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. Dara says:

    I recognize, after much personal work, that my leanings toward male teachers goes back to having an emotionally absent father. He was a provider. But as a little girl I received no things such as praise, reassurance when upset, or told I was pretty in my Sunday dress. All things I think a little girl needs to hear from a trusted adult male figure so she doesn't go searching for it elsewhere.

  2. queenofthedarned says:

    I guess I am not the norm—I feel MUCH more comfortable with female teachers in general. Now that I think about it, the majority of my teachers have been women! I've taken a class with a male teacher twice in 12 years. There are not many Ashtanga teachers in my area, but I have managed to track down the women and have been attending their classes while avoiding the classes that are at a more convenient time but are taught by men. Hmmm, food for thought…in the meantime, I will be planning my Kino MacGregor trip for next year 😉

  3. timful says:

    As a man, I have asked myself the same thing about my preference for female teachers. There are many things at work, but one thing I realized is that if a man tells me something is true, my first reaction is "you do not know any better than I" and I will put my critical faculties to work evaluating his advice. If a woman tells me something, I seem willing to believe she has access to some special intuitive knowledge that is not immediately accessible to my logical thought processes, and I will just accept it viscerally.

    But probably more than that is I have long standing insecurities about what I am supposed to do to please a woman. So, it is really a delight when she just tells me what to do. If we were engaged in some more goal directed activity like trying to win a game, these kind of issues would more easily remain below the surface. But, in yoga, we are mostly just being. This offers a blank slate for all of our projections to play out. I guess it is a lot like a non-reactive therapist who just keeps nodding.

  4. irish mary says:

    Yoga teachers are really no hotter than the rest of the population, they just think theyre hotter and perhaps all those sun salutations make them feel a bit hotter. From the point of view of a 47 year old woman , watching yoga teacher shenaginans, theyre probably more narcissistic than the average population.

  5. Dianne says:

    Thanks Dara-I totally agree. My father was always disappointed in me so I sought my approval in damaging ways elsewhere. It is important for little girl to cultivate that positive reinforcement from a strong male role model…food for another blog

  6. Dianne says:

    Timful amazing insight..I think most men would agree it creates a lot of insecurities trying to figure out how to please a woman.

  7. Lisa says:

    It's funny I always look for female teachers and even have learned about myself just from my reaction of a man walking into the class after it's already begun. A teacher I loved had to leave for a teaching trip for five weeks and her sub was a lovely man (different one)who had just brought a lot of good energy to the class and I STILL waited until she returned to go back. I'm fairly obsessed with the interplay between the Divine Masculine and the Divine Feminine and look at class as a way to integrate the two within myself and having male energy around made me think at first that it would throw me off. Learning that it doesn't and reading this article make me think maybe I'm ready to learn more from this perspective. 🙂 Interested to explore that teacher dynamic down the road. Thanks for that!

  8. Dianne says:

    It's all about the experience~thanks Lisa

  9. mike says:

    Alot of Male Yoga Teachers are gay…like me! problem solved!

  10. Dianne says:

    Mike that's great love it

  11. AlannaK says:

    Hey Dianne – I'm grateful you wrote this article. As a teacher for over a decade, I've often asked myself this question. The majority of the yoga population is female, and yet, at our biggest conferences and publications that ratio is skewed to the male end of the equation. It is reflective of a lot of inherent values and beliefs that I hope a regular yoga practice can change!

    Here's to all the yoga ladies in the house!

  12. Edward Staskus says:

    Although I can certainly tell whether it is a man or a woman up on the podium , I would not say it makes any appreciable difference whether it is a man or woman barking out directions at the Bikram Yoga classes I go to. They are all friendly enough in the lobby, but cold and calculating in the classes.

  13. Dianne says:

    Cheers Alanna K thanks for the read. I am simply baffled. Just keep on keeping on the mat!

  14. Dianne says:

    Wow Edward that bites right in the asana. Maybe it is time for a change of venue.

  15. Dianne says:

    Thanks Everyone for the funny, interesting and super insightful comments. This is such an interesting topic. I always wondered what people thought

  16. jon says:

    As a male I could care less. I care about the quality of their practice, their explanations during practice, the energy level they exude, and if they resort to yoga platitudes.

