It’s personal for everyone.
Despite yogas popularity, it still takes a backseat on the fitness spectrum of priorities behind circuits, HIIT, weights and CrossFit.
On top of that, women outnumber men on the mat by 5:1.
The benefits are there to be found with a single google search as to why men should be doing yoga.
Yet, it’s still an after thought. Stretching is left to a half assed 30 second over the head tricep stretch at the end of a chest session before retiring to the changing rooms for a shower.
Interestingly, it wasn’t always like this.
In the beginning
Yoga was initially created by men, for men.
It’s believed to have its early roots in the Brahmins, who were wise priests in India, back in the day. These priests were predominantly men.
The yoga sutras are considered to be the first representations of yoga, written by a bloke called Patanjali.
Swami Sivananda, author of one of the most famous yoga books “Autobiography of a Yogi”, brought Yoga to the west via the United States in the 1920s. He’s a bloke too.
Yet, somewhere down the line, yoga was perceived as a feminine practise and men stayed away from the mat.
There could be a number of reasons for this…
Yoga is for girls
It could simply be that we view this as a feminine exercise. After all, they outnumber us in yoga sessions and the majority of teachers are female too.
I’ve heard for a while that girls are sometimes intimidated to enter the weights area of a gym. It’s full of big guys that are grunting and lifting heavy ass weight that it just puts some ladies off from picking up the dumbbells.
Maybe the mat is our weights room. It might feel uncomfortable to join a class where you might be the only guy there so it could be an ego thing.
If this is the case, start at home first. Follow a program from the likes of Patrick Beach, Dylan Werner and Josh Kramer on Alo Moves to try it out before making the move into a class.
It’s not competitive
One of the things I love about Crossfit is the competitive nature of the sport.
They say that guys are the most competitive out of the two genders and maybe the lack of competition in yoga turns us off.
Yet, the competitive aspect I love about Crossfit is the one with myself.
Cheesy, I know, but I’ve been forced to be like this because some of the guys in my box are so good, I’d just depress myself if I tried to keep up!
So I focus on me. For example, when I first started, I wanted a muscle up but I didn’t have one.
The "me of today" can now do strict ring muscle ups and kipping bar muscle ups, where as the "me from yesterday" couldn’t.
So sit down, yesterday me!
It’s the same with yoga. I want to practise more arm balances, particularly handstands, but there was a fear there. My history of a freestanding handstand was one of me playing up to the lads in the gym and I went over, flat on my back. Ouch!
From that point on, I was scared to get upside down.
Now, I can hold a 5 second handstand. This still needs work and is a little too sporadic for my liking but the fact I’m upside down means I’ve beaten the yesterday me. Take that!
So focus on where you are and where you want to get to. If you’re moving along that path, you’re beating the old you and that’s a pretty good competition to be a part of.
I’m not flexible enough for yoga
This is like saying “I’m not strong enough to lift weights”...you lift weights to get stronger so do yoga to get more flexible.
Flexibility and mobility are two areas that are slower too see results and those results aren’t seen in the same way as bulging biceps and washboard abs.
It takes a lot of patience and consistency for a gain that feels more intrinsic than is outwardly obvious.
So maybe this is a reason for not doing it. The result isn’t obvious so it might feel like you’re wasting your time. The focus here should be on the benefits of your more outward exercise. Better range of motion means more strength which means more gains and muscle. Win win!
I’m not spiritual
I completely get this one.
It’s one of the reasons I put off from going all in on yoga. The idea of om-ing, of finding my spiritual side just did not appeal to me. I’m not spiritual in the slightest!
Yet, when I first started with Romwod and found this to just focus on you, nothing more, I started to see benefits that didn’t require me to believe in a higher power.
Some of the work done by other yogis also don’t require this level of spirituality.
Now, yoga is a practise that allows you to get into yourself and improve stress levels and increase calmness.
My theory is, given the history and roots yoga has with the priests back in India, this is a theme that’s carried through and I think it’s just the yogis way of helping you just get inside yourself for a bit.
However, don’t believe you need to start praying and believing in god or anything like that to receive the benefits. I don’t and I’m still enjoying the journey.
I don’t have the time
Since it’s not a priority, you don’t feel like you have time for it.
We all have 24 hours in the day. Some people do yoga, some don’t but we all have time and priorities that take up that time.
I’m not saying that yoga should now become your number 1 priority over everything else. If you’re in the gym though, you’re typically in there for 3-4 days a week, which gives you the same amount of days to rest.
So why not incorporate yoga into your rest schedule?
Rest doesn’t just mean “do nothing”, it means maintaining and recovering your body from the work. 30 mins on these off days is a great way of recovering.
Maybe it’s none of the above for you.
This post is more me thinking out loud so I may have missed the mark. However, the benefits to doing yoga are so vast, there’s clearly something stopping more men from doing it.
So, what’s stopping you from yoga?