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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Dudes Don't Do Yoga?

Wow!  My titles just keep getting better!  I should be in advertising.  Actually, considering the E-Trade baby commercials, I'd probably do pretty well.  Although I'd probably take the Go Daddy approach to marketing and have all my commercials feature Danica Patrick taking her race suit off.  That never seems to get old for some reason. 

I wonder if she always wears her bikini under that suit.  I hear it's hot under those things.

Yes, my blog DID need a picture of Danica taking off a race suit.  If I could swing it, I'd have a blog post devoted entirely to that hot little midget.  If nothing else, it balances out the gayness of my post that included a picture of "The Situation".  And there's a lot of material to choose from.  That girl will drop her pants for just about any sponsor.  Although it's not enough to make me want to watch cars go around in a circle for two hours.  Maybe if they crashed on purpose...


The tightness in my leg finally got the best of me, and I did the smart thing and went to the sports doctor (as smart as it is to go to the doctor over a month after your symptoms first start).  For those who didn't read my last epic life update, I have had tightness in my left calf and IT band since early February.  I thought the doc would just tell me I have a sore calf muscle and tell me to take it easy.  Instead, he told me I have a stress reaction in my fibula, and I was probably a few tough workouts away from a stress fracture.

I've never broken a bone in my life, and I'm not about to start.  So my ass has been firmly planted on the couch for the past week.  The doc has forbidden any activity with a lot of impact, like running and walking longer distances, for at least a week.  But he was cool with stuff like yoga.

Now I understand that to dudes, yoga is somewhat of a taboo subject.  It's like wearing pink, or watching The Bachelor, or talking about your feelings (all of which I do by the way...Michelle for Bachellorette!).  I'm not really sure why yoga shares space with those things.  Maybe it's because you have to wear those unflattering stretchy pants and bend over a lot.  Men aren't generally endowed with Patrick Swayze style flexibility (is it too soon for Patrick Swayze jokes?).  And bending over is only something we do if the remote falls on the floor.   

You know you want to say, "Nobody puts Baby in a corner."  Just let it out...

Maybe it's because it's a physical activity that doesn't involve tackling anyone, lifting large objects, or generally doing things that women can't do as well.  My theory is that men don't like yoga because women are just plain better at it.  Our defense mechanism in that situation is to label the activity stupid and not participate.  That's one of the reasons why us guys don't play volleyball.  The other reason is that we don't want to wear those really tight shorts.


This is why I had season tickets to women's volleyball in high school.  The shorts...not Asians with four-foot verticals. 

I'm attracted to yoga for the same reason that I'm attracted to a lot of Eastern practices.  I was the child of hippies.  While my mom wore a white dress to their wedding, my dad wore a cowboy hat and a deer-skin fringe jacket.  He played a guitar and bongo solo for the opening song in their wedding reception.  You wouldn't know it from all of the Eddie Bauer I own today, but I think that's awesome.  I kind of went through an Abercrombie revolution in college...I was in a frat after all.  And again...I did what I had to do to get laid.  But in high school, I listened to those jam bands like Phish whose songs were never shorter than 20 minutes, and always included a 9 minute guitar solo.  I often wore outfits that made me look eerily similar to Shaggy from Scooby Doo. 

Bottom line: a part of me likes all that peace and love crap.  I embrace the internal aspect of yoga whole-heartedly.  Even if I didn't, I don't get why guys wouldn't love an activity where 99% of the participants are bendy members of the opposite sex, and one of the most often-used poses involves hinging at the waist in your general direction. 

Usually you have to fold a dollar lengthwise to see something like this.  Of course in that situation you end up leaving a dimly lit bar covered in glitter and shame. 

Getting into yoga

So back in my college days I started learning about the art.  Like most Americans, I knew nothing about it.  So I went onto Amazon.com and started buying videos with hot women on the cover.  That way, even if I didn't like doing the exercises, at least I'd be entertained.  But seriously...when I first started, the only thing I knew about yoga I knew from Dhalsem on Street Fighter II. 

I'm more of a Blanka guy actually when it comes to SF2.  That little green dude is bat-shit crazy! 

Anyway, I didn't expect that yoga would make me able to have Go-Go Gadget legs and be able to levitate or anything.  I did expect it to be a bunch of stretching your feet over your head, sitting cross-legged, saying "om", and picking the colors for your "meditation room".

I found out that it's not just about flexibility.  It's more of a workout for your total self; your strength, your flexibility, and your inner self.  Yoga is all about balance.  Strength and flexibility.  Exertion and relaxation.  Inner and outer self.  Just as often as you're in a pose where you're reaching down to touch your toes, you're in a deep lunge for so long that your legs are shaking. 

