By Vytas Baskauskas
As a man who practices and teaches yoga, I am often dumbfounded by the limited number of guys in class. Yoga was originally designed for men, yet today the practice is made up of only about 25% of us. Here are some compelling reasons why the fellas need to get their butt on the mat.
1) Integrate Your Strength
As men, we all want to be strong. Unfortunately, most exercises in the gym tend to work isolated muscle groups. Even a dynamic type of training such as Crossfit leaves something to be desired when it comes to full body synergy. Doing yoga will touch every muscle on the body. With regular practice, you will be able to feel your strength become more functional for everything that you do.
2) Calm Down
Stress can truly bring us down fast. In fact, it has been postulated that 85% of disease is stress related. Calming the nerves can have profound benefits to our health and well-being. Life becomes much fuller and richer when we are less reactive to the things that happen to us. Instead of being habitual, we learn to be conscious, which opens doors that nothing else can.
3) Age Better
One of the first things we lose as we get older is our mobility. Things that we once found easy to do, such as a simple bend to tie a shoelace, can become arduous tasks. Our skeletons weren't designed to take the abuse of the long lives that modern medicine is affording us. Practicing yoga can free our body from tightness and discomfort. Getting old doesn't have to mean excessive limitation. Especially for those of us that are raising kids, staying mobile and injury free is a powerful thing.
4) Sex Drive
Unfortunately for guys, our sexual peak comes quite early in life. For women it happens a good 10 to 15 years after us. That being said, one of the best ways to ensure that blood is flowing to the right places in the body is a regular yoga practice. One of the original purposes of the practice was to develop a stronger 'tantric energy'. Not only that, but spending time on the mat will introduce you to a new sensuality that you've never felt before. Making ourselves feel good during yoga is a great stepping stone to wanting to experience more pleasure with a partner.
5) Open Up Your Soft Side
Okay. Maybe this doesn't quite sound like something you want to do. But face it, we live in a masculine dominated society. This is represented not just by the people in power, but by how we govern ourselves. Many of us lack the ability to show our softer side even if we wanted to. Fortunately, there is a strong feminine aspect to any yoga practice. Allowing this to be cultivated within ourselves makes us more understanding and whole. Have you ever been chastised for being too "shut off," "aggressive," or "controlling"? You aren't alone. Allowing ourselves to open up to a softer side in yoga can ultimately lead to a more enlightened manhood.
The men I know that practice yoga don't eat tofu or wear sarongs. They are guys like any other, from all walks of life. The only difference is that because of their regular practice, these men are healthier and more vibrant than most people I know. Join us! Spend a little time to check out what yoga has to offer. If your first class isn't great, then try a different one, a different teacher. This stuff works.
Vytas Baskauskas is an instructor at YogaWorks in Santa Monica, CA, with 9 years of professional instruction, and certified at the 500-hour level. He was a contestant on Survivor: Blood vs. Water.
Ever since he can remember, Vytas has been on the search for more, for something greater. For years the altered sense of reality he found in drugs seemed to be the answer. By the age of 19, he found himself lost, strung out on heroin, and sitting in one of America’s most notorious county jails. Following his introspective incarceration, he was released with a newfound passion for seeking. Some friends invited him to a yoga class and thanks to their persistence, he walked into a Bryan Kest class in the summer of 2000. It was exactly what he needed. The practice was a perfect companion for his recovery: his body healed from the abuse of addiction, and his mind grew clearer.
Today Vytas practices asana regularly at home and tries his best to meditate every day. His teacher, Vinnie Marino, helps him continue to learn better ways to teach and incorporate yoga into day-to-day life. He is a wonderful mentor and friend. Vytas has climbed but a few steps of the ladder and is working his way upward still. Every fault is an opportunity for growth, and every day is an opportunity for life.