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Yoga for Men?

We have a tendency to avoid things we doubt, rather than investigate them.

Helen Smith


November 20, 2013 - 2:15 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?


cross-posted from Dr. Helen

image courtesy shutterstock /  StockLite

Helen Smith is a psychologist specializing in forensic issues in Knoxville, Tennessee, and blogs at Dr. Helen.

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All Comments   (9)
All Comments   (9)
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I get a kick out of all the people who think that doing yoga is as being one with the dot-headed snake and monkeybrain-eating villains from "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom."

One of these days an enterprising athletic, telegenic pastor is gonna make a mint with a non-threatening, Christianized version of yoga (which has always been non-denominational). It DOES integrate well into Eastern religious why not Western?

Imagine, if you will, a studio set made to look like a proper church basement and our hero in black yoga pants with a sleeveless "dog-collar" clergy-shirt leading the class.

Perhaps rename some of the poses and we're off to the races!

While we're on the subject I always wondered if many Christians somehow felt that diet and exercise was somehow vain and sinful. If Jane Fonda does it...?
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
If I wanted to pay to have a foreign philosophy foisted off on me, I'd take an Oriental Martial Art.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Yoga daily for strength and flexibility and to make sure you use the muscles that otherwise get ignored.

What have I found out in the past six years of it? I may not be a pretzel, but regular yoga seems to make the little things of daily life easier.

Got my start with a Rodney Yee book from the library. Kept signing it out until my wife got me my own copy for Father's Day.

However, at almost 60, it's also still necessary to run and lift weights. And use the stairs instead of elevators.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
back when i played tennis for a living we would incorporate some "yoga" in our cooldown routine at the end of every afternoon practice session
the routine consisted of some phisio work with bands and many yoga poses
this regimen was hugely beneficial blunting stiffness and preventing injuries

yoga is very difficult when one first starts out but you will also feel the benefits immediately and, like weight training, your development will decline rapidly if you dont keep doing it

that said i wouldn't consider going to a yoga studio anytime soon for a couple of reasons
-- not in to the whole "yoga" hipster scene and being in a studio cooped up with others is a total downer for me
--also, yoga poses make me sweat like a stuck pig on the equator so i'm sure the others in the class benefit greatly from me not being there too

i would suggest getting a yoga dvd for those who want to try it out
i had a rodney yee video that was pretty decent
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I'll tell you a secret: all those skinny people in the class say they're "glowing" ... but it's sweat.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Ye Olde 19th-century saying:

"Horses sweat, boys perspire, girls 'glow'."

I think it was from one of Louisa May Alcott's lesser-known works...
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Guys, look. It's harder than you think, you get a helluva workout, and the view is incredible. Plus you meet a nicer class of people than some bunch of sweaty guys in a basement.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I tried it once and it made me cry.

Haven't been back since.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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