By Sukhnam Singh
I remember it well, my first Kundalini Yoga lesson. It was my first contact with yoga, any kind of yoga. Actually it was kind of a coincidence that I wound up there, but maybe that's typically male. After all, when it comes to yoga, the usual reaction of the stronger sex is that men look pretty silly practicing poses with funny names like downward dog, cobra, and corpse. We think, “Yeah, yoga is okay for women but what man would do such a thing voluntarily!?“
I admit it, before going to my first class, I had no idea what I was in for. After years of competitive sports at school, intensive fitness and outdoor training, a few years in asian martial arts, and finally extreme training for half-marathon, by the age of thirty my body felt not only tired but almost abused. It had done a great job to support my drive for physical excellence during those years. And now despite being strong, fit, and muscular, it was also hard, tense, and stiff. I knew even back then that I had to change something. My body was missing softness, suppleness, and flexibility. So I thought, maybe I'll try Kundalini Yoga, and signed up for a free lesson.
I went there with a set of mixed feelings: being open for a new experience, but a bit nervous, and for sure curious. To my surprise, I wasn't the only guy in the class. And up in front, the teacher was not a woman but a man. I immediately felt better, thinking, at least I have an ally in him. He for sure knows how difficult it can be for a guy in a yoga class facing his own shortcomings! But it wasn't long into the class before I had to face the facts. My spine's mobility and flexibility, especially in forward bends, were a disaster, almost embarrassing. I was so glad everybody else had their eyes closed during the exercises.
My teacher often said that out of all the yoga styles, Kundalini Yoga is the most man-friendly. Is this really true? What is it about Kundalini Yoga that makes it attractive to rational-minded men? Maybe its the arms and legs moving in rhythm? Or the goal-oriented kriyas that always result in a clearly described effect? Or is the uniquely authoritarian personality of Yogi Bhajan that especially fascinates men? I don't know.
Men love physical exertion. They love to go-for-broke, they want to push the envelope. In this regard, Kundalini Yoga offers them something they can identify with, and yet something very different. What's familiar is the striving for personal excellence. What's different is that there is no competition or comparison as is usual in the world of sports.
Each person works on their own posture and depending on mobility, strength, and experience may achieve a different level of capacity. And that's okay, because nobody's looking.
But there's more. I noticed with regular practice that I was changing—not only physically, but mentally, and emotionally. Men generally have no problem with the physical and mental side of things. But it's a different story when it comes to the emotions. Men don't speak about feelings because they think speaking about feelings is a sign of weakness. But isn't this exactly what our society needs now: men who open themselves more often, men who are authentic, men who admit their feelings and who can speak about what's going on inside of them?
Men who begin doing yoga always think that their greatest weakness is physical because they are so inflexible and stiff and that's where yoga's biggest bang for the buck lies. But that's not it. I think that men can profit the most from yoga, and Kundalini Yoga in particular, because it opens the heart and allows them to get in touch with themselves again.
[The original article was written in German is scheduled to appear in 3HO Germany's Yoga Journal. Translated and edited by Navraj Kaur (Judith Ann Nappo)]
Sukhnam Singh (Stefan Grob) is the owner of the newly-opened Shuniya Kundalini Yogaschule in St. Gallen Switzerland. When he's not promoting the class schedule and teaching, he is working hard as the owner of his own media agency specializing in communication. Well known for his sport career in martial arts and qualification as a mental coach, today Sukhnam dedicates his time to his business clients and to bringing the holistic concept and practice of Kundalini Yoga to the community he serves.