Yoga: When bending is still straight

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Sunday, May 26, 2013


CAN a person imagine a straight, buff guy—in all machismo splendor—holding the Adho Mukha Svanasana pose during a yoga session?

“Women are naturally more flexible than men—of course there are always exceptions. But studies have found that women do indeed have more flexibility in their hips and elbows than the average man,” shares certified yoga instructor Jenifer Rodriguez Martinez.

So men and yoga doesn’t sound like a good mix. Why bother?

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“Actually, yoga benefits men a lot, especially in sports,” the instructor states.

“With sports like tennis, soccer, golf, basketball and running, you tend to utilize only 10 to 15 percent of the body. Whereas yoga provides a workout that covers every muscle, joint and organ. You work every system: cardiovascular, skeletal, muscular and endocrine.”

Jenifer is the studio director of YogaHub Studio located at the Banilad Town Centre, Cebu City. She says that there are a lot of different kinds of yoga and enumerates a few: Power yoga, Yin yoga, Vinyasa yoga, Ashtanga yoga, Hatha yoga and Kundalini yoga.

Sure there’s been debate about the morality and spiritual aspects of yoga since it’s a practice stemming from new age movement, but it helps for one to be informed by doing a little research and ultimately knowing what one is getting into.

Jenifer teaches Power and Vinsaya yoga. “We (in the studio) are more on the Asana based kind of Yoga (meaning body postures) and not more on the spiritual, chanting side. Our studio promotes more on health and wellness.”

Just recently, a campaign for getting men to do yoga was launched by YogaHub. Simply dubbed, “Real Men Do Yoga,” a few men have already enrolled in the program to reap the benefits of a good stretch.

“Just to make it clear, I don’t do yoga to meet girls. That’s the most common misconception when it comes to guys doing yoga—meeting girls. Those are just one of the many benefits of doing yoga though,” Karl Antonius de Pio shares not without a few laughs.

Karl started doing yoga late last year because he’s grown bored of going to the gym for a workout.

“I’ve been working out for over five years now and I just felt like it was a just a routine. I needed a change. So I decided to give yoga a try. I was a bit hesitant to do it though because I was scared that people would make fun of me for doing yoga and my ego would get hurt or I would embarrass myself by not being able to do the poses because I wasn’t flexible at all.”

True it was a challenge to begin with. But Karl has learned more than just holding different poses. “Yoga is a journey. You can’t rush it. Some poses are hard to do and because of that, you learn to be patient, it motivates you and it challenges you to push yourself harder.”

“To be completely honest, I was persuaded to try yoga by my girlfriend. It had always been seen as a girly thing to do for me so that’s why I had previously been so reluctant to try it,” confesses another recent male convert, Ejay Williams, who’s taking up yoga in another place around Camputhaw, Cebu City. For a person like Ejay, who is actively into sports like football and track and field, he knows the importance of a good warm up.

“It’s basically like a long stretching exercise. But the main difference is the breathing, which helps you mentally relax more. You breathe in through your nose and you breathe out through your nose. It has a significant difference when breathing out through your mouth because the exercise is all about relaxing the body and mind.”

According to Jenifer, not a lot of men in the country are still open to trying out yoga because it’s a fairly new trend. Although guys are very open to Power yoga since it focuses more on strength building which is what guys really want.

“Especially if you’re into a lot of sports, yoga is one of the best exercises an athlete can do to stretch muscles, work your core, and reduce stress levels.”

“Yoga is actually a complete work out. It’s all body weight. It works on your arms, core and most especially your back. Real men do yoga,” says Karl.

And what about meeting ladies?

“That’s the reason why men do yoga because majority of the people in the studio are women!” reveals Jenifer. Well, more like, stating the obvious.

“At first they try yoga because they see the class full of girls. But eventually they get hooked.”

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 27, 2013.

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