Need to repair a torn Achilles or are ladies your Achilles and you want to tear some girls loco Lycra off with your teeth? Perhaps work or a gay friend dragged you along and secretly wants to “work” on you? Or are you attracted to graceful movement and handstands or can’t stand not being able to touch your toes? Maybe you read somewhere that Down Dogs cure depression and make you happier than a dog that’s just escaped a novelty turtleneck sweater? Is it that you need to get to the bottom of why your friend’s bottom looks so good or why she always wants to sweat with some dude Bikram?
I found that plenty of the above reasons were what got the guys at Wanderlust Taupo started on their yoga journey. Everything you could imagine under the sun salutations. And they all had various reasons why they continued on: the love of a girl, the love of the “surf yoga vibe”, a hallucinogenic high, a feeling they couldn’t quite put into words, a way to get ripped or to manage anxiety attacks, a father’s death or a impending heart attack.
Each path was different yet each felt they were on their way. Somehow they all stumbled, sweated and stretched into something that wasn’t in their life before, a feeling, a community, a coping mechanism, a physical practice, an escape from the stress of life, a community of people unlike what they had previously encountered: “It’s the quality of human beings. Everyone is so active, humble and peaceful. It’s the aura,” as my bro Jade said about the yoga/Wanderlust community.
I was asked to write about “broga” at Wanderlust Taupo. But what is broga? Is it just “bros” doing yoga, bros meaning males, yoga meaning union. But do we even know what a bro is? What separates a bro from a babe/woman? (Try saying that out loud with a serious face in the voice of Sir David Attenborough)
As I was writing this piece, I was eating banana cake and reading the book Natural Born Heroes by Christopher McDougall. In the cake there were plenty of bananas and dates. In the book, Mr McDougall examines how men and women are physically almost identical. Compared with other animals, men and women are remarkably alike; roughly the same size and shape and with the same biological weaponry. Men are approx. 15% bigger than women (not 50% bigger like male gorillas). Men don’t have fangs, or antlers or any extra Super Saiyan abilities like Goku in Dragon Ball Z. For millions of years we have worked, travelled, survived across various terrains, harvesting food, catching game, playing games, singing and dancing and trying to live as one tribe. And as couples we choose one mate at a time in a peaceful way, unless you’re on The Bachelor / Bacherlorette.
Courtship battles are a dance, not a death match like apes and elks battling for the right to reproduce, taking multiple mates by force. Rather than fight, we flaunt like Freddie Mercury on stage singing Don't Stop Me Now. We want to be better human beings and then let the woman/man make their choice. We’re creatures of restraint and endurance and elasticity, that’s where men and women, young and old, are most alike. McDougall states that when it comes to tests of endurance, like distance running and swimming, the difference between men and women, old and young, is even smaller/inexistent. The first woman to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage was the sixty-four-year-old Diana Nyad. Amelia Boone beats 99% of men in obstacle races 100% of the time. Pam Reed is badass and was forty-one when she beat all the men to win the 135-mile Badwater Ultramarathon across Death Valley in 2002 and 2003.
Genetically there’s no reason why women can’t do the same as men, or youth the same as the elderly. The raw weaponry is still there. Our genomes, or complete set of DNA, is pretty much identical, as Riccardo Sabatini demonstrated in his Vancouver TED Talk: “For the first time in history, the full genome of a specific human has been printed page by page, letter by letter – 262,000 pages of information.” From these 175 books, Sabatini reads a sequence of eight letters that determine our eye colour. That’s all that separates my eyes from your beautiful ones over a candlelit dinner at a nice Italian restaurant, a couple of letters of genome, the other billions we share like we share the beetroot arancini starter at Coco’s Cantina.
Yet most of the world wants to separate us; to concentrate on our differences; to increase the divide between the rich and the poor. To put men on Venus, women on Mars, and Donald Trump in charge…
Don't get me started on the latter or on the former. I’ve never read the book about intergalactic gender decedents, but I feel that I’ve been conditioned to think I’m superior athletically and from another planet sometimes. So when an eight-year-old girl glides past me in the pool, or a woman rides past me on a bike, or I get thrashed by my mum’s friend at CrossFit and handstands, or I meet a girl who’s more fearless in the surf and wants to have sex more than I do, I have to start questioning my conditioning and get back in the bedroom.
Vincent Bolletta, a brilliant human and humorous yoga teacher, told me that yoga was a giant question. I wondered if the The Riddler from Batman is secretly a yogi? I also realised that when you start questioning, you start to find the truth. Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia, takes the philosophy that you must ask “why?” continually until you get to the root of the problem.
So I ask why is it that I’ve heard that nationalism will be the new racism? Why wouldn’t we evolve from eating animals? Why shouldn’t men and women raise a child together? Why shouldn’t women enjoy sex as much as men? (“How do you know that they don’t?!” my sister pronounces while proof reading this piece. I answer that I don’t but I had been led to believe it true) Why would only some profit on the division of resources when all can profit from sharing? Why concentrate on differences when what we all need is more harmony and less KFC? Who really controls the world money supply? Why does terrorism and war still exist in modern society? Why are we out of coconut yoghurt again? (“Because Doug ate the whole tub as per usual grrr!” – another note from my sister, hah) Didn’t someone just do the shopping last night?
In the Bible, man used to be gender-neutral; mankind being all of us created by God, so why not ask the question about Broga too?
My friend, Kritesh, is a dad and a doctor who likes to garden and play backyard cricket. He also likes to calls girls “bros” because it’s humorous (& annoying to my sister apparently). Maybe we should all be like Kritesh and throw down some inswinging yorkers, compost and the “broga” out to both sexes. For we should all find an excuse for yoga, for union, to be nice to others, to start a massage circle or a petition for change, to attend a Wanderlust event or boycott industrial meat production. What we need to question is our separation, our separation from nature. As nature is everywhere, it’s everything. Therefore, it’s never our connection to nature that is lost. As Wude, a tea master and zen monk, would say, “It’s just the feeling”. At Wanderlust I found the feeling. In yoga I find that feeling. In my banana cake I find that feeling.
After all, we’re all bros, 99% the same DNA, and made the same as banana cake, from light-beaming banana particles that we may never truly understand. And yoga is ultimately a meditation; a union of the self with the banana cake and with the greater self. And yoga/union/cake is for everybody. As our bro and meditation teacher Jonni Pollard says, “It’s a social imperative. To gain access to the full potential of our mind and creative capacity to not just survive, but to flourish for each other and the environment. To be sensitive and caring. We are witnessing it. Terrorism is a by-product of a mentality. Fundamentalism is an epiphenomenon. It emerged out of a core set of beliefs that grew out of difference and inequity. If everyone had the resources to flourish there would be no problem. It’s simply a response to being repressed. Inequity. We must have an intimate relationship with ourselves. We must be equal and generally caring.” We must all be bros! Brothers from another mother connected with ourselves and each other, and not just cause it rhymes. That will solve the worlds problems: “If every eight-year-old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation” – Dalai Lama.
Below are some photos taken from my friend and bro Tom Powell of fellow “bros” we bumped/hugged into at Wanderlust. Sure they are all males but they are also spiritual beings, living a human experience trying to find a sense of union, and potentially a slice of banana cake and a hot date down at the Taupo natural hot pools with a glass of Organic Mechanic kombucha. And isn't that a wonderful thing to find, and at a stretch, pun intended, a wonderful way to solve the world’s problems?
Think less. Experience more my bros.