9 Signs That This Man’s Yoga Secret is Out…

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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:

100 women,
• 3 men in colorful spandex
2 old hippies with excessive sun damage and
• me

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:

1) Bryan Kest has less hair.

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”.

•  Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi is taking yoga to scope out “juice-heads”.

•  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.

Photo Courtesy Ron Sombilon

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Mark Kreloff

Mark Kreloff is an entrepreneur in Boulder, Colorado.

He started his yoga practice 10 years ago with a “donation only” class in Santa Monica taught by Bryan Kest. To this day, it was the best class he has ever taken in his life.

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anonymous Jan 31, 2011 1:59pm

[…] […]

anonymous Jan 30, 2011 1:10pm

This is fantastic. I love it. Even though I find myself feeling a little bashful when I take a class that has a decent number of men in it (sort of like I used to feel at my high school dances), I hope that this inspires more of them to get out there and give yoga a try. I should make my boyfriend read this…

anonymous Jan 28, 2011 5:30pm

nice one mark!
love the cadence in this piece

anonymous Jan 28, 2011 2:12pm

the last one made me laugh out loud! nicely done markiz!

anonymous Jan 28, 2011 12:29pm

"In many of my classes the male/female ratio is close to 50/50" – i need to know where mark practices because the classes i go to are still hovering around 80/20, women being in the majority. and of that 20% male population, only .5% is single and straight.

    anonymous Jan 28, 2011 1:35pm

    joni…..come to boulder colorado. I did a head count last night in my level 2 vinyasa class and it was close, very close to 50/50.

anonymous Jan 28, 2011 12:05pm

Im just under half way into a month long yoga challenge and I just realized last night that I am the only young, single, straight male I have seen in my 19 classes. Yoga is still secret around here. Shhhhhh!!!!

Bob Weisenberg Jan 27, 2011 9:26pm

Love it, Mark! Look forward to more stories.

Bob W.
Yoga Editor

anonymous Jan 27, 2011 4:24pm

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Wholly Yoga, theyogatrap. theyogatrap said: 9 Signs That My Yoga Secret is Out. http://chtr.it/V5mSgH #yoga […]

Bob Weisenberg Jan 28, 2011 1:17pm

Thanks for writing, catlyn. Would love to see your story when you write it.

Bob W.
Yoga Editor

anonymous Jan 28, 2011 1:33pm


Start out with a level one class in a non-heated room. You can take a break anytime you want by resting in child's pose. Before you know it, you know the asanas and get into the flow……can't wait to hear more about your experiences.


anonymous Jan 28, 2011 2:32pm

Catlyn, I am a 51 yr old former gymnastics instructor and 500 hour yoga teacher. I broke my back 6 yrs ago and in the process of back surgery ,discovered 2 bulging discs, spondolitysis (dont know if I spelled that right), plus degenerative disc disease. I was certified by a lovely woman 10 years ago who is a certified Iyengar teacher. I feel like you should look for a class in the Iyengar tradition to begin with. At the start of class make sure you let your teacher know about your back. She will be able to modify poses to fit your particular needs. Most Iyengar studios even offer back care classes. Look around for a studio and let me know how it goes. And yes I still practice yoga , but simply because of economic reasons, only teach myself right now!!

anonymous Jan 29, 2011 9:33pm

Thank you very much! I definitely will write that story!

anonymous Jan 29, 2011 9:34pm

Thanks for the advice and reassurance! I am excited to give it a go, and have high hopes 🙂

anonymous Jan 29, 2011 9:58pm

I am very sorry to hear about your serious injury and back problems! You must know a lot about my challenges and even more so! I will try to inquire about the Iyengar tradition, though my small city might not offer that specific class. I will definitely mention that I received that advice from someone who is very experienced with yoga, and also has similar or worse physical problems than I have. I was planning on telling the teacher to please modify things in the beginning in consideration of my problems. I am seeking to improve on my physical self, and not hurt myself, and also hope to improve in other ways (every experience affects me in more ways than one ; ) I just know in my heart that strengthening all my muscles and stretching my muscles would be of help, and having a scheduled class will help keep me motivated, too. I did not mean to say I have not learned a lot from my old friends because everyone I meet has something to teach me, but, lately, I am feeling a push to get out there more, and meet new friends that I can learn even more from. Hopefully, I will be able to share some things I have learned also. Thank-you so much for your help!