May 2011

Yoga & Men: The Story of Dana

Dana counts increased flexibility and stress relief among the many benefits of yoga

by Dana Kamp

Outside of yoga I’m just an aging baby-boomer corporate guy who sits behind a desk all day or travels the globe for lots of meetings.

When you think ‘yoga,’ you likely envision lithe individuals twisting themselves into pretzels. That’s not me.

My first yoga class was shortly before my 48th birthday – so I guess you can say it was at least part of a mid-life crisis.

I’ve always been stiff – had never in my life come close to touching my toes – and a friend mentioned her yoga class to me. ‘Hmmm, yoga…’ I thought. Good for flexibility – maybe I’ll give it a try.

When I called the yoga teacher, I could already tell that I had little to fear. She suffered all of my stupid questions with…I don’t know…empathy and compassion? That was my first inkling that somehow yoga was different. I’ll spare the gory details of ‘Mr Stiffness Goes To His First Yoga Class’ except to say that by the end of class (although my performance wasn’t pretty), I felt really, really good – and it was not at all what I had expected.

What could have been an unmitigated disaster turned out to be a very profound experience in several ways.

  1. I learned that isn’t about my poses looking like the other students in class – because we all have different bodies (some very different!). It is about doing the poses with the body you brought with you.
  2. The class environment felt unexpectedly accepting. I wasn’t self-conscience about my limitations, even being in the front of the room (turns out what I thought was the back of the room was the front…). The teacher gave me her full attention — and helped me modify the poses to suit my body.

But the most profound experience for me was what yoga did for my mental state – I felt this amazing peace and mental clarity afterward. I signed up for one and then two classes a week – and did my best to never miss a one. I’ve been blessed with the most wonderful yoga teachers to guide me on my journey. When my first yoga teacher moved out of town, she suggested that I try classes with Leah. It was a perfect match.

Leah and Evergreen Yoga foster the wonderful, accepting environment that draw me to practice yoga. I still do my best never to miss a class. On the days when I’m feeling a bit off, I still go to yoga class. I know I will always feel better – mentally and physically – after the class.

If you need to be able to say, ‘Well if HE can do yoga, then so can I,’ then go ahead and point at me. I embrace my challenges – and I still welcome the extra attention it brings me in class!