I started reading this book, 21st Century Yoga: Culture, Politics, and Practice, which is a collection of essays about the state of yoga in the Western world. It’s really fascinating to me how different yoga is over here vs. its beginnings as a men-only practice in India. Maybe all the butt-hugging spandex is squeezing out near-distant memories that even most of our master teachers in the West today are men.
Why yoga in the West seems to be a ladies-only practice seems more like a marketing problem to me (said the marketer). Yoga’s gotten heavier coverage in women’s magazines since the ’90s. Then, the fashion industry jumped on this growing opportunity to cater to yoginis with assortments of stretchy black pants and supportive stretchy tops. It doesn’t hurt that all the models pictured for yoga are… well… gorgeous, thin, super fit models that women unfairly compare their own bodies to. So duh. Women have been the target market for yoga this whole time.
Men have been so neglected that it’s no wonder they’ve shied away from the practice. No on has ever said to them, yoga is for EVERYONE (men included!). Also, not all styles of yoga are the same. Some styles are more spiritual like kundalini and some are more aggressive like power yoga. The key to finding the right type of yoga for each individual is maybe more a question of matching personalities to a specific style.
This was an infographic floating around the web earlier this fall to help you find your yoga style. It was pretty accurate for me. [Click to enlarge.]
I personally love seeing men in yoga classes. Yes, some struggle and shake and sweat and groan, but we all do. Women (ugh… not me) just sweat less and make quieter sounds.
I will also say that EVERY single guy I know who went to his first yoga class or recently started practicing talked about how much better he felt afterward, how he enjoyed it, how it’s way harder than he expected (in a good way!) and how he’s likely to try it again soon.
I want to assure the men out there who are on the fence about coming over to the yoga side that there is no reason to be scared. A beginner is a beginner, no matter their age, gender or fitness level. With practice, you’ll be able to do amazing party tricks and feel young and limber again soon.