tofino yoga - yoga for men

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 phase”.

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 one.

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 and 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

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Tofino yoga teacher Eoin Finn writes about the history and development of yoga for men and why attitudes of men toward yoga is changing.

tofino time january 2005

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