Men Are Approaching Yoga All Wrong. Here’s How to Fix It.
A new Chicago yoga studio for men isn’t just about the flows — it’s about the philosophy underlying them
Gravel-voiced, barrel-chested and fully tattooed, John Kamys thought he was blessed with good genes, so for years threw his body around recklessly. Then, one day, when he was in his forties, “everything started stopping.”
A former dancer, bodybuilder and punk-rock frontman, Kamys had been done in by failed surgeries, herniated discs and epidural fibrosis, and a steady diet of pain medications and red wine. After experimenting with a variety of rehab techniques, he discovered Bikram yoga — and without it, he says, he “would possibly be dead, definitely very heavy and unhappy, a drug addict, and possibly still bedridden.”
So began Kamys’s leap into therapeutic yoga. After committing to a rigorous daily Bikram practice, Kamys moved from Chicago to China and then to Indonesia to study yoga and other Eastern therapeutic massage techniques. During the pandemic, he returned to Chicago to open his new Gold Coast yoga studio, offering research-based practices centered on improving men’s longevity, sexual health and wellness: Atman: Men’s Longevity, Yoga & Wellness.
At Atman, Kamys counsels a wide variety of men for different issues, offering individualized therapies for each. For him, the best part of Atman is working with a man who has “something to overcome.”
“I want to be able to share this incredible — I guess it’s not a discovery — the possibility of what you can actually do with your body at an older age,” says Kamys, whose philosophy focuses on healing the body “from the inside out, from bones to skin.”
As you might expect, it eschews what he describes as the predominant mentality for addressing ailing, or aging, bodies: “Chop, snip, fix it up and send you on your way” — which, in his opinion, denies men a deep understanding of their bodies. Five hundred years ago, men had access to neither Cialis nor penile implants — so what did they have to keep them healthy and sexually active? According to Kamys, the answers are found within the ancient practice of movement and breath series of therapeutic yoga — and an attendant commitment to proper spinal alignment and good circulation. Each session at Atman begins with learning how to stand and breathe: Bikram yoga, which is practiced in a heated room, starts with pranayama, or breath practice, and includes a prescribed series of standing and floor postures before ending with another pranayama. The practice is designed to work every tissue, joint, organ, and bone.
Though well-versed in The Upanishads and other spiritual texts, Kamys keeps his instruction clear and woo-free: He calls one posture “The Ball Crusher” because, he says, it feels like his testicles shoot from one part of his body to another. (This posture uses compression to help to keep the genitals healthy.) “If you are disciplined within your body, the other aspects come into you whether you like it or not,” he says. “Habits begin to get questioned. The way you eat, changes. The way you relate to other people, changes. The way you begin to consciously think about language, changes.”
Kamys, who considers himself “the plumber of the human body,” says good sex and longevity start with “moving fluids through the body.” In therapeutic yoga — Kamys teaches Bikram and Hatha — you “simply focus on the body” and stretch, compress, and twist every part of you. “Our belief is that if you try the right way and, in your head, you’re only doing 1% of what the posture might be, you’re still getting 100% of the benefits because you’re moving your body in the right direction,” Kamys says, citing extensive research on how practical therapeutic yoga provides proven results for erectile dysfunction and anorgasmia. And indeed: For clients looking for a deeper dive, Kamys also provides specific prescriptive practices, and lingam and prostate massage, along with a message of hope and empowerment. “You have control over your body, not the other way around.”
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