Becoming a better man through practice

I attended a hot yoga class every day for several weeks and struggled in 26 postures for 90 minutes in a room heated to over 40 degrees Celsius. I’m not very flexible and usually hate exercise. I’m certainly not a stereotypical “yogi”, it’s ridiculously muscular, has no fat grams, likes herbal teas, and is usually a woman (or, for men, sports men’s dumplings) ..

But one spring night, when my housemate asked me to come, I thought it would be fun to try it. When I stepped into the practice room, the heat was like stepping into a sauna. It was so oppressive that I couldn’t even think of being threatened by others. On the way, I really thought that I might collapse due to heat stroke.

However, the environment was also very comfortable and very supportive (the teacher only had words of encouragement when he could hardly do the poses that guided us). After that, I lay down on the mat I borrowed, exhausted and panting, and became more euphoric, and the next day, I woke up better than many years ago.

Fast forward to the present. I’m starting to fall in love, and the benefits are many.

My confidence has increased. Just finishing each class feels like a great achievement. Since you can only concentrate on your teacher’s instructions, you can reduce your COVID-related anxiety when you feel your brain melted and muddy. I learned the importance of self-love and body positivity. Each class has people of all ages, shapes and genders. It’s especially exciting to see older men who are bigger.

Increased confidence means that you can see yourself in the mirror without wearing a shirt. And just as sweat washes away toxins, I also felt toxic masculinity being washed away.

“One of the biggest benefits for men is stress relief,” said Lucinda Mills, owner and director of Sydney and Melbourne-based One Hot Yoga & Pilates.

“Women appear to be a little more willing to take care of their mental and emotional well-being, but many men are still pushing themselves until they are stopped. Hot yoga is strong It’s a sweaty exercise, but it also includes meditation and breathing, so it’s a kind of multivitamin for complete self-care. “

According to Johns Hopkins University, practicing yoga can improve sleep, help stress management, promote a healthier diet and habits, and promote a better body image. Harvard Medical School states that physical health benefits include lowering blood pressure, helping to lose weight by burning calories, increasing muscle tension, and improving endurance and flexibility.

“Heat dilates blood vessels, so more oxygen and nutrients move around the body as you practice,” explains Linda Carofano, who has been teaching hot yoga in South Australia for over a decade.

Jody Peterson, who has been teaching Bikram (a type of hot yoga) in the suburbs of Brookvale in northern Sydney since 1998, says much more.

I lost a lot of weight in the first year of practice. But perhaps more than physical activity was routine.

Benjamin Lorr, author of Hell-Bent

“Men love it because it’s a physical and mental challenge. They feel like they’re training without causing tension or stiffness.”

Benjamin Law, author The end of space-timeAbout his own experience of hot yoga, praised by things like New York Times And Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, pray, fall in love), You can prove it.

“I lost a fair amount of weight during the first year of practice,” he says.

“But perhaps more than physical activity was routine. The consistency of yoga practice creates a great feedback loop that allows you to watch your progress at sufficient intervals so you don’t lose hope or stall. . “

Lorr also has a strong view of men who dismiss yoga because of the thoughts of others.

“I think people who refuse yoga because they aren’t masculine look pretty ridiculous.”

He has a point. Male celebrities such as David Beckham, Daniel Craig, and George Clooney are known for practicing hot yoga on a regular basis.

One Hot Yoga’s Mills states that more and more men are taking classes in recent years.

“I think gender-reducing ideas are generally broken, and one of the very small and very nice parts of it is that men don’t feel yoga is for women. “

She believes another reason is the growing awareness of the importance of self-care, especially in COVID.

“We can love and accept others only to the extent that we love and accept ourselves,” Mills explains.

“Yoga is especially useful for hot yoga because it teaches us two basic components of love and acceptance. First, the perception of thoughts and emotions when they are happening, and then we think of them. And not feelings.

“Once we begin to experience it, we can begin to act rather than react to others in a way that is in line with our goals and values.”


Lorr agrees.

“Almost all forms of meditation, which keep the brain stationary and prevent it from flying around, make room for the actual calm and stable self to stand up. The room is the first step to love oneself. It looks like. “

During Daṇḍāyamana Jānuśīrṣāsana (“head-to-knee pose”), it may never be possible to have the lifted legs perfectly parallel to the floor, but that’s okay. Being a better person is partly getting used to yourself. I don’t know if this can be easily learned without hot yoga.

Ben Mack is a writer from North Plains, Oregon, who lives in Wellington, New Zealand.

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