“Although the evidence of men starting to look at the negative aspects of our masculinity is pleasing there still seems a reluctance to dive into the full experience that a retreat offers.”DEAN BEATTIE
A yogi who bench presses 200kgs? Dean Beattie breaks the typical male personal trainer mould.
I ask how he’s getting his gym guys to embrace retreats, yoga and dare I say it, ‘mindfulness’.
As a personal trainer and yoga teacher I’ve been lucky enough to participate in a number of retreats and teacher trainings and have found them all to be fantastic experiences.
I am always struck by the lack of men in attendance and have often pondered why?
The physical, mental and spiritual connection one gets from a retreat , particularly one based in nature is hard to duplicate. There are however ways men can bring this into our everyday lives.
One way is practicing mindfulness, simply put without the hype, paying attention to your present circumstances.
For me one of the wonderful aspects of the yoga practice is its ability to bring me into the present moment. By focusing on my alignment, posture and breath I’m not stuck in the past or projecting into the future (often fearfully!).
There’s no reason these yoga principles can’t be brought into the gym, it doesn’t matter if we’re practicing childs pose on the mat or squatting 200 kilos.
We must be aware of our body position, our posture, our breath, to be fully engaged in what we are doing.
Too often with exercise we simply “tick the box”, going through our routine with no real awareness or even worse as I see increasingly today, while watching our phones.
Our minds are consumed with what’s next, be it in our exercise routine or post workout.
The wonderful irony is that science has shown the more we can focus on what we are doing, the muscles we are using etc. the better the results!
And why yoga for men?…the more relevant question is why not!
Not only all the benefits I’ve just outlined in regards to mindfulness etc but from a physical standpoint some of the yoga postures work beautifully with a mans body especially the hip opening and any shoulder and chest opening.
Most activities we men engage in involves shortening of muscle fibres. Think strength training in the gym, football of all codes, running, even getting the lycra on and getting out on the roads!
The yoga practice is a wonderful compliment to this. Yin yoga where we hold postures and “marinate” in them for up to 3-5 mins really opens up the fascia tissue that holds and binds the muscles.
I must admit when I first got in to Yoga over ten years ago the attraction was more the ladies attending in yoga pants and all the usual ego filled ideas of displaying myself in this arena.
Over time and what led me to become a teacher was the realization that there was so much more to the practice.The environment and the nature of the activity enables it to become truly a moving meditation.
In Sivananda Yoga they speak of an hour practice being an hour of exercise, an hour of rest and an hour of meditation. How’s that for “bang for your buck” !
In summary the benefits of being mindful and present can be translated into any activity but yoga is a great practice and community to readily achieve this. When I teach I love seeing men in the class, enabling them to try the yoga experience.
For me, I truly came for the physical and stayed for the mental, emotional and spiritual.
Dean is the founder of Reset Retreats Bali, a program of fitness, yoga, adventure, practical spirituality, and life coaching set in a private residence in Ubud. Not just for the guys, gals are welcome too. Next Retreat is August 2019.
Dean is based in Melbourne, Australia if you’d like to get in touch. Facebook page here.