Can Men do Yoga?

In Yogi Writing on October 1, 2010 at 10:03 am

Inspired by my macho friends and Max Strom’s post Why Men Need Yoga, Too.

For centuries, society has long ingrained the machismo in men. In the ancient days, the responsibilities of men were simple- hunt and procreate. On the other hand, women were trained to multitask and take care of the community when their men are away hunting. Nowadays, man’s tasks are far from being simple, being thrown into the pot of various responsibilities. This simplicity, protectiveness, and good old men advices back then are now battled with a schizophrenic conflict: being macho and can’t-show-vulnerability, with no men figures to relate to.  And in this society, where working-women, now tough and independent still demands their men to be traditional, (fierce in the boardroom and bedroom) and also sensitive ‘just enough’ to be emotionally available. Of course these men of ours are having a tough time figuring out what it is to be a man!  They are not willing to touch upon activities that might condemn their already-confused manhood, especially when they are face with, “I suck at what I’m doing…infront of all these women.” So then, how does men cope being a man? Since a young age they have observed and mimic their lost-older generation. These are the ways of ‘modern days bonding’: playing video games, drinking, joining macho sports, watching macho sports, talking tough, not talking, avoidance-is-the-answer to everything, tech consuming, food consuming etc. Their manhood are obviously hidden beneath it all and we, as women are not making it better as we nag and pressure, driving them deeper into their hiding.

So as a fellow yoga teacher, when I see a man walk into his first class, it is a sensitive matter; I usually ease down the ‘looking-into-your-deep-inner-self-talk’, instead giving clear commanding instructions for them to focus and sweat. Once one feels good at the end of a session, they usually are willing to come back; and once they come back, they’re great dedicated students. After awhile, even if some refuse to admit it, their layers of confusion and machismo starts to peel away. And more than once- a truly attractive personality reveals. Not surprisingly, some of them has become the prominent figures of the yoga world. So…. yes, men can do yoga. Just let go of this habitual men-goism and come try it out. 🙂

1. The usual comments about not doing yoga, from my fellow men friends:

  • it is too ‘up in the air’, too ‘spiritual’ for me..ooOlala
  • the class is too slow for me
  • it is too easy
  • I am not flexible
  • I hurt myself doing yoga a few times

My advice: Cut the excuses for a better healthy-self. Give yoga more than one try; do research, ask around and find the style of yoga that doesn’t scare you away, ‘the spiritual kind’. Most importantly, find a teacher that is knowledgeable, safe and has been recommended by friends that seems to have similar thinking as you. 

2. Reasons why men joke about starting yoga or maybe they were…actually serious:

  • for the girls
  • to be cool and hip, because everyone seems to do it
  • when the ‘cool’ poses can be accomplished, and we all know men love competition
  • sports injuries that forces them to try out other movements
  • when men realize they are the minorities of the yoga world and they love the attention 🙂

My advice: continue to encourage their normal practice, though starting to introduce great teachers to ease them deeper into their practice.

3. And why men continue to practice yoga:

  • the healthy long time effect on the self
  • they feel good, physically: loosen up, toning, strengthening and better flexibility
  • (mentally refined, though some men choose not to broadcast that part)
  • revelation through a great yoga teacher, inspiring them to look upon their practice from the inside-out.



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