Perfect Balance YOGA TM

559-222-6212 5091 N Fresno Street, Suite 133, Fresno, CA. 93710

Real Men Do Yoga

American men are starting to hit the mats for a new challenge.

Slowly, Deliberately, The slender man raises his arms overhead, stretching high for a Salute to the Sun. Concentrating intently, he moves to the rhythm of his breath, now tilting his upper body forward, parallel to the floor, while balancing on one leg. Minutes later the 59-year-old performs a difficult backward bend called the Wheel. feet and Hands planted on the mat, he presses his belly skyward for 30 seconds before gently lowering himself to the floor.

Then he goes back to trading bonds.

This is no Ashram; it's a Marriott workout room in Newport Beach, Calif. And this Yogi is no Eastern mystic or a New Age seeker. He's Bill Gross, chief investment officer of the Pacific Investment Management Co., or PIMCO. The "Bond King" is hypercompetitive and ultrasuccessful- and he does yoga to keep himself that way. "To me, yoga is great physical training, not something spiritual or religious," gross says. "I want to be as effective as I can in my job. It's results-driven. And the results have been remarkable."

Lots of lower paid guys would agree. American men are now flocking to the yoga mats where once, it seemed, only women dared to tread.

A new Harris poll commissioned by Yoga Journal suggests that men now make up 25 percent of America's 17 million enthusiasts. "Two to three years ago I think the number would have been 10 to 15 percent," says Kathryn Arnold, the magazine's editorial director. At Town Sports International's 130 East Coast sports clubs, yoga classes draw three times as many men as they did three years ago.

And in Nashville, Tenn. yoga teacher Hilary Lindsay says her early morning classes are often two-thirds to three quarters male. "They're businessmen, entrepreneurs, real-estate guys," she says. "And almost all of my private clients are men. Yoga scriptures, or sutras, describe an eightfold path to samadhi, ecstatic union and enlightenment. But most American yogis (the title refers to any male practitioner) would just as soon leave the samadhi to...samadhi else. They're in it for the exercise and the physical benefits. Sometimes they discover there's a more dynamic payoff than just the physical.

 

 

 

"Men tend to favor the more athletic, fast-moving styles such as Vinyasa and Ashtanga [sometimes called power yoga]," notes Michael Lechonczak, who teaches at New York's Equinox gyms.

And many use yoga as complementary cross-training. Lower-body stretches like the Downward Dog loosen hamstrings winched tight from running, for example, while upper-body openers like the Cobra help unlock chests and shoulders stiffened by bench-pressing.

Unlike the routine stretching exercises that men find so boring, yoga offers both variety and and athletic challenge. Even a 90-minute class passes quickly when your switching constantly from one pose to another, and the toughest workout animals are often shocked at how strenuous yoga can be. They discover that holding the most intense asanas, or positions, build strength-not the brute strength of a power lifter but the tensile strength of a martial-arts master. "It's an endurance thing," says Tennessee Titans running back Eddie George.

George, who has practiced with Lindsay in nashville for five years, is one of a growing cadre of pro athletes going yoga. "As a running back, you're basically using your body as a battering ram," the Heisman Trophy winner explains. "And I end up pinned in some really awkward positions. I thought if my muscles were more flexible and had experienced some of those stresses beforehand in yoga, I'd be less likely to get hurt". The strategy is working for George: he hasn't missed a game due to injury in his seven seasons. Other top yoga jocks include Broncos tight end Shannon Sharpe, Oakland A's pitcher ace Barry Zito, NBA superstar Kevinn Garnett and PGA standouts Ty Tyron and David Duval. Golf pros say yoga-flexing gives them greater range of motion in the hip and shoulder joints, which generates extra power and distance.

The Pros aren't the only ones with something to gain. Weekend warriors often back into yoga-they take it up because their backs are killing them. Nashville real-estate Rick French, 49, used to see a chiropractor "at least a couple of times a week," but the lumbar pain he had endured since a college skiing injury always returned.

 

 

 

The misery ended when he turned to yoga to stretch and align his back. He now survives tennis games and five-mile runs without a hint of pain. No matter what draws then into yoga, recent converts marvel at how energized they feel on the way out of a session. Bob Eriksen, 52, who works in real-estate development in Capitola, Calif., is up to five or six morning classes a week. "I get a glow that lasts all the way to the evening," he says. "I feel like my body's waking up, that my circulation is better. It's like you've finally found out how your body should feel."

How do we know yoga really works? Research, much of it done in India, suggests a wide variety of health-positive effects-for arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, coronary-artery disease and asthma, among other things. In a U.S. study involving 287 students (both sexes), researchers at Ball State University found that 15 weeks of yoga training brought a 10 percent improvement in lung capacity, and that it continues to improve. Dr. Dean Ornish has found evidence that yoga can help fight cardiovascular disease, his protocols have included other lifestyle changes, such as a low-fat diet. The National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine, part of the National Institute of Health, is currently supporting research on yoga, including its use for insomnia and chronic lover-back pain.

Beyond all the body work, there's yoga bonus: the way it sharpens your mental game. Athletes like Zito and Garnett say the meditative breathing calms their nerves and hones their focus on the job. Gross gets a mental boost, too-both in bond trading and on the golf course. "At this year's AT&T Pro Am at Pebble Beach," he says, "I had a six foot putt on the final day. My partner and I were near the lead and this putt had to go in or we had no chance. I told myself, 'Step back for a moment. Breathe deeply. Focus and relax, like you've learned to do in yoga.' So I did that, and the put rolled in."

On the eightfold path-or the eighteenfold path-that's nirvana.

 

"Basketball is an endurance sport, and you have to learn to control your breath; that's the essence of yoga, too.  So, I consciously began using yoga techniques in my practice and playing.  I think yoga helped reduce the number and severity of injuries I suffered.  As preventative medicine, it's (yoga) unequaled".  ~Kareem Abdul-Jabbar