Monday, January 5, 2009

Yoga Simplicity

[Photo: artmedia.com]

One word: unexpected.

I don’t quite understand how it happened but suddenly I’m interested in all sorts of things that would have made me roll my eyes only a year ago. Seriously. There I was this past weekend, sheepishly opening the door to my neighborhood yoga studio and wondering whether my dad was rolling over in his grave. “Geesh Jack, I can’t believe you are being such a fucking fag,” he would have said.

Ok, the fact that I was THE ONLY DUDE there wasn’t all that encouraging. But hey, I sort of dug it. The first part of the class was actually pretty intense. If you read this blog regularly you know that I’m really into weight training so I was pretty surprised when some of those yoga poses totally kicked my ass!

The second part of the class was incredibly relaxing. For several minutes, I was floating in a celestial ether, far from distractions and complications. It was as if there was nothing left but my thoughts. And these were pure and simple.

38 comments:

Miss Scorpio said...

Life is all about balance, Jack. Yoga helps with that. And if all else fails, you'll get to stare at the ladies in some rather interesting positions. ;)

Elizabeth said...

I love it, though I just started a month ago. :)

But yeah .. I just started doing the Warrior and Warrior II poses regularly. I have relatively strong legs and they totally kick my ass every time!

Anonymous said...

Jack,

I have tried all types of workouts: running, dancing, hiking, skiing, and swimming. The only exercise that I have ever left in a true state of euphoria was yoga. When I had back problems because of my extensive weight training, I went straight to yoga and everything was straightened out within a few days. Consider "hot yoga" sometime. Imagine doing yoga for an hour in a room that is set to 94 degrees.

MB

P.S. I've been following your blog for sometime and I find it quite inspiring in my own life. Good luck and keep it up!

Kandice said...

If you really want a yoga butt-kicking, then try Bikram Yoga. It's yoga performed in a 100 degree room. It's phenomenal. It makes the other yoga look like recess. You look like you've jumped in a swimming pool at the end of the 90 minute session. Take a look at www.bikramyoga.com. That stuff is addicting and will have you thinking all sorts of crazy thoughts. Like, I need to quit my job to be a Bikram Yoga Instructor kind of thoughts. I know. I've had those very thoughts.

Buck16 said...

It's amazing ... when you stop caring about stuff your mind really opens to new things.

Materialism is such a blockade for most people's brain that they could never try something so 'out there', because what would the Joneses think?

Congrats for doing yoga. I would, but I'm too fat/lazy/no fat ... I'll stick with fat.

Jill M. said...

good idea - and one of the most important things is to start with an open mind - isn't that nifty how it all comes together under those conditions?

Kudos to Bikram Yoga - I like other types of yoga, too, particularly because I practice at home M-F and don't want to travel to practice, but I've best elevated my mind and separated it from my body after doing Bikram.

Happy Practicing!

carrot quinn said...

"a celestial ether". That's beautiful! You fucking hippie! GO JACK GO!

Craigers said...

Happy New Year Jack. I'd love to here more about your future experiences with Yoga as I'm thinking of starting myself.

Anonymous said...

You don't look like you are really into weight training. From your pictures you look kind of little. But, good luck with the yoga.

dtb said...

Yoga is awesome, and if you ever question whether manly men do it, just look at Rodney Yee and all the groupies (me included) who drool over him and his incredibleness.

You might also dig tai chi. Since I had back surgery and can no longer do contact fighting it's the only martial art I'm allowed. Coming from a Tae Kwon Do and Muy Thai background, I was wary at first, but it is surprisingly difficult and energizing.

a square peg said...

mmm, yoga. how something so hard can be so relaxing is amazing to me. maybe i'll take a class this year...

Laurie said...

I've been doing Pilates (floor exercises, no machines) on and off for a few years now. every time I talk to a man about it he scoffs at how "easy" that is, etc etc. Until I try to have him do one of the SIMPLEST poses, which leaves him sweating & shaking. LOL!

Try Pilates sometime, too. :-) It can make you incredibly toned.
Laurie in NH

Libby said...

Yes to yoga!! There's lots of men in the classes I take, and I find that asanas I'm asked to do in the classes always correspond with an issue I am struggling with in my life. Stick with this, it's a wonderful exploration of being.

Diana said...

Yoga is fantastic. I think you said you're in NYC..have you tried Yoga to the People? It's on St. Mark's Place, and it's donation based. This means that it can get pretty crowded, but it might help add to the simplicity, unless you're somehow already paying a cheap rate for yoga classes! I like some of the programs on Netflix instant watching, too -- there aren't many but Healing Yoga: For Aches and Pains and and Healing Yoga: For Common Conditions are good for inflexible beginners like me. :D

YogaDawg said...

