I will get to my “9 Signs…..” in a minute. First I would like to offer a little perspective: (if you really want to be spared the prelude, skip to the bottom of this post):
I started practicing yoga eleven years ago in Santa Monica, CA.
At the time, I was newly single and living in California for 6 months to work on a business deal. Lucky for me, my super-cool office was in an art gallery complex. Almost every night there was a party at one of the avant-garde galleries.
At a show for Los Angeles artist Bill Barminski, I met an attractive woman name Margaret. Later that evening, she agreed to join me for a casual dinner. Margaret and I talked about the things that brought each of us to LA and how we both had a “love/hate relationship” with the city (or as Los Angeles is often called: “72 suburbs in search of a city”). The subject eventually turned to yoga and specifically how her practice helped her maintain a state of “well-being.” I knew enough about yoga to fake my way through some of the conversation but admitted that I had managed to take only one yoga class in my life. It was in 1979 at a Hippie-Jewish camp in upstate Pennsylvania.
I guess she thought that my description of the Hippie-Jewish camp was somewhat charming because she invited me to take a yoga class with her the next morning. This class would prove to be a transformational experience for me (more on this in another post) and the beginning of a great love affair (I dated Margaret for another year but my yoga practice has endured to this day!).
In 1999, yoga was still evolving into the mega-industry that it is today. Long before Baron Baptiste and Sean Corn became pop-yoga stars, Bryan Kest was teaching something called Power Yoga on a donation-only basis in Santa Monica above a Radio Shack (in fact, he owns the Internet domain poweryoga.com). His classes were like a free-form Ashtanga practice and the ratio of women to men was 25 to 1. In a typical Bryan Kest class, there were:
Yoga was the best kept secret on the planet earth and I was pretty sure that this would last forever because my straight male friends thought that yoga was for “fruits and nuts”.
It wasn’t lost on me that Bryan’s rock star status in the yoga community afforded him an amazing lifestyle that included 1) a flexible work week, 2) an abundance of beautiful women that wanted to date him and 3) the physique of a tan and skinny surfer (with shoulder-length hair).
For the next 6 months, I took Bryan’s classes 3 to 4 times a week. Yoga became the focal point of my life and for the first time since I was a child, I found myself part of a community that had interests other than work.
Fast-forward eleven years and only a few things about my practice have changed:
2) My yoga pants are made of a space-age fabric that doesn’t absorb sweat.
3) There are way more straight men practicing yoga now.
Which leads me to my point. It is 2011 and men now appreciate yoga as much as women. In many of my classes the male/female ratio is close to 50/50. I no longer have a monopoly on being straight and sensitive.
Does more men taking yoga mean that the world is evolving? Or, could it be that all of these new “new-age” men have figured out that yoga can be pretty good for your social life?
With that perspective, here are 9 signs that my yoga secret is out:
• While relaxing before class, I am regularly startled by the sound of yoga mats that are unrolled with a loud “THWACK”.
• Is that a cashmere sweater that someone is wearing to class? Actually no, it’s a hairy back.
• The back wall of my studio is dented from high velocity handstands.
• New Pre-Class Ritual: Coconut Water is mixed with Creatine.
• “Chataranga Dandasana” means “20 pushups”.
• Yoga is no longer about being flexible. It is about meeting inflexibility with more hammer curls.
• The waiting area has installed a Sir Richard’s condom machine.
• Snatam Kaur has a swimsuit poster.