First manly spa treatments, now manly yoga?

Guys are flocking to hot new yoga for a great strength and balance workout.

The man-bag (or “murse”) may or may not be an emerging trend among American men, but the days of yoga classes being a mostly female domain may be coming to an end. There is a hot new workout called Empowered Yoga that is helping guys of all sizes and athletic abilities to shape up their bodies and their minds.

Empowered Yoga is not the religious experience found in your typical yoga class. Instead, it is a serious fitness workout developed by certified personal trainer Johnny Gillespie, who also happens to be a certified strength and conditioning specialist. Men gravitate to these classes because they love the physical benefits combined with expert coaching on improving their mental game, alleviating their back pain, and helping tone and strengthen their muscles.

“With Empowered Yoga, you will immediately notice benefits that you wouldn’t usually get by going to gym. It is the science of balance, and it is a great opportunity to understand how your body and mind are designed to work,” explains Gillespie.

He says there has been no time in the history of humanity when men need to understand yoga more than today. “It’s safe to say that the average American man is under-slept, over-stressed, eating too much processed food and not active enough. We need to help them realize that there’s an alternative way to live. I would like to educate men that there’s a better way of living that can help them get more out of life.”

Pre- and post-yoga workout strategies

Athletes know that preparation starts long before they get to the practice field, and guys studying Empowered Yoga are doing the same. Gillespie encourages his students to offset the stress in their lives, and prepare their bodies for a workout, by adding specific vitamins, minerals and supplements to their daily regimens. Drinking plenty of water, and avoiding processed foods, also go a long way toward keeping men in prime condition.

To maintain calm, balance and focus before and after a workout, Gillespie also encourages men to consume foods and beverages containing Suntheanine (a pure form of L-theanine). “It’s like yoga in a bottle because it helps to bring men back into balance with their nervous systems. Suntheanine brings a state of clarity into your day, which can help you make better lifestyle decisions.”

What is Empowered Yoga?

Empowered Yoga — a modern approach to Hatha Yoga — evolved from Gillespie’s own experiences. Used to lifting weights since high school, 15 years ago when Gillespie started his career as a personal trainer he suddenly found himself in piercing pain. Seeking relief, he soon found his way to a popular yoga studio.

“I could bench press 300 pounds, and I ran every day. I thought I was doing all I could to be healthy yet my body was in pain. I went to a yoga class because I felt like there was nowhere else to turn. However the next day, my back didn’t hurt as badly. I knew it wasn’t a result of stretching so my curiosity was spiked. I kept going back, and I started to look at this ancient exercise from the eyes of a western personal trainer. I began to discover that yoga had much more to do was strengthening, realigning and rehabilitating the body and mind, and relieving joint pain.”

Enthused, Gillespie began studying yoga in earnest and started to apply a very western perspective to what he was learning. Over time, that developed into Empowered Yoga. “When we remove the cultural underpinnings or what I call the “religiosity” from yoga, what’s left is a very practical form of exercise that can help relieve stress within your mind and body, and return you to a greater state of strength and functionality. That’s a very compelling combination, especially for men.

Gillespie says, “Men often don’t think they need yoga until I explain from a practical standpoint why they would benefit from certain movements. We never get to the point where it becomes a religious endeavor. The men who practice Empowered Yoga become calmer and more grounded. Yoga allows them to see more clearly while at the same time giving them a great workout. When combined with Suntheanine, they learn techniques to keep them feeling focused and relaxed throughout the day.”

He adds that, “Immersing yourself in yoga is a quick way to make changes in your life. For example, feet are literally and figuratively the furthest things from most people’s minds. Yet with three arches and 25 percent of the body’s bones, they can affect your whole structure. Most people put pressure on their heels which causes your body to slouch and fall out of alignment. I teach people to walk barefoot frequently so that they can spread their toes and focus on the front of their feet as much as possible.

“Empowered Yoga focuses on the process of aligning and strengthening your mind and body from the tips of your toes to the top of your head. It improves all 12 systems within the body, and has the potential to make you a more powerful human being. Through my association with the National Strength & Conditioning Association, I have made a lot of connections with top coaches and brought respect to yoga.

“Yoga teaches you how to move properly and with principle, alleviating injury, and giving you a workout that you can’t necessary get in a gym. I still run and lift weights, but I consider yoga to be a great foundation for fitness. It’s a welcome addition to other forms of exercise.”

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