Last Updated on February 16, 2021 by Paul Farrell, MRP, JD, PhD
“To me, yoga is great physical training, not something spiritual or religious. I want to be as effective as I can be in my job. It’s results-driven. And the results are remarkable.”
– Bill Gross, Chief Investment Officer, PIMCO Funds $475 billion
“It’s helped me tremendously flexibility-wise, and the relaxation techniques calm me down’ which is particularly important on the mound.”
– Barry Zito, Giants Pitcher, Winner, Cy Young Award
Back in 1979, Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, one of the pioneers in the field of stress management, opened the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts. In a chapter of his 1990 ground-breaking book, The Full Catastrophe: Using the Wisdom of Your Body & Mind to Face Stress, Pain & Illness, Kabat-Zinn offered a strong endorsement of the meditative power of yoga:
“Yoga is meditation … during slow and gentle strengthening exercises, such as yoga and physical therapy, what people think of traditionally as ‘exercise’ is transformed into meditation.”
The popularity of yoga has grown dramatically in the past decade. Today there are more than 18 million yoga enthusiasts in the United States, compared to an estimated 3 million practicing America Buddhists. Yoga works, I know.
Yoga Meditation for Men – Today’s New Super-Sport
Until recently yoga had an image as a “women’s-only club.” Today, its popularity has exploded with men so much it’s annoying old-timers who were practicing yoga long before it became a super-popular “sport.” As Anne Cushman wrote a couple years ago in the Shambhala Sun, a Buddhist journal:
“Yoga has gotten to be so impossibly chic, so insanely popular… There are yoga dance clubs, yoga cruises, yoga singles parties; there’s disco yoga, aqua yoga, yoga kickboxing. Yoga teachers are the toast of Hollywood parties. Images of sultry young yogis and yoginis sell everything from lingerie to SUVs to luxury apartments in Trump Towers,” with women dominating the images.
Yes, “Real Men” Do Yoga, On Wall Street & The Pitcher’s Mound
So when John Capouya’s tough-guy book, Real Men Do Yoga, hit the bookstores a couple years ago, you could sense that a new wave was already changing, or rather adding to, the American yoga scene.
Capouya’s powerful message stands out among the other more traditional books on yoga. Yes, it has the traditional pictures of yoga positions. But what really jumps out at you are the impressive number of personal stories in Real Men Do Yoga, profiles from the world of professional sports as well as the real world of business and finance:
- Andy O’Keefe, owner, Wall Street brokerage
- Peter Scirios, architect
- Marty Stein, trade association executive
- Rob Eriksen, real estate developer
- David Cooke, assistant district attorney
- Ted Roman, building contractor
- Jonathan Kelley, restaurateur
- Ken Canfield, trial lawyer
Capouya’s book also has many profiles of professional athletes who are dedicated yoga practitioners.
- Shannon Sharpe, tight end, Denver Broncos
- Al Leiter, pitcher, New York Mets
- David Duval, PGA golfer
- Sean Burke, goaltender, Phoenix Coyotes
- Eddie George, running back, Tennessee Titans
- Robby Ginepri, tennis player, ATP Tour
- Amani Toomer, wide receiver, New York Giants
- Steve Reed, relief pitcher, Colorado Rockies
These profiles set the Real Men Do Yoga book apart from all the others. And like other yoga books it explains the standard yoga exercises, positions and movements – everything necessary to enjoy the benefits; balance, breathing, flexibility, strength, power, muscular, and energy. Capouya also adds his special recommendations specific to each individual sport.
Yoga Triggers Powerful Changes in Men
Walk into any bookstore and you’ll find a large selection of books on the body/mind mechanics of yoga. You can also go online, there are countless websites devoted to yoga. Either way you’ll find all you need to know on the fundamentals. But remember, yoga is an action-oriented meditation, merely reading a book about yoga is no substitute for a good teacher who will give you a head start and get you on the right path.
The basics you can learn; but hearing what a few “real men” have to say about the benefits is convincing evidence that it works! And that just might get you fired up enough to jump in with these real men and start practicing yoga. Here are a few of the powerful testimonials from Capouya’s Real Men Do Yoga:
Andy O’Keefe, Wall Street Broker, 44-Years-Old
“I’m married with seven kids. Been on Wall Street for 20 years. I’m the owner of a brokerage form: 110 employees. I’m 6’4”, 225 pounds. I’ve lifted weights for years and I run. I played lacrosse at college, and basketball, football in high school.
