50 Shades of Yoga.

Via Dianne Bondy
on Nov 27, 2012
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Photo: Michael Kordahi

Why are so many male yoga teachers so hot?

What I mean to say is, why are male yoga teachers so much more popular than their female counterparts?

Why do we, as women, flock to their classes and seek their attention? Do they fulfill some kind of secret fantasy?

As a former Anusara-Inspired teacher, I was caught up in the vibration of Shiva energy from its masterful leader. Why did I trust the male yoga teacher so much more than my female peers? Most of the female teachers were far better yoga teachers and it took me a long time to realize that.

One of my friends—an amazing yoga teacher and an accomplished asana practitioner—just got back from training with an internationally known male yoga teacher and was doe-eyed when he engaged her and complimented her practice. I saw the look in her eye when she spoke about him. I knew that look, that lilt and excitement in her voice—the Shiva invaded her consciousness. He saw her and she was validated in her yoga practice.

still

I have been that yogini, wanting to connect with the Shiva energy—wanting to be seen by the teacher. It is almost like seeking approval from a father figure or being praised by a lover.

Are we still stuck in the idea that men do it better?

In North America we are still waiting for a female head of state. Or perhaps as women, we believe that this is a man with sensitivity who is connected to his softer, spiritual side and that is what attracts us—the evolved male. Maybe it’s something we have not yet experienced outside of the yoga studio.

You would think that male yoga teachers would attract more male students, but I haven’t see this in my community. The most popular teacher where I live is male with lots of female students.

We struggle to get men to the mat. Women love male yoga teachers. I can see the secret and not so secret longing on their faces during classes. Do we secretly love the idea of being told what do? (In the right context, of course.)

The pitfalls of being a male yoga teacher is hands on adjustments, women testing their flexibility in tight clothing, hero-worship and women sweating and moaning in yoga class. What does that do to the male psyche? A greater question is, what does that do to the male ego? We have seen it time and time again that some men are ruled more strictly by their testosterone than others and that can lead to a world of trouble. Not mentioning any names, of course.

Why is it we crave a male yoga teacher? What is it that we want from him that we can’t get from an equally exceptional female teacher?

I am not really sure of the answer to this question. I am intrigued by our love affair with the male yoga teacher. When I figure out what the true essence of the attraction is, I will let you know. In the meantime keep practicing yoga regardless of who is teaching your class.

So let me know in the comment section below, why do you think male yoga teachers are so much more popular?

~

Ed: Brianna B.

 

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About Dianne Bondy

Dianne is an E-RYT 500 the founder of Yogasteya.com, and Co-founder of Yoga for All Online Teacher Training yogaforalltraining.com. She loves to educate, share, celebrate yoga and diversity and is a contributing author for Yoga and Body Image: A New anthology. She is also featured in Yes Yoga Has Curves and Yoga Journal. She is a columnist for the Elephant Journal, loves public speaking, runs yoga retreats, trains yoga teachers, has a devoted husband, two small boys and not enough sleep. Dianne is big, black, bold and loves all things yoga. Try to keep up with Dianne on Facebook, Twitter, and DianneBondyYoga.com instagram or download one of her FREE podcast on iTunes

Comments

93 Responses to “50 Shades of Yoga.”

  1. Hope says:

    "Still waiting for a female head of state" in North America? Kim Campbell served as Prime Minister of Canada in the early 1990s. We in Canada–who like to think of ourselves as part of North America–are still waiting, as you are, for a female head of state in the USA. ;0) Greetings from the Great White North Country!

  2. manorama says:

    I do that too!! I sometimes feel bad for those with perfect vision as I think having bad vision has enhanced my yoga practice! I have better balance because I can't see very well to focus on one point with my eyes. In fact, I close my eyes a lot and just listen to the teacher.

  3. manorama says:

    Maybe it's just that I've never had a young fit male yoga teacher, but I can't say it is something I'm particularly attracted to. My first teacher, who is still my teacher after 7 or 8 years, is a woman and all other teachers pale in comparison to her.

  4. Vision_Quest2 says:

    You are so lucky and so much better off—the ones still in diapers [and I am not referring to this guy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYQl0YUj-Oc who is literally still in diapers, simply because at least he's willing to go mass media for us not-so-well-heeled yogi(nis)] are just too damned money hungry …

  5. Brenda says:

    I've been practicing for 10 years – and 99 percent of my teachers have been women. I have had great teachers and I have had not-so-great teachers. It really has nothing to do with male or female. I think it's just a perception thing – this hotness thing.

