Among 40+ guys who don’t do yoga (which is to say, among most 40+ guys), I think there are three reactions when I tout yoga in OlderBeast articles.
1. Inspired to try it. Man, I hope there have been at least a few of these…please?
2. Tuning me out. Kind of like the grown-ups in the old Charlie Brown TV specials – blah blah-blah blah.
3. Feeling somewhat persuaded, and a little motivated. But not enough to overcome remaining hesitancy or inertia.
You in Reaction mode #3? If so, this is for you, dude.
Here’s a step-by-step, no-commitments way for you to figure out more about yoga, try it, and decide if it’s for you. This envisions a 4 to 6 week period, after which you can “fish or cut bait” on the whole topic of yoga and you.
1. Invest 15 Measly Minutes to Hear More of What Experts Say (optional)
If needed, this is to satisfy yourself it’s not just me banging the drum about yoga. Whether you’re a runner, cyclist, swimmer, strength-trainer or some combo of these…experts agree, yoga can seriously help.
“I dead lift 515 pounds, squat 405, and bench 315. But this yoga session left me in shambles…I felt like I’d used a whole new set of muscles.” (article by a Special Ops soldier in Men’s Health)
“Yoga restores balance and symmetry to the body, making it the perfect complement to running.” (HumanKinetics.com )
“He assumed yoga was just a lot of stretching and breathing; which it is. But he soon finds there’s a serious component of strength required to hold those poses. Within minutes, there’s a growing pool of sweat puddling underneath him on his mat. He’s amazed at how hard this is. And he’s equally amazed at how good it feels.” (Muscle & Fitness magazine)
“Some of the most elite cyclists use yoga as part of a successful training program” (Training Peaks article on yoga benefits for cyclists)
“If an athlete just swims, the body can become misaligned…the typical hunched-back swimmers’ posture we are all familiar with. Yoga strengthens weaker opposing muscles not used in the repetitive motions in swimming.” (US Masters’ Swimming)
“There are also some not-so-obvious benefits to getting your “om” on regularly. From better bowel movements to steamier sex, you might be surprised what a little time on the mat can do for you.” (from Men’s Fitness)
OK, have you cried “uncle” yet? And this list didn’t even get into the stress-management side of yoga, which is also huge, given stress’s role as the “silent killer,” especially of men.
This is pretty simple, man. If you’re serious about doubling down on fitness to maximize the rest of your life, you gotta at least give yoga a legitimate try.
2. Get Access to a Yoga Mat
Someone else in your household might have one already. If so, borrow it until you decide whether to bring yoga into your own routine – at which point you’ll for-sure want your own mat.
If you don’t have access to a mat, it’s worth it to buy one even if you don’t wind up doing a lot of yoga, because yoga mats are good for core work and stretching, too. Which you NEED to be doing, especially at our age.
Here are two good mats (one of these two will be my “next mat” pretty soon). Each of these has good non-slip properties (because guys sweat). And don’t worry: they’re available without flowery patterns or pink/lavender colors, which as we all know might reduce your testosterone just by touching them!
Lululemon Reversible Mat. I know, this seems like a fashion-y yoga brand you may associate the mainly-overpriced stores at the mall. But this relatively-affordable mat gets rave reviews, online and from numerous people I’ve spoken with directly. Especially for staying “sticky” (that’s a good thing) when you sweat on it. The link is to a “big” version of the mat that may be best for taller/bigger guys, but for $10 less there’s also a standard size.
Manduka Eko Mat. Manduka has other more-expensive mats. But this one gets high marks for (again, it’s a male thing) being non-slip when you sweat.
As far as other equipment goes – yoga doesn’t require much. You may eventually want yoga-specific shorts (check out OlderBeast product recommendations for the kind I swear by), and a foam block or two if you do yoga at home. But for now, don’t worry about those things.
3. Over 2-3 Weeks, Do at Least 3 At-Home, Video-guided Yoga Practices
I know, I know. Yoga instructors and others will tell you live instruction is key to make sure you’re doing poses right. And they’re correct.
