rogues+yoga | Seventh Heaven16:23:00
I am not a flexible man, both in body and in spirit. I hold on to my rigidity as a brace, secure in the knowledge of my limits and abilities. However, I was intrigued by the concept of trying an activity which is often overlooked or looked-down-upon by my male peers.
Kim, the founder and instructor of Seventh Heaven yoga kindly invited me to challenge my preconceptions and try her 6 week beginner yoga course. Yoga is not a word that often featured in my vocabulary. In fact, my only experience of yoga prior to this was playing as Dhalsim in Street Fighter II.
Stepping into the studio, I was confronted by my greatest fear: other people. I like to think of myself as an independent person and I often don't give a flying feck what other people think of me but I always feel exposed and embarrassed anytime I have to engage in any physical activity. I quietly took a space in the back row, unrolled by brand new yoga mat and cautiously awaited my humiliation.
Instead I found a welcoming and supportive network of people just there to practice the craft of yoga. You don't go to yoga to look at other people, you go to yoga to reflect and work on yourself. It then dawned on me the goal for my course; to get over myself.
Over the course of the following 6 weeks, I was introduced to many yoga disciplines that I have tried to carry on to my everyday life. Simple, but strong measures and means to control my body and mind and help me focus, relax and overcome any anxiety.
The basis of the exercises comes from the uijyai breathing; deep focused breaths drawing in through the nostrils and out through the mouth. I admitted to Kim I was self-conscious and overthought the breathing, concentrating too much on trying to perfect the distinct wave sound and therefore defeating the purpose of the breath.
I used to be a regular gym goer but have fallen off the wagon severely in the past 2 years so I was unaccustomed to any real physcial exercise and while yoga can be relaxing, it is also physically engaging; using your own body weight and muscle to hold varying poses.
Over the course of the programme, I was able to discover where my weaknesses (of which there are many) lay and began to understand where I could improve. Finishing each session, I was knackered but content.
When I posted on twitter that I was attending the classes, I got a reply saying I didn't seem like the yoga type. I brushed it off with my usual self-deprecating and sarcastic humour but it struck me; "Why should there be a type of man who goes to yoga?"
While it is true, the majority of the class members were female, there were a few regular male participants. The worst thing that can happen from a man going to yoga is that he improves his flexibility, his strength and his wellbeing. What kind of idiot would want that?!
The introductory course has now finished and Seventh Heaven will be taking a summer break in the next few weeks but makes sure to check out the site for upcoming events such as the Summer Solstice and for the return of the autumn classes.
Thanks again to Kim for her kind invitation, support and guidance.
Watch out on Instagram and Twitter as I work on some of the core poses and practices in the coming weeks.