Real Men Do YogaFebruary 3, 2020
Moving Past The Stigma!! Men In The U.S. Are Getting Comfortable Joining the Yoga Movement!
“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”~Frederick Douglass
Women far outnumber men in American yoga studios today, which is a shame because it means there are many men out there missing out on the myriad of benefits that yoga has to offer them. Yoga for men needs to be a rapidly growing trend in 2020! In Western culture, yoga was seen as a practice just for women. But fortunately, that attitude is shifting. Studios are incorporating Classes that cater to Men and their fitness needs!
No matter where we come from or where we live, we all see and feel the benefits of yoga. The beauty of yoga is that it crosses oceans, cultures, genders, and styles. If yoga continues to move humanity toward awareness and consciousness, then keep practicing.The East and the West share the same foundation when it comes to yoga, but many westerners adapt yogic practices to fit their modern lives. We equate a 75-minute class to practicing yoga, whereas in the East, yoga is seen as a way of life. It becomes apart of your morning rituals tied to Hinduism, food, meditation, and asana.
However, in the West we still purify the body through movement, producing heat and liberating ourselves from stress through a balance of body and mind practices. The asanas are still millennial, the breathing techniques are still the same, and the AUM is still universal. Although both the East and the West share the same goal, there are still a few things that make us different such as the relationship between teachers and students, clothing, and yoga’s growing popularity. It’s important to remember that in the East there is still a gap in gender equality, so yoga teachers are very well respected, especially male teachers.
Yoga in the United States is such a diverse and widely used practice with claims to help fix whatever that ails you from back pain to anxiety. It is a beautiful vessel to strengthen the body and calm the mind. I probably do not have to tell you that yoga in the United States is done primarily by women. Pictures of women doing yoga dominate yoga magazines and yoga Instagram and Twitter accounts. And the numbers bear that out: according to a 2016 Yoga Journal Study, 72% of yoga practitioners in the United States are women. Yoga teacher training manuals and anatomy guides in the U.S. have women as their models a great majority of the time. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, while I like to tell people that I started yoga as a way to improve my balance and control stress, I was also fascinated by the different graceful postures you see on social media and I wanted to achieve those too.
When I signed up for teacher training, I did not think much about the possibility of being one of the few male trainees. Throughout my various trainings, the female to male ratio has been upwards of 30 to 1 and I quickly heard all about the stereotypes: guys are not flexible enough for yoga, it’s not a tough enough workout or it’s just not a manly thing to do. To which I said, I don’t really care. I love the flexibility I have gained through practicing all types of yoga (not to mention meditation) are definitely not easy and today’s society is quickly redefining what it means to be a man, so why not embrace it?
My main intention in all of my classes to make sure each student feels safe, included and empowered to do what I am instructing. Only then can they feel at ease and start to have fun, de-stress, get a good workout or achieve anything else that they came to class for. As a male yoga teacher with primarily female students, I am hyper-aware that there may be women in the room who suffered some abuse or trauma.
I am also aware of the popular archetype of the male yoga teacher in American media, whose primary motivation is to give sexually suggestive cues and adjusts with the hope of taking advantage of one of the women in the room. Yoga is an excellent vehicle to heal from trauma and I do not want my words or touch to be a trigger for anyone. There are also some cues that sound different coming from a male teacher than they would from a woman. For instance, I tend to avoid the cue of “if you are on your cycle, you may want to avoid shoulder stand”.
Teacher training was a huge help in feeling comfortable adjusting many different types of bodies, but it was quite a bit different going into a live class for the first few times. In teacher training, there is an implied consent and a feeling of “we’re all just trying this out for the first time together”. In a live class (even though I ask permission to touch at the beginning of every class), I always have a feeling that an adjust I might give might give the wrong impression. A lot of that awkwardness has gone away with experience. I leave it up to the student to provide feedback or ask after class about an adjust I was not quite sure about in the moment. Feedback can be such a valuable tool for both teacher and student to improve the overall experience especially as a Male in the industry. Doing so helps to improve the image and ideas of males in the yoga community. The more men that get into yoga the more yoga begins to evolve for the modern male. Like (Mens yoga Clothes) LOL
So this is my call for more men to join the Yoga community in the U.S. All good yogis know that yoga is so much more than the poses,its about getting in touch with one’s true self. In today’s society men need spaces where they can dive deeper into the understanding of their true self to help heal the male experience. As a proud introvert, I have found teaching and connecting with students before and after class has helped me come out of my shell. I have met some great people in the industry but I would be happy to see more men take up the challenge. If you are a male reading this blog and haven’t done yoga before, maybe for one of the reasons mentioned above, give it a try, even if it is at home with a short YouTube video. And for everyone, I encourage you to invite the males in your life to your next class. Yoga truly is an all-inclusive practice.
So if you’ve been thinking about starting or continuing with your yoga practice, here are six awesome and practical reasons men should do more yoga:
1. Yoga improves overall well-being.
Yoga is one of the practices that you should try if you want a major lifestyle change. It’s a great practice to improve your overall well-being as it promotes both physical health and mental toughness.
Little by little, you will experience a shift in your sleeping patterns as well as your natural diet. The best part is that you don’t have to follow a heavy workout/recovery plan to excel at yoga.
2. Yoga makes your body flexible and strong.
Most men hesitate to do yoga because they’re not “flexible enough.” But this is a common misconception for everyone new to yoga. One of the main physical benefits of yoga is increasing and improving flexibility and strength, so these two are not prerequisites for a yoga practice. You don’t have to be flexible and strong beforehand. It’s the same logic as thinking you have to already be skinny to eat healthy.
So yes, yoga will help improve your balance and flexibility and, of course, strengthen your muscles during the process as well.
3. Yoga helps you lose weight.
If you’ve been lifting weights to trim the fat around your belly, I’m telling you — yoga’s an easier option. Yoga is a practice of mindfulness which easily translates into awareness of eating, sleeping and lifestyle habits.Yoga is good for your gut health as it helps massage your internal organs, which gives an instant boost in your metabolic rate. It also helps stop unhealthy food and sugar cravings, so you’re not going to be tempted to eat everything on the table.
4. Yoga relieves stress.
If you’re looking for a way to relax after a long week, yoga is for you! It will help you fight all the negativity around you, and replace those feelings with positive vibes. You’ll be surprised by the improvement in your mood and energy right away.
Yoga is one of the best ways to naturally boost your mental health. It is known to clear and calm your mind, and even fight off mild depression. People who suffer from anxiety will also benefit from its soothing effects.
5. Yoga helps improve your sexual performance.
You heard that right. For a lot of men and women, this becomes even more of a reason to help get their man on the mat. Studies show that men of all ages can enjoy the benefits of yoga when it comes to sexual function. This includes desire, erection, performance, confidence and orgasm.
Yoga’s ability to keep you flexible and lower stress levels can lead to better sexual performance. It helps to regulate your blood flow, which can lead to increased pleasure in bed. So, yes, the more time you spend on the mat, the more quality time you’ll spend in the sack!
6. Yoga keeps you challenged.
It’s no secret that men generally love outdoor activities and challenges. Learning new poses and seeing your progress on the mat are likely more than enough to keep you enticed by your practice.What’s great about yoga is that you can literally do it anywhere. It doesn’t matter if you’re going for a hike or just staying at home for the weekend — yoga is your best friend.Hopefully these nine reasons have convinced you to try yoga or keep going with your practice. Yoga is not at all an “only for women” practice and, I promise you, there is nothing more attractive than a man who practices yoga.