Gates emphasizes meditation and personal reflection, with less emphasis on technique in poses.
Farmer applies a similar approach. As a result, she says, “The classes become more playful, creative, and exploratory.”
For Men Only
While recent Yoga Journal studies reveal that nearly 80 percent of yoga practitioners are women, this doesn’t negate the fact that men need and want yoga, too. Bassocks successful Yoga for Men program proves this.
A former New York City commodity and stock trader and avid tennis player, Bruces humble, down-to-earth presence and physique is far from intimidatingespecially to men who eschew yoga as an activity reserved only for the flexible. “I suspected that my background would be disarming, and that many men who ordinarily would not consider taking a yoga class could identify with me,” Bassock explains.
Unlike the emphasis on connection that Gates and Farmer focus on in their women’s retreats, Bassock keeps his classes grounded in the physical.
“I focus on stretching the areas where men tend to be tight, and then I do a lot of poses that men can typically do well, in order to build their confidence,” he explains.
And to be sure to keep to the subject matter, he holds the yoga philosophy to a minimum.
Men Need Downtime, Too
But the emphasis on the physical doesn’t mean that men don’t appreciate some time to step back from the outside world together.
Peter N. Hillman, a 53-year-old litigation lawyer with Lyme disease, takes Bassock’s class to help with his stiffness and joint pain. “It’s a thorough, healthy workout, with no shame, no embarrassment, no humiliation, and no loss of ego,” he says. “The other day, we were doing the wind-down, and the guy to the right of me whispered, ‘This is the best part of my week,’ and I said, ‘Amen, brother.’”
Promoting Your Specialty
Running gender-specific events can be lucrative. For instance, many women sign up for Farmer’s annual women’s retreats at Harbin Hot Springs a year in advance. Bassock draws a full house to his Yoga for Men, and these students later attend his mixed-gender classes as well.
How can you make it work?
- Teach What You Know
Bassock probes us to first ask, “What excites you? What is close to your heart? What in your past experiences will serve you in teaching others? What are your assets? Be creative and find a niche that suits you.”
For instance, don’t start teaching prenatal yoga if you have never been pregnant.
“Teach from your own experience. Share with others only what you have taken home, digested, and integrated,” Gates advises.
- Rely on Word of Mouth
“I have been teaching for more than 15 years,” Gates says, “and can really see now how developing relationships over time has had the most powerful influence on the attendance at my retreats. I advertise through my website, email mailings, and postcard mailings; but word of mouth is number one for effective advertising.”
If you’re just starting out and don’t have your own studio, Gates also suggests teaching at venues with the population you’re targeting. If you have a vision of teaching pregnant women, for example, “find out where they hang out and see if you can teach there. Put your flyers out at the local OB/GYN offices.”
- Solicit the Women!
Bassock initially gathered his clientele for Yoga for Men from the female students at his studio who were eager to have their husbands give yoga a try.
Gates concurs. “I find that for our classes at the Yoga Garden, men most often come through the recommendation of a woman in their lives.”
A Win-Win Scenario
Taking time out to be with the girls or the guys for a little while can be a good thing for everyone.
At the end of her retreats, Farmer hears some women say, “Oh, I am so looking forward to going home. I now realize how much I love my husband!”
And not to worry, the other half benefits, too. “One woman,” Farmer laughs, “told me that her husband encourages her to go on one of these retreats each year, as she returns home so happy and fun!”