In my various ponderings about the nature of the masculine and feminine aspects of our world, I have talked about the masculine’s pressing need to “make shapes” out of experiences; that is, to build structures and make abstract concepts orderly or into “things”, shoring them up with walls and a roof so that they turn into physical or mental constructs. We need such an impulse in our evolving world – we can’t live in a completely abstract and fluid world – so how do we ensure that the shapes we make are coherent and beautiful. You could ask, how do we step out of chaos and into a world that is in far better shape?
When we look at the masculine impulse in our present-day world, it can seem much like that spider run amok on caffeine that I talked about in one of my recent posts (Super Thriving the Menopause); so much feels chaotic, out-of-control and messy, even malevolent and damaged, like a run-away train spewing bits of iron-mongery on the track. As a world, we never needed coherency more than we do right now yet it’s like we lost touch with our divine blueprint; we forgot what the ideal picture looked like in our head when we started making the world with our hands. That male aspect (whether embodied by an actual male or a female) feels overwhelmed, troubled, put-upon and haunted; and there’s exhaustion in the air. Perhaps actual males more so than women are feeling hunted down by the very driving force they unleashed; I’m hearing about troubled males all over the place, ones who feel like they just can’t keep going on the hamster wheel of life (and, particularly, of careers) any more. Many have lost their way along the route they long-ago embarked upon and long to stop walking that particular trajectory but don’t know how to get off it or how to live without having some kind of structure to hold up their existence. Perhaps its more a case of bringing beautiful new shape back into those structures but how?
Since the activity of “making shapes” is as at the very core of this male aspect then perhaps looking at how we choose those shapes is as good a place to start as any; and, as in all things, it all begins with the individual. So how, as an individual, does the male aspect connect with their divine blueprint and strive to get closer to a more pristine vision of what it is possible to bring into form as their most fundamental day-to-day reality (which, in very literal terms, is their body and its health)? By reminding themselves, over and over again, what coherent shape looks like. Repetition of this habit starts to supersede any other chaotic impulses going on in the experience of that person and, if adhered to, is extremely viable as a means to no longer feeling so lost or confused, so spiralled out of control or exhausted. It can feel like coming home…and this, I suspect, is what yoga offers (specifically) to the male or someone adhering to the male paradigm.
Meditation will also have this effect…but when a person is deep in overwhelm and has too much too think about, starting to meditate can seem just too stressful or daunting as the mind simply won’t agree to be quieted plus an empty space in the day just allows all those suppressed fears to come flooding into the void. Yoga presents “something to do” to a psyche that expects life to be about always having “something that needs to be done”. At the surface of it, it presents a physical challenge to be cracked and this can allow the male to become engaged with it, similar to when they take up a new sport…and then once they are “in” they are in. There can be no going back with yoga once you enter its mindspace of enhanced coherence combined with an absence of rumination upon “problems” (since yoga is great for clearing the mind with no effort); it subtly yet powerfully alters the paradigm. In that respect it can be strangely addictive but, to the male in need of its “shapes”, this is actually a great thing since it allows the habit to be formed.
I suspect this is why the male yoga teacher who teaches several of the classes my husband has been attending for the last few years is such a rock-star among his followers and especially to men. He is not only living demonstration that yoga can be done by a mature male (with incredible transformational effect) but, at some level, he “gives permission” for other males to try it…and so his tribe has simply grown and grown. This teacher started yoga himself in his late 50s after a very different career and following a back injury. Now, on the eve of his 70th birthday, he is an incredible role model for what is possible to achieve in the prime of your life yet a time which, to most males, is the dreaded slippery slope to nowhere. Instead of facing physical demise and an ever slipping persona in a corporate environment driven by the currency of aggressive youthful energy, the fifty and above male yogi can watch as their physical strength and healthfulness becomes an outer reflection for all the inner wisdom that accumulates there. My husband long-ago started holding out that, in his seventieth decade and beyond, he wanted to be just like this super fit and energised, not to mention inspirational, teacher and he’s thoroughly on the way. It feels like a beginning, not an ending, to rediscover the coherence of the body…as well as your life…in this way at such a mature stage. I have talked such a lot about how post fifty should be regarded as the gateway to the prime of a woman’s life; her power time as she enjoys many years of accumulated wisdom and autonomy, not to mention creativity and unbridled eccentricity, reaping all that she has sown. Well, how about a version of that for the male!
