Men’s Class: Wed 5.30 – 6.45pm
A statue or picture you may recognize as being associated with Yoga is that of Lord Shiva. Historically, it is considered that Shiva gave Yoga to men and in his more free-spirited, dancing form, Nataraja, gave dance to women.
Yoga as a means for men to move into silence and non-attachment from worldly things in order to let go of the small, ego-centred self. And dance as a way for women to move ecstatically into total devotion and bliss as their way to let go of the egoic self
And so it is said, that originally only men practiced Yoga, as a way of being able to keep the body strong, flexible and resilient enough to be able to sit in silence for long periods. But contrary to common belief, Yoga did not have a widespread popularity in India as only men called to live a holy life were attracted to it. That belief is still quite common today, and is interwoven into the Hindu belief of reincarnation, that there is no urgency to take up Yoga in this life, as ‘sooner or later’ they will get to it, ‘maybe in the next life’, that taking up the yoga path is in fact inevitable
Westerners think quite differently … and as soon as the benefits could be felt and experienced, everyone wanted to do it, to be stronger, more flexible, to get to God faster, to have more peace and less stress. Both men and women approached Yoga with that typical striving, anxious, never good enough, get it done now mind. And the attraction for women was that it was not as hardcore as gym-work, nor as exacting as dance – the perfect balance
And now of course many more women than men practice all kinds of different variations of the original, relatively low-key form designed to support men in silence and strengthen the body for hard physical work. Classes are generally predominantly women and yoga teachers are predominantly women. So, over time, a little subtle bias has snuck in to the presentation and practice of yoga, particularly in formal classes. However this has changed rapidly over the past 5yrs or so as men are realizing the incredible benefits
We often carry old injuries and tension in our shoulders, lower back and knees, which are extremely difficult to access and heal. Regular yoga practice helps to lengthen and strengthen these areas. We hold onto and express our stress and anxiety differently from women and a strong, non-competitive class is the perfect antidote
And of course men are generally more comfortable with silence than many women (this is not a judgement, just a difference to be respected) and so the meditative aspect of yoga is often quite natural and normal