David Romero, A.K.A The Yogi DR, is an LA based yogi, former captain in the US Air Force and has worked alongside Los Angeles’ leading pain management physicians, physiatrists, neurosurgeons, and orthopaedic surgeons in the field of medical devices, helping to complement his understanding of the physiology of yoga. David advocates that patients and clients need a balanced regimen of physical exercise, stretching, breathing, nutritional intake, and meditation to create a higher level of awareness and well-being.
We asked David about the main barriers that prevent men from stepping into a yoga studio and why he thinks that men should take to the mat. Here's his take:
There are a number of barriers that prevent men from stepping into a yoga studio. I know, because I hesitated in going to a yoga class for a very long time even though I knew yoga would be good for my mind and body.
I remember my very first class. It was a Level 2/3 Vinyasa Flow. The class was primarily women, they were all incredibly strong, and I couldn't hold a plank pose to save my life. Previous to yoga I was a competitive runner, triathlete, and I lifted in the gym at least 5 times a week. In my head I thought I was strong and fully capable of doing any postures the teach threw at me. Haha I was wrong!
The first barrier I think most men face is their ego. The Ego is not your Amigo. Men are either afraid of what they are going to look like, or they are afraid of what their friends will think of them. The truth is…no one cares. If we are practicing yoga properly, we are on our own mats focused solely on ourselves, not what everyone else is doing. No one is judging you. The practice is all about you, no one else. The wrestling of the ego and identification of it, is often, at times, a starting point.
There is never a bad time to practice yoga. Whether it is practicing breathing for a few moments, staying still for a few minutes to meditate, or taking some time for a few light stretches - yoga is practice that can be taken everywhere, and can be done at anytime. However - it is a practice of consistency - the more consistent we are with the practice, the stronger we will get overtime. Learning to carve out time for the practice is an important aspect to the practice because we are making time for ourselves to reconnect and do a little bit of self-care.
I can’t tell you how many times I have heard men make the comment: “I’m not flexible enough to do yoga.” Experiencing apprehension or even fear about finding flexibility is like saying: “I’m too dirty to take a bath.” We take baths because we are dirty in order to wash the dirt off. We practice yoga to open the body up. Simple. The truth is men (and women) don’t want to be uncomfortable. There is a fear of being uncomfortable, of what uncomfortableness looks like, and what uncomfortableness feels like. Some of the poses that are offered in a class can lead to feelings of discomfort. Learning to work through these short lived periods of unease allows us to evolve and gives us invaluable lessons throughout life.
Currently the majority of students that practice yoga are women. I have an incredible amount of respect for women because I believe women realize the important of self-care, change and the self-nurturing effects of the practice. For men, just because we are practicing yoga, doesn’t stop us from connecting to our masculinity and connecting to sexuality. Your sexuality will not be compromised…in fact I think it actually has helped me understand my masculine strengths even more.
Finding the right class and the right teacher is huge. The right teacher will make all the difference in the world and will keep the student coming back. Most yoga studios have classes that outline not only the type of class but the teachers style as well. Walk to your local studio to see which class makes the most sense for you and just give it a go!
From the outside, yoga may provide some entry level barriers, however, once you begin to practice and stay with the practice, you will realize that these barriers were merely an illusion you created and I promise you the benefits will be far reaching.