Beyond Gym Yoga

Posted by Steven Russell on Friday, May 24, 2013

I started doing yoga at the gym. I’m not sure I would have ever gotten into yoga had it not been for the gym and my friend who convinced me to attend class there. It got me started. I can’t say I really began to understand yoga because of it. I went once a week or so. The room was always freezing because of the aerobics class right before yoga. I was thankful for the mirrors lining the walls so that I could see the teacher from all angles. The floor used to bounce because the studio was on the second floor, right next to a line of cardio machines. You could hear not only the yoga music the teacher played, but also the rock music blasting throughout the gym and the grunts from the meathead lifters that seemed to pride themselves on the animalness of their grunts and the amount of noise that dropping their weights would make.

I survived gym yoga for about a year when I met a male yoga teacher online who talked me into trying out a yoga studio. I searched online for a class at a studio nearby taught by a man. I wanted a male perspective on yoga since the classes I had taken were taught by a woman and attended almost always by women. I found one near Red Bank. I signed up for a beginner special where I paid a low price for three classes. I rolled out my mat in the warm, sunny, quiet studio and waited for the teacher. Dan soon entered the room. As class time came it was apparent that I was his only student. I then had an hour private lesson. It was great! We did a lot of things I had done in class before, but lots that I hadn’t. Not easy things, but things that didn’t seem impossible like the moves I had done at the gym class that required a lot of flexibility in the legs and hips that I and a lot of guys just don’t naturally have.

I went to quite a few of Dan’s classes. On one day soon after I had started attending his classes, there were about five women in the class with me. I was making what I would consider slow progress with yoga, but certainly faster progress than I was making at the gym classes. Dan instructed us to go next to the wall, come down on our forearms, and raise a leg up to the wall. The others in the class either refused to do the move, or were groaning and falling back down on their mats. I not only put one leg up to the wall, but both legs easily went up into what is called a forearm stand. Dan came over and said, “Wow, you’ve done this before!” I told him that I hadn’t but that it seemed fairly easy to do. For the first time I did something in a yoga class that none of the other students could do. That was a feeling that helped sustain me on my journey into yoga studio classes.


I stopped going to the classes at the gym, and ended up visiting quite a few yoga studios in my area. Although I teach occasionally in a studio, I do most of my practice at home now. I’m thankful to the many teachers and studios that inspired me to become a yoga teacher.

Steven Russell on June 9, 2013 at 12:00:29 pm said:
Since everyone brings to yoga feminine and masculine gifts, I don't know how yoga itself could be "too effeminate." Yoga is a process, an action. If someone were to be "too effeminate" whatever that is, I don't know, yoga can balance if not unite the feminine and masculine in a person. I know many women who practice yoga. I would love to have their strength, their stamina, their focus of mind. If those are feminine qualities, then I would love to be more effeminate. Come to my class. Also meet the women I know. Your impression of yoga and of effeminacy would change. You should see the guys I see who lift weights, too.
JackBlair on June 9, 2013 at 10:33:20 am said:
Yoga is too effeminate. No self-respecting man should practice it. Lift weights instead.

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