The first yoga workout I ever did was from the video Power Yoga with Rodney Yee.  The video includes an hour-long traditional Hatha Yoga workout consisting mostly of standing poses, with a few backbends and deep stretches thrown in.  Within the first ten minutes, my legs were burning.  But at the same time, I felt okay about it.  I felt very relaxed and peaceful.  My breath was a bit labored, but deep and even.

By the end of the workout, I felt like I had worked my legs to the same extent as I would in any weight lifting routine.  But instead of feeling stiff and sore, my limbs felt rubbery and limber.  I was exhausted from the stress of the workout.  But at the same time, I also felt powerful and exhilarated. 

I was so jazzed up from the workout that I couldn't go to sleep until 2am the next day.  Good thing Spike TV always has bad action movies on at that hour.  I've never been that pumped after a workout.  Usually a good workout will have me sleeping on the couch within a few minutes.       

Yoga for balance

For a while, yoga became my cardio to supplement my strength training.  In a sport that makes it hard to rest your arms at your sides, I also thought a bit of flexibility was warranted.  But as I took up running again more seriously, it dropped out of my repertoire. 

I ran pretty much injury-free up until last June, when I caught a nasty bout of IT band syndrome (ITBS).  It's something that I occasionally struggle with to this day.  As much as I hate the way that it makes my knee feel, I credit the injury for bringing my mind back to this great activity. 

After I was unable to kick ITBS on my own, I went to a physical therapist to see what they could do for me.  My running therapist taught me an important lesson about muscle balance.  Her theory was that my ITBS was caused by a weak left-glute, which was causing me to rely more heavily on my IT band while running.  As I ramped up the mileage, my IT band began to fatigue and eventually became inflamed.  She prescribed a series of glute strengthening exercises to whip my body back into shape.

I hadn't really thought about it before, but I was missing a critical part of my workout routine.  I did the strength training and put in the miles so that I would have the endurance and strength to finish a race strong.  But I wasn't really doing anything to prevent injuries.  In fact, as I sit here today nursing a different pain in my leg, I just feel like I'm jumping from injury to injury...caused mostly by overtraining and bullheaded stupidity, but also by muscle imbalance.

I've been doing yoga almost daily for several weeks now, and I love the way it seems to put my body back in alignment.  I perform better during running and strength training because yoga gives me better posture, more range of motion, and stronger, longer muscles to work with. 

It also adds an extra dimension of calm to my daily life.  After a stressful day at work, there's nothing I want to do more than bust out a few miles of running.  That certainly puts me at ease after the fact.  But I've noticed myself adopting the relaxation techniques of yoga throughout my day.  I'm doing more deep breathing, and bringing my mind back to center during stressful situations.  I have a deeper calm about me. 

It makes my evening runs less cathartic.  But that's not necessarily a bad thing.  Instead of thinking about all the crap that's happened during the day, I'm focusing more on the sheer joy of running.  I like that a lot.

Hopefully yoga will become a critical part of not just my workout routine, but my every day life.  It truely is an amazing art and practice.

And in conclusion...more Danica in a bikini.


Thank you yoga.  And THANK YOU, Danica Patrick!  Cheers!


  1. Wow, good thing you went in and got it checked out. A few weeks of bending over, deep breathing, and wrapping yourself up like a pretzel is nothing compared to the depression that would set in over a stress fracture!
    In all seriousness, yoga is great. I like it a lot and have a lot of respect for those who can focus their minds. I have problems being still enough to really enjoy it. It's just SO quiet.
    There's a a guy that used to come to my yoga class that was really buff and could hold some pretty awesome poses. It's not always for guys in pink. He was amazing!

  2. Yoga - fire!

    What's with every runner/blogger I know/follow getting injured this winter? You, Anton Krupicka, Chris from "Chris's ultra blog", 6(!) of my Boston marathon training partners. I'm hanging in there so far, but am battling the ghost's of knee surgery past. Maybe I should take up a safer sport like lawn dart dodge ball.

  3. I wouldn't call myself injured. I definitely think I dodged an injury though. My doc cleared me for running after a week of rest, and I'm actually back out at half my normal mileage without any pain.

    Glad I was placed before Anton Krupicka in your list of injured people though. I am much more awesome than all of those guys ;)

  4. Hahaha! The Down Dog! I could hold that pose forever it's so relaxing. Its my favorite yoga pose! Or as you put it, the pose that "Usually you have to fold a dollar lengthwise to see something like it." LOL! I agree yoga is an amazing practice. I would love to pick it up again one day. I could definitely use it.

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