My month of offering a free yoga class to any human male who hasn't previously practiced with me is coming to an end. I've had a few dudes showing up for sure, but not as many as I had hoped for. In my talks with men who practice yoga, I'm starting to come to the conclusion, that the ones that feel comfortable in a room full of strong, badass women, are just more evolved specimens of the human male.
You know how studies show that the biggest homophobes actually are most aroused by gay porn?
Likewise, men who feel that yoga is for 'girls', or who feel uncomfortable being the only man in room full of women, are probably very uncomfortable in their male identity.
I've always been more interested in being a human than a woman, and I wish that the whole world was more concerned with humanity than trying to preserve stone age gender roles.
Ok, I'll stop speculating. Instead, please meet another awesome yoga dude, Guillaume, a French-Canadian heavy metal fan in Berlin, who is seemingly effortlessly rocking the elusive lotus pose in the photo.
Guillaume Jolicoeur, 31
Lives in Berlin but grew up in Quebec City, Canada
When and how did you start practicing yoga?
I started about four years ago, after a tough break-up. I had been meditating for about 13 years, but I felt that something was missing, like a connection to my own body. I didn't want to start going to the gym or anything, and I felt it made sense to connect those two things (yoga and meditation). By pure chance I went to Kirileigh Lynch's class, and I was hooked right away.
But now I must ask you, so you've been meditating since you were a teenager. How did that happen?
So I was in high school, and I was taking Kung Fu classes, and there was a Buddhist aspect to it, and we did a bit of meditation before every class. And I really didn't care about the Kung Fu at all, but I stuck by meditation, and yeah, I have been meditating on and off since I was about 16. Sometimes every day, and sometimes once a week.
Wow that's very impressive! Cool. So what are some of the benefits you have enjoyed through practicing yoga?
Too many! Physically I feel a lot better. There's more flexibility, but I also feel more IN my body, which is kind of hard to explain, but I feel more present in it, and attentive to it. And mentally, it's like meditation but more active. In fact, it kind of forces me to meditate. When I'm in a uncomfortable position, I stay, breathe and accept it. It completely links the body and the mind for me. And socially, well, I've met a lot of cool people, I've had great experiences and it's really helped me to take another big step as a human being, as cheesy as it sounds.
I've always loved Sirsasana (headstand), I've been able to do it, and feel comfortable in it from quite early on. I also really like Crow, which is still a big challenge for me.
Everything that challenges my hips too much, but at the same time I also appreciate the challenges they bring me. Oh, and reverse Triangle. I forget the sanskrit name ...
Yes! Terrible. I can't deal. No balance. My flexibility gets in the way. It's so hard.
Well it's one of my favourites! Anyway, what struggles related to the yoga practice have you managed to overcome?
It's helped my meditation reach new levels. Yoga forces you to let go of things. If I'm stuck in an uncomfortable asana I can either resist it and suffer, or accept it and breathe through it. And to me that applies to everything else in life. If I'm in an uncomfortable situation I can fight it and suffer or breathe and accept and just let go. That's the biggest thing for me. And being able to stand on my head was also awesome.
Why do you think so few men practice yoga?
It's so weird that in India it was by men for men at first. But now, in the west, it's mainly women who practice. It feels quite close to gender stereotypes. Like; women are closer to their emotions and they do more internal work and things like that. Yoga is physical, but it's a bit more graceful, so it's very relatable to gender stereotypes. I'm not into those (stereotypes) at all, I'm willing to try lots of things, and I don't want to say I'm better than anyone else, but I think many men are too uncomfortable with trying out something that seems a stereotypical female activity. But I think more and more men are getting into yoga, it's coming.
I also think many men can't relax and be themselves in a room full of women because they may feel that they have to impress them somehow. Many men can't allow themselves to be, I don't know, I hate the word, more 'traditionally feminine', or maybe graceful, to allow yourself to do that is another step for masculinity that is still very hard for a lot of people.