The single biggest teacher in my yoga practice to date has been working through an injury. It forces me so be SO fucking humble every time I get on my mat. Some days I barely have the strength to do anything. Having an injury has taught me not to equate progress in asana with progress along the spiritual path. To practice patience and acceptance. And self love. And most importantly NOT to equate “doing” with self worth. Having an injury has taught me to detach from progress all together and just BE with myself and my thoughts. The goal is first and foremost to practice without a goal. To practice without any attachment to results. To get on my mat without any expectations. And it’s definitely NOT easy. This experience has taught me to let go and surrender to the practice. It’s like what Tim Miller said —-> “The practice itself, done consistently, is the real teacher”. Thank you, Ashtanga.
I’ve known Matt for over ten years. We met working at a bookstore during our University days. Studious as we both were, (wink, wink) I ended up with a Bachelor of Arts Degree and he one-upped me with an Honours Degree in Kinesiology & Exercise Science. He was a personal trainer when I met him. Matt’s level of athleticism, as well as his understanding of kinesiology has always impressed me. He’s been training for nearly twenty years and training others for about fifteen.
So, my question was simple. How had someone like Matt, who is so interested in training, athleticism and human movement, NEVER been to a yoga class?
I sat down with Matt before our first yoga session to get the scoop on WHY he had waited ALL of these years to try yoga. He gave me THREE REASONS….
1) YOGA IS FOR WOMEN Matt said that he was reluctant to try yoga because he thought it was something that was marketed for women. Fair enough. Typically, public classes are still 70-80% women. I could see how that number would be intimidating for a dude. I assured him that men attend public classes – they may be in the minority, but they’re still in attendance. I also told him that yoga is a system from the East that was designed by MEN! Get that. Most lineages of yoga that we practice in the West were developed by male gurus. Clearly not just a practice for women.
2) I’M NOT FLEXIBLE ENOUGH.
Matt said that he felt uncomfortable going into a class with a bunch of flexible people. I think this is a common misconception about yoga. The assumption is that in order to attend a class, you have to have a certain level of flexibility. Let me tell you this: before I started practicing yoga, I could barely touch my toes! I played sports for many years and rarely stretched. My hamstrings, hips and shoulders were incredibly tight! If you’re inflexible, it’s a GREAT reason TO attend a class! I assured him that there weren’t any requirements for flexibility and that with regular practice, his flexibility would improve.
3) I DON’T WANT IT TO INTERFERE WITH MY WEIGHT TRAINING.
Matt told me that with his busy schedule (like many of us) he didn’t want other forms of training/movement to interfere with his weight training time. I completely understood. Our time is valuable. And we have to make time for the things in our lives that are most important to us. I let Matt know that complimenting his work out regime with a yoga practice could help improve his recovery time and overall training results. I explained that yoga is often categorized as a “flexibility” practice but that it also significantly helps to strengthen under-utilized muscle groups in the body. Practicing yoga also helps to improve your posture and bone health, along with many other physical benefits. ‘Nough said.
So, I’m happy that I got to the bottom of this! Hopefully I’ve cleared up some misconceptions that you may have had about yoga. If you’re a man and you want to try out some yoga, I’m offering two workshop series for men who are brand new to yoga in Vancouver and Burnaby in January 2016. Check out the links below for more info!!
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If you’re interested in learning more about yoga and wellness you can follow my blog at www.gilliantateyoga.com.
Thanks and happy yoga-ing!!
Certified Yoga Instructor
“The Mysore-style teaching format is really the perfect way for a beginner to learn yoga, as it starts from scratch and develops according to the abilities of the individual. I totally believe that anyone can practice and take benefit from Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga”. David Robson
Yoga weakens the root causes of all suffering – the Klesas.
The Five Klesas listed in the Yoga Sutras are as follows:
1) Avidya – Self limiting thoughts, ignorance
2) Asmita – Ego
3) Raga – Attachment
4) Dvesa – Dislike, aversion
5) Abhinivesah – Clinging to life
Every type of suffering can be traced back to one of 5 klesas. Knowledge and awareness dispel them. Through the practice of yoga we can tune in, become aware and let go of the root causes of suffering.