Why are more men taking up yoga?
Yoga has long been seen as a practice reserved for ultra-flexible women and backpackers on Goan beaches. Thankfully the world is coming around to the idea that the benefits of yoga can be enjoyed everywhere, by everyone – even the burliest of men. So what’s prompting this positive shift? Let’s consider another question first.
Why have men tended to avoid yoga until now?
1. Yoga’s for girls, right?
Wrong. Yoga began to take root more than 5,000 years ago, within the Indus-Sarasvati civilisation in Northern India. Since then the majority of the most highly revered yogis have been male – Patanjali, Pattabhi Jois, B. K. S. Iyengar, Osho, and the list goes on.
2. I’m not flexible enough.
If we take a step back and remember the physical benefits that yoga brings, this reason quickly loses credibility. Regular yoga practice will increase your flexibility. So if you think you’re not flexible enough, there’s every reason to grab a mat and get started.
3. I can’t do it!
Many men have the type of personality that requires them to be able to do something right now. Or even yesterday. Looking at it rationally, if you’re new to yoga, it’s highly unlikely that you’re going to be able to wrap yourself up in dragonfly pose, just like that. It takes time and perseverance. Yoga is excellent for cultivating patience and inner peace.
4. Yoga studios have a weird vibe.
Havens of tranquillity for some, usually women, yoga studios often make men feel anything but tranquil. Instead of encouraging relaxation, they can foster feelings of extreme awkwardness. The good news is, not all classes are run in yoga studios! You’ll find yoga classes in gyms, church halls, community spaces and even pubs. Check out my Pub Yoga classes at the Bolton in Earls Court.
5. I haven’t got space in my workout timetable.
Busy men may already struggle to fit their weight training or cardio workouts around their work and social commitments. Stretching tends to come much farther down the priority list. But can you really afford not to include flexibility work in your fitness plan? Yoga helps prevent injury by stretching out and strengthening all the muscles of the body equally – not just the ones you decide to put through their paces with the kettle bells or on the treadmill. It’s a total body workout, especially if you opt for one of the stronger types of yoga, like Sattva, Ashtanga or Bikram. Substituting one of your weekly weights sessions for a yoga class could return results you never thought possible.
All these reasons for men not to do yoga are slowly but surely being debunked. And the numbers of male attendees of yoga classes is on the rise.
So what is it that’s encouraging men to take up yoga?
1. Amazing yoga poses on Instagram
Men tend to be visual creatures. They often need to see to believe. That’s why the internet, social media especially, has had a big part to play in encouraging the men’s yoga revolution we’re witnessing today. Instagram is tiled with impressive yogis in aspirational binds, twists and balances. Many of the more masculine accounts depict the practice of yoga as an act of strength and power, whereas lots of the female-focused accounts tend to show yoga’s more bendy, almost balletic, qualities.
Men are growing to learn of – and love – that physical challenge that comes with practicing yoga. Dylan Werner and Jacob Manning demonstrate the amazing physical effects yoga can have on a man’s body – and it’s anything but girly. Fit, muscular physiques holding up their entire body weight against gravity with just an arm, or maybe two, is bound to impress even the most stubborn of men’s yoga sceptics.
2. Yoga classes aimed at men
Broga, a relatively new phenomenon sweeping the yoga scene, describes itself as ‘strong, energetic and challenging’. Its mission? ‘… to offer men real tools for coping with daily stresses and demands through an accessible yoga-based fitness program taught from a man’s point of view’. There are even classes tailored to the needs of weightlifters. If professional sportsmen like Andy Murray and Ryan Giggs give yoga their seal of approval, surely it’s good enough for your average guy in the street.
3. The pressures of modern life
Life is stressful. It’s busy. It doesn’t allow for much time to just breathe. Men who work in high-powered professions can benefit greatly from taking the time to switch off and clear their mind. These days, there are yoga classes which are specifically set up to help people let go of their working day. My Sattva yoga class at Not Just Yoga Notting Hill takes place at 8.30 pm on Tuesdays. It’s purposefully run at the ideal time for high-achieving professionals getting home late after a hard day at the office.
So what are you waiting for? Book a class with me to discover for yourself the great benefits of yoga.
Watch my video on the benefits of yoga for men.