Wausau yoga instructor aims for older men to try Men’s No Lycra

WAUSAU – Like many guys of a certain age, it took work to convince Bill Miller of the benefits of yoga.

Vietnam veteran, retired cop, runner and cyclist, Miller, a fit 70-year-old, didn’t believe yoga was something that would work for him.

That hesitation, Miller said, was influenced by how yoga is defined by pop culture: It’s for women, and it involves exotic poses that a normal old man like him couldn’t really think of. To do.

But his wife is an avid practitioner and she insisted that Miller would find the practice beneficial.

Miller has an open mind, so he tried. And he liked it.

Miller loved yoga so much that it literally changed his life. He began exploring meditation, a close cousin of yoga, and eventually studied to become an instructor himself. He is now an instructor at 5 Koshas Yoga and Fitness and, like many passionate converts, he has become something of an evangelist of his discovery. And he’s determined to break down the barriers that keep men like him from setting foot in a yoga studio.

Step into her “Men’s No Lycra” yoga class. Although there are no rigid rules for attending the course, Miller designed the course for men 50 and older.

“My target group is active, older men,” Miller said. “I wanted to teach an inclusive style of yoga, welcoming those with chronic back pain, anxiety, depression or any number of other apparent limitations to a more active and happy life.”

Tom Rau, 63, of Wausau, does yoga during a class March 3 at 5 Koshas Yoga & Wellness in Wausau.

Miller actively encourages men he knows, and thinks they might benefit from, to participate. One of those men was Tom Rau, 63, of Wausau, executive director of The Neighbors’ Place. Miller volunteers at The Neighbours’ Place, helping run the Wheels Again program which provides bicycles to low-income people who need them to get around.

Rau said he’s been working hard to keep his weight down and “my numbers down”, meaning his blood sugar and cholesterol levels and maintaining healthy blood pressure. Rau has seen success. He lost weight and maintained healthy blood sugar and cholesterol levels by eating a balanced diet and running.

But blood pressure was a more persistent problem.

“It’s not really high,” Rau said, “but it’s in that gray area. … I thought yoga might help with that.”

He found the weekly Men’s No Lycra to be a comfortable and accepting environment. Rau saw his blood pressure drop and became familiar with the various stretches and poses offered in Miller’s class.

But Rau most enjoyed the stress-relieving aspect of the class, which he said comes from Miller’s emphasis on deep breathing and short meditation sessions held at the end of each weekly class. .

And it helps that the guys attending are all on the same page when it comes to the practice. “There’s a real community there,” Rau said.

Miller isn’t the only yoga instructor who aims to be more male-inclusive, of course. Fitness and exercise magazines and websites tout the benefits of yoga for men as a way to maintain a competitive edge. Miller also understands this aspect of the practice.

But the Men’s No Lycra class goes a little further.

“After a while, the physical postures become less important. It becomes a setting where you can completely relax,” Miller said. “There is an aspect of yoga that can be soothing, giving way to equanimity.”

Tom Rau, 63, of Wausau, does yoga during a class March 3 at 5 Koshas Yoga & Wellness in Wausau.