Look for articles on yoga and masculinity and you will be met with endless lists of why yoga is good for men including better focus, better awareness, better flexibility, and better sex. The benefits of yoga can certainly enhance a man’s life, especially if he is in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. Freedom from addiction takes a holistic approach. Yoga is a holistic practice, effectively exercising and strengthening the body, the mind, and the spirit. Unfortunately a common misconception gets in the way of men unleashing the transformational power of this ancient practice: that yoga is for girls.
Yoga is believed to have early roots in the Brahmins, highly knowledgeable and wise priests of the Indian caste system often referred to as “men of learning”. Primarily, Brahmins were men. The yoga sutras, written by Patanjali, are considered to be the first written representations of yoga. Patanjali was a man. When yoga was first brought to the west in the 1800s and 1900s, it was brought to the west by men, men like Swami Sivananda. Swami Paramhansa Yogananda, author of the world famous book Autobiography of a Yogi brought yoga and meditation to the United States in 1920.
Yoga is not an inherently feminine practice. Many might argue that yoga, and its focus on balance as well as union, seeks to create harmony between each individual’s masculine as well as feminine side. However, the roots of yoga and the growth of yoga as a practice is by males for males of certain standing and spiritual discipline. For modern males, however, yoga is seen as a feminine, soft practice, because millions of women do practice yoga, live a very yoga lifestyle, and the practice itself is not competitive. Sat Purusha writes on his website, “Yoga is not about achievement. It is not about competition or being better, but it is about challenge with yourself.”
Men who are seeking a new way of living, like recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, are challenging themselves every day in every area of their lives. Sobriety is a daily challenge. The many lifestyle changes required to support sobriety is also a daily challenge. In yoga, the challenge is not who can do complex, difficult poses, Purusha explains, “..but to find the point at which you stop trying and just do it. This is where many men fall down in Yoga, they want to compete and be better than the next man.” Yoga is not about being better than the man next to you, but the man in the mirror. Yoga is about stepping up to the ego, becoming mindful and aware of the self, meeting the self with humility and respect, then walking through challenges with peace and acceptance. Along with all the added benefits that make yoga great for men, the very origins and intentions of yoga are intrinsic with the highest intentions of some of India’s most respected men, making yoga an important practice for men seeking to learn more about themselves.
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