Many of the people who attend these highly popular yoga classes (so much so that there are often 5 or more people rammed into the room) become so hooked that they retrain as yoga teachers, something this teacher also offers in his thriving school. I didn’t see this coming five years ago but even my own husband has been flirting with this idea and why not, though it brings into focus whether doing what you love as a means to earning income would take all the joy out of it (a conundrum that I have had to face repeatedly as an artist…) Yet there is truth to be found in the theory that where joy lies, income will more easily follow; and without all the collateral damage generated by pursuing corporate careers and other high-pressure routes that, by and large, only rub against the soul more and more as you increase in maturity and later-life wisdom. When you do what you love, getting down to it with eager relish every day, there is no “hard effort” involved, nor is there constant thought of retirement or the desperate need for a holiday. One friend that my husband has made is testament to that; the energy he is pouring into his own yoga practice since qualifying is a thing to behold, his growing network of yoga classes aimed at all sorts of people across a wide geographical area like a coherent spider’s web all of his own and he never seems to stop spinning it wider. Here is another male who is rapidly becoming a rock-star of a yoga teacher; so is it fair to say that the world is embracing male-led yoga classes even more so than those run by women and is there a niche opening up? If so, what does this say about where we are as a collective? Is this because there are ever more males looking for something just like this to offer new coherence to their lives along with a relatable person to teach it to them? I take it all as a very good sign.
When you make shapes of the yoga-variety it has this tendency to work alchemy across all the layers of your life (even via my own home practice, I am testament to that). It’s as though it loosens up all the locked joints of learned behaviour whilst swiftly providing an alternative structure on which to hang your life; with no precarious void left vulnerable in the interim. This is a phenomenon I keep coming across; the idea that, if we remove an old structure too quickly, whether a toxic state in the body or a whole way of life that feels done with, this physics principle of precarious void that sucks in even more that is toxic seems to threaten across all the layers. Ayurveda has a name for it when it occurs in the body and an example is when you go on a detox regime too determindly and fast, which can have the opposite effect to what you envisioned as the body seeks literally anything, even what is toxic to it, to shore up its “walls”, creating a further state of crisis. By putting a yogic practice in place, ideally overlapping with the old lifestyle or health issue that you started with (in other words, you don’t need to “get better” first before you begin doing yoga…), you are able to hand over your life to its new source of coherence without needing to plunge into a void that could be the unmaking of you. It makes transition not only possible but really rather beautiful.
There’s something divine about getting onto a yoga mat day after day, enacting coherency through the shapes your body makes. In surprising little time, you start to want to bring such coherence into all of your life and for there to be just as much balance (since yoga is all about bringing left and right hemispheres most coherently together) in all that you do. It’s as though the yoga mat rolls outwards into life; affecting your dealings with people, how you are able to stand tall in situations that might otherwise rock you, showing you how to take pause and just breathe, how to hold centre and to draw inwards for respite or heart wisdom even though you are fully present in a room full of people. Just like I sense the feminine aspect is ready to become more fluid and expressive (as I am exploring as part of my morning routine – see my post Dance Like Nobody is Watching), it does feel as though the male aspect is ripe to embrace this most coherent version of form, seeking it in ever growing numbers at the grass-roots level of ordinary life. Put those two aspects together and I already see what a beautiful reality we could be in the process of making; one made up of perfectly balanced divinely male structure partnered with the ultimate in unlimited creative-feminine flow.