Why Don’t More Blokes Do Yoga? ~ Matt Gill

Via elephant journal
on Jan 22, 2011
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I’ve been 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 comment 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.”

These are the top 6 reasons why I think that more ‘blokes’ don’t practice yoga. Let me know what you think?

Matt Gill
Yoga Bloke / Twitter @yogabloke)

I love to practise Ashtanga yoga but to many here in the UK it’s not always considered the most masculine of pursuits. Curious really given the heritage of yoga practice. But for whatever reason, the prevailing perception in the UK is that yoga is mainly just for the ladies.  This is my attempt to redress the balance a bit by charting the yoga experiences of one very ordinary bloke.


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14 Responses to “Why Don’t More Blokes Do Yoga? ~ Matt Gill”

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  2. yogi tobye says:

    Need to start a revolution mate!

    I was teaching a local Sunday league football team. I had to give them a free lesson to start because they weren't into it at all! I only did a short class and you'd of thought it was a Bikram class the amount of sweat there was flying around! They saw the benefit straight away and some guys even felt injuries improving after one class!

  3. YogaDawg says:

    Seems like the UK could use a magazine like this 🙂

  4. From Facebook:

    Shanti Sunseri: This Bloke Does

    Mera Noriega: i know plenty of male yogis, and have often been the minority as a woman in kundalini classes, but i think most yoga is not marketed to men, therefore… and the reason for that is men are less likely to do things for their health, especially if they're supposed to spend money on it, than women. i think that is a matter of social norms that are prime for change, maybe they've already changed and it is now time for us teachers to reach out more to men.

    Paul Leard: For me Yoga is more about controlling the breath within the core and the movements and non-movements, while working loose a body that is tight in stressful posses that needs to learn how to relate with the transitions. No boys and no girls, just human beings. 🙂

  5. Fantastic article Matt!
    I've had a piece like this boiling in my innards for some time and now that I've seen what a great job you've done, maybe it won't be necessary. Bravo!

  6. Andrew says:

    Yoga Journal is a full-on WOMEN'S magazine. You might see one or two images of males in any particular issue.

  7. Very funny Matt, glad to hear the male perspective here, enjoyed reading 🙂

  8. yogabloke says:

    ha ha – it might just take off!

  9. yogabloke says:

    Hey Chris thanks for the comment – would be great to hear your thoughts on it as well…sure I've forgotten to include a ton of reasons.

  10. yogabloke says:

    Thanks Claudia – I loved your husband's guest blog this weekend…very very funny.

  11. yogabloke says:

    wow you're brave taking on a Sunday league team

  12. All great points. I'm finding the same is true for boys in the yoga for children thing. The young male counterpart also think yoga is a girl thing. In my kids' classes they like yoga when they have to do it in school. But when it comes to signing up for a yoga class at a studio or community centre, the boys are gone.

    This Yoga for Boys sun salutation may help you if you find any macho young men who are balking at trying yoga:

  13. Alan Haffa says:

    Matt, I think you hit on most of the reasons.

    One more reason may be that there are so few male instructors.

    Although, to be honest, I like the aura of the feminine associated with yoga because we see it so infrequently in our society outside of the home. Think about it: how often do we see women as priests, ministers, rabbis or mullahs? It is so rare to see women in positions of authority as spiritual leaders that I find it refreshing? But my guess is that most men find it unsettling.