Mine is beast mode.

What do I mean by this? 

Am I out to tackle someone on the mat? Or throw a body check during practice? 

No. Absolutely not. 

I’m merely thinking aloud about the type of practice (hot vinyasa flow) that I like. I should start by saying that I’m what many would refer to as a Guy’s Guy. I grew up playing ice hockey. Before I met my wife, most of my meals were consumed in a sport’s bar. When it comes to a personal style, my khaki shorts, wrinkled tee-shirt and jogging sneakers would be best described as Hoosier Couture. 

So when it comes to yoga, there’s no sugar-coating the topic for me: I need something that kicks my a—-! 

I need to gush sweat. I need to get upside down. I need to hold warrior one so long my thigh muscle implodes. 

Over the course of my practice, many a yogi has cautioned me to avoid this way of thinking. Most tell me that I’m going about it all wrong. They suggest that my approach should be focused more on breathing, stretching, and staying in the moment. They also make it clear that I should only do what my body needs on a given day. I hear that, and heartily agree. At the same time, I recently took my first class with Tim Hutchinson and he gave me yet another idea to chew on: 

You be you. Cue the harmonium and let’s hear that again. You be you. Ommmmmm. 

And this advice got me thinking about why I gravitate towards such a high degree of difficulty; it’s because as a lifelong athlete, a more aggressive essence is what I’ve always demanded of the sports I’ve played — not just good sweat. 

I’m talking about an emotionally extreme, cathartic, quasi-religious, and, yes, beast-mode experience. Something that doesn’t just ease the stresses and anxieties of daily life — it obliterates them. And when I’m lying in a lake of my own sweat having just gotten demolished in my own version of yoga that often feels like a contact sport; only then can I finally feel a little peace.  

But that’s just me and I have a lot to learn. 

How would you describe your practice?

— Tom Cartier

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