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December 4, 2016

The Real Reason I Head to my Mat.

yoga studio

My legs crossed, meditation style.

Body comfortable. Mind at ease.

Eyes soften, close.

The sounds of chatter fill my ears.

My breath deepens.

The sounds and time…drift away.

I blink my eyes open, slowly reconnect with the world I sailed away from.

Then, just as they left, the voices—soft, yet strong—surround me. And it is hard not to wonder, “Who owns these voices?”

Like a groundhog appearing from his hole in spring, my thoughts fill with curiosity. I look over my left shoulder. Then right.

The physical appearance of the voices appear: I am one of six men, surrounded by three rows worth of women, dressed in colors that would make any rainbow jealous.

I am a man in a woman’s world.

To some, this is a dream come true. And to others, it’s scary.

Many of my guy friends love to tell me, “I know why you do yoga, bro.” And I smile, shrug the comments off and simply respond with, “Come to class and see.”

What they don’t know is the real reason I head to my mat.

The asanas (poses) are important. But this is only one branch on the giant yoga tree. The empowerment, challenges, messages, support and connections are what bring me back to my mat. Time and time again.

It is a place where I can be me—100 percent of the time.

Cry. Laugh. Sing. Dance.

I am accepted, anytime.

All the time.

But a month ago things changed. I went from loving my surroundings at the yoga studio to being afraid of them.

I was faced with a personal struggle when alleged stories of males abusing power surfaced in the yoga community. And then the constant banter from the presidential debates carrying a similar, degrading message: men treating women poorly.

My mind and ego jumped in. A story was built on the negative premise of me being a man in a woman’s world. And I started to lose what brought me to my mat. It was slipping away, like a ship sinking in the sea. Each new alleged story and derogatory post sunk me a bit more until, eventually, it was gone.

Taking down the captain with it. Leaving me unconfident. Afraid.

And questioning why I do yoga.

Then my community rallied behind me—again. Just like five years ago when I was also in a fight with my ego, and someone asked me to go to a yoga class. Afraid and nervous, I went. I dragged myself in through the doors and onto my mat.

After a few classes my confidence began to gain strength and my world shifted. I felt empowered. Focused. Driven.

I was brought back to my mat daily and opened my eyes to all the possibilities that this community supports and creates. I let go of the stories my ego created.

But recently, this memory was buried deep below the confusion of my current struggle with my ego. And my community delivered. A red “1” appeared next to the envelope icon of my phone. “Happy 5th year Anniversary,” the email read. “We miss you. Sincerely, Guruv Yoga Studio.”

As I put my phone down, a smile came to my face. “Wow, I’ve been practicing for five years.” Then my mind wandered back to the “good ole days” in the studio. The dance parties, sing-alongs, smiles.

And acceptance.

I thought to myself, “This is why I go to yoga.”

From time to time the world presents itself with challenges. We have the choice of letting our ego create a story, or living our real truth.

Being surrounded by a strong, woman-dominated community can be intimidating—when I listen to the contrived, untrue story my ego creates, based solely upon fear.

Until I am surrounded in a yoga studio, where the walls that society and my ego has created come crashing down. I am free to sing. Dance. Laugh. Sweat. And practice.

Judgement gone.

The fact that I am a man in a woman’s world is forgotten. I am just a person, in class. Struggling with the poses like everyone else. Trying to get through one more breath of low boat.

This is why I go to yoga.

And why you’ll find me in the front row, dancing in down dog. Singing off key. Surrounded by love.

Fully accepted.

Trying to raise the vibration of the world as a community.

And this is the real reason why, today, I made it to my mat.

~

Author: Jeramie Vaine

Image: Jasmine Kaloudis/FlickrNicholas A. Tonelli/Flickr

Assistant Editor: Hilda Carroll/Editor: Catherine Monkman

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Jeramie Vaine