  6. Dianne says:

    I agree my vision is not great and I think closing my yes and dulling my visual sense lets me connect more with the breath.

  7. Dianne says:

    I agree there is just something intangible there right? I can't quite figure it out myself.

  8. Dianne says:

    Absolutely Paul..I appreciate you being mindful about how you practice. Your respect from the practice is evident and really supported. We need more men on the mat and in classes

  9. Dianne says:

    Ben I wonder about that too. I have only a handful of men in my studio and I wonder how feel about be the only guy in class. I currently have a male YTT student who was part of the inspiration for this blog. I wonder if it would bring more men out if we had a guys class only?

  10. Dianne says:

    Great point Rhea!

  11. Dianne says:

    I knew that Kim Campbell unelected replacement stint as Prime Minster when Brian Mulroney resigned-was going to come up. Yes she was the first female Prime Minister in Canada. Her leadership was for a very short forgettable time as a replacement for PM Brian Mulroney. What I am looking for as a Canadian is a female leader of a party to rise to the seat of Prime Minister based on her actually leading the party.

  12. Karin says:

    I have noticed that the younger, more attractive female yoga teachers do attract more male students to their classes. For me, I certainly enjoy the "eye candy" of an attractive male teacher, but ultimately it's the yoga teachings that's being transferred to me that I desire, whether it's a male or female teacher.

  13. West Anson says:

    hmmmm…..as a straight, married, male, teacher (who does not hit on students or fellow Yoginis) and periodically goes to classes and workshops let me step into this mess and say the most obvious.

    Men tend to carry themselves better when it comes to teaching and being in front of audiences. This statement is only stereotypical and not universal, but most male teachers tend to exude confidence and authority in our voices, enunciation, mannerisms, and floor presence. In addition, if you look at the way male and female teachers sequence practices you will see a very different sequence that tends to find favor with students from the male Yogi. There are also so few male Yoga teachers (even fewer, the straight male version) in America that we are unique and rare, hence perceived more important and valuable.

    Now, this is not universal as I have attended terrible Yoga classes and workshops taught by men and great Yoga classes and workshops taught by women. It really comes down to how comfortable, competent. and confident the teacher is and how their room presence is perceived. If the teacher is not all of those, it will show.

  14. Dianne says:

    West thanks for the real and for weighing in. I love to hear what male yoga teachers are thinking

  15. Vision_Quest2 says:

    Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention … it's always the (male) Master Teacher, the one who is articulate and has that presence and that je ne sais quoi, who comes in to the class (until a strong female teacher gets up to speed, could be close-to-forever) who comes in to the class right after Savasana (when your prana is working overtime and you may be in a suggestible state) to hawk all the trainings, workshops, etc., whathaveyou, that are currently on offer by the studio. It even happened at the hippie yoga place that otherwise can do no wrong. At least when OM Yoga Center had been in existence in New York City, they'd had class enough to print up cute flyers for that same purpose, and leave any announcements as non-announcements, such as maybe under-the-table individual suggestions to regulars by the front desk staff.

    These announcements had been powerful enough that there were skill level underqualification to some of the workshops and/or – since they did not like me enough to even humor me – to me, personally, snide discouragements about same .. and so the whole strategy did not work that well … well okay, maybe I'm more susceptible to the male mojo than I'd thought …

  16. timful says:

    I agree with you on the importance of confidence. Not so much about the techniques, but to convey the underlying motivational message "this will make you happy," "do this more often," "it is worth the effort," "you are good," "we are blessed," "I believe." You hear it in the tone of voice, in a language that probably goes back to our earliest grunts and is hard to fake. But, in my own experience, I have not found that male teachers are better at this. On the contrary, the undercurrent I often hear in their voices is "this is what they told me to say, this is how I make my living." I don't imagine I am hearing anything that I could not read in a book. I think that is simply because I am a man, so can more easily and automatically put myself into their shoes and be less moved. There is probably an element of competitiveness that makes me want to diminish them. I can see how that same dynamic would work oppositely for female students.

