Typically 80% of yoga classes are female, I see this in my classes, however the men that attend my classes regularly talk to me and express their appreciation as they ‘get’ yoga.
There are many possible reasons why men stay away from yoga classes, but a few reasons seem to stick out more than others. It may be the competitive nature in men and the belief that many men don't find yoga challenging enough for the physical goals they wish to accomplish. Plainly stated, many men don't find yoga "masculine" enough for them, quite possibly they haven’t seen crow pose, side crane or considered handstands!
The need for men to have concrete exercise results may also be a reason why they refrain from yoga. With weight lifting or weight training, a man may see an increase in muscle mass - a bigger bicep or a bit of definition here or there. But with yoga, many of the most important changes are internal, mental and emotional benefits that maybe harder to gauge for a person taught to measure success by wins and losses. The physical benefits are almost incidental to most practitioners although they are significant.
Finally, there is the ego and men's fear of failure as one of the reasons they shun yoga in such large numbers. Since most men's idea of exercise consists of lifting weights or calisthenics that require the body to move in such a rigid motion, they often lack the flexibility that yoga demands. Even beginners may give up after a few sessions because they fear "failure" at not being able to perform the moves (without realising that their inflexibility may be the biggest reason they should participate in yoga), lower back pain can be attributed to tight hamstrings which are prevalent in active men.
Men who attend yoga classes must let down their defences and not think of yoga in terms of success and failure. Yoga is not concerned with perfection of pose or rating someone based on whether they can perform a backbend on their first day in class. Yoga practice is a gradual process where the student comes to acknowledge the mind-body connection. When placed in the right perspective with realistic goals, each yoga session can be considered a "success".
Men should be willing to let themselves go mentally in a yoga class. Some of the most powerful men in the modern world have credited yoga with letting them clear their heads of the day-to-day stresses and mental strain of the workday. Not only does yoga let them get rid of old, troublesome thoughts, it allows new thoughts to come in. indeed, many top executives have claimed that some of their most successful ideas have come while meditating during yoga.
It may take a while until more men embrace yoga the way women have and it is my intention to try and bring more men into yoga so that they too can begin to understand the benefits of yoga, both mental and physical. To this end, if there is interest, I will be running some ‘men only’ bloke yoga classes across Wokingham. I will arrange a venue and set up a class, if you read this, are interested either for yourself, or a partner or friend, please drop me a line.
07917 664 525