The ANZA WanderingYogis will have male yoga teachers next season. This is akin to finding the pot of gold on St Patrick’s Day. Will male yoga teachers appeal to men, make our community more inclusive? Cos there are loads of yoga studios with male yoga teachers and they still don’t seem to have that many men. Is the idea of men practicing yoga (very sexy, as others will also tell you) superficial or just simply stating the obvious?
I am truly puzzled why yoga isn’t part of your life. You must like that personal quirk called insomnia, and clearly you don’t want to improve your sex life (why polish perfection?)
So, Male reader, I have some facts and thoughts for you to help you make that decision you know you need to make to practice yoga.
“Yoga was originally for men by men”
Ancient male Hindi gurus practiced yoga to help them live longer, preserve their energy, improve insight and intuition. It was taught to fairly wealthy male Indians, and the lineage was passed down man to man. Women were banned from doing yoga for centuries. With its flow to the west, the practice became more inclusive, and women practicing yoga now outnumber men 5:1.
When did yoga become so unattractive to you?
Here are some reasons I have heard from you, and their subtext….
1. It’s a little flaky and too new age for me
So what if research on yogic breathing techniques and mantra chanting reduces anxiety, depression, everyday stress, post-traumatic stress, and stress-related medical illnesses? Stress and anxiety makes life so much more interesting.
2. I can get a stretch at the end of my work out, it’s the same thing
All those football teams, running athletes, do yoga to waste their time. Yoga is proven to help high performance sports athletes to better results with more focus and less injuries. I can live with all the injuries I am accumulating with my crossfit and boxing, and look forward to a hip and knee replacement in the near future.
3. On staying younger longer, what a load of hoohah
Yoga helps us live a much healthier life, the research is now suggesting yogis do live longer than those who do not practice yoga. Not to mention look younger. And it even helps early stage prostate cancer patients live longer. But why prolong the inevitable, right?
To be fair, what legitimizes your excuses is a cultural archetype of yoga the $20 million a year industry (run mostly by males) perpetuates – that yoga is practiced by thin, flexible, predominantly white women. Unsurprisingly, our wellness-obsessed culture has come to associate yoga with a certain ideal of female perfection a la Gwyneth Paltrow (no disrespect intended, I like what she does). At ANZA WanderingYoga, we try to create a welcoming space and role models for men of all ages, but we will not change the world, and certainly not overnight.
Your last bastion of response, however, seems to reflect the real reasons you don’t practice yoga.
4. Some of those poses are just too way out for me
This yoga stuff is hard, women seem to do it so easy. I don’t like to look incompetent, particularly surrounded by women (psychotherapists please refrain from the obvious comments). Who wear disturbingly tight clothes, while making it look so easy.
You are fond of strong women. You are also fond of women in their underwear. And you work hard at keeping these notions separate.
So you wander into a yoga class as tourists to check out the sights and tights. And then wander back out again to your boxing and beer. No one wants to be that creepy dude in the yoga class. And that’s how you feel, there is too much going on for you to even think about focusing on the poses.
Us strong women would love if you kept coming to class. We know you gawk when you first come, we also know that after a while, you will peek only occasionally, and mostly this will be in admiration. You might even get some of the yoga jokes. Maybe even make a few yourself.
Would you come to a class if it is taught by a man?
I love the yang energy male teachers bring to yoga, even when meditating. We are different and for all wonderful reasons. What they might lack in flexibility, they make up for in determination and strength. And I love how I can tap into that when I am with them in practice.
I hope you will come to class, because we now have a male yoga teacher, who will understand and ‘get’ you maybe in ways us female teachers don’t. And because once you get past the sights and tights, you will experience the mentally and physically uplifting workout that strengthens your core, leaves you feeling energized and completely relaxed. This is yoga.
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An edited version of this article appeared in the ANZA Singapore magazine of July 2017. Joining ANZA in Singapore is a must. Check them out here…. ANZA