Since I started my little yoga dude project, I slowly but surely started seeing more men on the mat in my classes. It made me quite happy! It worked. But in the last few weeks I've felt the presence of male yogis drop again.
Maybe it's just summer? Or perhaps it's because I haven't presented you with any awesome yoga dudes for awhile.
The draught is over! I hereby bring you Martino!
Martino Mostacci, 33
Café owner and musician
Originally from Verona, Italy but now living in Berlin.
When and how did you start practicing yoga?
If I remember well, it happened eight years ago, a year before moving to Italy, (my girlfriend) Giulia and I attended this open air yoga class in a beautiful garden of a villa, in the countryside.
When I took the class I was already involved with free diving, and I could feel that the breathing techniques were really useful, but I wasn't aware of what else yoga was really. But I was very fascinated by the physical movements, learning to move in new ways.
And then I stopped practicing for awhile, because I was much more into this free diving stuff, but then I realised that the two things were actually connected somehow, especially the breathing. And I liked the meditative aspect of the breathing exercises too. It's like a puzzle. And finally I understood that all was connected, and I understood it was really good for me.
And when I stopped practicing I started having problems both with my back and with my mind. I saw myself unhappy when I grew up, and I wasn't aware of what the problem was. And often I said: Ok this is the problem, I'm gonna fix it, and things will be different soon. But it never happened.
A few months ago I started practicing yoga and meditation at home. And I knew I was doing something that was useful. And the positive effects can sometimes last for days.
Can you describe an Aha moment you've had connected to yoga?
It happened during meditation. I was doing 30-40 minutes a few times a week. And I was getting results. One time during meditation I had the feeling I was on the beach and I could feel myself becoming one with the waves. Or my breath becoming one with the waves. The push and pull. So I saw that when I'm inhaling that's like water coming back to the beach, and exhaling is water moving out to the sea. And doing that I started having really weird body feelings, I wasn't sure which hand was which, and then I suddenly had the feeling of being a tree. Weird but really powerful. That was my biggest peak. It helped me a lot. It happened while I was suffering a lot. I was having lots of problems in my life. And now, while practicing at home, alone or with my partner, or in class, I have small very peaceful moments quite frequently.
Which asana is your favourite?
I really like down dog. Especially since while attending your classes, I've heard you say many times that down dog is a resting pose, but in the very beginning I just couldn't feel it. But in improving the pose, you can really feel that it's possible to rest in it. You can feel that when you try to rip the mat apart with your arms and legs that the whole body is working. I also really like crow pose. In a way I am very competitive with myself. With yoga, in the beginning, I tried to do 'extra' stuff, which immediately gave me pains, so I said to myself, no, that's not the way. I like more challenging poses, but I also accept my limits now. And this is a good lesson for me.
For everyone I would say. And which asana is your least favourite?
I don't know ... There are definitely some poses I need to work on, but I don't know if I would say they are my least favourite. Balancing asanas are definitely my weakest point. One-legged balancing poses. But I find it helpful sometimes to practice tree pose in front of a mirror. Then I have perfect balance.
Can you tell me about a change you've noticed since you started practicing?
My body has gotten more toned since I started practicing. My posture has also gotten better, and I have less lower back pain. But I also notice changes in my mind, I feel that this is a good way to start on a path to ... I don't know if I want to say becoming a better person, but at least to try to not make the same mistakes over and over again. I feel, in a way, like I have a big eye, my own, watching over me. So those are some of the good things that I've noticed.
Sometimes I find it hard to find the balance between discipline and flexibility though. When I get really into something, I can get rigid.
And why do you think so few men practice yoga?
Many of the men I know can be very pragmatic towards life. Sometimes when I talk about spiritual things, they don't get it.
Men and women are different, and I think women are more sensitive, and therefore have an easier way to connect to these kinds of things.
I also think that yoga in the last years has lost a bit of its meaning, for many it has become just fitness. And then of course there are the old stereotypes about what is masculine ...
And yoga often seems very geared towards women, for example flyers and posters advertising yoga mostly show women doing it. My sister is also a yoga teacher, and often her instagram posts about yoga only addresses women. She always uses 'we' and refers to women, and this may not be so encouraging for men.
So the men that do practice yoga, it's not as easy as for women, so they probably do it because they really need it, and they really get deep into it and commit. While many women may just do it for awhile, because all their friends are doing it, and then they move onto something else.