- Associated Press - Saturday, March 26, 2016

WAUSAU, Wis. (AP) - Like a lot of guys of a certain age, it took some doing to convince Bill Miller about the benefits of yoga.

A Vietnam veteran, a retired cop, a runner and cyclist, Miller, a very fit 70 years old, didn’t believe yoga was something that would work for him.

This hesitation, Miller said, was influenced by the way yoga is defined by pop culture: It’s for women, and it involves exotic poses that a normal old guy like him couldn’t really think of doing.

But his wife is an avid practitioner and she insisted that Miller would find the practice beneficial, USA Today Network-Wisconsin (http://wrtnews.co/1Uc0xfX ) reported.

Miller has an open mind, so he tried it. And he liked it.

Miller liked yoga so much that it literally changed his life. He began exploring meditation, a close cousin of yoga, and eventually studied to become an instructor himself. Now he’s an instructor at 5 Koshas Yoga and Fitness, and like many passionate converts, he’s become a bit of an evangelist when it comes to his discovery. And he’s determined to break down the barriers that keep men such as himself from setting foot into a yoga studio.

Enter his “Men’s No Lycra” yoga class. While there are no rigid rules to attending the class, Miller has designed the class for men age 50 and older.

“My target group is active, older men,” Miller said. “I wanted to teach a style of yoga that is inclusive, welcoming those with chronic back pain, anxiety, depression or any number of other seeming limitations to a more active and happy life.”

Miller actively encourages men he knows, and thinks might enjoy it, to participate. One of those men was Tom Rau, 63, of Wausau, the executive director of The Neighbors’ Place. Miller volunteers at The Neighbors’ Place, helping shepherd the Wheels Again program that provides bicycles to low-income people who need them for transportation.

Rau said he’s been making a solid effort to keep his weight and “my numbers down,” meaning his blood sugar and cholesterol levels and maintaining a healthy blood pressure. Rau saw success. He lost weight and has maintained healthy levels of blood sugar and cholesterol by eating a balanced diet and running.

But blood pressure was a more stubborn problem.

“It isn’t really high,” Rau said, “but it’s in that gray area. … I thought yoga could help with that.”

He found the weekly Men’s No Lycra to be a comfortable, accepting environment. Rau has seen his blood pressure go down and has grown comfortable with the various stretches and poses offered in Miller’s class.

But Rau most appreciated the stress-busting aspect of the course, which comes, he said, through Miller’s emphasis on deep breathing and short meditation sessions held at the end of each weekly class.

And it helps that the guys who attend are all on the same page when it comes to the practice. “There’s a real community there,” Rau said.

Miller is not the only yoga instructor who aims to be more inclusive of men, of course. Fitness and exercise magazines and websites tout the benefits of yoga for men as a way to keep a competitive edge. Miller gets that aspect of the practice, too.

But the Men’s No Lycra class goes a little deeper.

“After a while, the physical postures become less important. It becomes a setting where you can completely relax,” Miller said. “There is an aspect of yoga that can be calming, leaving to equanimity.”

___

Information from: Daily Tribune Media, http://www.wisconsinrapidstribune.com

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide