In the run up to International Yoga Day we are sharing insights on different aspects of yoga. This week we have tied in Men’s Health Week and asked a selection of teachers to reflect upon the topic of yoga for men; as a practice traditionally devised for men – why are the majority of students in Western yoga classes women? What key elements of yoga are particularly beneficial for men?
Yoga was developed by men for men in a time and culture where women had fewer opportunities for self-development practices. Today many more women practice yoga than men because western culture is more open to women practising and men now have many more responsibilities and other options for self-development and exercise. Yoga was practiced by outliers, seekers, the wealthy and the religious. Today it is much more mainstream; you can find a practice in almost every western city and one that probably will suit your needs.
I believe for yoga to thrive it has to be a living practice and it has to be adaptable and practical. Men today have a lot of stress and responsibility with getting an education and finding a job in an ever-changing market and taking care of family. Yoga today offers men an opportunity to practice with like-minded people, reduce stress, build strength, power and flexibility as well as a place to let some of the emotional walls of ” being a man!” come down. The world will do much better with strong and emotionally available men. Yoga helps!
Matthew Cohen has been fully immersed in the study and application of Martial, Yogic and Healing arts for over 30 years. Look out for him at triyoga in 2018!
Because women are permitted by society to express their vulnerability while men are taught the exact opposite. And although the practice of breath-entered yoga appears to be primarily physical, it is actually deeply healing and transformative to our emotions. This is because our body and our emotions are not separate. This surprises the novice but is irrefutable once he experiences it.
Yoga terrifies men because it causes us to journey through a land of unfelt and even undiscovered emotions and this clashes with our deep conditioning by society to not reveal our vulnerability, grief, and fear. That it is shameful. So, men become mistrusting and even humiliated by our more sensitive emotions. We fear that which emerges from the memories held in our body will destroy us. But this is a false fear. Holding in and numbing painful memories indefinitely is what actually destroys us. Releasing the truth is probably the most healing action we can take, and yoga is one of the most powerful tools for this healing.
Max Strom is a global teacher, speaker, author and founder of Inner Axis – an accessible breath-based yoga practice designed to alleviate stress and anxiety. Join Max at triyoga from 1st – 10th September 2017.
It’s a common question in Yoga Land: Where are all the men? A recent survey by Yoga Journal determined that about three-quarters of all US students are female. Considering yoga’s thousand year domination by men prior to the 20th century, this represents a major flip-flop in what amounts to about 60 years.
So where are they, or should I say, we? Well (and here I can only speak for us North American types), many of the physical and mental qualities that yoga (asana) favours – among them flexibility, fluid rather than brute strength, and self-acceptance – are far more typical of women than men (sorry, Charlie). This is discouraging for us, exacerbated when in class our competitive nature is trampled by a bunch of seemingly superhuman females upwards of 70 years old. But guys listen up. Your limitations, whatever they are, are the very reason you should hotfoot it down to your corner yoga school. It’s becoming more evident all the time that yoga is good for what ails you, whether body or soul. I can’t of course guarantee a miracle, but after 30 years as a teacher I can honestly say that I’ve seen many remarkable transformations among my male brethren (including myself).
Richard Rosen has been practising yoga since 1980 and is one of the world’s senior teachers. Join Richard at triyoga from 3rd – 9th July 2017.