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Dr. Helen

Men Strike a Pose: In Yoga

November 19th, 2013 - 2:26 pm

I go to a yoga class every week and each time, there are a few more men. Not a lot, maybe five out of twenty but not bad. I ran across this article today called “Men strike a pose in yoga classes just for them” and thought it was kind of interesting:

On a perfect November Saturday afternoon when they could have been pumping iron at the gym or hanging out with friends over a couple of pale ales, half a dozen men slipped through the back entrance to a spartan yoga studio on the main drag of Westmont in Camden County.

They were there, bravely and voluntarily, to spend two hours doing yoga.

Never mind that the ancient Indian practice linking breath, body, and spirit was developed and taught by men. In America, yoga is a woman’s domain.

A 2012 study by the Yoga Journal found that 82 percent of yoga practitioners were women.

Walk into most classes and if any men can be found, they are in the back corners, where they can fumble through poses without attracting much notice.

Anatomically, women are no better equipped than men to do yoga, said Larry H. Chou, a physiatrist at Premier Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine in Havertown.

“The resistance has been psychosocial. There was this perception that yoga was less manly,” said Chou, who has consulted with professional sports teams and was a faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania’s Sports Medicine Center.

This reluctance to do yoga reminded me of a book I am currently reading (that is very good!) by a retired Navy Seal called The Way of the SEAL: Think Like an Elite Warrior to Lead and Succeed. The author has a section on “mental traps” and one of his points is that we have a tendency to avoid things we doubt, rather than investigate them:

A good example is yoga. For years, most American men thought yoga was only for women, wimps or odd people who wore towels on their heads. In reality it is an incredibly advanced personal-development program that will kick your ass and change your life. I have helped break this myth by teaching SEALFIT yoga to thousands, including many Navy Seals.

I must admit, though a woman, I felt the same way–that yoga was too slow and not “hardcore” enough–until recently. I started doing yoga consistently and my balance and flexibility have improved greatly and it is hard. I don’t know how some of the women (or men) in the class do some of the poses. I even invested in a Manduka Yoga Mat suggested by several yoga practitioners and it is terrific at keeping my knees and wrists comfortable.

Do you practice yoga if male? Do you find it intimidating or bothersome being one of the few men or maybe just the opposite?

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All Comments   (5)
All Comments   (5)
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P90x has a 90-minute yoga routine that is done weekly. As I look at people 10-20 years older than I am who can barely walk, I know yoga will be a part of my workout routine. It's tough, but I feel so much more relaxed and flexible when I am done.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
I did yoga for years; I went to sea on merchant ships and there was no opportunity to exercise. So I bought a book with pictures of poses and after awhile I was right good at it. always started with about 10 salutations to the sun. I also took a class and was the only guy, which was OK.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Three days a week, I work out with DDPYoga. Former pro wrestler Diamond Dallas Page developed it. There's no spirituality involved (I don't look to my workouts for spiritual fulfillment), and the focus is on building strength and raising your heart rate. I've lost 18 pounds in the last two months (more weight that I ever lost going to the gym), and I owe it at least in part to DDPYoga.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I don't anymore, but for a few years I practiced a couple of times a week. Started in a men only class that was taught by a woman (the studio owner). After a while, I got my wife interested so we started going to the regular classes, where I was often the only male. In a small studio, where I knew everyone, it was not intimidating. But starting over in a new studio probably would be.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I have been practicing Ashtanga Vinyasa for almost ten years. I got into it right away because of the breathing. But I had a background of karate and zen meditation. The men to women ratio is higher among teachers and students who "get it", so to speak.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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