Look, look! Lenny is a MALE! Men do yoga, too! I have to admit, it has been harder to find men to feature in this series, and it’s hard to find men coming to yoga studios, overall, although I have noticed that slowly shifting. Lenny has an established practice and I frequently find his supportive energy in my own class, or practicing next to me as I attend. Lenny is a man, he is Russian and an engineer. Lenny is what a yogi looks like.
1. When did you start doing yoga and why? I started in 2008. My girlfriend at the time shamed me into trying it because I was not able to touch my toes. Before going to a yoga class, I had never done much physical activity and was not very active. I took a class at the YMCA and then started going to Inner Evolution Yoga when they opened. I started off by going once or twice per week, but now I attend a yoga class every single day. Even if I am tired, I will still make it to a restorative or yin class. I like the Iyengar classes because of the attention given to proper alignment.
2. What myths or misconceptions did you have about yoga before starting? I thought you had to be flexible to be able to do yoga, but once I started I realized that yoga develops the flexibility over time. Although it’s mostly women who go to yoga, I did not see it as a “girly” thing to do. I think yoga really compliments a lot of hobbies, like cycling. I try to get my friends who are cyclists to come to class.
3. What is your favorite pose and why? Salamba Sarvangasana or Shoulder stand. It is the only inversion I enjoy. I can do headstand with the support of the wall, but I immediately feel stressed in it. Shoulder stand spoke to me from the beginning.
4. What are your thoughts on yoga and body image and has it affected your practice? I honestly never thought about it before Instagram. It seems that social media and Yoga Journal have created an ideal “yoga body” and those who may not have it might think you actually have to look a certain way to begin a practice. I started doing yoga when I was more towards middle age and did not care about image as much, so it really has not affected my practice. You don’t have to be a model to do yoga.
5. Do you feel that yoga conflicts or compliments your religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender identification or any other form of your identity?
It definitely does not conflict with any aspect of my identity. It started out as a purely physical practice, but now has evolved to something more philosophical. I enjoy learning about the Yamas, Niyamas
and other ethical principles, they are all applicable to so many situations. You do not need to be any certain religion to simply be kind.
My national origin is Russia, I have lived in the United States since 1990. I do not feel that yoga conflicts at all with my ethnic background. My family is unfamiliar with yoga, but have been supportive of me as I went through a yoga teacher training.
6. What do you love most about yoga? The noncompetitive nature. I concentrate on doing my own personal best. I like being able to see the gradual changes along the way. I have slowly noticed I can bend over better, have better balance and posture and even a straighter spine. It has improved my overall heal and even my mental capacity. I feel like I can think clear, concentrate better and just feel less stressed.
7. What would you say to someone who is hesitant about starting a yoga practice? Find a good, supportive studio to help you get started in your practice. Try different teachers, one may speak to you more than another one. Try community, donation based classes before making a financial commitment. Yoga is something you can start with a low initial investment; all you really need is a mat.
Would you like to be featured? I would love to hear about your yogic journey. I am looking for yogis of all levels, years of experience, backgrounds, ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations, gender identifications and sects. Please email me at angieeatspeace at gmail.com.