You’re not that guy. You know, the yoguy. That’s something Sting does. Chris Martin does. Something men do in California, or some other sun-kissed state, where a Double Legged Ashtanga doesn’t look out of place when it’s done with golden sands and rolling Pacific surf as a backdrop. It shouldn’t be happening on a damp Tuesday in Plymouth. And then there’s the rather alien concept of not being able to measure your progress in terms of goals scored, miles run or weight lifted. Some of the benefits of yoga are more intangible and you approach words like “centred” and “mindfulness” with extreme caution.
Then you have a Ryan Giggs moment and the blinkers come off. Giggsy began to practice when he was 31 and credits overcoming potentially career ending hamstring injuries to yoga. Okay, he calls it ‘sports yoga’ to protect his footballers ego, but it ensured that aged 40 he was still playing top-flight professional football. You realise that yoga is a practice that arose from the mists of the subcontinent thousands of years ago and yet still has a place (and is thriving) in the modern world and that you should probably start to take it a little more seriously. You realise that after a lifetime of male orientated sport, deadline stress and having your glutes glued to an office chair that yoga might just be what you’re after to iron out tight muscle tissue and prolong body and mind. There is a middle ground, somewhere between Chris Martin and a bearded yogi in Lotus, which is perfect for you.
It’s inevitable that next you will be hit with the 3 fearful F’s: Females, flexibility and fashion. It dawns on you that if you follow through with this you’re probably going to be surrounded by lots of women: twisted sisters in form fitting gear, doing something much better than you. Then it occurs to you that your body’s pliability has never really been tested except for that time at Tesco when you came back to find that your car had been boxed in and you had to climb in through the boot. And, finally, you are struck with the same sense of unease that occurs when some one asks you to dress ‘smart casual’. What is that? And what do I wear to my first yoga class? For dress-code enlightenment, www.warrioraddict.com will soon launch their range of comfortable, lightweight and sweat-wicking clothes in Spring 2017. Unfortunately however, ’smart casual’ remains a mystery...
You thought that yoga was, well, yoga. Probably, in the same way that before the barista revolution you thought coffee was coffee. Now, you’ve discovered the very individual benefits of the different brands of bending from Iyengar to Ashtanga and Bikram to Hatha. This is the point when, finally, being a bloke works in your favour as it will allow you to indulge your nasty spreadsheet addiction and cross reference each discipline with its relevant merits. Expect this phase to be one of the longest in your journey, but ultimately the intense workouts of Vinyasa or Ashtanga will come out ahead.
You finally take those first, faltering, barefooted, steps into class. And you’re pretending that it’s entirely normal that the first time that you see the rest of the class is bent double through your own legs. Happily, it’s not entirely populated with women more flexible than a Team GB gymnast and there is a communal cross section that makes you feel entirely at ease. You make some friends, you make some real progress and you make acquaintance with the soles of your feet from the sitting position for the first time in your life.
You’re riding high after your first class and you’re experiencing the “buzz” that you’ve heard so much about. Hey, you even consider posting a shot of yourself in your most advanced pose to your new Instagram account, followed by lots of incredibly life-affirming hashtags. Then you realise that Instayoga and real life yoga are two very different things, so you decide on some different hashtags: #asananodrama #nofilter
- INNER PEACE
You’re no longer a newbie but you’re still trying to hold Crow Pose without ending up in an undignified heap on your mat. And you’re fine with that because you’re several months in and you have the supple swagger of a man comfortable with the fact that you are walking along your local high street with a yoga mat under your arm. You ache less after working out and stretch deeper than you ever could before. And other people have noticed a difference too. Your partner loves your new-found energy levels and your workmates are fascinated by your Zen-like calm during moments of high stress at work. Even your mate, the one who had a whole pub routine dedicated to mocking your “yoga affair” has decided to come along to see if he can last a Bikram class without embarrassing himself. You are now a confirmed yoguy, at peace with your inner warrior and a member of the inner circle of supple. Hey, is that Chris Martin on the mat next to yours?