For a transguy, making peace with your body can be a unique challenge. Even after you transition, you might still have lingering discomfort about the shape of your hips, the way you hold your shoulders, or what is (or is not) between your legs.
That’s why yoga can be so good for trans people: The whole point of the practice is to restore connection between your body and your mind. After a lifetime of feeling alienated from our bodies, isn’t that pretty much exactly what we need?
Yet speaking as a transman and as a certified yoga teacher, I know that yoga can still feel intimidating for many transmen. First, yoga can be challenging if you wear a binder: During your practice, you shouldn’t restrict your breathing, so it’s best to wear only minimal binding or an athletic top if possible. But also, certain yoga poses may emphasize your junk, or lack thereof, making you feel really self-conscious (Wheel Pose, I’m looking at you!). So for many transguys—especially transguys who have not had bottom surgery—this means avoiding these poses. Or just not going to class at all.
The good news is that there are still a number of excellent options that will allow you to enjoy the full benefits of yoga, whether in a slower, more relaxed style or in a more vigorous athletic practice. Of course, one of these options is just to practice in the privacy of your own home. You can do this by using free online videos. An example of a basic free online yoga class is this one (I chose it because it has a cute dog in it). If you want an online class aimed specifically toward queer, trans* and gender-nonconforming people and don’t mind making an online contribution to the cost, check out this wonderful site. In an increasing number of locations, another option is to take a trans-friendly yoga class in person, such as the one in Portland, Oregon described here, or the class taught by Sparkle Thornton on Sundays at Namaste Studio in Oakland, California.
But if you want to take a class at a studio and prefer not to be in (or can’t find) a specifically trans-friendly environment, there are more great options. For guys who have not had bottom surgery, one thing you can do is find the right packer to wear to class. This means finding a packer with just the right amount of give, as well as tight-fitting underwear that can hold it in place. After years of trying different combinations, I found that the best configuration is a combination of the EZP and a pair of tight-fitting jock-style briefs with cup pocket. Although the EZP is designed to be a stand-to-pee device, it turns out to have a great “off-label” use as an athletic packer! Because it is both hollow and made of durable silicone, it won’t dig into your body the way solid packers will when you lie on your belly. And its modest proportions mean it won’t stick out and make you look just a little too excited about Bridge Pose ;). The EZP will also fit perfectly in a jock cup pocket, so you never have to worry about it slipping out during class.
Whether or not you’ve had bottom surgery, another thing you can do is get a pair of breathable men’s shorts. When looking for the right shorts, keep in mind that if they’re too loose, they will fall down around your head when you go upside-down, and if they’re too tight, then you may feel even more self-conscious. So look for something that has a relaxed fit—but not too relaxed. Personally, I use RadialWear’s new “all-genders” yoga shorts. (full disclosure: I am a product-tester for RadialWear). Started by a transman yoga instructor and based in California, RadialWear makes shorts with a unique crotch gusset that gives you full range of motion without compromising your privacy. They’re just stretchy enough not to fall down, but just loose enough to preserve your dignity J (Bonus: the shorts are made of all-natural, organic fibers and are made in L.A. by an ethical sewing workshop, and RadialWear will donate a percentage of profits to causes related to LGBTQIA rights, animal rights, and the environment.) Another good option is the “Sutra” short by Prana, though I found the fixed-size waist just a little narrow for my trans-guy-style hips. In short, with an EZP, some tight-fitting jock briefs, and a good pair of shorts, you’ll be doing Downward Dog in no time.
– Tom H.