Real Men Don’t Do Yoga
Our first two blog entries were of an historical nature. Today I turn to the present. I have a personal anecdote to share based upon two of my foundational beliefs.
- I learn as much from my clients as they do from me; this is an integral part of my experience as a therapist.
- We must all be willing to step outside of our comfort zone to grow, both as individuals, and in our “couple-ship.”
One of my clients reported, as part of her assigned, self-care that she was engaging in a private yoga lesson at Evolutions Yoga.
I had actually visited classes at Evolutions a few times with my wife, Debi, a yoga devotee. Once, we spent an extended weekend at The Birdwing Spa in Litchfield, Minnesota where we experienced daily yoga classes. We practice Chi Gong several times a week in our basement. I understood the physical and mental benefits of yoga. But the few classes I had attended, and at the Birdwing Sap, I was the only male participant, and it was just . . . well, a little awkward. The poses. My lack of flexibility. The only guy thing. But, a private class would give me the opportunity to reap the stretching my body so desperately needed and provide a new activity we could enjoy together.
Proudly, I came home and told Debi, “I have and idea for us. A new adventure. We are going to take a private yoga class from Jenni at Evolutions yoga.” She about knocked me over getting to the computer to email Jenni to request our first appointment. We were set. Thursday mornings semi-private lesson with Jenni. I vowed to make a go of it and not mention this to my brothers.
Initially, we engaged in poses with which I was familiar. Downward-facing dog. Forward fold. She taught us to exalt our warrior back to back, moving as one, cooperative unit. Later we practiced “flight”: I was on the floor, The Base, with my feet in the air while Debi was draped over my feet, The Flyer, much like I used to do with the girls when they were little. Each week presented new challenges and my stiff lower back was beginning to thank me. This was good.
Then one Thursday morning, Jenni presented us with a new challenge. Debi was to be The Base, and I The Flyer. Complete role reversal. I was faced with draping my body over her feet, her legs extended toward the ceiling, and trusting her to push me up into the air. She had the position of physical strength and control. It took some real coaching from Jenni for this to actually happen. Debi, who loved the freedom of flying, experienced fear. Were her legs strong enough to vault me into the air and hold steady? Would she get hurt? Drop me on my head? This was totally foreign ground for me. Couldn’t do it. Couldn’t trust. Couldn’t let go of the control. Our individual lack of self-confidence and fear fed our reticence. We laughed. Jenni instructed. After several false starts, we finally managed the pose and no one got hurt.
We were both completely surprised at how difficult it was to relinquish our traditional roles. We’re not exactly a traditional couple defined by conventional roles.
In reflection, I see how much vulnerability and trust actually equals strength. How one must occasionally let go of control and traditional roles to grow. And how important it is for each of us to challenge ourselves by stepping outside of our comfort zones. This experience was one of growth for me. An experience I willingly share in hopes of encouraging all of my clients; individuals, couples, and families, to be willing to step beyond normal limits. Think outside that old cliche’ box!
I must admit, this real man does yoga. And enjoys it. Just don’t tell my brothers.