Modern yoga in the West is mostly a woman’s domain – according to Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance’s 2016 Yoga in America Study, 72% of yoga practitioners are women. However, the number of men hitting the mat is increasing. Today’s Yogi Spotlight features Jacob Budde, a yoga teacher-in-training, and his perspective on the practice.
Once upon a time there was a young man named Jacob who was struggling with a heart wrenching divorce coupled with a propensity to drink trouble away. Many attempts to regain the positive nature he had known in younger years seemed to fail him (therapy, running to exhaustion, one night stands, etc)…when one day he woke up, and said “that’s enough of that”. He began to seek that happiness less from others; and instead, from within……
I was looking for guided meditation, when a friend (and studio owner at Practicing Yoga) suggested yoga as an alternative and/or another tool for me to use towards a greater self-awareness. I’m blessed and continually honored that she did; my life has changed drastically since I began practicing yoga.
As a man in the world of yoga, I feel that I sometimes have a unique experience to those around me. My first reaction when Roxanne invited me to yoga was, “Everyone is going to think I’m looking at their ass” I was in fact so self-conscious of this that despite the fact that I’d never done yoga on the regular before this or EVER in a studio before, I setup my mat at the front of the studio!? While there may have been some of these feelings in the wonderful yoginis I was practicing around, I was never once made to feel like an outsider. Everyone embraced me as a brother in the yoga community, and proceeded to share their studio and love with me regularly. So that initial feeling of being a voyeur or a tourist in the world of yoga was short-lived at best.
You’ll hurt you when you choose not to listen to your body.
Over the years I’ve spoken to many of my fellow yogis about many things; one that stands out in my mind is when a particularly insightful yogini said to me, “I get the heeby-jeebies when another yogi touches me; especially if it’s a man”. This spoke to me on a variety of different levels; reference my previous paragraph. Again I went through a phase where I was leary of being seen as some sort of invader to the space of the studio. Now, however, with the new found insightfulness which a regular yoga practice brings, I was able to acknowledge her feelings for exactly what they are…HER feelings. They’re not mine, and although I still think it is prudent to mind my mat and respect everyone’s boundaries, it doesn’t plague my thoughts.
Now, as a man, I tend to push myself hard…take myself too seriously…hold back emotion…you may not know this, but it is actually a typical trait of many men in general! 🙂 As such, it was (and continues to be) a huge learning experience with my body and my practice. I have a vision of how I want to look, and what a particular pose should look like…and gosh darnit if I’m not going to twist, and pull, and contort until I look so perfect and beautiful that all who gaze upon me can’t help but love me!!! Whew…kind of had a Lord of the Rings Sauron thing going on there for a moment…apologies.
The root of that rant is this; I would practice past my edge. That resulted in injuries. That……..isn’t……….yoga! That idea didn’t initially sit well with me. What do you mean I can’t force myself into this pose; I look so pretty when I do?!! It didn’t feel good though, and as a result my practice had to change. I think the idea that the intensity level CAN indeed vary first dawned on me while I was sitting out (off my mat) for a week due to a yoga-related injury. Let me state for the record; yoga won’t hurt you, YOU’ll hurt you when you choose not to listen to your body. After my week long hiatus (which I think nearly drove me to insanity), I realized several things:
- I wasn’t missing anything by not being at the studio; they’re another class tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow…
- My body did infinitely better that first practice back after taking the time to love (really LOVE) my body, and give it the time and respect to heal
- Yoga is about listening to ourselves, rather than ignoring them. Body, breath, and mind can only work together if we let them…if we let them be equal partners in our life experience.
Jacob is a self-proclaimed Computer Nerd (network engineer) and father of two sons. He loves learning and talking about yoga, and listening to all kinds of music (with the exception of Death Metal). His home yoga studio is Practicing Yoga, and is currently enrolled in the 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training program at Jane’s House of Wellbeing. He just taught his first-ever yoga class a few weeks ago! In addition to all the yoga, he and his yogini fiancee are planning their upcoming nuptials