Image by  Moyan Brenn  on  Flickr

Image by Moyan Brenn on Flickr

What is masculinity? Week 2

“Real men, real yoga, an inquiry into what it means to be a man through the lens of yoga, ancestry and expectation.” 

It’s good to be back for week two of the eight-week Sukha Yoga program for men.

I chat to a few of the guys before we kick things off. The feedback from our previous week is really positive. What strikes me is that there’s a real assortment of personalities and body types here. It’s not your typical ‘yoga’ group which is great to see.

Moments after I’ve sat down, a young woman enters the room, not completely aware yet that this is a dedicated class for the guys. The moment she realizes, she laughs and states aloud that she wondered why there was a larger proportion of guys in the room compared to what she was normally used to. As a few of the guys joke about the alternative universe present, she quickly exits the room.  

Our esteemed yoga sherpa, Mark starts off with an explanation about how this program evolved, and references the work by the acclaimed researcher, Brené Brown. The concept is the importance of exploring who we are as men and what it means to be a man in this day and age.

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren't always comfortable, but they're never weakness.” Brené Brown

The idea of openness to experience strength formed through authenticity allows each man in the room to be truly connected to himself, which in turn facilitates true connection to those most important in life. As we start our practice, moving from stance to stance, we’re reminded that we’re each working towards this goal while adopting the most fundamental of practices; movement. This is a juxtaposition of centuries of meditative and physical discipline and contemporary neuroscience. It’s really trippy.

Once again, I’m sweating like nothing imaginable and for the better part I’m able to keep my ‘warrior two’ pose steady. Towards the end of the session, I can definitely tell that I’m able to stretch just a bit deeper than when we first started the class. That’s encouraging. There’s hope yet!

My typically troublesome lower back is feeling limbered up and I notice that I’m moving a lot freer. I look around the room and recognize that everyone’s giving it their best. It’s a great feeling to be part of the crew here. I’m feeling a real sense of accomplishment. I also feel extremely grateful when we’re invited to end the session by just laying on our backs to meditate. Pure and utter joy. This is the quietest, peaceful moment of my previously busy, hectic day and I relish every ounce.

As the class ends, Mark invites the group to meet afterwards for a bite to eat and a beer. As a few of us gather at a local watering hole for a deliciously cold beverage, we banter about our day, various important social issues, such as the traffic in Austin and whether you would want to take on a bear or a shark in a duel to the death. Amongst the pints and buffalo wings, each offers various snippets of themselves. Over the course of an hour or so, we start to get to know each other.

We talk a little about the practice and the themes introduced. It’s good open, honest conversation. The bar is noisy and one by one the guys depart off to their families and the rest of the evening. 

~ Simon

Thanks again to Mark Herron, Co-owner & Yogi and the amazing team @ Sukha Yoga for the inspiration for this weeks post. www.sukhayogaaustin.com