So I thought that given the name of my blog it was about time I got around to considering why it might be that more guys don't practice yoga. I've seen a fair few articles and blog posts on this subject already so I'll do my best to add a fresh perspective...
1. They think it's just for girls
This might seem an obvious place to start but it happens to be true that yoga is considered to be quite 'girly' (at least by most people in the UK). As an example, I was out celebrating a friend's birthday the other week when the conversation turned to 'exercise' - and in course of that discussion the fact that I practice yoga cropped up. My friends of course know this but my mate's father in law looked at me in genuine bewilderment. With an expression so perplexed you'd think I'd just announced that I was pregnant, he spluttered "But isn't that just for women??". It was a funny moment but unfortunately it's representative of a wider misperception.
2. They don't think it'll be enough of a challenge
Most guys still genuinely believe that a yoga class involves nothing more than sitting around doing a bit of gentle stretching (that would be a stretching class...). Consequently, they don't think that doing yoga is going to present their egos with enough of a challenge (and it's true that perhaps yoga practice won't give them the bragging rights of training for a marathon or scoring a hat trick). To these people I would just say...try taking a led Ashtanga full primary series, take every vinyasa...and then tell me how you're feeling the next day!
3. The fear of embarrassment
It's a fact that most men hate to look like they don't know what they're doing. Especially in front of women. So the thought of going to a yoga class where they definitely WON'T know what they're doing (at least at first) and where the room is likely to be full of women who DO know what they're doing is possibly none too appealing...
In addition, the pride and ego of a man trying out yoga for the first time can most definitely take a severe battering...I think that seeing fellow classmates twisting themselves into all sorts of unbelievable contortions while they themselves feel ridiculous, exposed and are struggling with the most rudimentary of postures convinces most guys who have overcome their initial reservations not to repeat the mistake!
4. It won't get you 'stacked' or 'pumped'
Fuelled by media propagated images of actors and celebs with 'perfect' bodies, a lot of guys use the gym because they want to look like The Hulk (muscly, not green). Now yoga certainly won't give you a body like Arnie in his pomp but it's benefits are obviously manifest...both physically and psychologically. And to my mind the sleek, flexible and lean muscled body of a regular yoga practitioner is preferable in any case. Unfortunately I'm not sure that's an opinion that is likely to be shared by the majority of guys in the near future so I guess they'll stick to benching and squats without realising how much they're missing out on (I used to be the same...).
5. The lack of 'markers' and a competitive edge
Men in particular respond well to short term measurable signs of improvement (e.g. "I lifted 10kg more today than last week") and competition. Yoga obviously doesn't (or shouldn't) provide either of these, instead requiring patience and the pursuit of less tangible goals. I think that perhaps this could go a long way to explaining why some guys don't quite 'get' yoga - and why football is so popular instead! And there's less banter in yoga as well...
6. The whiff of association with offbeat weirdness
For whatever reason, it's a fairly common perception that in order to practice yoga, you have to be...well a bit of a 'weirdo' (could be the chanting...?). Just consider this comnment a friend posted on my facebook page when he noticed I'd joined a few yoga related groups:
"Hi mate. You appear to be getting very New Age. I'm glad we've already had your stag do or I fear it would now have been a naked drumming session in the New Forest".
Not sure I need to say much else... :)
So these are the top 6 reasons why I think that more 'blokes' don't practice yoga. Let me know what you think...