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Big Man Yoga: The benefits of struggling

By pure chance, a large man, 200+ pounds, 6’4″ and dripping with sweat is awkwardly holding a pose and sharply breathing. Everything in his mind and body told him to just kick aside his borrowed mat and never talk about the experience again. It might have been his stubbornness, but he stayed. Then came back the next day, and then went every day for a week… a month… a year. Before long, he was training his co-workers and getting certified as an instructor. He didn’t stop there, he also continued to take training courses and find more ways to spread the benefits of yoga to others in any way he could. Yoga isn’t limited to the stereotypical yogi; if you’re a veteran, college student, bodybuilder or just a big man, yoga can provide physical and mental benefits that can change your life.

During the Gallant Few VetXpo, I had the pleasure to talk to Tod Ceruti about how yoga has impacted his life and continues to be a daily part of his life. They say don’t judge a book by its cover, but the first time I met Tod I never thought our conversation would revolve around yoga. The story above was a very short version of Tod’s journey with Yoga. Putting your body in uncomfortable positions and taking yourself out of your comfort zone creates an environment to advance. This advancement may be physical at first but activities like these that require you to be introspective can also affect you mentally and (not to be cheesy, but) spiritually as well.

Yoga is seen by many as an extended stretching program on a mat and tight clothes, but there are a lot more functional benefits that come from regular yoga sessions. Starting with the stereotype… yes, yoga helps with your flexibility and balance. Why is this important? Movement/ mobility. Working on these can optimize your everyday movements such as reaching, walking, bending and other movements you do with your whole body. There are so many cases/examples of people picking something up off the ground and pulling their back or falling hard because of a little trip. Based on the type of yoga you do and the effort you put in, you can build a strong core and posterior chain. Without getting into detail, that can benefit lower back pain and reduce pain in joints. A strong and effective muscular/skeletal system can take pressure off those joints.

Yoga, running, meditation, martial arts — all are amazing for creating an environment where you can be introspective. We are constantly being overloaded with stimulants from the time we wake up to the time we go to bed. Wake up, news, commute to work, radio, work, earbuds/podcasts, work, commute, work, dinner, family, TV, sleep. When do we ever have time to be in our own heads and work stuff out? Yoga (after the learning phase) allows you to be introspective and really only focus on the position and really clear your mind of the day-to-day bullshit.

A lot of us have trouble with the connotation of “spiritually” and yoga. The classic “one with nature” slow-talking and pony-tailed Yogi is an image that many would rather do without. However, I prefer to think of the spirit of yoga: connecting the mind and body. Being able to control your breathing and mind when you are being physically exhausted and twisted in strange positions. On top of that being surrounded by others that are trying to improve and be healthy is extremely beneficial. You are the people you surround yourself with and the communities you choose to be part of.

Yoga may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it has many benefits physically, mentally and spiritually. Try something new and/or let your ego go, and challenge your body and mind. If you refuse to do you, then try to find something that will allow you that time to be introspective. Tod’s closing words to me were, “Find your breath, soften your thoughts, open your heart, and shine your soul.”

-Based off an interview with Tod Ceruti Vetxpo2018

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2 years ago

Wayne, It’s not just men who don’t see the value based on how yoga is presented and when it’s not tweaked for your own injuries and needs, especially by the fanatical yoga chicks who judge based on the brand of legging and which exclusive and cool place you go for classes. It’s enlightening when you connect poses to physical therapy (cobra pose is almost the same as McKenzie exercises) and that some forms of yoga use balls and rollers like my physical therapist used trigger point balls and bolsters. Then I have to laugh because of DDP Yoga and the… Read more »

2 years ago
Reply to  JoyB

This is very true! Yoga gets a lot of slack but it’s helping a lot of people. I’m not going to lie… that DDP yoga is very interesting. I was listening to a podcast with the owner and his story is very inspirational. Also, you can’t go wrong with an ex-wrestler doing yoga!

2 years ago
Reply to  TheFreq

I’ve actually met him several times when my cousin and friends worked for the same wrestling company. His story is genuine and he shared his method with other people who were in worse shape before he offered it publicly for sale. Check out his Big Think video on YouTube.

Imas C
Imas C
2 years ago

I am by no means a hardcore yogi, but I do enjoy doing yoga from time to time. I have to admit that, like so many people, I at first thought it wasn’t for me. I was used to running and Zumba, which are both far from quiet and relaxing. I gave yoga a chance when I was pregnant, and fell in love with it. You become so connected with your body (and baby!), and its good to just slow down and stretch. This sounds silly since we need to breathe to live, but sometimes we forget to take a… Read more »

2 years ago
Reply to  Imas C

Thanks for the insight! I’ll highly consider getting consistent and more into yoga myself!

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