MEN IN YOGA
There has been an increase in the amount of men doing yoga in the last few years and that's no surprise really. The previous generation of men were some of the most emotionally repressed in history. The whole gender battle and the expectations that women and men act a certain way is ridiculous and way past its use by date.
I grew up in a man's world. My dad is a tradesman and a bit of a footy hooligan. He loves a beer with his mates and a bet down the pub (doesn't mind a blue either). I played Aussie rules as a teenager and as a young adult. There was a lot of change room banter including gay jokes, penis jokes and belittling anyone who showed any form of weakness.
I began an apprenticeship as a bricklayer when I finished school. This wasn't much better, in fact it was probably worse. Male competition at its finest, where only the strong survive. It felt like a daily Gladiatorial battle but instead of fighting with swords and shields to see who was the mightiest, we fought with words. Tormenting those who didn’t know how to do simple tasks, lift heavy objects or showed any emotional weakness. There was the occasional sign of brotherhood when we were all down the pub drinking or if someone came to work with a serious problem. Although the emotional support never lasted long. I remember asking my boss for a day off to go to my grandfather’s funeral, to which he responded with a yes, but not before he said “he’s dead, it’s time to just move on.” I’ve had a few other jobs where the representation of masculinity was immature and misguided. I worked in a glass factory for 18 months and the iron ore mines in Western Australia for 18 months too.
My first yoga class was in my lounge room watching YouTube. I was too scared to go to a regular class because of this stupid, misguided concept of what a man should or shouldn’t be like. I had this crazy belief that I wouldn’t be accepted if I went to a yoga class, because I was a bricklayer and played footy. They would just think I was some young guy going to look at women in tights.The first time I tried to meditate was also watching YouTube. I actually fell asleep every time I tried.
After 3 months of practicing in my lounge room I went overseas for 13 months. While travelling I met a lot of people who did yoga and I practiced a few times with them as I felt more accepted because I didn’t know them and they did not seem to know much about yoga, and they didn’t know that I was an imposter .
My view of myself changed a lot and when I returned home l fell into yoga full time. I began practicing 2-3 times a week at a yoga studio called Bohemian Lili Yoga in my home town of Gawler in South Australia. The beautiful woman who ran the classes didn’t criticise me once for not being flexible or wearing footy shorts or anything else. She just welcomed me every time I came to class and helped when I asked. The rest of the people in the classes were really friendly and welcoming all the time.
I was amazed at the difference in my life from a constant practice. I became more aware of my thoughts and how they affected my feelings and actions. As my body began to open up more I found I was able to recover faster from sports and work. I wasn’t waking up after laying bricks all day with a sore back or legs from carrying heavy loads. People commented on my energy and my nature around them, I became less reactive and more accepting of the current situation whatever that may have been.
It took all of about 3 months for me to become somewhat addicted and decide to go to India to do my own yoga teacher training. Three months after making that decision I was in Mumbai in India completing my 900hr 3 month intensive yoga teacher training course. As soon as I got back I started teaching male only yoga classes to try and help bridge the gender division in our society.
Yoga was originally designed by men in India and used to be a male only practice. It’s strange that now it’s considered more feminine. The tides are turning slowly and I am so grateful for that, but I still feel as though there can be a lot more change to be made. I support you to start thinking outside the label that you (or society) has put you under. Start doing things that scare you, things that you never thought you would imagine yourself doing.
“Trying to be the person that you want to be, is stopping you from being the person that you truly are”
AKA - The Hairy Healer