Eddie Hall lifts himself off the ground from a seated position, balancing on his hands. One leg folds inward as the other effortlessly extends behind him, until his foot reaches his head and rests on his neck.
To the average guy, this may seem impossible, but to Hall, it’s a piece of cake. It’s also one of the key positions, called the “Om” pose, which he will demonstrate in a three-minute routine during the 2014 USA Yoga National Championship in San Antonio, TX, March 14-16.
Hall, 35, director of fitness at Baltimore Fitness and Tennis in Pikesville, won the opportunity after being crowned state champion in November for the second straight year. He placed 14th overall in last year’s national competition, and set a goal of cracking the top 10 this year.
It was only five years ago that Hall walked into Bikram Yoga Hampden to try his first class. Little did he know he’d fall in love with the ancient exercise.
“When I started, I was 185 pounds. I thought I was solid muscle. I thought I was in the best shape of my life but, in the first month, I dropped 20 pounds,” says Hall, who lives with wife Kelly (also a yogi) in Cockeysville.
There’s long been a stigma that men and yoga don’t mix—that the brawnier gender simply can’t stretch to the limber limits of the peaceful practice the way women can.
But Hall wants to break that barrier. He has seen the male-female ratio in yoga classes narrow since he first started, and touts it as an excellent pairing with weight training for gym rats.
“One of my goals through yoga is to get more men involved and show them you don’t have to be a skinny, frail, flexible guy,” he says. “I see more and more athletes coming into the studio. Men from Crossfit, even NFL and Ravens players are doing Bikram yoga. I think it’s really going to change the sport.”