"THE ONLY DUDE" :)

Srividya said...

I see more and more men in my yoga class now ! But all of them are suprised, that yoga is not as easy as it looks.

P.S: Not sure if I have ever commented on your blog, but I couldn't resist :)

Jack said...

@Miss Scorpio,

I like the way you think.

@Elizabeth,

Really? Do you like it?

@Anonymous,

I think I might stick with the regular classes before I get into any specialized yoga stuff. At this point, just getting my feel wet. And thanks

Jack said...

@Kandice,

Ummm...interesting. As I said in my prior comment, will probably stick with the regular stuff for a while until it makes sense to move on. But I guess it's pretty cool there are so many options. Let me know when I can take YOUR class.

@Buck16,

Tell me about it. The truth is that I think I'm headed to a place where I am fearless about living. Where I don't really care what anyone thinks about me AND what society/people might consider outside the norm. The first I achieved a while ago. The second is still a work in progress.

@Jill,

Yeah, I guess it's the open mind that brought me into the class in the first place. Let's see where it takes me.

Jack said...

@Carrot,

Oh, come on, you and I both know you are the awesome writer. I'm just pretending :)

@Craigers,

Happy New Year to you as well. I'll definitely keep everyone informed. How are things on your end?

@Anonymous,

Ouch. I guess real weight training is in the eye of the beholder.

Jack said...

@dtb,

Umm...I confess I don't know the man. But I will take your word for it. :)
Good idea. Already had it on my radar screen.

@ASquarePeg,
Well, that particular class was divided into two parts and one was definitely hard. Maybe not all classes have to kick your ass.

@Laurie,

Another thing I have on my radar screen. Let's see how things go with yoga first. The nice thing is that I have the rest of my life to try out about all these awesome things.

Jack said...

@Libby,

No worries. Already signed up for a couple of more classes to get a sense of it. The lady who ran it told me to take as many different types as possible. I didn't know that each class can be so different based on the whims of the instructors.

@Diana,

YOU ROCK! I didn't even think about Netflix. Super good idea. But no, actually live in DC. I'm sure there is something similar here though.

@YogaDawg,

Well, yeah, I was the only guy there.

Sailing Simplicity said...

Jack, I am so excited for you and your journey. I love yoga, and am a yoga/dance teacher. Its beautiful. Can't wait to hear about your handstands. Its not too bad that you are the only guy, although I have heard of "broga" which is yoga for guys...I guess. I hear they listen to Metallica during class!!!!
Teresa

Buddy said...

Hey Jack, long time no read! (Computer crash, reboot, plus major stress... ) I'm glad to see things are going fairly well towards your simplicity. I was reading 'Granny Miller', and a few others, and remembered to look up your blog again.

My own simplification is coming along. I'm a lot more confident at this point this year, than I was at this point last year, and that's saying a lot.

For me, I like weights at a nearby gym or some at home, the bike, and pilates on my area rug. And well, a few others things.

Great to see you're doing well!

Buddy

Jon said...

You are not alone in trying out yoga. When I quit my ten-year-old tobacco marketing job to start my simple life journey, I picked up yoga and quit weight training soon after. I don't spend a single cent on expensive whey protein supplement anymore.

Yoga is not only about physical health, it's a way of life too. I like its simplicity, and concentration required to balance and stretch during practices. For some unknown reasons, my desires for material goods subside tremendously after a few months into yoga. I thought I was alone but after some chats with one of my yoga classmates, he has the the same experience, too. And he will quit weight training soon.

You will find more peace in yoga and experience how close it relates to our simple life journey. Just be patient because guys are usually less flexible in performing some asanas.

Amanda said...

Yay yoga!! The classes aren't different based on the teachers' whims -- there are many, many different schools/traditions/styles of yoga (kind of like all the different flavors of different religions -- how each church or synagogue is different based on what sect they follow within their religion). It's worth trying many different styles to find what works best with your body, your spirit, and what you're looking for...

I didn't like Kundalini because it wasn't physical enough, didn't like Bikram because being that hot is interesting but not something I'm into all the time. For a long time I did a lot of vinyasa/anusara until a wrist injury made doing down dog in between every other pose a bit much. So now I'm dabbling in Iyengar and love it so far.

Mostly I've also followed teachers -- I want those who really understand proper alignment (because seriously, you can injure yourself trying to do most of these poses if you're not careful), but who also bring a spiritual philosophy to their practice that I can learn from.

When I first started out, almost ten years ago now, there was a teacher in Providence who talked a lot about meeting yourself with compassion... at the time I was too much of a type-A overachiever to really even understand the idea of being kind to myself. Yoga pretty much fixed that.

