A lot of my friends think I'm a jock because I stretch a lot before I skate. I guess it does look kinda funny, but I heard that stretching makes you a better skater. Is this true? It seems to feel a lot more flowy. Is yoga just a hippie thing? I'm not a hippy at all; I'm pretty much what they call "hesh." I see all this stuff about yoga everywhere, but how much of it is true? It says it puts oxygen into your blood and stuff. Doesn't that kill you? Did your friends think you were kinda flaky when you first started doing yoga?
Actually, I think yoga stretches out your muscles so you don't look and feel so bulky and tight. I've always been into the kid-like approach to skating, which is really loose and happy. As my body grew older, I started to feel like I held myself with a lot of stress and tension. This increased every year. Since I was kinda following a hippie-like lifestyle, living in Santa Cruz, skating and raising a family, yoga naturally became part of my daily routine. As I practiced, I really started to feel like I was shedding layers of skateboarding's abuse, and my old spirit started to get revitalized and nourished. It was great because I was super into this new school/old school approach—loose with spirit, not so much with the tricks. This worked out great with what I wanted to contribute as a pro in skateboarding.
I used to get so much shit for doing yoga when I rode for Real. Kelly Bird, Coco Santiago and James Kelch would tease the f**k out of me. But with my newly focused fountain of youth, I was steadfast knowing I'd take my time to shine in the long term. For me, my yoga practice needs to happen as soon as I wake up because it really sets up my day (and prevents me from looking goofy in public). I've never regretted going to yoga class; I've only regretted not going. I practice ashtanga yoga, which starts with the sun salutation. It really keeps me in touch with myself, my family, my friends, my skating, and these days, with the business side of skateboarding. Yoga has been such a joyous part of my life. So seek out a yoga class. They're not expensive and can make an incredible difference in your life. —Matt