Up until last night when I did my first yoga lesson, exercise was never really about doing, it was about completing. It was about start and end. Goal, accomplish. Think, do. Mountain, climb.
I’m a man, an absurdly logical, harsh and cold man. I don’t do things by half. I know love, I know hate, but my knowledge of the range of emotions are as limited as my knowledge of the range of muscles.
As I sat there self-consciously in the yoga studio – the only guy in the class I should add – I pondered as to whether the two were inextricably linked.
As I contorted my body I kept one eye on the door, fearing that someone may see me on all fours with my derrière in the air. After a while I forgot about the possible intrusion of someone I knew and attempted – but quite often failed – to keep up with the efforts of my female classmates.
At one point, as I was attempting to wrap my left arm under my leg and connect it to my right arm, while lowering my knees and looking up, I thought to myself, ‘What would I give to be lifting a 40 kg weight above my head right now’.
I remember that when I told a friend I was thinking of doing yoga, he asked me why.
The most natural answer, despite it also being good for strengthening the muscles and improving posture, was flexibility. I told him so and he immediately asked ‘Why do you want to be flexible?’
There is something so intrinsically beautiful, calm and effective about yoga that in many ways it does defy male reasoning. It is about getting to know your body and how it moves.
At the risk of coming across as too ‘New Age’, the simple and expressive manner of yoga is likely to reveal how you truly feel – about how you interpret yourself, both physically and emotionally.
I used to think, ‘Why do Yoga?’ You may as well also ask, why dance? Why paint? Why sit on a mountaintop and watch the sun come up? Why take time to stop and smell the roses?
You see, it’s not about force, about power, about dominating, about controlling. It’s about learning about yourself, about your body and discovering what and how something can be done.
In just one class, yoga has taught me so much more than just stretching. It’s taught me about the merit of doing something for the purpose of doing, rather than to get something done.