Lugging your yoga mat around the city (especially in San Francisco) is like walking a puppy in that the topic inevitably creeps its way into your conversations with everyday strangers. Initially, it’s a pretty generic Q&A that I don’t mind answering (how long? where? what style? etc.), but it gets interesting when you get to hear others people’s take on yoga – especially with men.
From my experience, a lot of men are
pretty very skeptical about trying yoga. Lotuses, chanting, yoga pants… need I say more? A barista I was chatting with the other day told me that he wasn’t flexible enough and that he wanted to get more flexible before he tried yoga. I wanted to shout out, “NO, you don’t have to! It’s all about coming as you are. It’s not about what the guy (woman, more probably) next to you is doing, but that you are doing your own practice.” Thank God I didn’t say that because it sounds pretty lame and probably would not make him any more likely to try yoga. But those are the words I hear all time in yoga classes. It’s not about what the person next to you is doing. While I agree with that statement, it’s practically meaningless to new students. If they have no idea what Eka Pada Rajakapotasana is then it’s all about what the person next to you is doing. And if that new student is an inflexible guy who happens to practice next to a naturally bendy girl who can smile while in Eka Pada Rajakapotasana, it can be pretty discouraging.
There are a bunch of factors for why men are skeptical about trying yoga:
- Most yoga classes these days are All-level meaning that many students already have a consistent practice.
- Men don’t get to utilize their brute strength like they’re used to using in other activities.
- The ratio of men to women in a yoga class is that of a typical ballet class (unless you’re in a big city).
- Most yoga classes are taught by women.
So, how can we get more dudes to try out yoga?
When I first heard the term, I was simultaneously intrigued and repulsed. I imagined a douchey frat boy kicking into a headstand while performing a keg stand all at the same time. I kept thinking that I didn’t need a dumbed-down version of yoga in order for me to start practicing. But then I got off my high-horse and realized that it’s just not how I perceive a typical yoga class as being. A prototypical yoga class now wasn’t the prototypical yoga class taught in India a couple centuries ago. So-what if a typical Broga class has no spiritual component or incorporates core work worthy of a P90X workout. There are yoga classes catered specifically to women, so creating a yoga class that caters specifically to men should be just as worthy. Any yoga is good yoga, in my book. Alan Nett, a certified Iyengar teacher, met construction workers halfway by teaching at their work sites and naming poses after construction tools that the workers were familiar with. So maybe it’s time to meet our potential Bro-gis halfway. And who knows, Broga classes could be the stepping stone that arms dudes with the curiosity to try out other styles of yoga.
And one day, just maybe, they’ll be chanting Om Namah Shivaya… like the rest of us weirdos. And if not, who gives a shit. It’s all good, bro.
-The Humble Warrior