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What is Masculinity? Curiosity, A Man’s Mind and His Body.
“The continued exploration of real men, real yoga, an inquiry into what it means to be a man through the lens of yoga, ancestry and expectation.”Yes, sadly this is the last post in the series inspired by the men’s yoga group that I have participated in for the past eight weeks. This week, our class starts with a discussion about the importance of remaining curious throughout our lives. From my own experience, this theme is extremely relevant as it forms the foundation of how I practice as a couples and family therapist. So, I’m really not surprised that I find myself listening to a similar message conveyed in this yoga practice.
Mark, our yoga guru invites us to continue our journey into what it means to be a man, by remaining curious in all aspects of our lives. He mentioned that through the practice of yoga or meditative inspired exercise we create a bridge between our mind and our body and that it’s important to try to listen to both parts of ourselves. When we take time to scan our bodies in yoga, we acknowledge parts of our bodies that might be feeling tight or sore. This acknowledgement allows us to respect and respond accordingly.
The same goes for our mind. When we recognize that the monkey chatter is too loud or all consuming, we need to take the time to quiet things down. It’s vital that men regularly take a few moments to create a valley or space between these thoughts, otherwise they begin to consume us. We need to actively pursue ways to find positive channels to wash away the cobwebs and recharge ourselves, otherwise we are of no use to ourselves or to those who matter to us most.
As I may have described in one of my earlier entries in this series, the men in this group are as diverse as you could possibly imagine. Each joined the group with a vast array of experiences, thoughts, expectations, hopes and dreams. The amazing thing about this program, was each man was acknowledged and respected regardless of who he was or where he came from. There was no judgment at all and each man shaped what they wanted to put into their practice and what they wanted out of it. Many of us learnt a few things about ourselves, by connecting and learning from others.
The important thing is not to stop questioning; curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when contemplating the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of the mystery every day. The important thing is not to stop questioning; never lose a holy curiosity. Albert Einstein.
Throughout the past eight weeks, we’ve explored a wide range of themes that relate to the crazy contemporary world that men find themselves living in these days. Themes such as vulnerability and the strength that it takes to connect and be open to new experiences. I’ve learned the importance of being able to place aside our egos to connect with others and the role of non-judgment and forgiveness. We’ve explored the influence of ancestry and sense that mortality can have on us and what it takes to rewrite our personal narrative so that we can live authentically and create a legacy that benefits generations to come. When I look back on all the topics that we’ve dived into, I realize that this has been much more than a simple exercise program.
However, I do have to say the exercise has been amazing. I recall starting this program complaining about lower back pain. I’m so happy to say that after all this bending and flexing, I feel incredible. It’s a rare day that I feel stiff as much as I used to. Even if I hadn’t experienced the Zen-like serenity after each class and the chilled state that sometimes continues for days, I would have to say that it’s been worth it just to be able to strut about with a little bit more flexibility. Trust me, as you get a little older, being able to maintain your strut is bloody important.
In this final class, I leave feeling honored to have been a part of it. It’s humbling to learn that my mental and physical needs have changed as I have matured. I’m no longer the indestructible twenty-five year- old that I recall and my needs and expectations have clearly changed. I accept that without any issues now. I also leave this evening having made a few new friends and a greater appreciation for experiences of others and acknowledgment that it’s important, no, actually it’s vital to stay curious and continue the exploration throughout our life.
On a final note, I would like to offer Mark Herron, Co-owner & Yogi @ Sukha Yoga an enormous thank you for the inspiration for this series on masculinity. As an advocate for men’s health and incorporating yoga as part of their daily practice, Mark hosts these programs on a regular basis and has created an amazing local Austin community promoting both physical and mental well-being. Visit the Sukha website on www.sukhayogaaustin.com for upcoming events.
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