Updated: Sep 10, 2019
A quick Google Image search for "yoga" and it's dominated by young athletic women perfectly pulling off all sorts of poses.
Now much like Google when you think of Yoga those sorts of images probably come to mind. You won't be the only one.
And the numbers do back that up. According to a 2016 Yoga Journal study, 72% of yoga practitioners in the United States are women.
Whilst this is dominated by women, it's not "only" for them. 38% is still a lot of men in the United States who are practicing yoga!
That percentage is also up from 17.8 percent in 2012. That's 10 million male yogis! With more and more men trying yoga every day.
We have a few male attendees that come each week to our classes, so I wanted to get their thoughts.
The one thing we can say for sure is that practicing yoga in any form has amazing health benefits. Reduced stress, increased concentration, and a healthier heart to name a few. These benefits are the same for both men and women.
It’s also interesting how both say it’s a good workout, which is a common misconception surrounding yoga. Some male athletes also swear by yoga, as we’ll see further on.
There is also a growing abundance of websites and classes aimed at men which shows that guys are starting to take notice and give yoga a try.
One such person is Bradley Lyon, the founder of Men’s Yoga Community, which he launched in November 2016. The community hosts regular all-men yoga classes.
His aim is to provide a safe place for men to comfortable try yoga and raise awareness for men who want to practice yoga. One of the barriers holding men back, according to Lyon, is intimidation. “Women tend to be more flexible than men, and it’s easy to assume that yoga is only for in-shape, bendy people”
Linked to the above, one thing you might not see that often is a male yoga teacher. But they do exist. In an interview with , YogaByCandace, Jonathan Bohall a yoga instructor in the greater Boston area shares his thoughts.
When I signed up for teacher training, I did not think much about the possibility of being one of the few male trainees. Throughout my various trainings, the female to male ratio has been upwards of 30 to 1 and I quickly heard all about the stereotypes. Guys are not flexible enough for yoga, it's not a tough enough workout or it's just not a manly thing to do. To which I said, I don't really care. I love the flexibility I have gained through the practice; heated power vinyasa flows (not to mention meditation) are definitely not easy and our society is quickly redefining what it means to be a man, so why not embrace it?
The Male Athletes Embracing Yoga
In a previous blog we looked at the benefits yoga can have for athletes. Within this we can see some top-level male athletes who use yoga as part of their workout routine.
Basketball King LeBron James has credited yoga as a major factor contributing to his envious stamina levels.
Ma'a Nonu of the All Blacks has actually normalised Yoga within the All Blacks Squad. With many other members incorporating Yoga into their training.
Beauden Barrett revealed he has seen the benefits of this stating "I've been working on my flexibility, that's been vital for me," he said. "I'm quite a stiff bloke so extra sessions here and there have certainly helped.”
Changing the Stereotype
Michael James Wong is another male yoga instructor in London. He's even written a book which details how men can get into yoga.
The popularised image of hyper flexible women pulling off perfect yoga poses won't disappear anytime soon.
However, with all the activities mentioned above and men being more receptive it's certainly on its way out.
If you are a male reading this blog, the next time your wife, girlfriend, friend, whoever asks you to go to yoga. Say yes.