Toned girls in tights, positive vibes and the opportunity to regain my childhood flexibility - although that was how I, a hot-blooded, twenty-something year old male, used to view yoga classes, it took me years to muster up the courage to actually attend one!
As much as I wanted to stroll into a class and assume a sequence of postures, three fears held me back.
Now the irony of these three fears is that I overcame them after attending just one class. Yes, that’s right - just one! And now when I look back at them, they were all trivial in nature.
If you are a guy, or have a male partner, who has wanted to try yoga but has made excuses to avoid actually doing it, then read on. I’ll address each of the three fears that I faced and “debunk” them in the hope of inspiring more men to unleash their innate flexibility!
1. Yoga is something that only girls do
Given that yoga classes in modern society are very much skewed towards females, the practice has often been attributed to women. But take a look at any list of India’s most iconic yogis and you’ll notice that they are filled predominantly with men. Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, Swami Sivananda and B K S Iyengar were all men!
This isn’t to herald male yogis and devalue female yogis. It’s just to highlight that how we view things depends on perception; and perceptions are unstable at best. What’s viewed as acceptable in one country may be viewed as unacceptable in another place or time. Consequently, we should not label activities as for men or for women (unless there are specific biological reasons). If the activity, whether it is yoga, pilates, calisthenics or HIIT, improves your health and wellbeing, do it, no matter what your gender is.
2. I’m just not flexible
The notion that I’m just not flexible enough to practice yoga assumes that your body is a static entity. However, the reality is that your body is a fluid, constantly changing organism reflecting what you do with it. Just compare the photos of a bodybuilder before, during and after their career!
If your body is tense all the time, your body will be tense. If you sit down all day, your body will adapt to sitting down. If you lift weights each day, your muscles will grow so that you can lift more weights. If you stretch your body every day, your body will…yes, you guessed it, become more flexible!
Consequently, yoga is for those who are already flexible AND for those who want to be flexible. People don’t walk into the weights room and say, “I’m too weak to work out,” because the whole notion of going to the weights room is to develop strength. Apply the same work ethic for developing strength to increasing flexibility and you’ll be touching your toes in no time!
3. People will laugh at me if I mess up
Yoga is not a competition of who can do the best headstand or any other asana for that matter. It is about being at one with yourself.
If you fall over or need to sit out because you cannot do a posture, the instructor will be there to guide you along. Don’t even worry about what other people may think of you. They will be too focused on their own postures to care. In actual fact, looking at what other people are doing during a yoga class can easily lead one to injure themselves. No one wants a slipped disc, for sure!
Overcoming your fears of practising yoga
Although I wish that I had overcome these fears of practising yoga much earlier, the main thing is that I am practising it consistently today. And if my body can benefit from it, yours can, too!
So, what fears are stopping you from practising yoga today? Are these things that are stopping you real, or are they only present in your mind? What small steps can you take to overcome them?
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