Growing up in a sports town like Boston, every kid is an aspiring professional athlete. While strolling thru the Santa Monica Niketown the other day I saw a t-shirt that sums up my adolescent athletic career, it read, “Talented but Lazy”. I was blessed with a degree of innate athletic ability, thanks in large part to my Dad, who was also a three-sport athlete in high school and starting cornerback for his college football team. However, like many young athletes, I relied solely on my god-given athleticism and loathed the part of practice that involved stretching or “warming up”. Looking back, had I committed to a long-term, disciplined health and wellness regimen in my youth, I probably wouldn’t be trying to lose twenty pounds now in my early thirties. But in your twenties, it’s hard to resist pizza and weed for breakfast. Had I simply diversified my training regimen to include yoga, I know I would have both extended my peak years of physical fitness as well as prevented the nagging injuries that annoy me now.
A couple months before my thirtieth birthday, I took a long hard look at myself in the mirror. The damage I had done to body throughout my hard-partying twenties was clear. Five years of college (yes, I partied HARD), had taken it’s toll on me and now on the eve of my thirtieth birthday I was looking at an individual who looked like he was turning thirty. In LA, we all know that looking your age is socially unacceptable, men are not exempt from this. I remember thinking multiple times in my early twenties, “All I need is a few weeks in the gym and I’ll be back to my fighting weight”. I hadn’t calculated that the older I got, the harder it would become to put the necessary sweat equity in the gym to loose the minor pudge.
One evening, while grabbing drinks with a friend, who is also a popular yoga teacher in LA, she encouraged me to attend her class the next day. My ego, the alcohol and the athlete inside me spoke up and agreed, no problem. Like any good salesperson that’s when she hit me with the catch. “It’s hot yoga”, she smirked.
I had heard horror stories of hot yoga and had no intention of knowingly attending a class for fear that I would faint or catch a nose bleed. I’ve since learned that most of these horror stories are urban myths, perpetuated by people who have never set foot inside a yoga studio. (*Except for the nose bleeding. I’ve personally witnessed a woman run out of a class tilting her head and applying pressure to her septum. It was horrifying.)
Prior to that fateful evening, I had taken one yoga class in my life. I was a member at Sports Club/LA and they offered a generic yoga class to members. My recollection of the experience is foggy. I remember hating both the instructor and the whole experience he was offering. The class felt like a task rather than the “meditative experience” promised in the online description. I left the gym that day thinking, “Yoga sucks. Never doing that shit again”.
However, after taking my first hot yoga class, I knew I was hooked for life. I describe hot yoga as “the intersection of focus and relaxation”. It is the beautiful experience of quieting the mind while at the same stimulating the body. There is no other activity in my daily routine that creates this type of complex, restorative energy. My hot yoga practice has become my secret weapon. I view yoga the same way I used to view weed in college, it just makes everything better.
I became so consistent and disciplined with my daily practice that I caught the eye of my sexy, blonde yoga instructor. We’ve been dating for over year a year now. A buddy of mine put it best when I first told him that I was dating my yoga teacher. He simply shook my hand and said, “You’re winning at this life thing”. Yeah, yoga did that.