Reflections on Men's Week

A Yoga Journal survey says that of the 20.4 million people doing yoga in the United States, 18% are men. Our classes here usually reflect that but last week was different. From May 15-May 22 we invited men free to all classes. It is hard to go into a situation where one is the minority and will be expected to do unfamiliar things! But you came, and we love it!

There are lots of reasons that yoga is more popular among women, including the way it’s marketed, but I think it also has to do with what culture values out loud and with monetary rewards. If you spend even a few moments glancing at charts listing masculine and feminine characteristics you’ll see that masculine is described as active, analytical, and competitive. Society applauds those qualities in both men and women, and even yoga can be practiced in a way that utilizes them.

But yoga also encourages us to focus on our breath and our sensations and learn to be still. It can open the space for the discovery and development of the feminine qualities of feeling, receptivity, and softness that are inherent capacities of both men and women.

It seems to me that for decades women have been developing our masculine qualities and now we are moving into a time when all of us are recognizing a need to have access to both sets of traits. Changing our posture does change our felt sense of ourselves, paying attention to the breath does calm our nervous system, and being more aware of bodily sensation does help us perceive more than what our minds habitually think about.

We all deserve a rest from our minds, we all could use a break, we all feel better when we are a little more soft and flexible. The structures and belief systems we uphold to help us achieve what we want to and block what we don’t are useful. They are most useful when they are not rigid but are instead permeable and resilient.

Please continue to share this space with us guys, we all need to be both strong and resilient. We want you to be refreshed and recharged and relaxed. We want your energy and we appreciate what you bring into the room. We need to encounter each other with openness so that we can learn from each other and create new ways of cooperating and taking care of the planet. We all need all of us. That’s what yoga actually means after all: unity.