Listen lads: yoga makes you good in bed

Women have known about yoga for years. Now the men are muscling in.

AT THE weekend, they're in the pub drinking beer, smoking, playing darts, telling rude jokes and mulling over the state of British sport.

But every Tuesday you can catch them standing barefoot in a back garden in Fulham, west London, engrossed in a yoga class. Pat Benzie, 27, closes his eyes, breathes deeply and raises his arms high. John Reynolds, 29, positions his feet slightly apart, bends forward, and slowly arches his back. Oliver Griffiths, 25, stands barefoot, on his tip toes, and rocks gently back and forth.

Yoga is the new sport for lads. It boasts a string of superstar fans, including Woody Harrelson, Robbie Williams, Sting and David Ginola. It is even part of the school curriculum at Dulwich College, where boys are taking lessons in the technique that promotes flexibility and strength.

According to Dr Robert Munro, 67, director of the Yoga Biomedical Trust at the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital, yoga is particularly beneficial for men. The trust trains yoga teachers to treat medical problems. "Yoga can help combat the typical symptoms of middle age among men," Munro says; "stress, heart problems, high blood pressure, impotence, fatigue and back pain."

Sophie Jones, 24, from north London, teaches the class of lads in Fulham. "Even if someone is severely disabled, yoga is still beneficial", she claims. "It can help the old, frail, sick, young and athletic."

Her star pupil, a banker, Pat Benzie, took up yoga in June. He started having 40-minute one-to-one tuition in Viniyoga - a variant thatemphasises breathing techniques. "I was running maybe five or six times a week and wanted an alternative to high-impact exercise," says Pat. The idea was a big hit with his mates and he is now joined by four or five of them every session.

The evening I joined them, neighbours James Boden, 12, and his brother Edward, nine, who had longingly watched the classes from their next-door window for many weeks, had plucked up the courage to attend the class for the first time.

So what is the attraction for young men? Is it the hope of meeting a star? Or the thrill of watching a personal trainer contort herself into fantastical positions? It may be Sting's promise of sinewy muscles (and a wonderful sex life).

Or is it that men are sickeningly good at it and, with practice, are better than most women? "Men are responsive," says Sophie Jones, who coaches equal numbers of men and women. "They have an open mind and are often surprised by their own ability. Women read too many magazines, and think they know it all."

Sophie believes that the psychological benefits of yoga help explain its pulling-power. "Most of my male clients are businessmen who need help with insomnia and stress management", she says. "Yoga teaches them to find a quiet space, a bit of tranquillity in their hectic lives."

This is certainly true for John Reynolds, a fund manager, who is attending his first class tonight . "I am under a considerable amount of stress both at work and personally", he states. "Normally I like to unwind on my own by listening to music, but I thought I'd give this a go."

Oliver Griffiths, a lawyer, is recovering from a slipped disc. He spends most days seated at his desk and needs to improve his posture. "I have been doing a lot of stretching to help my back injury," he says. "I am hoping that yoga will be an extension of that."

Then there's the glamour factor. Derek Sulger, a 27-year-old banker, is a dedicated member of the class - after being told that Sophie also tutors the lad idol Robbie Williams. The garden has yet to be visited by Robbie, but the lads live in hope.

Aside from the mental and physical benefits, the Tuesday sessions are very much a social occasion. Most lessons end with a barbecue in the garden or down the pub. The teacher even approves. "Beer and yoga are not mutually exclusive," Sophie insists. "Lads can still be lads and do yoga. People have this idea that you can't drink, smoke or have sex... They think you have to be dull, and read a lot. This is not true. Yoga does not water you down in any way. It simply enhances your life and adds nourishment to it."

Which yoga is best for you?

For sinewy muscles: Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, a dynamic, high-energy variant that synchronises breathing with movement.

For beginners: Sivananda Yoga exercises the muscles and encourages correct breathing.

For executive stress: Viniyoga emphasises breathing techniques. All teachers have a minimum of six years' training.

For sore backs and bad posture: Iyengar Yoga uses foam blocks and canvas belts so students can practise without strain or injury.

For a practitioner in your area, send an SAE to the British Wheel of Yoga, 1 Hamilton Place, Boston Road, Sleaford, Lincolnshire NG34 7ES. Call Sophie Jones at Active Real Training: 0171-736 3590 or 07050 155 265

It Does It For Them

Jude Law: The star of Wilde and Gattaca (top left) practises yoga every morning in his front room. It makes him feel "clean and serene".

Woody Harrelson: The actor (top right) was inspired to take up yoga after a visit to a lost Inca city in Peru. He later gave up drinking and womanising:

"I started to turn a corner from being an out-and-out hedonist to some sort of spirituality."

Frank Bruno: (bottom right) Yoga was an important part of the boxer's training. After

taking up the technique, he said: "I feel the strongest, the fittest, the best I've ever felt. If you're fit you can chase your wife round the bedroom."

Sting: A self confessed yoga fanatic (bottom left), the singer spends two hours every morning in the lotus position. He boasts that as a result he can make love for five hours, "although that includes dinner and a movie". He claims: "I can do things with my body now that I wasn't able to do as an 18-year-old."

STRIKE A POSE

1) Position your feet a few inches apart

2) Hang your arms by your sides. Turn your palms outwards towards the front

3) Inhale deeply and slowly and raise your slightly bent arms to above your head

4) Exhale slowly. Then lower your arms

5) Repeat four to six times

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Feeling all at sea: Barbara's 18-year-old son came under the influence of a Canadian libertarian preacher – and she had to fight to win him back
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Living the high life: Anne Robinson enjoys some skip-surfed soup
TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Great British Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
Doctor Who and Missy in the Doctor Who series 8 finale

TV
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
    Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

    Why are we addicted to theme parks?

    Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
    Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

    Iran is opening up again to tourists

    After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
    10 best PS4 games

    10 best PS4 games

    Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
    Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

    Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

    Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
    Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

    ‘Can we really just turn away?’

    Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

    ... and not just because of Isis vandalism
    Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

    Girl on a Plane

    An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent