Everyone, in my opinion, needs to do yoga in some form given the stresses of modern life. Young people, old people, men and women but the vast number of people who come to my yoga classes are women, in a ratio of 5:1 (that’s my tally for the last years’ classes that I’ve taught, and that’s backed up by the similar result in a Yoga Journal survey in the US in 2012 of 18% male attendance at classes). Often when a male-female couple came to a class, he is all muscle, she had no muscle tone. They both need the Yoga but in different ways, men can benefit from both more flexibility and from connecting with their softer, feminine, side.
So where are the men, and why don’t they do yoga? Not flexible enough? Not seen as a masculine thing to do? Sissy?
I was lucky, as a man, because when I started doing Yoga (which wasn’t yesterday…) I didn’t know that it wasn’t for men. The first Yoga book that I read was written by a man, my first Yoga teacher was a man, and my current Yoga teacher now is a man.
For thousands of years, Yoga was only done by men…
For thousands of years since it’s inception (probable around 2,500BC), Yoga was only done by men. The big shift was when, in India in the mid-1940s Indira Devi, a Bollywood actress, convinced Krishnamacharya (who also taught Iyengar, Pattabhi Jois, and TKV Desikachar) to take her on as a student. She later moved to Hollywood and taught students, including famous actresses, in her eponymous studio. It was through that and her book “Forever Young, Forever Healthy” published in 1955, that women started to do Yoga in greater numbers.
Then, Yoga has been mostly marketed at women…
Since then Yoga itself has been mostly marketed at women and Yoga clothes are mostly only marketed at women. Men just wore old t-shirts and track suit bottoms, or shorts….So where, in 2018, does that leave men and Yoga? In the transition from India to the West how did most men, despite its popularity, come to believe that Yoga wasn’t applicable to them. Is it all down to marketing and fashion?
But there does now seem to be a turn around…
There does now seem to be a turn around with some male professional athletes and footballers, like Ryan Giggs (who put out a Yoga inspired DVD called ‘Giggs Fitness’ in 2011), and whole Premier League football teams realising that Yoga makes a great addition to their training allowing them to stay injury free and to help prolong their careers. Further recommended reading for the undecided male is: “Sit Down, Be Quiet” published in 2018 by Michael J. Wong and the Boys of Yoga.
Some recent types of Yoga, for instance Fierce Grace, have targeted men with their advertising and been successful at it. Other UK Yoga studios are now trying to involve men more, and Yoga clothing manufacturers are aiming their wares at men. So maybe we’re moving in the right direction but I won’t really believe it’s happening ‘till I see men regularly appearing on the cover of Yoga magazines!
—– Written By Malcolm, one of our amazing Y2M teacher. The bearded laughing Yogi has been doing Yoga for a very long time, but it wasn’t until he met Kundalini Yoga in 2001 that he fell in love. Since then his experience has been very varied: from Hatha Yoga to Chair Yoga; he is also a Gong Master.