NAMASTE: Rob Henricks has mastered the headstand .
NAMASTE: Rob Henricks has mastered the headstand . contributed

"Yoga saved my life,” said local after he had heart surgery

YOGA: Two years ago, Rob Henricks was recovering from heart surgery and couldn't even touch his toes. Now he's studying to become a yoga instructor and his heart is in fighting shape.

"My mitral valve collapsed and I was told by the doctors I needed to find a way to slow down,” he said.

"I knew I needed to find something to take the stress out of my life.

"I couldn't do anything, I could hardly bend down, I couldn't step up on the back of a vehicle without having to hold on to something. It was ridiculous.”

After some gentle nudging from his wife, Gail, Mr Henricks attended his first yoga class and has been hooked since, having now mastered complicated moves like the crow and a headstand.

"It was hard at first but I went again and again and now I'm going five times a week and it's become my passion,” Mr Henricks said.

"My heart is nearly back to how it was before surgery, I'm not taking medication and I'm calmer, more flexible and got a hell of a lot more strength.

"Yoga has really saved my life.”

Being the only man at the two recent yoga retreats he attended, Mr Henricks hopes to break down the stigma that yoga is only for women.

"Since I've started yoga, I can count on one hand how many men there's been in the classes,” he said.

"I think they worry about feeling foolish if there's a woman up there doing funny things and they can't keep up. It's not a competition, it's not a team sport.

"You're just working on improving yourself.

"And some people assume that men are just there to ogle women but, trust me, you're not ogling anyone, not when you're twisted in these crazy positions.”

While Mr Henricks' attempts to get his sons to join him for a class have proved unsuccessful, he believes that yoga has immense benefits for athletes, especially in physically demanding sports.

"Our three boys are absolutely nuts about fitness and body building and we can't get them here yet,” he said.

"I think some men might think it's a waste of a workout and they wouldn't get anything out of it.

"Yoga isn't about how heavy a weight you can lift, it's about stretching to get the blood flowing through the body.”

The 59-year-old's passion for yoga has led him to studying to be a fully accredited yoga instructor by March next year.

"I think in today's busy world it makes you stop and concentrate on yourself rather then being so scattered,” he said.

"When I first started yoga, in the meditation part I couldn't zone out because I was too hyped up. Now once I lay down, I switch off immediately. It's calmed me down a hell of a lot.

"More people should do it, especially in the bush.”

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