​“Broga” for ALL of the Men in Your Life

  • Amy K. Mitchell
image description

It's easy to think of #broga as an Instagram post – that guy with the abs that just won't stop, a few tats appropriately placed, and of course, the man bun. Usually, said bro is doing a one-handed handstand on top of a cliff thousands of feet above a canyon, on a rock with waves crashing all around him, or with a girl balanced improbably on his feet.

But is that really #broga? Or even yoga? It's certainly picturesque. In our pursuit of "insta happiness," we seem to have forgotten the happiness part of yoga and instead are focused solely on the insta part (and how many likes we can generate). That makes us feel good, for well, an insta.

I had the honor, recently, of attending a workshop with Max Strom, the author of There is No App for Happiness. As a long time practitioner of yoga, Max is in a position to have seen yoga trends come and go. And it is perhaps because of that he sticks with the basics, which allows more bros to join the practice. He doesn’t get distracted by the bright shiny objects. Instead he keeps it simple. No Sanskrit, no advanced poses. Just a practice to make you feel better. And as a man, who has publicly confronted his own demons, he sets an example of what real #broga stands for. (Hint: A beach bod does not a yogi make.)

So, here are 5 lessons gleaned from our practice with Max to pass along to the bros in your life:

1. Distill the practice: You might think that if you don’t practice a certain way or do certain poses, you won’t get the benefits of yoga. “Not so,” says Max. Using chemistry as an example, he reminded the class that when you distill something down to its base that tends to be the most potent part. The same applies to yoga. And it all boils down to the breath.

2. It only works if you do the work: It’s called a practice for a reason. Doing a few minutes here and there, and only when you are stressed, is not going to change your life. A consistent practice, and patience, however, will make a difference.

3. Don’t force, compete, condemn: Translation, do what you can and accept it. Don’t compete with yourself or the people around you. And don’t get mad at yourself when you realize you can’t do something today. Instead, practice kindness, and you might be able to do it tomorrow (or the next day).

4. Even the simple poses become advanced when held: During our practice, the most advanced pose we did was Bridge Pose. But in the run up to Bridge, we did a lot of Warrior II variations, and there was not a dry shirt in the place. We focused on using our breath correctly and moving our body accordingly. It was perhaps one of the most intense practices I have ever done.

5. Relax your face … for the rest of your life: This was my favorite and made me smile every time Max said it (and he said it repeatedly throughout the class). Not only because it’s true, but also because it’s so simple. Do you want to walk around with a scowl all day? No, of course not. But we are so focused and rushed these days that many of us do – our foreheads are creased, our noses wrinkled, our lips pursed. Slowly relax your face and notice what happens not only to your face, but to the rest of your body. (OK, this one does make for insta happiness.)

It is wonderful that more men are joining in the yoga community and that they even have their own hashtag. So this Father’s Day, give the man in your life the gift of simplicity. Gift him a yoga class and encourage him to savor it, explore, and breathe. The benefits will be a gift that will keep giving for years to come.

Amy K. Mitchell is the founder of ProYOGA Corporate Wellness. Amy is a 20-year veteran government professional, having worked in the Bush administration, on Capitol Hill, and for a variety of non-profits and multi-media companies as a strategic communicator, leading several national campaigns to support the U.S. military and veterans. Amy is an RYT-200 and completed her training in 2013. She specializes in stress reduction through yoga. She also holds certifications in yoga with weights, SUP Yoga, and power yoga. Amy started ProYOGA to make yoga more accessible by bringing it to where people spend the majority of their time: work. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @proyogausa.