Like it or not, yoga is still largely regarded as a feminine pursuit.
Most Western men see it as a stretch class at best, but would still have to be coerced onto the mat by a girlfriend. Or be assured that nobody they know saw them. Either through ego, the fear of the unknown or simply wanting to spend their time doing other exercises, yoga often gets neglected.
As a rugby player and weight lifter, I spent many years experiencing the same feelings.
It was only when I was facing issues in the gym with tight muscles and shorter recovery times, I decided to explore yoga and see how it could help.
Of course, yoga helped immediately from the get-go, and I was lifting heavier than I ever had done.
After a short while, I wanted to explore yoga further so I decided to do a Yoga Teacher Training.
Being a 100kg, weight lifting yoga teacher, just may be the key to getting a different demographic onto the mat.
While I will never claim to be the best teacher out there or particularly magical, I do have a little more practical knowledge about the problems facing gym bunnies and crocked sportsmen.
Inspired by my training as a Baron Baptiste teacher and a CrossFit Mobility practitioner, all supported by my Bikram practice, I began teaching a yoga flow class designed to improve the overhead position, the squat and the hip hinge. These three positions carry over into absolutely every movement needed in the gym or on the field.
Over time, improving range of motion and being able to exert force in these positions became the true intention of my teaching and Yoga For Lifters was born!
As a former loosehead prop on the rugby field, I learned the importance of having a surplus of movement through your entire body.
Whether you’re scrummaging, tackling or side stepping (which I very rarely did) you need to be able to exert force in all positions. If you can’t, you won’t be a very effective player. The same is true for all other sports: if your range of motion is poor, then you aren’t performing to your maximum potential.
As a personal trainer, a CrossFit coach and athlete, I’ve learned that the more efficiently your body can move, the greater success you’ll have in the gym.
If you can’t comfortably squat, deadlift, pull-up or overhead press, you will be fighting an uphill battle. But if you’re a mobile monster, you’re giving yourself an advantage over all your competition
If your goal is body transformation; the healthier the body, the more work it can do and therefore more change can be achieved!
A flow class allows the body to move through planes it probably hasn’t used for many years.
Like a rusty door that’s been left shut for a long time, the hinges start to move — slowly at first.
We warm the body through sun salutations and other flows specific to the classes’ intended position (upper body, squat or hip hinge) and then once the muscles and joints are malleable, we strengthen the deeper ranges of motion.
There is no point being flexible if you can’t exert any force in those end ranges of motion. From there, once the body is warm and the core muscles have been engaged, we settle into deep, extended stretches.
Moving beyond the physical aspect of the class, I attempt to create a stepping stone towards the other limbs of yoga.
It’s a chance to talk about the power of breath, letting go of the ego and gratefulness, to students who would usually never experience yoga. To some it will remain a stretch class, but hopefully some people will have the breakthrough I had a year ago and begin to experience yoga for all that it is.
Written by: Dyl Salamon
Dyl can be found teaching his aptly titled Yoga for Lifters class in locations around London. More info can be found at his page