Ashtanga yoga class — for women only

In my Ashtanga Google alert on Wednesday — my inbox fills so yours doesn’t have to — I noticed a listed for a women’s only class (at what looks like a general yoga studio), which happens once a week. It immediately got me thinking about whether segregating classes out would be a good, a bad, an indifferent idea. I imagined a class for stiff white guys, for instance.

Clicking through to this women’s class didn’t provide much more information; there was no description or anything. But there was a listing for another class: for men only. And basically it is what I just described: for stiff guys.

Based on the Ashtanga practitioners I know, I think one of this system’s main attractions is its universality: We’re all practicing (give or take our abilities) the same poses, in the same sequence. Yeah, there’s Second and Third and onward, but we all start with Suryanamaskaras and at least a few standing poses (and are supposed to do First once a week). And bandha, drishti, breathing are all common.

I also thought about one of the panels at next year’s Confluence (now open for pre-reg):

11:30 am-1:30 pm – Women’s Panel Discussion with Diana Christinson, Kathy Cooper, Dena Kingsberg, Leigha Nicole and Mary Taylor moderated by Shelley Washington (lecture/discussion/Q&A)
Each teacher will share the profound gift of yoga they received from their beloved teacher, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, and one of their favorite stories relating to Guruji. This discussion will offer an opportunity for students to ask questions of the teachers.

Which is to say: We aren’t all the same. And maybe it suggests a rationale for some type of, occasional, practice segmented off for men, women … those pesky adolescent boys we all hear about, the infamous “Ashtanga for seniors.”

I don’t know.

Would something like that attract you? Repel you?

Posted by Steve

Saturday rant: Make yoga safe for men!

OK, keep up with me here, we’re going to move at Hanuman-like speed.

I’ve seen an uptick lately of a “yoga issue” I thought maybe had gone away: that yoga isn’t welcoming to men. (Probably it is more about its not being welcoming to dudes, or bros or guys, but men suffices.)

Tim, teaching, as usual. And it's always safe for men. And women.
Tim Miller, teaching, as usual. And it’s always safe for men. And women.

Let’s break it down.

  1. We can agree on the timeline that yoga is 5,000 years old. OK?
  2. During those five millennia (not even just centuries, millennia), yoga was practiced exclusively — or so close to exclusively that it’s fair to say “exclusively” — by men. (Probably well-off or higher class men, too, but we digress and I promised speediness.)
  3. Women have been a majority of yoga practitioners for maybe the past 30 years. And that’s mostly in the West.
  4. So of its 5,000 years, men haven’t been the dominant yogis for just — quick bit of math here — 0.6%. Or close to one half of one percent of the time yoga has been practiced.

Men are in no way in need of taking back yoga or making it work for them.

Posted by Steve

Substituting ‘rock music for chanting in the safety zone’ of yoga

Yoga for men is a thing, if you hadn’t realized it by now. (We’ve posted a few times about it.) There’s Broga (we first mentioned it almost three years ago). Yoga for Jocks. And one that maybe is OK: Detox Retox. First you do yoga, by coincidence at a craft brewery. And then you taste some of that craft.

Almost invariably, the chanting is cut and rock music is in.

It’s all outlined in a story from this week at the Los Angeles Times. And I highlight it for a few bits of information it offers:

  • Lululemon plans dedicated men’s stores by 2016, which will open up a whole new opportunity for the company to say or do something offensive — if one can offend men. Maybe some sort of Girlie Man Shorts or ‘Lil Girl Tops?
  • Prana — which I happen to prefer to Lulu — also has expanded its men’s line. And next fall, Alo will relaunch a men’s line.
  • Broga expects to have 500 trained teachers by the end of the year. I wonder what that training involves. (They cost $395, according to the Broga website, and are specifically designed for guy’s needs…)

You also can read about burrito-designed yoga bags, the Yoga Joes that I avoided until now and much, much more. A little taste:

“Men are more interested in the flexibility and mobility benefits of yoga than ever before; it helps them in life and sports performance — better strides in running sports, better golf swings,” said Keith Irace, regional director of group fitness for Equinox fitness clubs. “There is also a desirable aesthetic benefit that’s attractive to men. A male yoga body is lean and defined.

