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Real men Do yoga!

Published:Wednesday | January 26, 2011 | 12:00 AM
Dean Porter, a marketing executive, doing the warrior pose to increase quadriceps strength, release tension in the hamstrings and lower back and to focus the mind. - Contributed
Chris Reckord, executive director of Innovative Corporate Solutions and owner of Bin 26 Wine Bar, practises yoga at least once per week for exercise and to manage stress.

When I first started teaching yoga in Jamaica, about 16 years ago, it was rare to see a man in my class. Today, classes at Shakti have more men than ever before and they are loving it! Yes, real Jamaican men, from all walks of life, are doing yoga!

Men are tuning in to what yogis have known for centuries: that yoga not only improves flexibility and strength but helps lower back pain, reduces stress, improves whatever game you play, and charges up your sex life. Men are seeing the results of an exercise that is at once calming and challenging, dispelling the myth that yoga is for old ladies or sissies. Take William Watson, 44, advertising agency owner who took his first class a year ago.

"I was shocked how strenuous yoga was! Since practising, my strength and flexibility have improved immensely, but most importantly, yoga has taught me how to breathe. Through breathing, I'm more in touch with my inner being and I'm better able to refocus my energy to positive action," said William.

Also ask Chris Reckord, entrepreneur and owner of Bin 26 Wine Bar, said: "I practise yoga at least once a week for exercise, but most importantly for its spiritual, calming, stress-reducing qualities in this very high-stress business environment we work in. It has definitely helped me look at life differently!"

Hard-core exercise

A new Harris Poll commissioned by Yoga Journal suggests that men make up 23 per cent of America's 15 million yoga enthusiasts. Well, we are not quite there yet in Jamaica, but if returning resident Dean Porter has his way, we soon will be. This marketing executive who lived in Los Angeles, practises yoga every day and is shocked that Jamaican men still think yoga is a "chick thing".

"Yoga is a hard-core exercise and the best way to keep your body in shape, your mind sharp, and your energy levels rocking. Trust me! I need it to keep up with my wife who is 20 years younger than me," said Dean.

Focused breathing

So, if you are looking for a hard body and increased flexibility, yoga will give it to you. The combination of the postures with focused breathing makes yoga different. Lower body stretches such as the 'downward dog', help to release the hamstrings and back and upper body strengtheners such as the 'bow pose', help to open up the chest and shoulders.

Yoga is particularly helpful to athletes who use it for cross training. "After doing marathons over the years, I felt my body seizing up. I'd heard about yoga but was afraid to try it as I did not think I was flexible enough. Well, I now know that you don't have to be flexible to do yoga," said seasoned marathon runner Glendon Nam.

So men, this is the year to try something new. Get to Shakti and improve your life.

Sharon McConnell-Feanny is a certified yoga instructor and co-owner of Shakti Mind Body Fitness in Kingston. She has more than 25 years experience in health and fitness; email:

William Watson mastering the crow pose which builds extreme core strength and focus.

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