  17. Joe Sparks says:

    Another male perspective is:You will never get those frozen needs met from a male yoga teacher. He is not your father and you are not a little girl anymore. Some of those feelings towards male yoga teachers are not rational. It is important to face and release those old unmet feelings. One way to work on these feelings is to ask yourself, how is this male yoga teacher like your father and how is he different. Very important to work on these so you can see this person clearly for who he really is and not confuse him with your feelings about not having the attention you deserved from your father.

  18. Edward Staskus says:

    You would think, but I think the best teachers are those who are the most calculating. Going to a yoga exercise class is not really about making friends, it is about your own practice, paying attention to what you, not anyone else, are doing, going inward, getting it done so that in the end the 90 minutes meant something. Everything else is beside the point. Relationships with teachers in the yoga room are distractions at best, and a waste of purpose at worst. Just my two cents worth.

  19. Lindsay says:

    I no longer frequent classes taught by straight male teachers. Over the course of several years I both noticed and was subjected to what I perceived as inappropriate behavior. This almost always involved the male teacher using the forum of the class to “adjust” only young, attractive female students. Nothing obvious and always close to the line. But very creepy and in my view these individuals are little more than perverts masquerading as yoga teachers. A minority of teachers to be sure, but a not insignificant minority. So I am very happy to stick with female (or gay male) teachers and avoid the risk altogether.

  20. Dianne says:

    Edward I can totally respect that. I do like making friends at yoga. I am a person who loves to connect my students and the relationships I cultivate in my studio create our community. It does have to be in the right context though. You are right your practice in the purpose but community makes it better.

  21. Dianne says:

    Joe I agree. I was surprising to see how any women work through their daddy issues on the mat. I know I am doing that among other things. I can separate the male yoga teacher from my emotionally absent father. I do think women are attracted to the natural attraction of complimentary opposites. The Estrogen is reacting the the testosterone in some cases in the studio…

  22. Dianne says:

    Lindsay, yeah I have seen that as well. I have seen it in very famous public teachers too

  23. old yoga chick says:

    Love diving into all this. Personally I am attracted more to female teachers with nurturing qualities. I think is is sad there are not more female teachers at the top but I am sure a lot of reasons play into it. One thing that has not been mentioned is the fact that when women become mothers they like to stay close to home so might not want to travel as much as men who often allowed even in the yoga world to be absent fathers.

  24. Joe Sparks says:

    Hi Dianne, You can totally fall in love with your male yoga teacher, just do not act on those estrogens. Sex and love are two separate things. Give yourself a chance to feel those feelings you did not get to feel with your father, just don't act on them, and If you can do this you will release all kinds of feelings. It will really help if you have the courage, to tell your male yoga teacher, how much you are in love him, but you'll never have sex with him. Most guys will be relieved, and some disappointed. Because most men are very vulnerable in this area, we have been condition to get all our emotional needs through sex. He is just as confused. You will help liberate him and mostly yourself. What we all really want and our starving for is closeness. Let the healing begin!

  25. Dianne says:

    Old Yoga Chick- I love this conversation. I never thought of the traveling aspect for mothers. Excellent point

  26. Vision_Quest2 says:

    You got that right!

    But there is a subset of male teachers into social work/health/activism/family therapy who–most of the time–teach a soft, slow practice … with less of the show-offyness of even their more socially-aware female counterparts …THOSE are the male teachers I gravitate to.

    There is a softer side of vinyasa practice that is underrated and underreported …

  27. Vision_Quest2 says:

    Me, too.

  28. Vision_Quest2 says:

    I am barely susceptible to a man's mojo. A man of any age.
    I thank God for that, because it helps–not all yoga teachers–include those who would use their implicit charisma/sexuality to drum up upsale busines–do business ethically; and I'd run into consumer-related issues with a yoga studio–one of five I'd tried in the past few years.

    On the other hand, I think this lack of susceptibility severely frustrates an age-appropriate (to me) guy in his mid-sixties who would like to get to know me better.

