Talk To Us -- Why are men more reluctant to do yoga than women?

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I was intrigued by this week's poll and had to answer. But I was hoping to be able to add a comment. Like most who've answered so far, I chose #3, embarrassment. Most women are better than men at the basic poses, which tend to require more flexibility (especially in the hips) than strength. Guys don't like to be one-upped, especially by women. I think that's why more guys do Ashtanga, where upper body strength and endurance play a bigger role (there's a subject for a subsequent poll...). Also, many guys seem uncomfortable when they are clearly in the minority. Yoga -- especially when taught by women who emphasize slow inner practice, chanting, and "touchy feely" awareness -- does seem more of a "girl" thing to many guys. Perhaps if there were more "Men only" classes taught by men and incorporating poses and practices that men can excel at and feel good about, more men would do it. Maybe "team" yoga competitions? (Just kidding!) You should do more on this subject -- and show more "regular guys" doing yoga on your covers and in your articles.

Tim N.

I don't think any of the answer choices offered for this week's online poll are true for most men. As an adult male yoga practitioner, what I hear from most men is something like, "Yoga is more of a chick-thing and it's kind of weird." Your magazine will be doing a service to help dispel this erroneous stereotype.

Name withheld

I too have seen this trend of more guys taking the
class. As a typical guy I had moved from strictly
weight training to many cardio classes and religiously
taking yoga and pilates for the last two and a half
years. It has made me feel much better inside and out
and my flexibility is crazy...Almost full splits and
my core body strength has increased...My kickboxing
has gotten much better with harder punches and kicks
and they hit higher too! I love it and I have a great
instructor also.

Yes, I get made fun of by all the other typical guys in
the gym but you know what, in the last three months I
had lost 3% bodyfat lost an average of 3/4 of an inch
in my upper body measurements while gaining leg size.
and I am much leaner and more flexible. Not to mention that I lost
30 lbs in about 6 months.

Im not attributing everything to yoga, but with the
classes I had taken I can now do more positions that I
had never done before.

I love yoga and probably will never stop.
I also forgot to mention the incredible endorphin high
it gives me. I'M ADDICTED!!!


Jonas G.

Your comment about fewer men than women in yoga classes is quite true. There are other areas where women outnumber the men by a large ratio too. Some of these are "STEP-UP" and other Cardiovascular workouts.

Reading several books and studies on this topic it is very plain to see that men are far more "VISUAL" than women. If they see a lot of men involved, then they too might consider joining that activity. Another reason is that yoga is not a competitive "sport." Men have much greater difficulty turning 'inwards to self' --"meditation"--than do women. In Christian Churches there are far more women in "prayer meetings" than there are men. (Again prayer is not a competitive action.)

Although attracted to yoga for more than 30 years, it was only recently and on the advice of my Chiropractor, that I considered doing it seriously. I tried joining a class but unfortunately the only class relatively within reasonably travelling distance was on a night and time that clashed with another function that I felt to be more important. [Actually, the class was booked up anyway for some considerable time and they could not find another teacher who would do another class at a different time.]

I therefore bought the video "AM YOGA" and a book (and CD) yoga for men as well as which I constantly read and checked your E-mail letter and Journal--for which I am exceedingly grateful. I practice yoga almost every morning but am still at the beginner's stage. I do some stretching exercises before I start and it takes me about 90 minutes all together. I do this first thing in the morning around 6.00AM and then I feel set up for the rest of the day.

I attend the gym three days a week and do some cardiovascular work for 10/15 minutes, muscle strengthening and toning for another 30 minutes, finishing with a little stretching for 20 to 25 minutes.

I have learned over the last 12 months that--I must do what I must do--to keep in good physical shape and in a healthy condition. Yoga is contributing a great deal to the achievement of this goal.

Thank you very much for your very full and comprehensive information and I hope to be around for a good many years enjoying the freedom and health that I now experience.


Reginald Husbands (67 years young)

It is not the macho Western man or whatever.
I work almost 24-hours-a-day to feed my children and
provide the home for my wife to practice yoga in.
I have three crushed discs to show for it. Time management
may be in order for me, but I'm busy.

Jason

Good question...why aren't there more men in yoga classes?
Before trying yoga, my casual appraisal was that it wasn't testing enough for
a 'heman' like me -- ex athlete- football, track, wrestling, you name it- anything that
had a likelihood of drawing blood from participants, was my game and I dare say is
the case for most U.S. bred men. To tell the truth, I had only noticed the class when
everyone seemed to be sleeping.

However, I took the challenge of a yoga instructor--at the fitness center
where I had been doing the manly things--to commit to five days trying out yoga.
They are such personalable folks Ravi and Char- that I didn't suspect the trap they
were laying for me.

The first time I joined the class I asked myself, "Where else can I spend a leisurely
hour with 15 scantily-clad ladies? We chanted- I kept one eye open to see if they
were serious about it. They were so I tried to be serious too. One hour later i had
gestured, flexed, nodded and bent into postions I thought I could only dream
about. The next day, I could hardly walk and I was three days away from the next
class.

Class number two:By this time I began to look more carefully at what was going on in
the classes I wasn't attending. We did a different routine and I discovered yet
more muscles that could ache.

Class number three: I wasn't looking forward to this...I learned that there might be
somehting called 'yoga back' -- I didn't care what you call it, I hurt all over.
I bought a mat, a block, subscribed and read Yoga Journal- which is a great
inspiration- and said hello to parts of my body I only suspected I had.

Let's cut to the chase. That was a year ago. I wouldn't miss a yoga class now if
there were a high fence around it trying to keep me out.

My conclusion as to why there aren't that many men in yoga class? Few of us have the
nerve to trym but if you do, leave your ego outside the exercise room, chant, get
your breathing in synch with the moves, engage the bandhas and ask for advice
whenever you feel like it.

There is not one stranger in the exercise room.


Patrick K.

My husband agreed to tag along because winter driving here is difficult
when you're very tired from working all day and can't see well at night.

We totally enjoyed taking the class together.

Our instructor was a man.

Name Withheld