A couple of months ago, my husband came home from work and suggested that what I really needed to do was to start a yoga class just for men of a certain age (ahem...). These men, he reported, really wanted to practice yoga, but really didn't want to do so in a big class with lots of young, flexible women. 'It's too intimidating,' he said.
After mulling it over, I decided to go for it but I was skeptical. For one thing, I'm not a man. Would men actually want to come to a class for men taught by a woman? And, if given the chance to get out of the house for an hour, would they really pick yoga over the pub?
My first Yoga for Men class launched last night and, as I was walking to the community church where I teach my classes, I resigned myself to the idea that there were going to be two men there--my husband (forced, because even though it WAS his idea, he wasn't exactly super interested in taking part) and the husband of a friend who actually wanted to be there. I figured we would have a nice time, it would be a little awkward with so few people, I would pay the babysitter more than what I made and probably the whole thing, while a sweet idea, wouldn't work out for the long term.
So, you can imagine my surprise when FOUR MEN I DIDN'T KNOW wandered in. I scrambled around to find more mats and stole furtive glances at all those men standing awkwardly in the back of the room trying not to make eye contact with each other or with me. In that moment none of us knew what to do with ourselves.
Eventually, we made it to our mats. I jabbered on about how I teach and the importance of breath and non-judgement and then we settled into a flow. These men, who were so big and strong and self-conscious compared to the women who usually come to my classes, embraced their hour of yoga. They breathed deeply and sighed loudly. They twisted and they stretched. They listened to and experienced their bodies in a new and gentler way. They got in touch with their hearts. They felt their own vibrations. And, they enjoyed it!
Yoga is for everyone and it's such a privilege to be able to share it with and to learn from so many different and amazing people.
Also, my husband was right. Men really do want to practice yoga in a safe space, just like the rest of us. Last night they came to that space with open hearts and open minds and left thankful for the time they had made to nurture themselves.