And then a teacher in Western Mass used to talk about entering into the challenging poses with "humor and resolve in equal measure" -- I loved that. It became my mantra in nearly everything, but especially backpacking: I used to curse the last half-mile or so before summits. Now I laugh at them.

Really glad to hear you're discovering yoga. You're already changing your life, and yoga certainly could help magnify and accelerate that process...

Namaste!
a.

Krista said...

I just started up Yoga again myself :D

Good to hear you found an interest in it! Maybe if more people would take the time to do some yoga or meditation we'd be a happier less stressed out society lol.

I wish you the best of luck in your new endeavour! Hopefully its something you'll enjoy for years to come because Yoga Rocks!

Jack said...

@Srividya,

Thanks for commenting. I'll see how many guys show up for my next class. But, yes, I've heard there are more and more every day.

@Sailing,

Broga! That's hilarious. You totally have to do a class for me some time.

@buddy,

Good to hear from you. Was wondering how things were going. Yeah, we shall see where this takes me. Take care.

Jack said...

@Jon,

Funny. It sounds like Yoga led you, or at least helped you towards simplicity, whereas simplicity seems to have opened me up to yoga.

@Amanda,

Reading your comment makes me realize how much I still have to learn about the practice. At this point, I see it more as a curiosity and an opportunity to work out. But, I must admit, it is luring me in more and more. I wonder if it will even affect how I hike in the future.

@Krista,

Thanks. Yeah, let's see where it leads me. What made you take it up "again"?

Buddy said...

Yes; blessed are the flexible, for they shall never be bent out of shape.

Soon enough I'll start a blog. For now though, it'd be entirely too complex. For me pilates is great for beathing, as yoga is.

And... getting rid of 'stuff', and letting go of unecessary obligations, i.e. 'bills', has me breathing much better also. A few more situations to see through, and then hopefully clear sailing.

Namaste!

Kady said...

Jack,

Happy New Year. Must be exciting to know that this is the year. Wishing I was in the same boat (though, who knows? I might get laid off soon, given how sloooow things are right now.)

But don't you know that all your voluntary simplicity is just killing our ECONOMY?!?!

Damn your kind of ppl. (JK)

Shoot, I need to get back into Yoga....

Jack said...

Buddy,

Well, I wish you luck. Hope everything keeps on working out.

Kady,

Yeah, I can see all the damage I am doing:) Come and join me for one of my yoga classes!

donna said...

keep going jack, i love yoga. i started about 4 years ago purely for physically reasons- to help with problems i was having with my back. but there's so much more to it, i think it definately works on a mental level, relaxation, making you more open etc i'm really getting into meditation now- you should give it a go

Anonymous said...

I just want thank you, Jack, for this post and give a shout out to the commentors on this site who suggested bikram yoga. My roommate, neighbor and I all signed up last week, and I've gone every day since. I'm sore, but I can honestly say that nothing has ever held my undivided attention for 90 minutes before - and it's amazing! Thank you for the introduction to something that I feel will become a part of my own quest of simplicity.

getting stuff done said...

a big up marketing executive for a big up record company said to me, once, about 10 years ago, "you know, the hippies have really got it right - sooner or later, if you arent stupid, you come to realise that" he soooo was not a hippy. But he was right.

Yoga is the only excercise that doesnt bore me. and its the best all round work out you can do. strength and flexibilty.

and good for you for doing it. many men are scared off by the thought of it not being ' manly'. but in face the All Blacks rugby team do a sun salutation as part of their warm up - the coach just doesnt tell them that is what it is.....

Jack said...

@Donna,

Yeah, I would say that the relaxation stuff has been a rather nice little, unexpected bonus. I went originally to stretch and see how that felt. And yes, meditation is coming up next!

@Anonymous,

Cool! I'm in the same boat, so I guess we are definitely in the same boat. Getting into yoga more and more...weird...

@getting stuff done,

I am totally agreeing with you right about now. After several week of yoga I am a convert.

Jonna (aka mom) said...

Oh yoga is not a female thing alone. Not at all. It is a healthy body and mind thing.

Did you know that there were (are?) football players who had to do ballet? It works on the body in different ways just like yoga will do different things that weight lifting. The combination of the two should be beneficial.

Jack said...

@Jonna,

I've been finding the same thing. But you have to admit that it is still something that remains quite gendered in our culture.

Anonymous said...

Not surprised a weight-lifter had difficulty. I know buff cops who can't touch their knees without bending them. My brother knows a guy with the body of an Olympian god but can't touch his fingertips behind his back. Muscular strength and flexibility are two completely different mediums - and yoga gets even more complex when you throw in meditation, deep breathing and clearing your mind.