Wednesday, 17 November 2010

So why don't more 'blokes' do yoga?

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...



  1. Great post!! I'm teaching a workshop this weekend and one of the ladies is bringing her husband. It will be his first time on the mat so we bought a special T-shirt just to give to him for being the only guy! I used to never see men in I might see one per class...hey at least its progress lol

  2. These are very real, liked this post very much, I wrote the 10 most common excuses that keep people away from yoga but these are very much bloke specific... I would say that one thing we could say in defense of yoga is at it works in an elegant proportionate way, as opposed to the body building craze, we women seriously do not want men's chest to be humangous... I don't know who put that idea in their minds... We like proportion... And as per the measurable... Well, there is always who is further ahead but yes, I know what you mean , it might not cut it over a pint.... Good to know...

  3. Great post! As a bloke who actually does yoga, I think the 5 reasons you have given are very spot on, especially no. 1. Many guys still think yoga is for women only.

    Hmm... you've just given me a new blog post idea. I think I'm going to write a new post titled "Why More Blokes should do Yoga" :-)

  4. For #2, one of my male friends told me that it's not even whether he can do the poses or not, it's the IDEA that one needs to put oneself into those contortion poses in order to gain health or spiritual enlightenment is humiliating. He'd rather skip these benefits in order to maintain his dignity

  5. Hi, Yoga Bloke.

    I'd like to publish this as a guest blog on Elephant Journal, with your permission. Please contact me at bob@elephantjournal.

    Bob Weisenberg
    Yoga Editor
    Elephant Journal

  6. You can also see this post on Elephant Journal

  7. Er - I think you will find YB that outside the white, affluent, wishy-washy, liberal yoga most written about online at EJ and similar ANDOCENTRIC CONSPIRACY SITES you will find a yoga DOMINATED by men - misogyny and patriarhcal templates are common in yogas' largest demographs that are the Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh traditions. Before looking at the question of minority issues it would be good to geta clearer picture of who ARE the minorities - and in these terms the yoga you are mainly concerned with here IS in the minority. When we look up from our computer screen into the distance, towards India and the Pacific Rim THAT yoga can APPEAR smaller - but that LOOKING doesn't make the object small. It is more a question of the PERSPECTIVE of the observer - and many bloggers in America and Europe simply spend too much time writing about yoga and not enough time OBSERVING - Mr Weisenberg being a good case in point perhaps?

  8. Yogi Mat you make a good point and thanks for the comment. I don't pretend to speak for anyone other than myself and my opinions and experiences have obviously been formulated by the environment and society that I grew up and live in - and in that society, practising yoga (if you happen to be a guy) is most definitely not the norm. As you can probably tell from reading this and other posts, I'm relatively new to yoga myself and acutely aware that I have much to learn and horizons to expand. It's all part of the journey right.

  9. Hello everyone, it's my first visit at this website, and paragraph is in fact fruitful in support of me, keep up posting these types of posts.