But still, there’s a natural hesitancy to show up for a yoga class with literally no idea what to do or how to do it. So think of a few at-home yoga practices as just an ice-breaker, to get you “ready enough” for an in-person class.
Here are four quality sources of instructional yoga videos you can try. They all have free-trial periods attached, so this step won’t cost you anything.
“Yoga X” workout from BeachBody’s P90X program. This is a great yoga practice and just a great workout, period. This is how I discovered yoga, and to this day the stuff I learned from this video stands me in good stead during in-person yoga classes. You can access Yoga X as part of BeachBody On-Demand’s 14-day free trial.
MyYogaWorks: This is the online library of the YogaWorks studio chain. There’s a 14-day free trial here, too. There are so many videos here, it can be hard to choose. I suggest using the “filter” tool to find 60-minute, beginner, well-rounded classes (these are all parameters you can search on). There’s one such class called “Simple, Not Easy” that seems about right, or you can choose “New to 2” for something a bit harder.
ManFlow Yoga offers what it calls “no-nonsense, fitness-centric” yoga routines for guys. And as you’d guess from the name, the whole idea here is to demonstrate and start teaching yoga to guys who wouldn’t otherwise try it. Free 7-day trial.
Of course, this being the 21st Century, there are a ton of free yoga videos on YouTube, too. But with the above sources having free trials, I suggest you stick to those at the beginning. Later, once you know more about what you’re looking for, YouTube becomes a good option as well.
Be forewarned: you’ll probably find any of these to be pretty hard (especially Yoga X which isn’t really trying to be “beginner”). You won’t be able to do everything they do in the videos. That’s FINE – you’re just starting. Do your best and stick with the whole video for each session, and do at least three before moving onto the next step here.
4. Now, Try 3 In-Person Yoga Classes Over the Next 2-3 Weeks
If the prior step has been good for you and you feel like continuing with at-home stuff, I get it. I did Yoga X for many months before ever setting foot in a yoga studio with a live instructor.
But when I finally did, I learned all kinds of additional things. And corrected some things I was misaligned on. So even if you prolong the at-home phase because it’s working for you, do get to this next phase within a few months.
Here are two great yoga chains with multiple studios. Many of you will have one of them nearby to home or work.
CorePower Yoga: Great, man-friendly yoga studio chain with locations in 22 states + Washington, DC. “Power” yoga classes ensure you’ll get a workout, and “sculpt” variations include weights, too. And showers…since you will sweat here.
YogaWorks: Another great yoga chain with locations in California + East Coast metro areas. Wide variety of classes and great instructors. They offer somewhat of a discount if you want to join their online and studio offerings at the same time.
But also be aware, there are a lot of fantastic independent yoga studios out there. Some of the best instructors I’ve seen are at such studios. And if you don’t live near one of the yoga chain’s locations, independent is the only game in town anyway.
Yelp and Google work as well for yoga studios as they do for burrito places. Google also has a tool called Reserve with Google that will let you search on “yoga” (or other fitness terms, by the way) and then it shows you not just studios nearby, but what times they have what classes.
Here’s how strongly I feel about you trying yoga, brother. If you’re having trouble identifying the right studio to try, just contact me and I’ll HELP, zero strings attached. This will be life-enhancing for you, and I want to eliminate all impediments!
5. Now Decide: Yes, No or Maybe?
OK, at this point it’s been 4-6 weeks, and you’ve done at least six yoga practices. I think you’ll have a sense of what yoga could do for you.
Not everything is for everyone. You now have (and have earned) my blessing to go back to hearing “blah blah” when I talk about yoga, if you want.
But if you feel continued interest and motivation, keep going. Even if you’re “still not sure,” do another 4-6 week cycle. Sometimes it just takes a few more reps to get to the good part. Pick back up on the at-home videos and/or bring a studio-based class into your schedule.
I’m interested to hear what happens, and what you conclude, during your explorations!
“Yeah, we’re gonna be so cool. Twisting by the pool.” (Dire Straits, Twisting By The Pool – click to listen)
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