1. My guy friends were like, “What are you going to get from one hour of yoga? You’re not going to grow legs at Bikram.”
It’s different from going for that neuromuscular shock when you’re whimpering for dear life in the sixth or seventh set of your deadlift two-rep max. Yoga develops core strength. Besides the lack of peer support for guys doing yoga, there are mental skyscrapers to overcome before stepping into a yoga studio for the very first time. It’s intimidating especially you’re venturing into uncharted, “female-dominated” territory. Feeling as bare and vulnerable as your two naked feet, you’re dizzy with thoughts like, “what if I can’t lift that leg up and shove it behind my torso?” and the classic “my stomach feels weird, I better not fart later,” way before the 40 degree Celsius heat sets you into a flaming Bikram torch.
2. Men are from Mars, women are from Venus. Yogis are from?
Society at large perceives yoga and Pilates associated with the fairer sex, while masculinity equates to barbells, lentils, and kettle bells — anything that’s heavy and contains iron (thanks to CrossFit, this is changing). It is noteworthy to mention that yoga was first practiced by male yogis in India. When yoga proliferated in the west, most adopters were female, and the model with bun-up hair and mingy tights, in aesthetically-pleasing poses, started appearing insidiously on advertisements and other media. A lot of yoga happens within, not externally; yoga has to be experienced to be understood. Be it running, CrossFit, ballet, Parkour, or Candy Crush, it’s all good — as long as you keep it real.
3. Quinoa, bananas, and kale. Where’s the chicken fillet?
Left-wing fitblrs and vegans will declare that as a blasphemy to the #veganlife or #lifeofayogi. If wolfing down protein shakes and tasteless chicken breasts cooked with nothing but sea-salt have become an immensely gratifying part of your daily life, you’ll probably believe that your body will enter into catabolisis and start digesting itself, should it receive zero meat-sourced protein within an hour of completing an intense workout. Harvests such as oatmeal, quinoa, and oh-so-glorious kale are fine with me, which will be readily consumed by the acres, if ethically-farmed cows and chickens threaten to go on the brink of extinction.
4. These shorts are getting atrocious. Now, where do I get a pair of those man-tights?
This is a headache. For every eight pieces of female yoga-branded apparel, there’s only one or two for men. Remarkably, it also takes a manhunt operation to solicit for a pair of elusive yoga man-tights on the internet (you wouldn’t fancy going upside down in sirsasana in those yoga bell-bottoms, I promise). In today’s context of an image-conscious, clothing-worshipping society, going bare essentials like an Indian yogi won’t do. I wish they had more choices for men’s yoga apparel.
5. Nobody gives a sh*t, and that’s awesome.
In yoga class, 1) you’re either greeted with compassionate smiles, 2) offered a few polite words, or 3) nobody bothers you. Minutes before class begins, a grey-haired retiree exhales into downward facing dog; a young executive settles into padmasana, meditating quietly; everybody is busy delving into their inner universes, milking everything from that sixty minutes of intimacy with their Stinky Cushies. It’s when you realize nobody really cares too much about what’s going on around them, that helps you get comfortable with yourself, what you do on the mat, and your own body.
6. Sorry for party rocking.
As gravely unapologetic and un-yogic as it may sound, my life does not feature a soundtrack consisting primarily of Sail Away by Enya (not that there is anything wrong with Enya), a two-hour soundtrack of Sounds of Nature, or a kitchenette of Tibetan singing bowls. I’m a Hardwell, Tomorrowland fan, with an occasional penchant for wine appreciation, rowdy beer get-togethers, and sofa-standing, champagne shower parties. Oops.
7. I am still, well, a good yogi.
Whether I’m a herbivore, a beer-chugger, or an avid reader of the Yoga Sutras, when I show up on my mat to unify my body and mind, staying fully-present for that hour, I know I’m a good yogi. If I choose to refrain from judging by the preferences and beliefs of others, and always try to keep an open, compassionate heart, that passes too. I’m not an “Ohm” chanting, enlightenment-seeking being — just someone who’s trying to discover himself through yoga practice, swearing occasionally on things like missing the bus and the g*ddamn weather.