I am male, I am strong. I have traits of family, and I hold my own traits. I have dreams, goals and motivation, but in a world full of expectations, being this person was hard. Life is busy, I work full time to provide a stable life for my wife and two children. My wife works and studies at uni, so I also take on house responsibilities to support her. Life worked. That was until I kept trying to do everything for everyone else instead of me. My happiness depended on my wife’s happiness, the children’s happiness and extended families happiness. If they weren’t happy, I wasn’t happy. I would get down easily and stressed a lot. I would argue with my wife and the relationship began to grow distance between us.
I watched my wife in her journey of yoga and I often said how jealous I was of her new found passion. She tried to convince me to go, said it would be great for me to focus on myself. But I was a strong male, I didn’t need yoga.
In an argument one evening I opened up to my wife about everything I was feeling, and with my families long history of depression my wife booked me an appointment with our doctor. I had tried to base my happiness on everyone else and forgot about me. I was prescribed anti-depressants and began counselling sessions to re-establish my goals and dreams. To find who I was.
It was in this time that my wife sat down again, this time with more information. “There’s a males evening class on. I think it will really help you with everything that has been going on, focus on you, settle your mind, and mostly get back into touch with who you are, forget everything and just give it a go.”
I took the brochure and stared at it for a couple of days. Since she has started I have noticed major shifts in her presence, her awareness, her ability to remain calm and laugh more. I wanted that. I wanted to connect with her again. I don’t want to follow my destined genes of depression. I wanted to fight it and find who I was.
The first evening walking into the room, I was nervous and worried. However I felt secure in knowing that every other male in the room was there for the same reason. I felt a sudden release of stress. During my first session with Polly and the other males, I felt areas of my body I hadn’t felt for years. As a long distance runner I all of a sudden realised how tense and cramped up my body was.
During my weeks with the school I have become more aware of my senses and how I deal with them. It bought my attention to my posture and the tenseness throughout my body. Not only physically but mentally yoga has helped me track my mind and negative thought processes. I understand I cannot base my happiness on the happiness of others and yoga is helping me find who I am both mentally and physically. Although I have only been going for a few weeks, I am able to identify these feelings both in my body and mind outside of the yoga room. Not only has yoga bought my attention to many parts of my body, I realised my breathing was rapid, or shallow. Yoga helped me slow my breathing and in difficult situations I now find myself focusing in on my breath. This has allowed me to react differently to situations which in the past may have ended in anger or sadness.
I feel like I can now connect with my wife more. I now understand her passion and her reasons for diving so deep into yoga. We can discuss poses and how the class went. I am connecting with her on a deeper and more spiritual level, which I could not understand prior to starting.
Although I am male, and I am strong, and felt yoga was not for men, I can safely say by taking on the practice I now understand there is no gender for yoga. Yoga is for both male and female. It takes strength, concentration and awareness that both men and woman need. I try discuss the yoga practice with my work colleagues, to which I find it is ignored by them. As I begin to feel dismissed by them, I remind myself that it took my wife 6 months to convince me to go. I also thought I was too tough for yoga, or that yoga was not for men. I now stand corrected.
Walking into Polly’s class has strengthened so many areas of my life and I cannot recommend yoga for other males enough. You are male, you are strong. Yoga will only enhance this for you.
Practically speaking, when we are stiff in our hips and hamstrings our knees and ankles are ‘punished’. At some stage it is better to be accountable/aware of how to work with our hamstrings and hips so that the knees and ankles are able to get on with their work. It’s also the case in twisting poses that people twist into the flexible areas of their spine and in doing so completely miss the area that needs to be ‘accountable’: we are slipping around a stiffness and there will be consequences.
Our yoga classes for children have been running for 4 years and some of the feedback we get from parents and also teachers is amazing and encouraging. Children experience stress for lots of different reasons and yoga helps them to 'discharge' it through physical movements and also through breathing exercises and meditation.
When we go camping, we sit in awe of the magnificence of the mountain, the oceans, the sky. We go there because we recognize that some thing changes within us when we sit quietly within the wonderment of nature. We say "I am different", "I am happier", "I am energized", "I am more content". When we practice yoga we learn to sit in the wonderment of our embodiment. It is our microcosm of the macrocosm of nature. We recognize that being in the power of our own presence is a practice of being at one with the forces of nature.