Yoga for Men: Breaking Down the Stereotypes
In honor of Movember.
Every once in a while I am approached by a woman after class asking me how she can get her boyfriend/husband to do yoga? How good it would be for his back/stress/insomnia. I don’t have the answer, my husband started because I had just begun teaching yoga and the classes were very small, so he was there as a filler, to make the other people feel more comfortable. From there, I guess it grew on him, and he works at the studio, so the classes are conveniently located.
When the women do drag their husbands in, they often arrive with an air of arrogance. They extend their arm for a quick handshake and in their eyes seem to say “Lets get this lame class over with”. Although I’m not a very competitive person, I’m always up for this challenge. My favorite part is midway through class when I look over to see him sweating profusely with a deer-in-headlights look on his face while his wife/girlfriend flows seamlessly through the sequence. I know it’s a little evil on my side, but it’s satisfying to burst another bubble of misconception that yoga is for sissies.
After class the men are always humble and grateful, and most of them come back. I’m always proud of them for getting through it and stepping far out of their comfort zones. I know it’s difficult to walk into a yoga studio, especially if you think you’re not flexible, and especially if you are a man coming into a female dominated space, but times are changing and we have one of the highest percentage rates of men at our studio. My husband often boasts to his musician friends about the benefits of flexibility and focus, and to the single guys about it being a great place to meet woman. What’s sexier than a guy who does yoga?
I’m not saying this is the case for every guy, we have lots of men who come to the studio, and several who have dragged their wives to class, but the reaction I get from most men is that yoga is lame, and not enough of a physical challenge for them. There are many different styles of yoga, but you have to at least try before bashing it.
As a personal challenge this month, I will go out of my comfort zone into the male dominated world of cross-fit and take a class with friend and coworker, Tom. The last time I was in a gym was high school gym class! I invite you to step out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself this month. Don’t wait for your body to break down before you take care of it.
To Celebrate Endings and Beginnings, Do a Yoga Mala
From the yoga studio to a night on the town, people are donning mala bead necklaces around the globe. However, this trend is steeped in meaningful tradition and symbolism. Each mala necklace has 108 beads, and each bead evokes an energetic frequency based on its material, whether stone or seed.
How to Practice a Yoga Mala
A yoga mala is the ultimate moving meditation. It has a repetitive, steady rhythm that helps transcend the purely physical form and move us closer to the unified Self. One body, one mind, one breath. Each forward bend serves as a pranam or devoted prayer to the source. Each vibrant backbend is an emergence of radiant light. The body is the mala, the breath is the mantra.
What is a Mala?
A mala, meaning garland in Sanskrit, evokes a circular, continuous form. In practice, a mala is the devoted offering of repeated cycles (typically in divisors of 108) of mantra or asana. Within a mala, there is always a sense of beginning, continuing and completion. Both inside each individual cycle and in the practice as a whole.
What is the Significance of 108?
The number 108 is seen as significant across a range of cultures and disciplines. It informs the architecture of sacred texts that are central to yoga and eastern philosophy: there are 108 chapters of the Rig Veda, 108 Upanishads and 108 primary Tantras. In in the field of Ayurveda, there are 108 sacred places in the body, identifying intersections of matter and consciousness. Through the lens of astronomy, the diameter of the sun is approximately 108 times that of earth and the distance from our planet to its solar star is, on average, 108 times the diameter of the sun.
When to Use a Yoga Mala?
Use a yoga mala to mark an end, celebrate a beginning, or as the basis of a devotional prayer. Here are some moments that may call for a yoga mala:
- A birth in the family
- Spring Equinox
- Your Birthday
- When a friend or family member is ill
- For Mother Earth
- The end of a relationship