YOGA FOR MEN: Greg Cawley, left, leads a class which he says is ideal for over-40s men, allowing them to “exercise in a controlled way without thrashing your body”.
YOGA FOR MEN: Greg Cawley, left, leads a class which he says is ideal for over-40s men, allowing them to “exercise in a controlled way without thrashing your body”. Christina Stubbs

Breaking down the barriers to male yoga

THE only stretching a lot of men do is for a beer.

Greg Cawley should know because, despite playing a lot of senior footy in his day, he was just such a guy.

Now, at 57, he's teaching yoga to male-only classes twice a week in Toowoomba, and looking to expand.

"There are a lot of barriers to a guy walking into a yoga class," Greg explained, including being literally the odd man out in a class full of females who are far more fashionably dressed and flexible than they are.

Hence the company's light-hearted name BrikMan Yoga - a play on the 'hot yoga' style Bikram - and so-called because Greg jokes he's built like a brick and, like most guys, bricks can't bend.

It also explains their motto "No sheilas, no lycra, just blokes".

Guys of all ages are encouraged to go along in shirts, shorts and bare feet and try yoga in what Greg describes as "a safe place".

"For me it's a mental quiet time as much as physical," Greg said. "It's like a moving meditation."

He said while really getting the hang of it "creeps up on you", most participants told him that after even the first session they slept well and woke feeling energised.

Greg regularly gets classes of eight to 15 people and says he's got a "pretty good strike rate - once they start coming, they keep coming".

Participants are generally 40-70 years old, which Greg said made yoga ideal, because you could "exercise in a controlled way without thrashing your body".

Accountancy trained and now manager of Toowoomba Central Discount Drug Store, Greg said he became interested in yoga while on a personal development course in Nepal eight years ago, in the midst of the business headaches of the global financial crisis.

"I found doing yoga, it was a place I could go to for an hour and get away from everything," he said.

His partner Michelle Harbrow, a massage and Bowen therapist, whom he moved to Toowoomba to be with a couple of years ago, encouraged him to train to teach yoga ... and the rest is history.

His present classes incorporate Vinyasa (flow and movement), traditional Hatha and Yin (which is slower, deeper stretches which quiet the mind and relax).

The physical benefits, he said, were many.

"It gets your blood moving, opens up the energy in your body, helps you sleep better and de-stress."

Classes, at 6pm Tuesdays at All Saints Church hall and Thursdays at St Luke's hall, are $10 and Greg supplies mats for those who just want to give it a go. He plans to start a Yin-only class on Sundays and is considering a class to cater for the specific needs of over-70s if there is sufficient interest.

Call Greg on 0435 755 033.


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