The new men’s session I’ve created drew in a physically diverse group with a range of strengths, injuries and limitations all committed to sports training. Together our combined experience spanned rock-climbing, sponsored mountain biking, rugby, weight lifting, swimming amongst other disciplines and of course yoga.
To begin our individual inquiry into this seeming contradiction/craziness, we started a progressive practice with a series of simple body movements to develop core connection. In exploring old habits and trained ways of using the body coupled with mental beliefs, such as “I’m not flexible”, “I’ve never been able to…” everyone saw very quickly how we create patterns of holding that limit our capacity to move freely and in balance. It’s liberating to discover that there’s a choice around these habits and patterns, and when we do, we begin to see the limitation of rigid strength as support with its brittleness and stiffness and start to explore the meaning of balance and resilience.
Throughout the session we kept focus on our centre as the origin of movement as well as our support. Feeling a range of movement open up was surprising to the group in its unfamiliarity but completely intuitive and primal with their minds ‘out of the way’.
It’s a very different perspective to tune into tension within the body in this way and it takes time, curiosity and a sense of humour to explore. When release comes (and this is progressive), it can be a shock to understand just how we have chosen to inhabit our body, how tension has conditioned the way we relate to our body, and how our body now feels. Knowing what it means to feel at ease in our skin can feel bittersweet at the start.
However as the body settles into a re-found sense of ease without loss of either integrity, structure or support, the opportunity for active relaxation follows. So, at the end of the session I invited the group to become still and experience for themselves how it’s not only our bodies that can become more open, supple and at ease. It’s a fallacy that men are not flexible, as the smiles around the room confirmed.