Went to a beginners’ yoga class last night, a New Year’s resolution thing. I do lot of cardio work, particularly running, but wanted to mix it up with something different so tried yoga. I’ve read a few things over the years promoting the benefits of varying your fitness routine and of yoga itself so was all fired up to make it a success.
I’m all for improved flexibility as you move into your later years and fairly open to the mindfulness that yoga can sometimes promote and even the spiritual side. The class I went to was Beginners Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga – I’ve checked again to make sure it was definitely beginners.
Unsurprisingly, but disappointingly too, I was the only man there and immediately felt a sense of not really being welcome in this all-female environment. There was nothing specific I could point to but I just felt it. Sure it was me, my age and all in my mind. I’ve felt it before doing female-dominated exercise classes such as Body Combat and have watched from the sidelines men doing things like aqua aerobics and felt their pain.
Anyway, I put this feeling to one side, and sat on my mat in what felt like a fairly lotus-like position. The first 10 minutes was all about breathing which seemed easy enough. You have to breathe loudly making strange sounds as you in and exhale. All I could hear was from me faint weaze which set off a bit of a cough to the evident irritation of those around me. We practised this for what seemed like ages and it wasn’t long before my back was hurting.
The instructor lady seemed a little brusque in her manner, a little scary as she walked round the room correcting people’s poses. It wasn’t long before she was behind me with what felt like a knee in the back to get me sitting up straighter with my shoulders back.
Orgy of yoga positions
With breathing perfected, it was now time for some moves. From here on it was a non-stop orgy of positions most of which felt like they were doing more harm than good. There were two main aims – it seemed – either to get into a position that hurt or stay in one that didn’t until it did hurt.
I have to confess to trying yoga a couple of times before, something much gentler, and being struck by how myself and the few other men, probably called Matt, in that class were just so much worse than the women. We’re just not built for downward, or even upward, dogging. Mrs Jones reckons that it’s having to get into various sex positions that give women the edge which, I guess explains why she’s so good at it!
The remaining 50 minutes of the class seemed like two hours with the moves getting more difficult to the point of virtually impossible, even the regulars were struggling.
Eventually with the lights dimmed we could just lie down, close our eyes and say ‘OM’ which was the bit I was looking forward to and only seemed to seem to last a couple of minutes. Everyone else was given a blanket to keep warm except me!
Today I ache in places I’ve never ached before. I’m sure I would improve with practice but sadly that ain’t going to happen!
Really identified this article about men in female dominated fitness classes: https://melmagazine.com/en-us/story/my-one-man-attempt-to-figure-out-why-group-fitness-classes-are-so-dominated-by-women