Is Yoga for Real Men?
August 3, 2016
A few years ago when I knew nothing about Lululemon, my girlfriend in Montreal was taking a 30-day hot yoga challenge. She was really into it. I remember once she woke me up at 7am on a Sunday and said, “I’m going to yoga. Do you want to come?” “Hell no,” I replied. People in Montreal rarely go out for drinks before midnight on Saturdays, so waking up at 7am on a Sunday? What was that all about? And yoga? I mean, it was nice of her to invite me and all but, back then, I thought that real men played hockey and drank bourbon. Sweating in class with a bunch of strangers and drinking tea? That concept was foreign to me. At least until I moved to the West Coast and met incredible people like Dusty Breeding.
Everything about Dusty is real—his strength, his beard, and, yes, even his name. He’s a Lululemon ambassador in Malibu, the place he now calls home, although he was born in Indiana. His wife, Cecily, is also an ambassador and they form a real power couple. Together, they fill their spare time with cross training, rucking and…yoga. When I asked Dusty if yoga is for real men, he started to laugh. “If you cross train and you don’t do yoga, you’re a fool. I do it for the the mobility that it gives me.” Then he added, “But it’s also a great opportunity to discipline the mind. Discipline always results in freedom.”
Did I mention that Dusty is also a first responder? And he looks like a Navy SEAL. For those of you who are not familiar with rucking, it’s a military-inspired workout where you carry heavy-ass packs up near vertical cliffs. So when Dusty mentioned something about always being well-prepared for everything in life, images of the Walking Dead flashed through my head and I figured the guy must be some sort of apocalypse-fearing survivalist. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be in his team when the zombies start coming for us, right? But it turns out that he’s not preparing for the end of the world. Mostly, he only wants to avoid unpleasant surprises. When I asked what he feared the most, he paused for a few moments and then said, “I fear failure. It has stopped me from dreaming bigger in the past.”
Dusty is part of a men’s group at Pepperdine University that is asking itself how to develop integrity in the next generation of guys. “Historically, 100 years ago, you became a man in your teens because you had to help care for the farm, but that’s not the case anymore for a 17-year-old. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just a reality. Our goal is to revive self-discipline in the midst of creativity and adventure.”
As a writer, I’m always scrutinizing every bit of life in search of meaning and analogies. But with Dusty, I didn’t have to look too hard. He pretty much laid it out for me. “I always use muscles as a metaphor for life,” he says. “The only way for them to grow is to be broken down. Embracing more challenge will result in more growth.” That’s what cross training, rucking and yoga are all about—the mastery of self. For Dusty, training hard is more than being ripped, “it’s about finding this constant balance between being content with who you are, but always desiring to be better.”
Perhaps Dusty wasn’t aware that he was almost paraphrasing Hemingway at times, but this great quote quote from A Farewell to Arms came to mind for me: “The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.” If Hemingway were still alive, I’m not convinced that he would wake up at 7am on a Sunday to practice yoga, but since meeting Dusty Breeding I know I certainly would. Ok, can we settle for 10am?
We went to Malibu and discovered that Dusty’s approach to training has shifted over the years. Watch here.