A proud boast but not actually, in fact a statement to the effect that we really need more 'yoga for men' classes.....
I have written many times before about getting more men into yoga, it is a subject very close to my heart, even a crusade you could say.
I am continually frustrated and annoyed with the yoga industry, both in the UK and worldwide and the image that it portrays about yoga, compounding the problem. I see very little inclusivity when it comes to men and yoga and no real promotion of yoga for men on the scale for women. Being a bloke, I will back this up...just go ahead and google 'yoga pants'.....
Yoga was, in its time, exclusively practiced by men before it was picked up by the west, particularly Hollywood and the fitness industry in the U.S. then the clothing industry and here we are now... 'yoga pants'
I have run the popular Park Yoga Wokingham initiative for the past 3 years which has grown exponentially, in 2022 we averaged 100 people in the park every Sunday, doing yoga. This has been fantastic however, consistently we are getting a maximum of 10% male representation.
Now the other 90% of females will, no doubt have a male relation or friend so the question is, ‘where are they?’
When I teach at the leisure centres across Wokingham and my own public cases, we have a proportion of men, again, quite low, although some of my own public drop in classes touch 50%, although this is not the norm.
The thing is, once men come to a class, providing it’s a class that resonates with their mindset, they absolutely get it and they will return, it is like the veil has been lifted.
I can back this up. Since I started my exclusive ‘men only’ yoga classes in Finchampstead, I’ve had higher consistent attendance than any of my other classes. They get it, they enjoy it and it does them good.
If yoga teacher wishes to attract more men to their classes, they (teachers), may need to consider their style, content and delivery. When I teach teenagers, it is evident that the girls love the flowing movements where they can express themselves, whereas the boys love the arm balances and strength and conditioning postures. If we take that forward there is a happy medium which satisfies all genders, and this is exactly what my classes are. Add the element of balance which levels the playing field challenging everyone equally and you have a rounded class.
Men do struggle with quieting the ego, particularly in any group environment. The expectation that men can switch off their ego is going to be challenged. Instead, allow the men in the class to explore their practice, the movements, postures, they will work really hard and may get a little frustrated at times. It is ok to deliver some of the yoga messages in a light hearted way initially, in time this will start to embed itself and once it does, men will really start to engage and grasp the essence of what we are experiencing on the mat in our practice. Make it compelling for men.
Yoga is many things to many people and to focus entirely on the restorative practice, or the attainment of a ridiculous posture which is entirely non-functional is limiting the scope of what yoga has to offer.
As those that practice know, yoga is as much about the mindfulness and calming a busy mind and, again, therefore men need yoga.
Most of us (men) don’t communicate, we prefer to retire into the cave and fix the problem, owning it, stressing about it and being consumed by it, day in day out this goes on…
Learning how to breathe correctly and recognising those distracting thoughts as they surface and how to react and handle them is yoga. And this is why yoga is much more than men may think it is despite the misrepresentation by the yoga industry.
So now is the time to get the message out there and convince men that yoga is for them, for their physical wellbeing and especially their mindset, and convince yoga teachers, and the industry that the demographic needs to change!