In March, Two Trees Yoga will host a Yoga for Men series. For many, including me, this can feel problematic. Let's discuss.
I get it. In a time when the national consciousness of the breadth and power of sexism and patriarchy are at the forefront of our cultural conversations (FINALLY!) (#shepersisted), this type of class might seem way off base.
One of the powerful things I've learned is that patriarchy hurts women and men, girls and boys. Patriarchy hurts everyone. Do men still benefit from their privilege? YES. Do they also suffer from the extremely restrictive idea of masculinity presented by patriarchy? YES.
Just as many girls have been told that karate and baseball are for their brothers, many boys have been told that swimming and gymnastics are for their sisters. But, it turns out that anyone can move their bodies in any way that feels good to them. Thanks feminism!
I think, and I hope, that a truly feminist view of yoga in America, which is typically dominated by fit white women, welcomes everyone actively into the studio. Two Trees Yoga was created to make space for those of us who may not fit the Lululemon version of yoga. (Have you ever Googled "men doing yoga"? It presents a picture just as problematic as the typical portrayal of women doing yoga. See below.) We believe that a gentle, compassionate yoga practice can benefit anyone, and we strive to make our classes accessible to everyone who walks into our studio.
Keeping this in mind, maybe we can agree that
- Some men feel body shame because they don't conform to the hyper-masculine image idealized by patriarchy.
- Some men are looking for community.
- American yoga isn't always accommodating and welcoming to ALL men, regardless of body type, physicality, ability, race, or gender identity.
- Patriarchy has discouraged some men from exploring yoga.
At Two Trees Yoga, we understand that gender isn't binary, and that making space by gender can be extremely complicated and off-putting to many. If you identify as male, this class is for you. Period. If you want to talk about this, please reach out to me.
So, I want to try it. I want to set aside space once a week in March, for men to get together and try something new. Make space to feel the awkward, nervous energy and excitement, and to grow and stretch a little. I want men to meet other men doing yoga. I want there to be community around men practicing yoga. I want men to feel that they have a practice, even if they can't touch their toes. I want men not to feel they have to tell me "I'm really stiff." "I'm not very flexible." "I'm built like a refrigerator." (That last one is a quote from a real human.) I want you guys to just come on in, and see what happens.
This space is for all of us.