It can’t be denied. Guys who practice yoga are hot. And awesome. Girls get swoony and boys (who have an appreciation for yoga) bro out: “Dude, that’s sick. Lemme see your Handstand!”
I happen to be friends with two of the COOLEST guys to ever practice yoga: Tommy Tadasana and Down Doug. It was high time for a male perspective on all things yoga…as well as a few unearthed secrets, unmentionables mentioned, and answers to the questions no one ever asks (heh, but you know I will!). So I sat down with my favorite yogi duo and got the yoga dude deets.
THE MANLY SIDE OF YOGA (the low-down with Tommy Tadasana + Down Doug)
1. You two are fellow pseudonym-ees…unless of course there really are people with the last name Tadasana and parents who think it’s a good idea to name their kid “Down.” Do the noms de plume come from your fave yoga poses? How did they come to be?
TT: I just jumped onto Doug’s asanawagon, as it were. He had started the blog and I asked him if he thought it would be interesting to have a brand new yogi’s perspective on the site to counter his more mature and seasoned practice. I was on board with the spirit of the site — which was yoga from a guy’s perspective with a sense of humor. He gladly accepted me, and I realized I needed a pseudonym, too. I like alliteration: Sonny Salutation, Sammy Savasana, and Chico Chaturanga were other considerations. But Tommy Tadasana seemed perfect. And I do like Tadasana as a pose. It’s fundamental. And it lets me keep my head in the clouds as a creative dreamer, while (trying) to remain grounded and focused in the rest of my life. Stable. Strong. Balanced. (I’m none of those things, but aspire toward them.) And thus, Tommy Tadasana was born.
DD: I always try and error on the side of comedy, so as opposed to using the super Jewy name my parents gave me, I opted to create a yogic persona that spoke of both humor and asana practice.
2. What brought you to yoga? Also, tell us about your first yogic experience and the dialogue that was going through your head.
TT: I blogged about some of this (and not anything since). My first yoga experience was at a lecture given by a writing student who claimed her practice improved her work. I was in need of discipline, focus, and peace in my work and family life, and with the beat up body of a lifetime weekend warrior — plus celiac disease and asthma — I had some physical strengthening and healing to do. So, I spoke to Down Doug, he encouraged me, and I gave it a shot. I like to try different things; I get bored easily and need new challenges. I’ve been at yoga 10 months now, with a few fits and starts, but I think I’ve seen real progress — more physical than mental, so far. The brain/emotional part seems much harder to train than the body. And unfortunately, my monkey mind often speaks these things in my head as I practice: “I suck. I’m going to pass out. She’s so hot. There can’t possibly be one more ounce of sweat in my body. My career is in the toilet. I should be writing. Man, I wish I was eating something. Who am I going to start at running back in my fantasy football league?” You know, the same stuff that occurs to everybody else, right?
DD: My wife grew tired of my of continual whining about an aching back (from distance running) and had been suggesting I go to yoga for years. I finally went, found it came quite naturally, and now she gripes about me getting to go to all the good classes (I can sneak away during the day) while she’s at work. I kind of knew immediately after my first class that this was the thing for me. That said, I got lucky and took my first class with a really great teacher.
3. What are the gender-specific challenges a guy faces in a yoga class?
TT: I worry about my armpit hair. Seriously. I externally rotate my arms off to keep from showing the pits. (And I trim back the foliage every now and again, too. Hey, I spent 10 years shaving my legs, so I’ve got no issue with manscaping.) I’m not very advanced in my practice yet — not at all, really — but other than the doing the splits, I’ve yet to see a woman do something I don’t think I could eventually do. As the abominable yogaman, I have a high center of gravity, and men’s are higher than women’s anyway, so sometimes balancing twists are hard for me. But, like the ladies do with theirs, I think it’s important for dudes to keep the moving parts no one wants to see secure at all times, so I wear spandex under my shorts.
DD: Balls! They are unavoidably in the way at all times. I got a pair of these tight-fitting, anti-moisture undies, the sort they sell in Macy’s for too much money. And while they make me feel slightly gay (not that there’s anything wrong with that), they do a great job of keeping the boys close to home. Forgot the name of the pose, but that rocking horse pose thingy is a definite ball-buster!
4. Truth time. Do you find it easy or hard to stay focused in a class full of hot and sweaty yoginis?
TT: Doug told me early on that I’d never get any work done in class with a wandering eye. He’s a good yogi and a good man. But of course i notice!!!! Yoga bodies are maybe the most beautiful there are, and I’ve been around swimmers, cyclists, gymnasts, dancers — you name it. And in LA — it’s crazy out here. Actresses and models. All my teachers are hot (among their many other fine and far more important characteristics, of course.) But I try. Lord, do I try to focus on my own work. And once the heat builds up, I’m so competitive and driven that I want to do my best, so I get into the zone to rock the breathing and drishtis.
DD: Not to sell Tommy out, but I told him early on in his practice it was essential to his practice that he not waste his energy staring at the beautiful ladies in class. Yoga is about being present with your own body, not presently ogling someone else’s. Maybe it’s because I don’t wear my glasses in class, but I don’t have any problem staying focused.
5. What do you wear when you practice? Is it tough to find good yoga clothes for guys? What makes the perfect yoga outfit for a dude?
TT: Over the aforementioned security spandex, I wear basketball shorts. In winter, maybe track pants. And on top, one of the dozen or so running shirts I own from my marathon days. At $17 a class, plus the mat, plus the mat-carrying thing, I don’t prioritize yoga clothes. I keep my nails clipped. I make sure my body and breath don’t stink. I trim a little hair here and there as mentioned, and that’s the extent of how much Tommy worries about his look at yoga class.
DD: I asked Neal Pollack once, author of the book Stretch (which I haven’t read, but am looking forward to, as he too is a Jewy LA yoga writer), about my trouble with t-shirts in the likes of poses such as Down Dog. I felt like I was drowning in my shirt. He suggested tank tops and I’ve been rocking them (“wife beaters”) ever since.