I have a confession. I am a heterosexual man that does yoga. And I’ve been practicing it for 18 years now. Before that, I religiously practiced karate for 13 years. The two disciplines are quite different.
I used to love training in martial arts. It had everything that a guy likes. It was competitive, very physically challenging, built strength, and created high levels of confidence and awareness. My karate training also required a lot of discipline. Overall, the best thing I learned from my martial arts training was respect. Having respect for your teachers, your environment, and any potential opponents will better teach you how to survive.
I learned quite a bit from being into karate for those years and it changed my life forever. Martial arts training is a great tool for learning how to be more of a man. How could it not? Its participants are mostly male, it’s about fighting and defending, there are uniforms, and a high degree of discipline is required. But what about yoga? What can yoga possibly teach a guy about being more of a man? The answer, of course, is, a whole lot.
YOGA IS NOT MANLY
Perhaps the opposite of studying and training in martial arts is studying and training in yoga. Yoga classes (in America) have mostly women, doesn’t require testosterone, and teaches non-violence. Yoga classes usually smell nice, have low lighting, and play soothing music. So, what the fuck then can a man possibly get out of it?
When I was into martial arts, we used to say karate isn’t for everyone. We had hundreds of students come and go every year. Yoga isn’t for everyone either. Some real men will probably decide that yoga is too girly and smells too nice for them. They need to do something that guys can die practicing doing or some shit and I get it. I consider myself a real man too though and I do the shit out of some yoga.
9 things Yoga has taught me about being a Man:
1. To treat women better
Women are different than men. The women in the average guy’s life are usually limited to his mother, sisters(if he’s got them), girlfriends or wives, and maybe a couple of other female acquaintances from work or something. Men generally hang with men and women hang with women.
I started doing yoga all those years ago primarily because I was about to be newly divorced and the yoga classes at my gym were always filled with beautiful women. The occasional female lifting weights amongst the rest of us dudes at Gold’s didn’t seem like the ideal environment for meeting women. Those yoga classes filled with mostly girls and only a few guys looked like a better way to go, so I started attending. It didn’t take long for me to stop going to class for the females and start going for the actual yoga.
The yoga I do and prefer is really fucking challenging. When you do challenging things along with other people, bonds and friendships develop. It’s just like what roommates in college or sports team members share. Going once more into the yoga breach with others on a regular basis has developed many real friendships. And since yoga is full of mostly women, I have made more than a few true friendships with females.
Real friendships with women are ones that don’t have any wanting of sex attached to them. There is no sexual tension at all and you aren’t trying to get her to do something. And she isn’t trying to get you to do anything either. You are just friends, sharing in yoga to begin with and then other activities outside of it.
In these real friendships, I have learned to know women better and have more respect for them in general. The result is that I treat my opposite sex better than I did before.
2. The status of my competitive nature
Yoga is a place of non-judgment and is non-competitive. So, how then could I have learned about my competitive nature? The answer is that when you are in a room with a bunch of people doing something difficult, and you are asked not to compete with the people around you, you get to see whether or not you can let it go.
In a yoga class, you’ll hear things like this is your body today or do this, or don’t do it. The class is told stuff like that so you won’t be hard on yourself if it’s not a good physical practice for you that day. You may come in not feeling well from being sick or having a hangover and if so, taking it easy is perfectly ok. But can you do that, or do you have to try hard regardless of feeling like shit?
Then there’s the class where you told yourself that you’ll be taking it easy today in yoga, and a very fit and maybe younger guy comes in and sets up his mat next to you. During class, you can’t help but do your postures a little more intensely or may choose not to take a break just because the dude next to you is killing his postures.
Ironically, in a non-competitive environment, I have learned that I am a little more competitive than I thought.
3.To breathe with movement
I started learning this with karate years ago, but yoga takes the importance of breathing with your movements to a higher level. There is simply not any part of your life that can’t benefit from learning more about this.
Any sports activity, sex, fighting, or even hiking, especially in high altitudes will be improved by learning to incorporate breath with movement. When our minds are stressed with learning new things, we sometimes hold our breath. Breath awareness during these manly times has made me better at everything.
Also, when we are angry, sad, or anxious, we tend to have issues with breathing. Yoga has taught me to be aware of my breath during these stressful situations. And I handle things better now. Stopping for a second, taking a breath or two gives yourself time to take some control of your thinking back. That shit is real and I learned it from doing yoga
4. What I eat matters
Sure, we are all told that we should eat better. The reality is that eating like shit for many guys actually makes them feel better than when they eat well. When you have a sedentary job, you may not feel any different when eating well. And when you have a physical job, you almost have to eat shitty, fatty, salty, sugary food just to have the energy to do the work. I have worked a physical job all my life and can tell you that a salad for lunch won’t cut it.
