As you probably know if you're a regular reader of MindBodyGreen, men and yoga is a favorite subject of mine. And one of the leading men in yoga is Baron Baptiste. Baron talked to us about growing up in a yoga family, kids and yoga, men and yoga, and giving back through his yoga for multiple sclerosis program and Africa Yoga Project.
MBG: You grew up in a yoga family -- can you tell us about when you first got serious?
BB: My parents were my first teachers. They had a yoga center and health food store in San Francisco in the 1950’s. My parents were both teachers. In fact, my mother still teaches today. I met Mr. Iyengar at a dinner party with my parents while he was in California. He and I immediately connected and he invited me to his workshop for his teachers. Mr. Iyengar lit a fire in me that is still burning.
Yoga and kids... Why is this important? Do your own children practice? Any tips for parents?
I wrote My Daddy Is a Pretzel when my youngest son, Malachi, was 5, and he’s now 11. My two older sons are 17 and 14 and are incredible athletes. We all practiced more together when they were younger, but now they are finding their other physical expressions -- skiing, basketball, football, etc. As parents, I believe that being connected to our own bodies and our own yoga practice sets a key tone for our kids. Getting them grounded into their bodies at an early age will help serve as a foundation for their lives. My bottom line advice for parents is if you pour yourself into something and show dedication, your kids will be inspired…. kids do what we do, not what we say.
Men and yoga -- What's the biggest misconception men have about hitting the mat? When you worked with the Eagles, what was that like?
Transitioning from teaching yoga in Beverly Hills to being a peak performance coach in the NFL was huge! My biggest lesson from my time as a coach is the power of yogic principles when authentically applied to life.
The biggest misconception I think men have, and many people have in general, about yoga is that you won’t be good at yoga if you are not flexible. For me yoga is about flexibility of mind, and conditioning the body to be in balance. Also, typically guys don’t like to do something they are not good at. I often see men try yoga once, and in that class they notice how skilled all the women around them are and their egos kick in. It can be humbling, but also empowering, to try something new and different. My experience is that most men get hooked into a stronger style of practice like Baptiste Yoga because, like me, they connect with the physical power of the practice. The men (and women) that get into a routine, learn quickly how the results of yoga practice have positive impact on every area of their life and therefore it keeps them coming back and opening up to new possibilities in body and spirit.