So I love sports. … I just thought yoga was: you sat there, meditated, stretched. That’s all. I thought it a weird Eastern thing. But that’s not true at all. … I feel stronger, more flexible.
And it’s helped me with my golf … Mentally, it kind of clears your head. You can’t think about anything, but what you’re doing while you’re in there. It’s a good escape for me.”
Marty Stein, Executive, 53-Years-Old
“In 1997, I was having some really nagging back problems. I was playing golf 3 to four times a week, and in order to play, I had to take 6 to 8 Advils—two before, two at the turn, and two after—and I was wearing back braces for support …
A masseuse convinced me to try yoga, and I went to around three classes per week and tried to do some every day and night at home. I immediately noticed a difference. I didn’t put on the brace or take Advil, and at the end of the day I felt fine …
It has a calming effect. I also realize that if I was in my car and got cut off, a couple of yoga breaths helped me from getting road rage and to just relax—it works in other areas of my life, too.”
Peter Scirios, Architect, 47-Years-Old
“I played semi-pro rugby for years—and yoga was the result. I was having a lot of problems with my neck and my knees, and I was taking 6 to 8 ibuprofen a day. Yoga was purely therapeutic; I gradually got myself off the painkillers and could walk normally again …
I think yoga allowed me to continue the things I enjoy—basketball, windsurfing, biking. I can keep up with guys 10 to 15 years younger than me. My body shape has changed drastically but I feel just as strong as I was. I have more endurance and weigh 30 pounds less.
Also, I’ve been an architect for 20 years and I was struggling with the beginnings of carpal tunnel syndrome from all the computer work and leaning over, and I have overcome that with yoga.”
If these guys haven’t sold you, wait and let the message sink in. At least buy Real Men Do Yoga and read the whole book so you got the whole picture. When the timing is right you’ll know in your gut if yoga is right for you, and whether this kind of moving meditation can make your life fuller – as physical exercise, preventative medicine, psychological balance and an uplifted spirit.
Yoga Warning: Addictive, Ageless and You Feel Great!
The rapid growth in yoga’s popularity is also due to the fact that it works so well as a basic exercise routine, without any religious overtones. In fact, Capouya confirms yoga’s secular emphasis by dealing with it in a casual throw-away line: “As for the spiritual thing, that’s up to you.”
But watch out, it may sneak in the backdoor anyway, without you even realizing it says Beth Shaw in the Los Angeles Times: “To do yoga and say you’re not getting the spiritual is like saying ‘I’m drinking milk but I’m not getting calcium.’ Spirituality is inherent in the practice.”
So don’t be surprised if yoga quietly reveals a new earthy spirituality within you at a deeper personal level, one that touches all of nature and is in tune with a universal force everywhere – an awesome power that you may well choose to keep private because words are inadequate to describe it.
One final note from Capouya’s encouraging, life-changing book: “Some of these men laughingly call themselves yoga addicts, and swear they’ll practice it for the rest of their lives. That’s another yoga advantage: You’re never too old to do it, enjoy it and benefit from it. More good news: You can start to see all the results in just two hours a week.”
And you thought meditation was for wimps? Not in this yoga-jocks club!
About the Author
Dr. Farrell is a Behavioral Economist. His books include The Millionaire Code; The Millionaire Meditation: Stress Management for Wall Street, Corporate America & Entrepreneurs; The Zen Millionaire; The Winning Portfolio; Expert Investing on The Net; Mutual Funds on The Net; and The Lazy Person’s Guide to Investing.
He also published 1,643 columns on DowJones-MarketWatch and for years was their #1 traffic-generating columnist. Before the Internet, he edited & published FNX: Future News Index, a financial newsletter for stock market traders. Earlier he was a Wall Street investment banker with Morgan Stanley, Executive Vice President of the Financial News Network; and Associate Editor of the Los Angeles Herald Examiner.
He has a Doctorate in Psychology, Juris Doctor, Masters in Regional Planning and Bachelor of Architecture. He worked on the Esalen organic farm and served in the U.S. Marine Corps as Staff Sergeant in aviation computer technology.