Yoga for Men: Breaking Down the Stereotypes

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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.



11 ways to get get back into the yoga swing of things

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So you’ve been wanting to try our Breakfast of Champions Challenge, but don’t know where or how to start. Maybe it’s been too long since you last dug out your mat. Maybe you had an injury and had to abstain for a bit. Maybe you’ve just been watching TV all day instead of getting up and at ‘em! Whatever your reason is, Tommy Rosen’s energizing and revitalizing video is only 20 minutes, and an amazing start to your day! But if you want to take it a step further and get back into your regular daily yoga schedule, Yoga Journal has some tips this past issue on how to do it (we threw in our GTV take, as well!):

  1. Accept where you are: after a long hiatus, your practice won’t be exactly the same. And that’s totally okay! The key is knowing that yourself, and making peace with it. Then get up and keep going!
  2. Take the long view: take a look at where you want to be and know that wherever you are now, if you are consistent, you will get there. Vinyasa and therapeutic yoga teacher Tiffany Cruikshank describes it as, “You’re starting a new relationship with your yoga practice and, in some ways, your body is totally foreign to you. You have to think of where you will be six months from now as opposed to just killing yourself and giving up.”
  3. No practice is too short: every minute counts! Even if you start with only a quick 5 minute series of poses, it’s still more than you did yesterday. Aim to increase it by a minute or two every day, or get in multiple sets of five minutes. It’s great to just get the discipline in of starting.
  4. Dedicate a space: half the battle is getting the mat out, are we right? So leave it out and ready to go. It doesn’t have to be a big space, but just in an accessible place you won’t overlook, along with all the gear you’ll need.
  5. Don’t overdo: it’s okay to literally ease into it. Yoga Journal suggests working 50-75% of what your old “normal” used to be, and to take it easy on the advanced poses, as your body may have lost flexibility and strength. Nothing like another injury to put the brakes on your restarted practice!
  6. Start fresh: maybe your last practice was part of why you stopped. You can try new classes, teachers, and forms of yoga to keep it new and non-routine. Let yourself feel like a beginner again, and you can see things from a new perspective and with a new voice.
  7. Take a private class: scared to be a beginner again? A private instructor may have the one-on-one patience you need to be encouraged to continue. It can be just for a few sessions, as well; whatever you need to get back in the groove and gain your confidence.
  8. Find a challenge: when you’re doing a challenge that has a set goal, schedule, and finite amount of time, it can be easier to achieve than simply reaching for the nebulous “Get back into yoga!” goal. Luckily, we’ve made it easy for you to start, and we also have a great community of fellow yogis that would love to keep you accountable!
  9. Indulge in the poses you love: positive reinforcement is a great way to motivate yourself. If you drag your feet to your yoga mat, reignite the fire! Find the passion again with the poses you enjoy! You’ll be looking forward to your next yoga-you-time before you know it.
  10. Try the ones you don’t love: giving yourself a goal to reach for can also be a great motivator. “Hard poses never get stale,” after all. Whatever you try, give it your best shot; no slacking!
  11. Deepen your connection to yourself: yoga is an extremely personal, intimate practice. Yoga Journal reminds us, “Remember that first and foremost yoga is a path toward quieting your mind.” The keys to a successful, fulfilling yoga practice is loving yourself, and aware of what’s going on internally. Don’t tune out your inner voices, and you are sure to have a great time. We hope these tips help you on your yoga journey. Now switch off the computer and hop on your mat! Namaste.
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