It produces incredible beards, provides perpetual support for the power tools industry, and powers high-octane sports leagues such as NASCAR and MMA. That bit of genetic material is the reason that I will not consult a road map nor accept directions to a destination. My “Y” keeps me detached from the emotion of romantic tales such as “The Notebook,” as well as from the rationale behind putting the toilet seat down after every use.
It would seem that the root of all things man, the Y-Chromosome, would be at odds with the modern institution of yoga. After all, yogis prefer meditation to explosions, soymilk to beer, and a balanced approach to fitness over the oft injured one-dimensional power-lifting machismo that is the male approach. And yet, after last Friday’s 60 minute class at the Breckenridge Recreation Center, I found myself content and comfortably calm. That’s right, I went to yoga as a man; and I enjoyed every minute of it.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t speak Sanskrit and don’t really care to start. And spandex, while an interesting style when wrapping the female form, won’t replace the flannel shirts in my closet. However, investing an hour of time in an activity that will increase my body’s longevity and relax my cluttered mind is something I — and all men — can stand behind.
Breckenridge offers several options for the beginner yogi. While I chose to attend one of the the Breckenridge Recreation Center’s eight weekly classes, both Meta Yoga Studios and Summit Hot Yoga have studios in Breck that offer daily classes.
Walking into a yYoga class for the first time proved a unique experience. All around the softly lit wooden floor studio sat fit women on thin, blandly colored roll-out mats. The understood dress code involved subtle variations of brightly colored tank tops and form-fitting black capri pants. Hidden speakers filled the quiet space with soothing sounds of Eastern instrumentals. There was a different and inviting calm about the atmosphere, an encouraging benevolence. Our instructor for the class was Monica Wilson, a slender and athletic woman with a perpetual smile and a pension for pushing the pausing participant.
Before I had time to realize the relevance of clean socks in a non-shoe activity, Monica dimmed the lights and encouraged the 14 female and two male participants to settle into the moment, releasing any distracting thoughts and preparing our stressed bodies for the forthcoming activity. As the breathing of my neighbors intensified to a psuedo-Lamaze level, Monica introduced the session’s first sequence of movements, previously only seen in grade school games of Twister. She guided the class through a series of bends, squats and positions intentionally selected and seamlessly blended to promote flexibility, balance and coordination within our rapidly firing muscles.
My skepticism of the potential fitness gains of yoga quickly faded away as the burning of my fatiguing quads and tiring triceps intensified. Each time this wave of positive pain came close to a breaking point, the frustratingly fresh and untiring Monica would bring the class into a new sequence of movement, allowing tired and sweaty bodies just enough of a transition to remain in a comfortable state of focused pain.
And so the class went for an hour: Shoulders, abdominals, hips, and legs stressed and stretched passed their previously understood limits. As we cooled down from the session’s more intense periods, I realized that somewhere between the positions of “downward dog” and “warrior 3” I had let go of my first-timer insecurities and become part of the group. Indeed, while I was quite conscious of the incredible abilities and flexibilities of my female neighbors’ bodies at the beginning of the class (and the limitations of my own muscular male form), by the end of the hour, all participants were in the same state of self-motivated fatigue and internal calm.
As the Eastern music faded from the speakers and the still smiling Monica thanked us for our participation, I rose from my mat. The sweat saturating my shirt, and the fatigue slowing my body reminded me that yoga is more than an exercise in deep breathing and meditation. Indeed, it is a whole body encouragement that anyone, man or woman, can stand behind. Now if I could only find a beer to satiate my incredible yoga-generated thirst …