“Men make up easily one-third of all [intermediate and advanced] yoga classes at Equinox, and the percentage is higher in some locations, like West Hollywood,” Irace said. “The high-male-attendance classes also happen to be male-instructed.”

But the chain has no plans to add classes that target guys.

“That would be gender-ist!” jokes West Coast Equinox spokeswoman Chelsea Hagler.

So it’s the flip side to this old nugget from Deepak Chopra.

Posted by Steve

Mercury day poetry: Men, men, men, men

Today’s poetry pick is inspired by Tim Miller’s weekly blog post, in which he reflects on relationships:

The author’s main contention, based on 30 years experience as a marriage counselor, is that the vast majority of marital difficulties come about as a result of the husband’s self centeredness and immaturity, his arrogance and unwillingness to communicate, and his general lack of sensitivity in the whole sexual arena. He goes on to say that women are quite naturally much better at relationships and need to school their men in what they already know. A lot of this rings true, of course, still it seems to some degree that men are being asked to cut off their balls and hand them to their wives on a sling. I still believe the part of the male mystique that gives him a lot of his edginess and sex appeal is that primal quality just a couple of rungs above Neanderthal.

Tim goes on to chart the “hot bed of planetary activity” going on right now. So check him out for that. But I’ll admit I was distracted by the section I quote above. It got me to thinking about manly poets, and one of the most manly (so to speak) is Robert Bly. You know, the author of “Iron John: A Book About Men.” Now, don’t go thinking Bly is a favorite Confluence Countdown poet. He isn’t. But as a leader of the mythopoetic men’s movement, he’d probably agree with Tim’s assessment.

Here is his poem, “The Sympathies of the Long Married.”

Oh well, let’s go on eating the grains of eternity.

What do we care about improvements in travel?

Angels sometimes cross the river on old turtles.

Shall we worry about who gets left behind?

That one bird flying through the clouds is enough.

Your sweet face at the door of the house is enough.

The two farm horses stubbornly pull the wagon.

The mad crows carry away the tablecloth.

Most of the time, we live through the night.

Let’s not drive the wild angels from our door.

Maybe the mad fields of grain will move.

Maybe the troubled rocks will learn to walk.

It’s all right if we’re troubled by the night.

It’s all right if we can’t recall our own name.

It’s all right if this rough music keeps on playing.

I’ve given up worrying about men living alone.

I do worry about the couple who live next door.

Some words heard through the screen door are enough.

My other option, by the way, was the lyrics to the song “Men,” by Martin Mull:

Umm, Captain Klumpz….
Yes, Malarkey?
The men haven’t eaten in days, sir.
Yes Malarkey.
Captain, I don’t think you fully understand. I said the men have not eaten in days now.
I heard you, Malarkey, thank you.
Captain, you’ve gone quite mad. I’m telling you for the last time, the men have not eaten in days!
Well, force them! You’ve plenty of men, haven’t you?
Plenty, sir.
Plenty of what, sir?
Men, sir!
Men! Men! MEN! Men!

Men, Men, Men, Men
Men, Men, Men, Men
Men, Men, Men, Men
Men, Men, Men, Men

It’s great to be on a ship with men and sail across the sea-o,
We don’t know where we’ll land or when, but it’s great to be with men
It’s great to be with men

‘Cause men can sweat and men can stink and no one seems to care-o,
We’ll throw the dishes in the sink and clog the drain with hair-o,
(Clog the drain with hair-o)

Men, men, men.
It’s a ship all filled with men.
So batten down the ladies room, there’s no one here but men
Men, Men, Men, Men
Men, Men, Men, Men

There’s men above, there’s men below, there’s men down in the galley,
There’s Butch and Spike And Buzz and Biff
And one guy we call Sally
(And one guy we call Sally)

Men, men, men.
It’s a ship all filled with men.
You’ll never have to lift the seat, there’s no one here but men
Men, Men, Men, Men
Men, Men, Men, Men

We’re men and friends until the end and none of us are sissies,
At night we sleep in separate beds and blow each other kissies
(And blow each other kissies)

Men, men, men.
It’s a ship all filled with men.
So throw your rubbers overboard, there’s no one here but men
Ahhhhhhhhh, Mennnnn.

I’ll admit I like Mull’s take on things better.

Posted by Steve