Heather Lilleston Kicked My Ass

A few months ago, my husband came home from work and asked if I had ever heard of Diamond Dallas Page. He is a former wrestler, but that’s not why my husband was asking. Apparently he is now also a yoga teacher and has a pretty serious following. He has changed the names of some of the classic yoga poses (warrior becomes “road warrior” and pigeon is a “can opener”) and reassures you that this “ain’t your mama’s yoga!” Well, that’s good. Heaven forbid.

Beyond DDP Yoga (as it is branded) I found something called Broga. Broga is “like” yoga BUT it’s strenuous. It will help you breathe better. And there’s a great spirit in room.

I DON’T UNDERSTAND!? Why can’t men just go to yoga? Why does it have to be branded for them. Why do they need to be reassured that it will be hard. Have you taken a Bikram class? Have you taken anything beyond a restorative Hatha class?

Last week I took a class with Heather Lilleston at Yoga Shanti that was impossibly hard. She has this lovely California girl look and she came in and had us chant and told us a story about Buddha. And then she held us in plank for what felt like an eternity and told us to imagine we were in Shavasana. She had us in three-legged dog and then asked us to reach down and hold on to our standing leg. The man two down from me had to drop into Child’s Pose three times. I have seen more men sit down in Bikram than I ever have women. Both of which are 100% fine.

Is it embarrassing? Is that the issue? To be in a class with a bunch of women and you’re the one huffing and puffing? But at the same time I have the feeling that they believe it’s “not manly” enough. The New York Times had a lengthy article published in 2014 that discussed the rise of “Beefcake” yoga. In it, people lament “all that namaste crap” but see themselves transformed as a result of their cultivating a regular yoga practice. If it makes people attend class, does it matter if Mountain Pose is now “ignition” or Child’s Pose is “safety zone?”

All this said, I love Bikram Yoga and he created his own style – complete with rules about how the room should look and names that are slightly different from what you would hear in a Vinyasa Class. Triangle Pose in Bikram doesn’t look the same as it does in other classes. Just because the changes aren’t as obvious, does it make them any more acceptable? If not chanting and calling standing bow pose “hood ornament” is what it takes men to get on a mat, so be it.

As much as you don’t want to hear it, DDP: Namaste.

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