My Opening Thoughts

buddha statueYes it is true.  I am a man and I love yoga.  I first stumbled across yoga many years ago and I picked it up as a fill in for when I could not get to a Tae Kwon Do class, while traveling, or just to get some extra stretch time in.  But as time progressed and I started to delve deeper into yoga, and I began to notice things.

First, I noticed that yoga was providing me benefits in my other pursuits.  Things such as more patience, a more open heart and mind, a better understanding of energy and energy flow to name a few.  This eventually led me to a teacher training and my certification in teaching yoga (it was a convoluted process, but well worth it and a story for another time).

Second, I noticed that I was often (make that most of the time; ok, make that always) the minority in the room; I was a guy.  Not that this was a bad thing, but I did start to wonder why more men did not take yoga classes.  The benefits are well documented and there are yoga classes for all levels.  So where were my peers hiding?

It turns out they weren’t hiding; they just were not showing up.  And why not?  As it turns out, yoga today isn’t really guy friendly.  We don’t have great fitting, comfortable clothes to wear.  Not only that, but there is (in my experience) an assumption that yoga is for women.  I signed up for a teacher training, and the first email I received opened with “Welcome Beautiful Goddesses.”  I have never really been the goddess type.

Third was ego.  As a guy, I have had it drilled into me that being competitive is what life is all about.  Winner take all, no second place, just the first loser, and so many more.  And while this is a generalized stereo type based on my own experience, I have asked and I am not alone.  Not only that, but we have been trained since birth to always try and show off for women.  Yes, very caveman, but it is still true.  My view on this; competition is fine.  In fact, use it to get yourself through the door.  Not competition with anyone else in the room; competition with yourself and your own perceived limits.  And as for the showing off thing; just let it go.

And last for today; touchy-feely stuff.  It can be a little creepy at first.  Talking about feelings, divineness inside and all that stuff can be unsettling.  This is *not* how I grew up and it was astonishingly uncomfortable for me at first.  But the nice part about yoga is that it can be digested in pieces.  There isn’t a mandated order to follow.  So if spiritual enlightenment is not what you are after; take that part of the class and just sit with your breath.  The yoga teacher starts talking about how she had a revelation about her relationship with her mom last weekend; just sit, breathe and don’t worry about it.

Yoga is a good thing.  Yoga will open up new possibilities.  Yoga is challenging; physically, mentally and when (if) the time comes, emotionally and spiritually.  Yoga is not a religion.  Yoga is what you need it to be.  Challenging one day, supportive the next, and next Tuesday it is what keeps you from losing your mind with a coworker.

Yoga is for everyone, including men.  It is up to us to show up.