Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

A Flexible Inner Peace: Yoga Helps Gay Men and Lesbians Stay Fit and Develop Self-Esteem. There Are Even Classes for Those Who like to Go Naked

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

A Flexible Inner Peace: Yoga Helps Gay Men and Lesbians Stay Fit and Develop Self-Esteem. There Are Even Classes for Those Who like to Go Naked

Article excerpt

One of the hottest spots in West Hollywood, Calif., on Friday nights is not a trendy club but a loft building on Fairfax Avenue that houses City Yoga. At 6 P.M., Marc Holzman is teaching Anusara Yoga--a technique developed seven years ago that uses poses to align the body and mind while teaching self-acceptance and raising self-esteem. He must be doing something right. The number of students at City Yoga has rocketed to about 10,000 in just a few years.

City Yoga makes it a point not to judge students who can't strike a perfect pose, and even the most basic beginners are welcome, especially gay men and lesbians, who "have issues with self-worth and seff-loathing," Holzman says. "This practice of yoga can be used as a reminder or a remembrance of the students' essential goodness."

Yoga's popularity among gay men and lesbians is increasing, from San Francisco and Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood to Salt Lake City. It is a great way to stay in shape, meet someone, and even improve performance in the sack. "People start interacting and talk about their lives, and they might match up," said City Yoga owner Anthony Benenati. "I think there is something innately attractive about people taking care of themselves."

While yoga first appeared a couple thousand years ago, the modern versions emerged in the 1960s and 1970s in the West. Seeing a harmony between mind and body, various yoga forms focus on muscles, including those that strengthen key sexual areas not reached during a typical gym workout, "Yoga raises the prana, the life energy in the body," says Mark Donato, a yoga teacher at the New York Sports Club in Chelsea. …

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