Top 3 Yoga Secrets for Guys

A teacher of mine once told me: 'Using great force, you may defeat one enemy. Using little, you may defeat all enemies.'

He was a pretty smart and capable guy, and among many things, a formidable (retired) athlete. He was also a master of yoga. Not in the sense that he cared about contorting his body into odd pretzel shapes for entertainment purposes, but in the useful sense. He could accomplish anything he wanted, through being easy and controlled in his body and mind.

In my experience, this translates into pretty decent ability to live a good life. It also results in being able to climb at over 20,000 feet with no strength or cardio training aside from my yoga practice. And jump easily into triathlons and randonnee, similarly, nothing but yoga training. While this tactic doesn't help my tendency to sink in water, it works consistently for delivering some surprises on land.

Why is yoga so good for these things? Done right, yoga helps us clear the most challenging hurdles while staying easy and ready for more in our bodies. It's pretty rare that we need to run directly through a brick wall. In most athletic life, the ability climb over or run around that wall is more valuable than simple force.

Yoga practice gives us the ability to choose how we move, easily in any direction, for as long as we want. When you can be easy in your body and mind, you shift away from going to war against your tight immovable muscles, to doing with minimal effort whatever you can imagine. This means far greater endurance, as well as the ability to sustain power in any direction, for as long as you choose. Think easily pulling yourself and a 60-pound pack over that wall, rather than trying to hammer through it. Also useful for arm-wrestling.

How to get started?

Here are my Top 3 Tips for Transforming Power & Endurance with Yoga.

1) Breathe deep. Think of it this way: every breath in opens a door, every breath out lets you walk through. The more air you move, the bigger doors you can open. I got this one from Tara Stiles, who accomplishes great feats like she's doing nothing at all, in both her yoga and work life. It's all in her yoga practice.

2) Strong on the inhale, easy on the exhale. If you want to lift something heavy, rather than furrowing your brow, holding your breath, and demanding that your muscles make the first move... draw in a very full breath, letting your muscles follow while the air is moving. Similarly, if you want to sustain effort, take each exhale as a chance to drop out some of the effort you don't need, and get ready for the next strong inhale.

3) Make it yours. Yoga isn't all about the poses, so it doesn't matter what the person next to you is doing. You want to figure out how to move your body easily in any direction. So start easy. If you're tense and working hard right from the start, the smallest things will defeat you. If you stay easy and keep a sense of humor about things, soon enough the hardest-looking things will also come easy for you.

With great force and effort, you might hammer through a wall once. With great endurance and control over your strength, you can scale unlimited walls. Even ones as big as Denali.

Ready to learn more about how to unlock the power of food to heal your body, prevent disease & achieve optimal health? Register now for our FREE Functional Nutrition Webinar with Kelly LeVeque.

Michael Taylor

Co-Founder Of Strala Yoga & Tai Chi Expert
Mike Taylor is the co-founder of Strala along with his wife, Tara Stiles. He studied mind-body medicine at Harvard and complementary medicine at Oxford. Mike has practiced Eastern movement and healing, including tai chi and qigong, for more than 30 years. In his younger years, Mike challenged centuries of reasonable and well-tested martial traditions in hundreds of competitions by applying unruly imagination to a world where rules were unbreakable. His record established the strength of finding your own way in your own body rather than copying the techniques of other people’s traditions. As he got older, Mike continued on to medical applications of the mind-body connection in university. After running into walls with standard medical practice in the United States and England, he left his health care roots for a little while. As the first internet boom was getting started, he joined the startup team of one company, then founded a couple more. Now through Strala, Mike has found his way back to health care done right: helping people let go of stress in their bodies and minds, enable their lives, and become their own best caregivers.Mike has climbed some of the world’s largest mountains in Alaska, the Alps, and the Himalayas. He’s now a cyclist and runner and spends as much free time as possible exploring the backcountry on foot, skis, and snowboard. He lives in New York with his wife, Tara, and baby, Daisy.
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Michael Taylor

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