October 18th, 2017

Our partners at CorePower Yoga sat down with Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr to talk about why Real Men Do Yoga.

CorePower Yoga Q&A: NFL star Anthony Barr talks yoga
Our partners at CorePower Yoga have simple words of encouragement for Mo Bros everywhere: Real Men Do Yoga. They recently sat down with Minnesota Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr to get the real story on how yoga has helped him find focus, fortitude, and flexibility, while helping him rise to (and push through) a new set of challenges. 

As a part of their mission to get more men on the mat, CorePower Yoga is offering Mo Bros a free class during the week of October 25th - 31st, with a donation-based "Move For Men" class offered at hundreds of locations nationwide on October 25th. Find out more about "Real Men Do Yoga" here, and get the scoop from the NFL star about why men should be spending more time on the mat.

Q: How did you first get in to yoga?

I have always been familiar with yoga and knew people who practiced, and I tried it a couple times casually. However, I really got into it a few years back because my mom, and girlfriend at the time, both practiced and it was becoming a popular thing to do. It was something I really wanted to try.

Q: How does yoga help you physically, mentally and emotionally? 

Physically, I feel that's very self-explanatory, but the biggest impact for me was the core strength I developed. It really helped further develop my abs and back. I feel like a solid foundation has been further established and reinforced.
The mental aspect of yoga is the most difficult for me because there are times I want to give up or I feel shaken because a pose is too hard and I want to stop. Yoga challenges and develops my mental toughness more than my physical abilities because there are poses I have a hard time doing or simply don’t want to do, but I know I should, so I push through and it challenges me mentally.

Emotionally, yoga provides stress relief and gives me a feeling of being refreshed. When I leave the hot yoga studio, dripping in sweat, and enter the fresh air outside, I always feel rejuvenated, even if I’m tired. Yoga helps me resharpen focus, and breathe through feelings, especially if something is bothering me.

Q: What does your yoga class schedule look like, what are your favorite CorePower Yoga classes to take and why? 

During the football season, my yoga practice is non-existent because of my commitments with the team, training, rehab, etc. It’s in the off-season that I really amp up my yoga practice, going to the studio usually 3 times a week. My favorite class at CorePower is Yoga Sculpt, by far. I find it the most beneficial for what I’m trying to accomplish. Yoga Sculpt is a complete workout, focusing on strength and the core, which is what I want. I also enjoy Hot Power Fusion. It is way more challenging than sculpt, because of my flexibility. I look at Sculpt as the mental challenge and HPF as the physical one. I really enjoy both.

Q: Why do you choose to practice at CorePower Yoga? 

The biggest reason I practice at CorePower Yoga is because of the instructors who bring an energy and enthusiasm to their classes, especially when people like me start to fall off near the end of class. I find that the instructors find a way to get the most out of their students, by challenging them to breathe, focus, have fun, and hold poses all at the same time! The instructors are always encouraging, knowledgeable and very approachable, which can be especially helpful when you’re first starting out.

Q: What is the biggest surprise you have had practicing yoga? Any sort of stereotypes you've had to overcome? 

These questions go hand in hand for me. One of the first times I attended a Sculpt class, I grabbed the heaviest weights…something like 25lbs, and the person next to me said, “Are you sure you want those?” I laughed, and said quietly, “I’m a professional athlete, I think I got this!” Well, I was completely caught off guard. I was barely able to complete a rep while holding warrior 2 pose. Those 25 lb. weights felt like 100 lbs.! I looked at the person next to me, an older woman, maybe in her 70’s and she had 8 or 10lb weights, and was killing it! I couldn’t help but feel humbled. No matter how big or strong you are, young or old; yoga will challenge your genetic make-up, and your beliefs.

Q: How do you encourage or tell your guys friends to go to yoga?

A lot of my guy friends already practice yoga and it’s easier to do it when you’re together. A lot of the classes are made up of mostly women, and it can actually feel a little intimidating because WE are the ones who are struggling. While in L.A. in the off-season, I have invited friends to the CPY in Westwood, and they got a lot out of the workout. So, I’ve been on both sides for CPY, being invited and enjoying it, and doing the inviting, and having my friends really like the experience.

Q: People talk about how they come to yoga for the physical practice, and then find a deeper connection to their mind and spirit. Have you found this to be true with you and can you speak to how yoga has made you more mindful? 

I agree that people come to yoga, especially sculpt, for the physical aspects, and while feeling physically drained, they also feel replenished. However, one of the more beneficial aspects for me has been the development of mindfulness and improved focus, especially on details. I have become more aware of the little things it takes to push past the limits or barriers that can get in the way of achieving maximum results. Like, when I am in certain poses, especially during the end of class, I lock into the 8 count, focus on my breath, and push past the pain using positive self-talk. In yoga if you don’t breathe and focus on proper technique, it becomes nearly impossible to keep going. The focus I gain while doing yoga translates to my work in football. After playing for as long as I have, it’s easy to go through the motions, but I have found that my attention to detail, and focus on improving all the little things, have increased exponentially.