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A Male’s Guide to Yoga

by  V. Sheree Williams on May 31, 2012
A Male’s Guide to Yoga

On a recent episode of “The Game” on BET, viewers watched as Tasha and Pookie engaged in yoga as a way to connect and spend time together. Granted it didn’t last for too long and didn’t relieve Tasha’s stress but seeing a man, especially a black man, engage in an old art form of ying and yang was nice.

It not uncommon to see men in a yoga class or even as a yoga instructor but the goal of registered yoga instructor Juneous Pettijohn of Transforming U, LLC in 2012 is to challenge more men to use yoga as a tool for improving their overall health. “My philosophy is, if you can breathe, you can do yoga. Yoga is not about getting into pretzels, it’s about having a relationship with yourself,” says Pettijohn.

Currently living in the D.C. area, Pettijohn is a native of Cincinnati, Ohio who had never heard of yoga prior to relocating to the east coast in 2003. Armed with a degree in Public Health, he has always been an advocate for wellness.  “I started practicing [yoga] at home with the book.  For some odd reason it didn’t click for me in the beginning to go to the yoga studio or the gym.  It was maybe a year or two after practicing at home that it clicked for me to try it at the gym,” recalls Pettijohn.

The next time you are at the gym, take a peep inside a yoga class to see how many men are there.  With the possible exception of the instructor, bets are there aren’t that many.  This is something to ponder especially since yoga, as Pettijohn points out, was created by a man.  He also notes that it is practiced by professional athletes such as NBA star LeBron James.  “Going to a yoga class can be intimidating, especially for men. Going in there with a bunch of women, it may look nice but once you see them get into those poses and then it is like ‘Oh, I can’t do that.’”  Music mogul Russell Simmons admits that it was the “cute girls” and rap music that caught his attention more than 15 years ago when he tried yoga for the first time in his interview with Cuisine Noir last year. Today, it is a way of life for him and he has shared his passion for practicing yoga with friends and family.

Other African-American yoga instructors such as Dr. Marcus Lorenzo Penn in Oakland, California and founder of Self Care Reform, has been practicing yoga for more than six years and shares the same sentiments as Pettijohn. He adds, “It is really recognizing that the body is a temple, it is to be tended too.” Furthermore, he says that another way of looking at yoga is to call it conscious breath with movement.  “Sharing that conscious breath with movement is how we want to move about through life, consciously, breathing and moving.”

There are many, many benefits that both men, as well as women, can receive from incorporating yoga into their regular workout regime. “To me, I see it as a personal relationship with myself. It is a time for me to really quiet my mind and get my body right. It’s just only me and my yoga mat,” says Pettijohn.  He also shares that it has been a journey that has boosted his confidence, helped him to learn more about his body as well as appreciate himself more.

Pettijohn currently teaches yoga at the Spiritual Essence Yoga & Wellness Center located in Upper Malboro, Maryland at 13100 Brook Lane.  If a man is debating over whether or not yoga is a workout or why he should even practice, here are few benefits that he should consider:

  1. Yoga helps increase athletic performance
  2. Yoga helps to release stress
  3. Yoga helps to supplement workouts and enhance performance at the gym
  4. Yoga helps to lower high blood pressure
  5. Yoga is instrumental in increasing flexibility which is a concern for most men

And the last reason which may be the one to get men flocking into the nearest yoga class is that it can improve one’s sex life both mentally and physically.

But just as important as the benefits listed above, Pettijohn just wants more men to practice as a way of healing from the inside out.  It is about taking preventative measures to care from one’s self in the midst of a stressful schedule or lifestyle.

Pettijohn offers these guiding tips for men interested in giving yoga a try:

  1. Choose a style of yoga that works for you
  2. Wear yoga gear that fits comfortably - not too loose or too binding
  3. Bring your own yoga mat
  4. Always practice yoga on an empty stomach
  5. Go easy at first. Yoga is not a competitive sport.

For more information and a list and times of yoga classes taught by Pettijohn, visit his website at http://www.myyogalifecoach.com or follow him on Facebook.  The first class is free for all new students and is a great way to be introduced to the bodywork for the first time.

If you currently practice and want to take your workout up a level, check out our article on AntiGravity® Yoga.

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