The Y chromosome.
It produces incredible beards, provides perpetual support for the power tools industry, and fuels 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 a 60-minute class at the Breckenridge Recreation Center recently, 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 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 yoga 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, Wilson 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 pseudo-Lamaze level, Wilson 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.
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.
As the Eastern music faded from the speakers and the still smiling instructor 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.
Reprinted with permission from blog.gobreck.com.