Some years ago, my wife asked if I'd join her for a YouTube yoga workout in our living room. "Sure!" I said. As long as I could make fun of the chaturanga dandasana mumbo jumbo, I could handle a little stretching.
My ego evaporated when our instructress—tranquil as the Tetons behind her—held a triangle pose for what felt like two reincarnations. My arms shook like Jell-O. "Oh, screw this!" I said, crumpling to the mat. My wife, who is capable of a lotus headstand on a paddleboard, suggested I straighten my back. I suggested something less mature.
Like plenty of other athletic guys, I'd seriously underestimated yoga. It's deceptively difficult and occasionally deserving of expletives. But it also feels great and helps athletes develop more well-rounded fitness. Which is maybe why the trend has long since jumped the gender gap. Still intimidated? Companies like Broga now offer classes designed specifically for men, and many of them are geared toward supporting other sports like running or cycling. For what it's worth, I now feel the same way after yoga as I do after a run: a little more deserving of a beer.
Gaiam Citron Meadow Yoga Mat
Use a mat that's too thin and it'll kill your knees. Too thick and you'll be off-balance in poses like warrior three. This five-millimeter Gaiam Mat ($30) is the ideal compromise. The rubber is cushy enough that your spine won't rub against the floor during core work, and the sticky surface gives you extra grip.
Prana Flex Short
Prana's Flex shorts ($59) are lightweight, water-resistant, sun protective, and made with recycled materials. More important, they're just as comfortable on the bike ride home as they are in your vinyasa class.
Lululemon Dense Foam Block
Lululemon's Dense Foam blocks ($12 each) will help you practice proper alignment without unnecessary strain. The rounded edges are extra comfy when working on jump backs.
Sigg Traveler White Bottle
If you're thinking of taking up Bikram, you'll need a water bottle like Sigg's Traveler White ($23) to make it through class alive. This 0.6-liter version is lightweight and durable, and has a BPA-free lining that won't give your water that weird plastic aftertaste.
Manduka Yogitoes We Are One Towel
Lay Manduka's micro-fiber towel ($64) over your mat to keep from slipping during extra-sweaty sessions. At just 1.3 pounds, it's light enough to take anywhere.