I’m always pleased when I see positive media coverage of yoga and especially when it involves men. Ryan Giggs has been getting a lot of attention recently, putting his long and successful football career down to “Hard work, strict diet and yoga”.
Russell Brand and Colin Farrell are frequently snapped with yoga mats under their arms and Tony Parsons wrote a great article in March’s edition of GQ Magazine on how yoga has helped him.
The reason I get excited by such publicity is because men at yoga classes are a rare breed (maybe not in LA, but they are in Batley!). When I first started teaching, over a decade ago I could count the men I saw at classes on one hand, pioneering souls braving rooms full of women, because they could really feel the benefits of practising. The tide though, is definitely now turning and men are slowly but surely starting to venture into the yoga room – I now have to use six hands to count my Inside Out men.
The interesting thing is that yoga was traditionally practised only by men (and any lady who has done the locust posture (Salabasana) will testify that yoga was designed by a man!) and it is only when yoga was brought to the west that women became involved. The view of the middle aged ladies doing gentle stretches is outdated and happily yoga is now, again, being practised by men. In the article mentioned above, Tony Parsons describes it perfectly :
It’s gentle but there is nothing soft about it; non competitive, yet demanding….Real men do yoga.
I’ve seen quite a few body builders over the years, coming to yoga because they know they need to improve their core strength, posture and improve flexibility – big hulking blokes who are shocked to find they can’t lift their own body weight in Boat pose or balance on one leg; or keen cyclists and runners quivering in down Face Dog, desperately needing to stretch out their legs and hips; professional rugby players unable to relax into a forward bend; keen golfers amazed to find that they can only move on one side and then realising how much their game has improved when they become more balanced.
And you know what? They’ve all benefited massively from the practises they’ve been given.
Many professional sports teams and sports men include yoga in their fitness regime. Professional athletes (NFL, NBA, NHL) in the US, have long used yoga to help them prolong their careers. Liverpool FC have been using Dru Yoga particularly to target / reduce hamstring injuries and The All Blacks have practised yoga for years (is anyone going to tell Richie McCaw that yoga’s just for girls?).
So, come on guys and do yourself a favour, get yourself to a yoga class and discover how yoga can help you. I’ve listed below some of the benefits the men who’ve come to Inside Out Dru Yoga classes tell us they’ve experienced.
Huge improvement in joint flexibility and back health
Learnt how to stretch safely – reduced incidence of injury and improved recovery time
Significantly lower blood pressure
Improved recovery time from hernia operations.
Increased lung capacity – able to train harder, improved stamina, helped with quitting smoking, or simply able to breathe easier
Gained calm, focus and clarity
Better night’s sleep
I have to admit, you might still be in a minority at classes, but seriously, don’t the benefits far out weigh the slight possibility of feeling awkward for the first few minutes?
And ladies, encourage your partners to come along, because yoga will also help your man:
Look after his heart, liver and prostate gland
Manage weight and tone up a cuddly tummy
Manage conditions such as diabetes….and…
Until next time, take care and keep practising your cobras, eagles and warriors – all manly sounding poses and in case you still think it’s a bit soft, I can guarantee there’s no posture called fluffy kitten! For more information on how yoga can help you please drop us a line to firstname.lastname@example.org Ix