  17. Feminist Yogini says:

    Hi Perceptions. "Men's" purposes, and therefore values/contributions to society, are held in higher esteem than "women's" purposes and values to society. Who is valued more?–the traditional male "breadwinner" or the traditional female "home nurturer"? They're not my perceptions. I'm a woman and I don't fit either of these roles. Men and women should not be perceived to have different value for different purposes, and gender roles shouldn't be assigned to values and purposes. That's my point.

  18. Vision_Quest2 says:

    Are you a young adult male?
    I am a postmenopausal female, and my hormonal levels severely plummeted in the past few years.

    While I do not actually feel competitive with young male yoga teachers, students and other teachers in these cohorts can AND DO pose the most challenges to the male teacher who will exercise their sexual mojo to try to sell their knowledge of yoga. (My financially destitute late father had always told me that teachers are "salespersons of knowledge"; and knowledge – or anything – is shared only for love or for money) .

  19. timful says:

    No, I am 52. I think I decided I was smarter than all my teachers around 5th grade, and developed a strong tendency to question authority. That is really what I meant by competitiveness, not any desire to overtly "win," but just to march to the beat of my own drum. In the realm of logic and reason, this has served me well. But, one of the most important things I have gained from yoga is to recognize the limitations of my rational mind. I could not foresee how a regular practice of yoga would change me. So, there is an element of faith there, to embark on any practice that proceeds in such tiny increments. I mean, you can make the rational arguments about fitness, etc., but I am the type to ask "but what then?" I have found the female teachers to be more motivational in that regard, but you are right, it might just be hormones.

  20. Vision_Quest2 says:

    My asexuality is not enough ammunition against those who would have a manipulative agenda, though. I, too, have intelligence (including kinesthetic) and awareness as befits MY situation. I have been underestimated by such yoga teachers—intellectually, physically and spiritually.

  21. Alexis says:

    As a yoga teacher, I tend to gravitate towards other female teachers who's teachings I admire and want to learn. As a single female and human, I tend to gravitate towards male yoga teachers AND students because I feel it's a rarity to be able to connect with the other gender on "that level" (and the reason they are generally attractive & healthy looking is because of the fact they do yoga! 🙂

  22. juliette says:

    Hi Joe, Have you ever told your teacher you were in love with him? What would I do if i was in love with my teacher? Could it happen? I wonder if you know him. What teachers have you had? What were their reactions?

  23. Dianne says:

    I am really enjoying this discussion… I have said it before and I will say it again is it simply estrogen reacting to Testosterone or the play of complementary opposites? The discussion here is intriguing and as diverse as yoga itself. What is it we are all looking for?

  24. Dianne says:

    Todd thank you for your amazing insight. Well written and profoundly illuminating.

  25. Todd says:

    In my own teaching experience (straight, male teacher), I've found on several occasions that I'm the first man to ever truly give one of my female students heartfelt and sincere praise, acknowledge her devotion to yoga, or even be proud of her for her hard work. When we're praised by someone we respect, we react and may gravitate towards them. There's an emotional connection (whether it's realized on both sides, isn't always apparent). In one class, I had a student express Natarajasana in a truly beautiful and artistic way, and I simply responded "That's beautiful (her name), you've come so far, I'm so proud of you…." She fell to the floor afterwards and started crying. It turns out I'm the first man to ever say he was proud of her (she was 28 at this point), and it overwhelmed her.

    I am often saddened as a man, that I see so many women who have had poor male role models (fathers, boyfriends, husbands,etc). In the "safe" place of the yoga studio, we guide our students to be open and accepting….that can lead to vulnerability…on both sides. We as teachers leave our hearts and souls in our space when we teach. We seek just as much acceptance. Trust, vulnerability, and regular interaction can be intoxicating. Add in some sweat, nearly naked bodies, and a sprinkle of subdued power structure (teacher-student), and you have a ripe mixture for sexual energy. Physical and emotional attraction are the world's oldest prejudice. It happens. We've all seen it. Perhaps not participated in it, but we've seen it.

    As others have mentioned, I've also seen lecherous male yoga teachers only adjust the young, lovely students. In one class, my girlfriend was "adjusted" 17 times in 90 minutes. I was practicing next to her, and was not touched once. My advice for anyone, is to remember that You have the power to say "no, thank you" at all times. Sometimes we have to say "no, thank you" to ourselves too…

  26. Maegan says:

    What a beautiful and authentic post. Thank you.

