Tofino Yoga: Yoga for Men
by Eoin Finn
When you ask a lot of guys about yoga, they tend to have images of
house wives from the 1970s in purple cotton unitards and leg warmers
doing some passive form of stretching. Until a few years ago, the percentage
of men to women in yoga classes was relatively small. More and more
these stereotypes are getting blown away by the rapidly expanding number
of men who practice yoga. In places like L.A. and New York where yoga
studios are as common as coffee shops, most people have long since
moved past the concept of yoga as solely an activity for women. Around
the globe more and more men are getting into yoga.
Even though most men know that yoga is good for them, why the resistance?
Many of us get turned off by the effort that it takes to make it through
the beginning phases of yoga. It is a lot work to open our stiff bodies
up and tend to that weedy garden. After the first yoga class, people
either have one of two reactions; one reaction is, “ wow, do
I feel better after doing this for my body and mind. Even though it
exposes some weaknesses in me, I know I left the yoga class feeling
infinitely better than when I came in.” And they stick with it.
The other reaction says, “god, I suck at this stuff “and
they just don’t continue and break through the “initiation
One problem is us that men who were brought up in competitive athletic
environments usually hate sucking at things! Instead of just approaching
yoga from a place of self-acceptance , they choose to avoid doing it
out of fear of looking bad. I can’t tell you how many guys have
told me, “ahh, I am just too inflexible to do yoga.” Too
inflexible to do yoga! What better reason is there to do yoga, really?
Stop and think about it… being too inflexible to do yoga is like
saying that you are too dirty to have a shower!
Trust me, even if you think you are tight, there is hope. I’ve
seen the transition first hand. Of the thousands of people that have
come to yoga class, I have yet to see anyone that was as hopelessly
inflexible as I was when I started yoga! I was never the skinny, flexible
yoga type— I was muscle bound and riddled with injuries from
a childhood of extreme sports.
My first Power Yoga class in Hawaii was a complete awakening for
me! Although I thought I was very fit, I couldn’t touch my toes and
my body felt more like it was going to crack instead of bend. Even
simple asanas (poses) were arduous, I was sweating profusely and I
felt like I was being held in a deadly atomic spine buster by Jesse
the Body Ventura!
And tiring… Whew! As I struggled in a pool of sweat to hold myself
up in downward dog, I made a commitment right then and there to make
yoga a central part of my life. It became clear to me that on a physical
level no other workout could provide me with this combination of strength,
flexibility, grace, balance, coordination and focus! All the while
I was dissolving tension and stress from my body and challenging my
mind. And that’s the real kicker. Real health begins with out
state of mind. Yoga can profoundly tone the one muscle in the body
we all need work on, the one between our ears.
I realized that I had bought an idea of fitness that was more about
how my body looked than how it feels. It also became clear that most
of the sports I did treated my body with aggression and I simply wasn’t
being nice to it. I sure was having fun using my body for all these
great sports, but at what cost?
When I found Yoga, I saw that it was the perfect compliment for how
I wanted to live my life. It was so intelligent, so utterly complete.
Yoga practice was like the gym, a temple and a university all in
It takes a little patience and humility for most of us inflexible
guys to jump into a yoga practice, but the poses just become easier
more graceful over time. All we have to do is put our egos aside and
let the healing benefits of yoga begin. When the ego gets put aside,
the real benefits of yoga will become manifest in your life, but that
is a whole story on it’s own…
Eoin Finn (yogi, blissologist, ocean worhipper) teaches yoga Vancouver
most days and in Tofino on Wednesday nights
Tofino Body & Soul - Spa and Wellness articles
Tofino yoga teacher Eoin Finn writes about the history and development of yoga for men and why attitudes of men toward yoga is changing.