I was a hater. A fully-fledged jock that thought yoga was about as useful as a JumpSnap in my training. And I wasn’t alone. I think most guys fall within two groups when they’re asked about yoga: the first group will think of attractive women in tights, while the second group will think tie-dye, long hair, chanting and strappy sandals. This is another generalisation (but I’m willing to put money on it), but most men in both groups will view yoga as a women-only activity, see it as a threat to their masculinity, and don’t see any benefit for them. Even though I consider myself pretty much open to all kinds of training, I fell into the second group up until six years ago where I made my first appearance at a Bikram session at the famous Yoga Zone in Cape Town. I was a dyed-in-the-moisture-wicking wool a stereotypical gym guy (and arguably still am) but I had to admit – the session was brilliant in the way that it highlighted how bad my flexibility was in certain areas (damn you hamstrings). It also showed me the amazing levels of sweat that I’m able to produce, which is admittedly not a skill or ability I’m overly proud of. The Bikram session reduced me to a salty puddle of heavy breathing and less-than-graceful movement but it was worth it, and it overturned my bullshit macho attitude towards yoga. It also showed me that if you do your mobility and flexibility work properly, it’ll help you lift heavier and move better in any kind of sports movement. It’s very similar to what high level calisthenic work can offer you. Granted, yoga is not for everyone, but you do need to give it a chance before you routinely dismiss it and its potential in helping with your movement.
Since that historic sweat session, I’ve done a few classes at my box, as yoga was cleverly offered as a part time option, but those only lasted for a short while and unfortunately aren’t available any more. I’ve also tried a few one-off classes as part of my writing work. But most importantly, I’ve made mobility exercises part of my weekly homework, and I’ve tried to improve my range of motion in my lifts and gymnastic work (and my coach makes it part of our training). This also brings me to the focus of this post – Dylan Werner is the yoga instructor (or yogi) in these photos, and he makes brilliant online videos and does classes at a slick, upscale Equinox gym in Los Angeles. Part of his work requires hosting yoga camps at beautiful destinations around the world. The man has his life purpose waxed. And he’ll also help you overcome some of the yoga stereotypes.
What I like most about him is his varied background. He’s an Iraqi war veteran, a part-time musician, and trained in martial arts, wrestling and climbing before yoga. In fact, it was his martial arts training that led him to start yoga in 2001, and he started teaching in 2011 after 10 years of advanced movement training. He also drinks beer, lives on a beach, and focuses more on practical strength and balance gains, and less on the more flakey, esoteric parts of yoga. I also really like his work on handstands and arm balancing, and Equinox has done a great little feature on The 5 Arm Balances You Must Master.
I’m a fan. And you’ll be too after you see what he’s capable of. His body control is truly astonishing, and his two videos below reveal just how inspirational his skills can be. Watch the clips, then check his website out here.