There are Yoga Guys and there are Guys Who Do Yoga. This post is dedicated to the latter.
Yoga Guys know their way around a yoga studio already and, for the most part, don’t need my help. They speak the lingo, dress the part, and can bust out bakasana quicker than their counterparts, Guys Who Do Yoga, can crack a beer. This isn’t to say that one is cooler than the other, that Yoga Guys don’t drink beer, or Guys Who Do Yoga can’t do fancy yoga poses, it’s just that there’s a difference.
Yoga Guys are more experienced, while Guys Who Do Yoga are typically newer to the practice– prone to being rougher around the edges, feeling out of place, or unwittingly committing some unknown yoga gaffe akin to blocking everyone’s view of the TV during a playoff game. They may become Yoga Guys down the road (if desired), but for now, they need a little help navigating the new found territory of yoga classes, in which women still outnumber men. For this reason and a few others, yoga classes can be intimidating for even the most alpha males, which is why I’m here to help with 10 Yoga Tips for Guys:
- Don’t Ogle: I don’t care if Giselle is practicing on the mat next to you, nothing brings bad boy karma like ogling at a fellow yogi (or the instructor) in class. You can smile warmly, say hello before or after class, or even strike up pleasant conversation in the lobby, but for the love of all that is holy (yoga is a spiritual practice), keep your stud moves separate from your yoga ones.
- Don’t Talk During Class: You don’t gab during your buddy’s back swing on the links, so think of yoga class the same way. It requires maximum concentration and minimum distraction; therefore, please keep quiet. This includes the few minutes when you might be waiting outside the studio for class to begin while a prior class is concluding. Chances are they’ll be in meditation: shhhhhh.
- Don’t Score Front Row Seats: This isn’t a ballgame or concert, so forgo the front row and opt, instead, for the back of the class if you’re a newbie. This way you can watch more experienced students and mimic their alignment in a pose. Please note: visually learning from the yogi in front of you is not the same as ogling their asana. (See above).
- Don’t Compete: Competition is a major source of male bonding, and it’s the way the animal kingdom works; however, yoga is not a sport, nor an animal kingdom. Nobody is keeping score, and nobody wins or loses. The mental focus you’ll develop will help you compete in other areas of life by teaching you to be more present, but there’s no place for competition on the mat. Your goal is to connect to yourself– pure and simple– and the only opponent is your own ego.
- Don’t be Late: If you’re doing yoga for the first time, arrive at the class early. The added time will help you get acquainted with the teacher, stake out a spot in the back row, and ask any important questions, which leads me to the DOs . . .
- Do Ask Questions: How long is the class? Is it heated? Can I rent a mat? Where are the nearest exits? These are all important things to know. If you’re nursing an old football injury, for example, it’s wise to tell the teacher in advance and, perhaps, ask for modifications. (This is important for yogis of all skill levels).
- Do Use What You Learned in the Boy Scouts: Be prepared by packing the essentials, such as water, a change of clothes, towel (key for hot yoga), and even a snack. Again, particularly if the class is heated, you want to feel energized and well hydrated.
- Do Bring a Friend: Bringing a buddy who knows the ropes (or even one who doesn’t) is a great way to feel more at ease. If you can’t do this, it’s helpful to seek the insight of a yoga-oriented friend who can recommend the right style of class, studio in your area, and instructor in advance. All of these elements have a huge impact on your first experience, and a pal who knows you can help you make the best choices for your personality type and level of ability.
- Do Doff Your Cap: Nothing screams I DON’T KNOW WHAT I AM DOING like a guy who wears a baseball cap to yoga class. You’ll be upside down a lot of the time; it will fall off. You’ll keep adjusting it. It will be annoying. Take it off before stepping on your mat. Please, just trust me on this one.
- Do Watch What You Eat: Try to curb your manly appetite before class, as having a full belly will hinder your range of motion in twisting poses and increase the likelihood of gas. And there’s nothing that will wear out your welcome in the girl’s cabin faster than being the boy who stinks up their yoga class.