Men on the Mat
From Doing to Being
Yoga classes are generally unequally proportioned between men and women. Why is this? What is it about yoga that doesn’t draw men more readily to the practice? Some may say it’s because there is no competitive edge to yoga. Others say it’s because the movements aren’t engaging enough for a man. Whatever the reason, it seems as if there is something about the current yoga scene that doesn’t captivate many men’s attention.
Here’s a common question men ask: “Why should I spend time doing yoga, if I could be at the gym, playing sports or doing other cardiovascular activities, especially when I have such limited time?” The answer is that yoga’s ultimate benefits have the potential to improve performance, cut down on injuries, as well as increase enjoyment and ease in recreation, exercise and in the rest of life.
Let’s talk nuts and bolts. There are certain asanas (yoga postures) that inspire men to do yoga, and others that may strike fear, frustration, or boredom. An “alive” yoga practice may involve more standing asanas (postures) that strengthen, such as the warrior series. You might focus on opening hips and increasing flexibility through postures like pigeon or runner’s pose, or try back bends to energize.
A key point: A man’s practice must fit his needs. Here are some considerations: What are your stress levels? What do you want to improve in your life? What type of work do you do? Start with the aches and pains to help choose a focus for the day. Practice daily inversions to calm your mind. If you have an active lifestyle, you may benefit from some seated twists and backs bends for spinal flexibility. Whatever you need, set a goal and find a teacher who can help you progress towards that goal.
Finally, as a man it is a blessing to relax and let go of the “do” mechanism that drives many men, even in their yoga practice. It’s clear that there is a pressure on men to do, project and provide. But the greatness of yoga comes into play when a forward bend or an inversion like shoulder stand turns your world upside down, allowing you to be a human “being” and not a human “doing.”
Simeon Darwick / Satmukh
Joyfulness for Fitness
Recommended: Yoga for Men: Postures for Healthy, Stress-Free Living by Thomas Claire
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