An Interview with David Gard
What advice do you have for men interested in starting a yoga practice?
The answer to when is the best time for men to start practicing yoga is a simple one: NOW. I think some guys may be hesitant to start in thinking they don’t have the necessary level of flexibility. However, developing flexibility is one of the primary benefits of yoga. Just like weight training and running, yoga is a practice you build upon; you don't max out on weights or run a personal best first time to the gym or track, but instead realize gains over time. In addition to increased flexibility, yoga provides men with numerous other benefits: stress and tension relief; improved balance, agility, and stamina; enhanced muscle tone; better cardiovascular health; injury prevention and shortened recovery time; and the ability to just unplug and clear your head. These results translate to improvements in other sports as well; I’ve found that yoga provides a great complementary workout for triathlon training.
What have you learned the most from your yoga practice?
Although I don’t play golf as much as I used to, I’ve realized that many parallels exist between yoga and golf. The mental aspect is equally as important as the physical dimension in each. Both require concentration, commitment, and patience – and can be fun and humbling, often at the same time. In golf, the course itself is your ultimate opponent and no two golf swings are alike. Likewise, in yoga you don’t measure yourself against others; your practice is entirely your own. Your level of experience, body, strengths and weaknesses are all unique, making you incomparable to any other yogi. Yoga will meet you wherever you are.
What misconceptions did you have about yoga before you started? How were they resolved?
One of the misconceptions I think many guys may have is that yoga embodies “new age mumbo jumbo.” While I never doubted yoga would provide physical benefits, I’ll admit I was initially wary of that aspect before starting. However, I’ve realized through my practice that yoga, at its core, simply focuses on bringing the mind, body, and spirit into balance, enabling greater inner self-awareness as a result – and that hardly could be considered a radical concept. You can adapt your yoga practice to best meet your own needs; it can be viewed as secular practice without the element of spirituality, or regarded as a spiritual discipline that enhances whatever your own faith background may be. It’s completely up to you.