Although western yoga has gained a reputation for being a female-dominated practice, classic yoga was initially a male-only philosophy. It was not until relatively late, in 1937, that Indra Devi, also known as ‘the first lady of yoga’, was accepted to study under Sri Krishnamacharya.
And while yoga is for everybody, I often receive queries from people who are interested in attending our retreats asking if they are too old, too stiff, or if perhaps they are too fit and would feel bored? Or even too young and the group more mature, if they would be welcome.
I love when I receive such queries because I believe that by correctly answering these questions it gives the opportunity to begin teaching and establish a connection even before meeting the group.
The ‘yoga call’ can happen at any time in our lives, and every advanced practitioner is also always a beginner in many ways, and every beginner offers inspiration for his/her start. The body is nor old or young, strong or weak, flexible or rigid, these are attributes of the mind that we can modify gradually, through the joy and discipline of the practice.
At our last retreat, our family was made up of ten females in total (including the two beautiful baby girls that attended with their loving yogi moms (What a symbolic number, ten reduced in numerology becomes one [1+0=1]) and one man! This wasn’t the first time that it happened. At our prior retreat in May, we had a very similar situation, in which only one male participated.
How was the dynamics of such a group?
Yoga encourages communication naturally. We all have many emotions stored in our muscles, but by allowing the connection of body and mind to flow we find an opportunity to unblock trapped emotions, from movement, verbally, smiling, crying.
The class independent of the individual ‘level’ can be adapted to a strong practice. What happens on that mat is a wonderful, yet mentally and physically demanding experience that peels our emotions, our thoughts, fears, ego, and anything left layer by layer.
After sharing the same breathing, breakthroughs, and exchanging words of kindness and encouragement, the group naturally, gradually and rapidly becomes a yogi family. And following it naturally, gradually but rapidly, we start to feel so intimate that we freely talk about our lives, with its joys and sorrows, early traumas and lucky breaks, disappointments and victories. We all become teachers and students, listening with attention, learning contrast, gratitude, friendship.
Image credit: Nepascene.com
And for us females, it’s to expect that at a yoga retreat all these stories come out uncensored, as a spiritual cleansing, or potent form of open therapy, that we are healing not from talking to someone who studied patterns in human psychology but from another human being, related by sharing similar experiences.
We then, after much hip and soul opening, observe our - by comparison - silent male. He is a good listener and perhaps overwhelmed by our ‘financial, love, family, friendship stories’ he seems a little speechless by our openness, but also with a hint of admiration for the feminine emotionally liberated spirit. We admire his attributes back, his logical personality and stable mood that translate to strengths on the mat, mastering in no time the challenging Bakasana (crane pose), that requires endurance, mental focus and arm strength. The longer we stay as a group our balance increases and our differences diminish.
A few more days and he expressed that he was becoming more in touch with his feminine side, that in a particular meditation he felt this energy quite vividly, becoming lighter, perhaps more humorous, and that made us to perceive him perhaps more masculine or complete. In our conversations, we (women) found ourselves more earthly rooted. Leaving us with the conclusion that polarities in life when they exist isolated can cause imbalance and the separation is an illusion. Yoga has taught me once more that it is our duty to come back to our true nature, which is oneness.
Image credit: ethnogym-erbil.com
I hope the words above become a sign of deep gratitude for every person who made our last retreat possible, an extended thank you to the masculine energy at the Blue House and for every strong and beautiful woman who attended, complementing with their individual qualities to the wholeness of our souls.
Might every headstand teach us that sometimes things look harder than they really are? In every Savasana, we let die in the mat all that is no longer needed for our evolution? That every hour spent sweating in the practice is the metaphor that we are stronger than we think. In every split. we can teach ourselves that no matter how difficult or uncomfortable it appears to our mind, we will not stop working on bringing flexibility to our body or life situations. In every kindness exchanged between us, we can anchor in our personalities the certainty that love makes anyone irresistibly attractive. And that there are no limits to what one can do, be or have!
Together we are divinity!
Are you a man looking for a yoga holiday where you can share your experience with more fellow men? Sign up for a yoga retreat popular for men!