If you're already practicing yoga or are being drawn to yoga out of a driving fascination, then you don't need to be convinced that it is for you. But if you're like a lot of men, especially of the "macho" variety or a guy who's addicted to weightlifting or vigorous athletic sport, you may be a bit skeptical or even apprehensive about approaching a practice of yoga. You may feel that it's a practice for women, wimps, or spiritual escapists. Or you may feel a different kind of apprehension—a fear that you won't be able to do yoga postures as well as other men who have been practicing for a long time, or will be viewed with contempt as a yoga "outsider."2
While such fears are natural, they shouldn't keep you from pursuing yoga. It is true that in recent Western history, yoga has been practiced more by women than by men. However, throughout the history of yoga, many of its practices, particularly the physical postures of hatha yoga, were reserved exclusively for male practitioners. An increasing number of men today are discovering and embracing the vibrant power that yoga has offered men for thousands of years. And frequently to their surprise, they are finding that yoga can provide a complete workout for body, mind, and spirit that can enhance their performance in other physical activities and even replace or spice up that boring old gym workout. Indeed, no less an icon of virility than Richard Gere, once named "Sexiest Man of the Year" by Time, has reportedly traded in the workout bench for a yoga mat.3
You don't have to go to the extreme of giving up your everyday athletic activities to benefit from the strengthening, toning, and centering benefits of yoga, though. Many professional athletes find yoga a powerful way to enhance their own physical performance: The Florida Marlins benefited from a yoga coach during their 1997 season, when they won the World Series.4 Many other accomplished athletes swear by yoga, as well. In the following sections, you'll find just some of the ways in which yoga can help enhance your ongoing athletic and fitness activities.
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