By Jennifer Barron
Jul 21, 2014
Yoga for Guys: Overcoming Reservations about Flexibility, Pain and a ‘less intense’ Workout
Ever since yoga first began in India, the practice was primarily taught and studied by men. When it comes to yoga today, women are showing up to practice yoga far more than men. This speaks for yogis and yoginis practicing in the US, with ladies making up 72.2% of the population and 27.8% being guys. These percentages stem from a study that was completed by Yoga Journal, NAMASTA, YIAS, and Livestrong in 2012 and was last verified on July 28, 2013. As of right now, we are starting to see more yoga for guys and these men continue integrating the practice into their regular exercise regimen.
Granted that yoga has a plethora of health benefits, we can only hope that more men continue to integrate into the yoga scene. From my own personal experience, most guys just need a little extra encouragement and support before they decide to move forward and try a yoga class. I have seen several guys so eager to come practice, but often hold back because they have reservations regarding their flexibility, knowing that it may be painful, and simply out of fear and trepidation that they will not be getting as intense of a workout as they would with their regular weight lifting, cross fit, running, biking, rock climbing, or tri-athlete routine. Yoga for guys can be an excellent work out although it is different than what they are used to.
Once a man can commit to trying a yoga class, they often realize that there are several benefits far beyond just the physical. Yoga is a practice that challenges one physically, mentally, emotionally, and often times spiritually. Men often latch on to the physical and mental challenge of the practice when they first begin. Some men are persuaded to try yoga with a group of their buddies, their girlfriend, or as one of my students indicated, on their own when they decide that they are ready for a public yoga appearance. Once guys get past some of the awkwardness associated with the postures and movements and are able to truly tap into the mental “release” that comes from focusing on being present and connecting their breath with movement, they often continue to come back for more. Some of my male students have noticed how yoga helps them feel alive, opens up tighter muscle groups in their body that help them stay active in whatever activity they indulge in regularly, and have mentioned that learning to breath promotes longer and more enjoyable weight lifting sets that are part of their daily regimen.
The intention behind “BRO”ga for Guys (at our Center) is to create a space and outlet for men to come to their mat and perform yoga at their level. Guys develop flexibility in areas that have become incredibly tight due to certain training and activities, strengthen key areas, and clear a lot of excess mental clutter that stems from stress, work, as well as financial and family obligations. Yoga for guys means being surrounded by other guys who are not as flexible. This can be comforting on many levels especially when one recognizes that the majority of the class is unable to touch their toes. In order to physically feel the practice, “BRO”ga classes will integrate challenging sequences that strengthen the core, focus on arm balances and balance in general, and generate heat in the body so very key areas of the body such as the shoulders, low back, hips, and hamstrings, all very tight areas in the male body, can slowly begin to open more. The hope is that the male student over time, will develop an inner connection with themselves as well as the personal freedom to be more conscious, aware, and present in their daily life and interactions. Furthermore, by having the time and space to release any pent up emotions, men will be encouraged to let their guard down and open their hearts more willingly with others without fear of their own ego and perhaps the notion that they will be judged by others.
Teacher: Jennifer Barron