  29. timful says:

    Yes, let's not forget that there is a powerful attraction of complimentary opposites that is not always a "daddy issue" or a "mommy issue." By my reading of cultural history, all fathers were emotionally absent 50 years ago. And young women believed they needed a man to complete them. If this did not always work out so well, we may say the same about today's urge toward self reliance. The history of love has always been written by the losers. Not to suggest we turn back the clock, but just to recognize these are all cultural constructions, notions about how we are "supposed to be" that will change, as we try to find our way. And, if we are going to put up any false idols, we could do a lot worse than a man or woman we love.

  30. chad says:

    It's scarcity. Check out every monthly issue of Yoga Journal, Yoga International, videos, DVDs, etc. It's all women in the photos, teaching on the vids, etc. Men have male energy and are often very attractive and dynamic. In the end it all boils down to the teacher–frinstance I can't stand Jason Crandall–but in an area dominated by women, such as yoga, the few men are bound to stand out. And I also think the woman that wrote this little blurb is wrong, or overstating her case based on a couple of instances and her own subjectivity. But some male yogis get themselves in trouble with their all over the mat ids–just look at what happened with John Friend.

  31. sara says:

    I am attracted more to a certain kind of yoga, and it doesn't really matter if a man or a woman is teaching it. I have had experiences with male yoga teachers who slept with tons of students, but at the end of the day, they were usually still pretty good yoga teachers. I guess it depends on what you are in a yoga studio for, and focusing on that while practicing- on and off the mat.

  32. inkdancer says:

    Im a gay male yogi. Most of my teachers have been women or gay men. I find them equally fitting and wonderful ( I am fortunate to belong to an amazing sangha), though I must admit that I am sometimes distracted by my male teachers.
    More interestingly I am a master calligrapher, and despite the demographic of 90% women calligraphers, the top tier celebrated master teachers and financially successful calligraphers are men. Many of my female colleagues have not mustered the temerity to ask for higher fees for their work. I have coached several of my women friends to be fearless with clients.
    I suppose we still live in an unfortunately lopsided culture where men have a psychological and financial dominance.
    Alas so sad, but true.

  33. sallyearthsky says:

    why is nobody stating the obvious here ?!

    yoga adepts are fitter, healthier, lither
    more flexible, more aligned , more connected …

    in short sexier
    than your average mortal …

    therefore they receive more attention …

    point … :~) ………

  34. runyogabeer says:

    I do think it is true for many women but I have to say I am the opposite. It takes ALOT for me to trust a male teacher and even if I take a male teacher's class, I would prefer to be invisible. I do have one teacher I like and trust who is a man but all in all I tend to have my best practices with female teachers. But I have seen it with other female yogis. I do think it is sort of the father/lover approval thing. But i don't want a father or lover or someone's approval. And I have a hard time not believing that even god male teachers are not prone to sleeping with their students. Which I am not all the way against but it is certainly not something I am interested in.

  35. Great discussion! says:

    This is a complicated and important topic! One point that comes up for me is… people who are engaged in something they excel at – especially something creative – become SO attractive. I definitely experience that attraction. So at the yoga studio… I’m not a teacher, but a man with a strong practice. Lots of women pay attention to me, likely for that reason. I love asana, my devotion is obvious, and the other people around who see that are primarily women. Most of them are probably wired to be attracted to men, and here’s one in their territory being friendly and peaceful and all muscle-y and stuff. If our roles were reversed, I know I’d be attracted to that! Plus, most of the stuff we do in yoga classes was likely invented by men and for men, even though women now dominate the field in numbers. Consider Light On Yoga. There’s one picture of a woman in there. She’s doing Paschimottanasana so Iyengar can demonstrate Mayruasana on her back. So there’s a lineage component too.

    Anyway, it took me a long time to admit this… part of me has always felt awkward or even ashamed that I might be benefitting from attention for these reasons. I definitely receive lots of praise and even some propositions, and I do like that. It’s flattering. For men more calculating than I, this might be enough to change them, alter their focus. I think that’s a real fear of mine: the idea that perhaps I’m not practicing entirely for the reasons I claim. I wouldn’t be surprised if many yoga guys battle with this, teacher or not.

