August 24, 2011
Do Men Practice Yoga?
YES! In fact, when Yoga originated, it was exclusively practiced by men! Women in our Western culture have seemed to adopt Yoga as a healthy way to combat stress, be more in tune with our emotions and stay physically fit. But it is a misconception that men do not benefit in the same way, and that they don’t attend Yoga classes. Just in my classes alone, just over 25% of students are men! That means, in a class of 20, there will be about 5 men. I have even taught classes where the attendees were all men, just by chance!
You do not need to be flexible to practice Yoga. This idea kept my husband from practicing Yoga for over 10 years. In his eyes, it was “my thing”, and he never considered joining in. Now, he is a regular practitioner and his body craves classes several times a week. Intermittent pain from previous injuries has melted away as a result of his Yoga practice, and stresses from work are easier to manage.
You will notice changes in your body from having a consistent practice. Your body will become more flexible, stronger, muscles less cramped from other physical exercise, which makes it a great compliment to weight training and for athletes. Ask any professional sports player if they practice Yoga, and you may be surprised by the number of positive responses! Yoga will improve your sense of physical balance, your breathing will become deeper and more controlled. Your heart health will improve, emotions will become more stable, stress easier to handle, and the ego will find balance as well.
Yoga is also a wonderful practice to share with a loved one. When you attend classes, you are totally having your own experience, on your own mat. But, when the class is finished; and you look into your loved-one’s eyes and there is no need to explain the feeling of bliss that is floating through your body, that is an experience to be shared! Practicing together can improve intimacy, a sense of connection, improve communication, and release emotional barriers. It can help both of you deal with life stresses with greater ease.
If you are practicing solo, keep in mind that nobody else in the room is there to compete. Yoga brings you closer to your Self, so all judgments are left out the door, either good or bad. Everyone is there for their own benefit. So, with that in mind, nobody will be impressed by a display of physical strength, technique, or ability. In fact, who is more comfortable to be around, is someone who can peel those layers away, and just be themselves, breathing and moving at their own pace. Even experienced practitioners are aware that their practice will be different from day to day. Sometimes the practice will feel easy, and other times challenging. It is all part of the practice.
Every Yoga class will feel differently. There are countless styles of Yoga to experience, and countless teachers to guide you closer to your Self. So, my advice for anyone trying Yoga for the first time is; try three different classes. If none of them resonated with you; try three more. If you still haven’t found a style and teacher that makes you feel like your Self – that has been covered under many layers of other “stuff”; then try three more! Your body and mind will thank you!