Of course men know the benefits of yoga, and we know what we’re missing out on. So why do we still not go? We often see women go to yoga stressed out and leave with their heads held high. We see them carry on the rest of the day in a state of bliss, so why don’t we go to yoga?
In the early 1900s immigration laws made it difficult for teachers and practitioners to come over to the U.S. One of the few who made it was a Russian woman, Indra Devi. Women quickly connected after celebrity cosmetologist Elizabeth Arden started working with her. When a male yogi, Richard Hittleman, brought yoga to TV, he used female models. In the 1970s there was Lilias Folan who taught on TV with a soft welcoming tone, which further engaged housewives of America. Power Yoga emerged a decade later but it was too late, yoga had already rooted itself in the fiber of womanhood throughout the US.
While there are countless benefits of yoga for men, we find ourselves trying to trick the male population in to the studio. Regardless of the benefits, there seem to be so many myths and preconceived notions stopping men from rolling out a mat. Benefits include everything from building strength, sexual endurance, piece of mind, and goal setting, to detoxifying the body from the inside out.
Some feel men stay away because yoga doesn’t have the competitive edge, instead it is soft, gentle, and therefore isn’t manly enough. Meanwhile, there are several players from professional teams like the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks rely on yoga as part of their strength and conditioning regimen.
Let’s be honest, in this country, it doesn’t get too much more manly in the sports world than pro football! In 2012, Yoga Journal reported that of the 20.4 million yogis in the US, only 18% were men. We need more men on the mat!
With all that said, maybe there will be a shift in the near future. Social media seems to be an influential tool in spreading the popularity of yoga to and amongst men. It is not only making the practice more visible than ever, especially with memes like #YogaADay, but men can quickly see other men comfortably practicing. They can see options, learn, find studios, and quickly join networks in their communities.
Are you man enough to be part of something where women blazed the trail?