Adam Levine is standing on his head. He’s stock-still, breathing easily, his feet together. A dozen photographers and stylists and assorted others scurry around, fussing, assessing, adjusting. Levine ignores them, his face focused and sphinxlike. Sure, it’s just a photo shoot. He’s done plenty in his nearly 15 nears as front man for the grammy-winning, multiplatinum band Maroon 5, and even more of them since 2011, when he took up residence as one of four coaches in comically oversized, rotating red chairs on the singing-competition show The Voice, a runaway hit for NBC. A brief hour ago, he was relaxed and goofy, gamely striding through the photographer's frame, flexing his tattooed arms and flashing muscleman poses. But this is different: It's yoga. And when it comes to yoga, Levine doesn't mess around.
As the 33-year-old singer swoops, bends, and twists, Chad Dennis, a loquacious yoga teacher and fitness instructor who has been Levine's private trainer for 5 years, offers some coaching advice: "Broaden out your collarbones. . .engage the toes. . .fire up the peroneals." Cameras flash.
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The yoga asanas become tougher and more athletic: Warrior. Sage. Peacock. Monkey. At one point, the wiry 6-foot, 165-pound Levine balances his entire body weight on his arms. His torso and one leg are parallel to the ground, and the knee of his other leg is drawn up toward his chest. (Search: Hardest Yoga Poses) He's a serious student of the art. Even extending his back into a crescent, balancing on his head, and twisting around himself like a cruller, Levine knows exactly where he is.
It's a skill he's had to call on quite a bit lately. Between appearing on The Voice and touring with Maroon 5 (who will play more than 30 North American concerts between late December and early April), Levine is, by any measure, hyperextended. He has ventured into acting, including a role in the recently wrapped Can a Song Save Your Life? alongside Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo. He also has less official duties, of course, as fashion icon, boyfriend to some of the world's most beautiful women, and object of lust to legions of female fans.
It's a wonder Levine can even breathe, much less as deeply and calmly as he's breathing now.
Yoga anchors his balancing act. "I have a hard time sitting still," Levine says. "I can be all over the map. Yoga has given me the ability to be more focused and make better decisions that come from a clear place." Yes, it keeps his stamina up, his physique toned, and his abs ripped. But many forms of exercise can deliver superficial results like these. "Maybe more than anything else," says Dennis, "yoga teaches you to be still and calm under challenging circumstances." (See Adam’s favorite pre-show yoga routine in the 3 Best Yoga Poses for Men.)
Levine wasn't always so focused. At Brentwood School, the swank L.A. private academy he attended with fellow band members Jesse Carmichael, Mickey Madden, and Ryan Dusick, he was, in his words, "focused on rebellion and being all angsty." His grades sucked. Despite playing basketball as a kid, he quit the team when music began to take up more of his time.
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His early years as a musician, though, were decidedly bumpy. He was so nervous at his first professional gig, at the Troubadour in L.A., that he couldn't even face the audience. Of course, he was just a kid. "I was in seventh grade. April 29, 1992. I'm like fucking Rain Man with dates," he says.
Voice and performance coach Steven Memel, who began working with Levine a few years later, remembers receiving panicked phone calls on the nights before performance days, when the singer's voice would be a wreck from partying. "I'd have to help him cobble it back together," says Memel. Of Levine's early potential, Memel is blunt: "He had an intensity about him and a unique quality to his voice." But did he think, This guy's going to be a star? "No."
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