  36. gina says:

    when I take my glasses off..i can't see the instructor…i focus on ME….. 🙂

  37. Diane says:

    It really is not a factor I consider when signing up for yoga class. I think all my teachers are wonderful.

  38. Feminist Yogini says:

    Stated bluntly, in our society the perceived value of men is much greater than the perceived value of women. This encompasses many areas of life, including yoga. I don't like it, but I still believe it to be true; the attitude is ingrained in our brains. That said, I also agree with the commenter above who said that "people who are engaged in something they excel at – especially something creative – become SO attractive. I definitely experience that attraction." I experience that attraction, too! It's natural when sex enters the picture, especially during the very physical practice of yoga. I've been attracted to a couple of male teachers myself–during class. After class, not so much. For the record, these days, for me, the teachers whose classes I never want to miss are women.

  39. Dianne says:

    Thanks Inkdancer I love to hear your yogi perspective. You have an interesting take on female dominated industries and yoga with your experiences in both. I always wonder why MOST of the Titans of Yoga and most industry are men. I find it especially interesting in your line of work. It is really cool you are empowering your colleagues.

  40. Dianne says:

    ha ha love it

  41. erica says:

    yes that is obvious and thank you for pointing it out…..
    the other stuff is just mind games
    have a teacher you admire

  42. Dianne says:

    What a wonderful response. I loved reading this. Good Discussion- I totally admire your honesty here. I like that you are self aware and have really studied your feelings around the attention you receive practicing yoga in the studio. Self study is the biggest part of the yoga practice. You make wonderful points. You are right there is something incredibly attractive about a male in-tuned enough to devote himself so fully to his asana practice. I think liking the attention in fine it is part of human nature. It is in our DNA. Just as long as it is not the only reason you do the practice and clearly it is not. I think everyone likes to be recognized for their accomplishments. Life is about choices and it is always your choice on what you do with this attention. Keep using your yoga for good …Keep the faith

  43. Dianne says:

    Feminist Yogini cheers to that

  44. I am a straight woman, a feminist and also a yoga teacher. I have often wondered about this issue too and have noticed that most of my favorite teachers are male. So thanks for inviting us to ponder the topic. I usually just chalk it up to my inner horn-ball and figure I just enjoy being around men with nice shoulders. 😉 I seem to enjoy straight male and gay male teachers alike. I think you raise an important idea about these men being often softer and gentler than most of the other men we know. I think perhaps this is the most attractive factor for me.

  45. Paul says:

    As a single, straight, male practitioner of 9 months (frequently attending though!), I must admit I prefer the classes taught by the adorable women teachers. Just a guy thing. I'm never inappropriate and I'm liked by all the teachers and female students as well. (In the interest of full disclosure, I've never experience inappropriate behavior from either those teachers or students.) I have taken classes with male teachers and like I said, certainly prefer the female teachers, but I'm there for the yoga and many times appreciate a different (male) perspective. I think as a broad statement, women would prefer men and men would prefer women. Of course, there are exceptions, but this should be no surprise.

  46. Perceptions says:

    Men and women have traditionally been perceived to have different value for different purposes. If you have perceptions about some more general idea of overriding value, remember that perceptions exist in the mind of the perceiver.

  47. Ben says:

    I’m a straight married male. I live in a relatively small town near a semi-large city. For a brief time we had yoga here. I was the only male student, but felt like I wasn’t accepted. My focus is on yoga. This experience suggests I may be more comfortable with a male teacher… Perhaps the students would be more accepting of the male students if there was a male teacher as well!

  48. Rhea says:

    In my experience, being in the fitness and yoga industry for eight years, I have learned that people do have their preferences–or should I say, prejudices. I've heard women tell me they prefer male teachers and I've heard them say the prefer women. I've heard men say they prefer women and other say they prefer men. Of course, such preference is an illusion and at this stage of our yogic evolution, we know that sex is not what makes a teacher great. I hope that as people evolve in their journey, they will learn this for themselves and see past such prejudices. Pointing out why some people prefer one sex over the other would only amplify this illusion, so I'll just say that I honestly don't care if one is male or female. I do care that they understand sequencing and that they will not injure me. I do care that they put a concerted effort and show great care in their teaching.