Promoting men's Yoga
I STARTED PRACTICING YOGA IN THE LATE 80'S. I couldn’t tie my shoes without sitting down and, one morning, I threw my neck out bending over to drink water from my bathroom faucet. I thought I had a problem with the discs in my neck and I went to a doctor. He did an x-ray and told me my spine was good and suggested a yoga class. I rejected taking the class for months because I thought yoga was for girls. (You know, like ballet and softball.) When I gave in because of the pain and discomfort, I found the class was all women. However, the teacher was a man. His class was good, and although he was a little goofy (all love, karma, and good vibrations), I liked the class and immediately felt the benefit. But I would not have returned to the class had the instructor not been male.
inspire : to influence, move, or guide
I sporadically took classes for the following ten years. They were alright, but I was continually frustrated by bendy girls saying “look what I can do” and then shaping themselves into some contortion that I had no desire to mimic. I lift weights, run, and swim. Being athletic, I am always tight. I still can’t sit in lotus position. My broad shoulders and narrow hips make me very top heavy. The muscles in my arms make them heavier to lift. A man’s body has a different center of balance. What is appropriate for a woman, her center of balance is, well, more centered, is not altogether always suitable for a man. I find that we, men, approach a posture with more fire than water. In turn, we can be more creative and intense in our practice. To achieve balance in a class largely of women, a teacher might apply aspects of fire. But for the one or two men in the class who are already full of fire, this can result in angst and frustration. Applying more water to balance his fire, makes him more apt to stick with a practice. Which might lead to more men taking yoga. This visual inspires me. But I see little representation of men doing yoga. In our journals, magazines, blogs and, still, our classes, there is very little to inspire men to participate. And, even though there is more masculine representation today, yoga is still predominately considered a feminine practice.
Supporting our men's Yoga community
I want to support a change in this perception. As a means to do this, I am off to explore, learn, and share. Supporting our men’s yoga community by traveling all over the world and working with the men who share my interest. I look forward to hearing their philosophies, experiencing their approach to mastering postures, and benefiting socially from our interactions. I want to give a shout out to the men who I admire as teachers: Moses Love, Duncan Wong, David Keil, Pablo Lucero, and Elgar Richards. I have a long, long list of teachers I want to meet. Too long to list, but I am off to Montreal this August to study with David Flewelling and Martin Bilodeau. In September, I’ll be back in Palm Springs and want to work with Tristan Martin Gatto. Later this year I plan to go to Seattle, WA and work with Joel Benjamin. I aim to plan a trip to work with Rad Kaim in the UK and Mark Sparks in Paris. YJL