difficult.

                        For me, learning rock climbing was hard physically because it was new movement, but the breathing was fine because it was a lot like yoga.

                        Finally, yoga only works if you do it consistently. You'll get more benefits the more you practice -- and most people find that twice a week is good for progress, but it is slow progress. When you get to 3-4 times a week, the progress is faster. More than 4 times, and it speeds up again.

                        You don't have to take class every time you practice -- there are lots of sequences that you can tack on to the end of your normal workout for example -- but it's good to practice frequently to get faster results.

                        Even so, just being CONSISTENT is most important, so one class per week is a good place to start.

                        My advice:

                        1. at this point, just shop around for classes and see what you like. go to every studio, gym, whatever that you can find and see what 'resonates' with you in terms of the style/culture/etc.

                        2. focus on what you can do -- remember, this is to develop your mobility, and that's what impresses people in yoga class (though honestly, why do you need to impress anyone?). So, it's meant to serve you, make it serve you. Focus on alignment and doing it right rather than attempting to "look" right (because I guarantee you, if you are trying to look right, you are doing it wrong, and then you get zero benefits and might even injure yourself).

                        3. practice consistently -- at least once a week, more if you can.

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                        • #13
                          @zoebird (cool name, by the way) That's really helpful. I'm looking at a couple of different options here and maybe you guys could be of more insight. Right now I do heavy lifting 3x per week but I'm wondering if I should scale that back a tad and focus on rock-climbing (there's a cool rock-climbing gym nearby) and integrate some yoga. However, I constantly hear of people losing percentages of lean body mass as the years go by so there's a fear in the back of my mind that I'll hit 40 and turn into one big flab (irrational, I know). The other option is to stay the course with continuing to lift heavy and add mass but integrate yoga. Anyone ever wrestle with this?

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Dynastinae View Post
                            The other option is to stay the course with continuing to lift heavy and add mass but integrate yoga. Anyone ever wrestle with this?
                            Stretching with and without weights, and stretching between sets and to finish the workout is always a good idea IMO...
                            "All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."

                            - Schopenhauer

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Dynastinae View Post
                              @zoebird (cool name, by the way) That's really helpful. I'm looking at a couple of different options here and maybe you guys could be of more insight. Right now I do heavy lifting 3x per week but I'm wondering if I should scale that back a tad and focus on rock-climbing (there's a cool rock-climbing gym nearby) and integrate some yoga. However, I constantly hear of people losing percentages of lean body mass as the years go by so there's a fear in the back of my mind that I'll hit 40 and turn into one big flab (irrational, I know). The other option is to stay the course with continuing to lift heavy and add mass but integrate yoga. Anyone ever wrestle with this?
                              A lot of the loss of muscle mass with age is related to our cultural ideas around active aging. While changing hormone profiles affect lean mass retention, the primary issue is the decreasing physical activity of most North Americans as they age. Look at a guy like Mark--he's remained active throughout his life and has the lean mass to show for it. Compare that to a guy in his 50s who was maybe an active young guy who played football and lifted weights, but he's been pretty sedentary since his mid-20s, working a desk job and maybe (maybe!) taking up jogging because it's supposed to be good for him. Lean mass loss is also associated with weight cycling in dieters, again, something you can avoid by not yo-yo dieting.

                              You don't need to be doomed to be a big flab at 40.
                              “If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.” --Audre Lorde

                              Owly's Journal

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