I have led a relatively physical life. I’ve worked hard in the hot sun, was a weight lifter for a while, did karate for thirteen years, and have surfed for many years. In doing those things, I always knew it was better for me to eat well, but it didn’t matter much in the way of my performance. Yoga is different.
Yoga has been the only thing that has made me eat better. You can be a roofer and have two Big Macs with fries for lunch, and when you get back on the roof, you won’t slow down. But if you eat shitty fast food and then try to do yoga a couple hours later, it’s gonna be a no bueno. Yoga can be aerobic and anaerobic along with twisting, bending, balancing, and stretching. In many of the power type yoga classes, this is done in a non-chaotic, well-focused manner with a high degree of intensity. The same two Big Macs that the roofer had for lunch would be a bad idea to eat before a yoga class.
Yoga and the food I eat has an obvious and direct connection. This has taught me that what I eat truly does matter in every part of my life.
5. How to be friends with women
Your goal in life may not
I’m not going to go over why you should or want to have friendships with the opposite sex. If you have the desire to do so though, it can be difficult to do. A lot of guys are creeps and many of them only conduct convo with girls for the sole purpose of fucking or doing some form of sexual deviance with them. Guys are also obsessive with women and so can get weird and controlling when interacting with them.
Women are well aware of the way guys can be, so they have no choice but to keep a wall up with guards. Most women would love to be friends with all kinds of guys. But they can’t from fear of getting hurt and being physically abused. The environment of yoga is a relatively safe one for women. There, they can safely vet dudes and determine which guys are cool and which are fucking weirdos.
Sharing the yoga experience with lots of women has taught me how to not look like or be a male creep. It has taught me how to be friends only with the opposite sex. As a result, I have many amazing and healthy female acquaintances.
6. How to survive panic from exhaustion
There have been just a few times in my life where I was panicky due to exhaustion. A couple of times in big surf, hiking too quickly out of a
It’s a crucial time for us when our minds start to freak out because we are completely exhausted and need more energy to survive. How we deal with that panic can easily be what determines whether we live or die. For me, I noticed that each time that has happened, my mind calms down and time slows way down. It’s then as if my mind knows I am in real danger and knows I can’t spend any unnecessary energy freaking out. This calmness is what I think was a key to me surviving.
My guess is the more one is in that state of panic, the better he is in coping with it and ultimately surviving. Yoga has put me in that state a hundred times.
It’s a common occurrence that a guy like me will overdo it in yoga, and then find himself in panic mode. And now that I am older, the consideration of my having a heart attack comes to mind when exhausted. I consider it a major plus that yoga class has put me in panic mode so many times. I now know what to do to get out of it and conserve my energy. That may save my life one day.
7. How to sit still
I’ll bet most guys think that they can sit still with no problem. And with Netflix, a six-pack, and half a leftover pizza, I’m sure most can stay on the couch for hours. But that is not at all what I mean. Take away the TV, beer, and the couch and try sitting on the floor in silence and stillness. Yea, it’s way tougher than it seems.
Almost all yoga classes end with this thing called savasana or dead man’s pose. So, after you’ve done an hour or two of intense breathing, bending, twisting, and balancing, you are instructed to just lay down on your back and not move. Some classes have you only lay there for a couple of minutes but a good standard savasana for some practices is seven minutes. Seven minutes can be a really long fucking time to just lay there and not move. Some say that this dead man’s pose is the hardest one in yoga. There have been times when I agreed with that.
Learning to sit still has benefits beyond my understanding. It is the beginning of learning how to meditate, which many people have said has changed their lives. As an active male, it can be hard to be still. If you want to explore this and think it might help you, take some yoga and find out.
8. That some men are completely non-violent
The average American boy grows up maybe doing a little hunting, a fair amount of fishing, gets in a fight or
Yoga attracts guys who are into non-violence. I have met and are friends with a good amount of men who are this. Had I not gotten into yoga, I wouldn’t have known that so many of these guys existed. More importantly, I probably would have never learned to have an understanding of guys who are so different than me. I would’ve just stayed just a little less open-minded. It feels good to know I can accept and exist with people who are not like me. Yoga did that.
9. Generally, women have more movements than men
If you are a guy who has a hard time respecting women, go do some yoga. There, you will see that women can move their bodies better than you can move yours. Even if you get into yoga and become super efficient with its physical postures, women will be better at it than you.
You may not respect the way females think. You may have a hard time trusting them or understanding their fickle decision-making process. But they can bend and twist and balance like a motherfucker. And you will be forced to respect them at least for that.
As a man, there is little doubt that yoga has changed my life for the better. And I have not had to surrender my man card to do so. If as a real man, you are finding that being a redneck macho mouth-breather just doesn’t seem like its enough for you, then check out some yoga. Or you could go to Europe.
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