  27. john mannion says:

    I agree, as a male teacher, I felt uncomfortable at first, then found my grove and rocked. I also can't stand Jason Crandall .
    I like Kathryn Budig, Duncan Wong, Rodney Yee, used to LOVE Sadie Nardin, untill she went " GLAM "
    I like teachers with ENERGY, male and female….I'm sure it works for others.

  28. Vision_Quest2 says:

    "GLAM" – that's a hoot!

  29. catnipkiss says:

    I do not gravitate to male teachers, but I must admit that having male hands on me is nice in class. Female hands are also nice, but less charged. the teacher in my training was male, turning 40, an intriguing specimen. I admire him and learned a lot, but he's not my type, so no fantasies there. The young (23?) assistant in class told me that she and he were just friends, and admitted SHE has daddy issues from a father who abandoned her at a young age. Now they are an item, go figure! I'm just happy not to complicate my yoga classes with such stuff! – Alexa m.

  30. Patricia J says:

    Straight women love to be touched or flirted with by a man. (Not me. I could care less) Many of these male teachers connect very well with female participants. Male teachers should deflect this "sexual" vibe and strive to be seen as a friend, not a prospective love interest. This field is ripe with opportunities for men to prey upon women, how many take the "high "road here and keep the relationship professional? Many women are vulnerable and start Yoga, looking for life's answers. DOn't take advantage, guys.

  31. Dianne says:

    In there lies the Key…don`t take advantage of anyone male or female..enjoy the teachings

  32. mjeuland says:

    So is this why Kali Ray's TriYoga has not caught on?

  33. Lisa says:

    Hopefully a unique perspective, but adding to Sallyearthsky above…

    I don't 'prefer' male teachers over female. I prefer teachers who are tuned in. It wouldn't matter, When I'm touched by a yoga teacher (for an adjustment, etc) I expect to feel a true physical connection with them as they put their energy into your body to help you. Some people 'gender'ize their physical pleasure. I happen to not be one of those people. So, if I feel a connection to an instructor, male or female, I'm going to seek out that person, repeatedly, for that connection. I think that because people tend to 'gender'ize their physical pleasure, they gravitate toward what they believe could be the only source and for most heterosexuals, it would be the opposite sex. (This assumes that pheromones have been completely removed from the equation.) It stands to reason that a woman who believes she is 100% heterosexual, also believes she could only experience gratification (both physical and emotional) from a man, and vice versa.

    Also, women long for men who are tuned in physically. Yogis are ALWAYS tuned in. Something in us knows that a man with such finite and exquisite control of his body could apply those same principals to making ours sing. That's no mystery.

    Excuse me now, for I need a cold shower. 🙂

  34. Dianne says:

    Wow amazing comment Lisa .It made me think, feel and laugh…

  35. Dave says:

    I'm an aspiring young male teacher and I agree with your first 2 paragraphs completely, and really hope to embody what you have achieved in your teaching and healing others. Because to me it's really all about the healing, that's what we are doing here.

  36. Nat says:

    As a woman I am far more comfortable (and therefore can have a more enlightening practice) with a female teacher. I am, however, much more drawn to male-led classes. I never find the same inner tranquility in a male teacher’s class but I’m erm…more excited if you catch my drift. I identify with many of the female commenters, my desire for male validation (and yoga teachers) stems from issues with my father. I’m hoping yoga will allow me to address these issues in a positive way…which is why I should avoid those delicious yoga men 😉

  37. Chris says:

    I think that has more to do with the difference between a scripted class and an actual yoga exploration class. If you haven't had three chance to try something besides Bikram, give it a shot, you'll see a big difference.

  38. Iyan says:

    Personally as a male yoga teacher I found the vulnerability of women, yet they are so smart, so sensitive, and they want to prove us they can. Women so challenging in many things that why we have to be confident, solid minded, knowladgable, and knowing when we have to use our righ brain and our left brain. Women, may be you see that is a hot yoga teacher, for me it is challenging physically, mentally and spiritually.

  39. Iyan says:

    Dianne, would be interesting if you ask male yoga teacher. To give comfort, assurance, sense of protection, and how to put me as a teacher, father or friend is very challenging work. Your article intricking, with those smart women in my retreats, I don't know if it is relevant.