My first yoga teacher was a male. I enjoyed the energy, the understanding of male anatomy and the male psyche that came with his leading of practice. He moved away and I studied with several amazing female teachers, but I did long for another guy to guide my practice. I read an article about Broga® and decided to grab a Groupon Deal to attend classes in Somerville, MA with the creator and co-founder Robert Sidoti. It was a good hour drive for me on a Saturday Morning, but I was curious. I went to the class and loved it. I wasn’t a yoga teacher at that point, so I didn’t understand what was different just that it was different. I also connected that we were the same age and had begun practicing yoga around the same time.
Life took a turn in regards to my career path and I found myself a graduate of a 200 hour yoga teacher training program and now offering classes on my own. I continued to periodically show up for Broga® class and began to follow Robert’s videos on You Tube. I now understood the elements of Broga® that were making it unique. Shifting from traditional hatha and vinyasa yoga to fitness elements, all within a very efficient hour of working out and also taking the time to work inwards. At first it was a challenge to shift some yoga breathing cues to fitness breathing but those subtle shifts made sense to me and supported my practice. Incorporating H.I.I.T. was similar to the cardio/dance break I was offering in my Recharge Yoga Classes.
I decided to copy the style and offer up a “Warrior Wednesday” class for guys at a studio I was teaching at. The first class was well received but then the Bruins made it into the playoffs/championship that year and would be playing every Wednesday and the class fizzled. I realized it was the 8 Limbs of Yoga Calling specifically the third Yama, Asteya- Non Stealing. If I was going to offer this style of yoga, I should honor the creator of it. I took a Broga certification course and became a licensed instructor. I always like to hope that those who offer Broga classes who are not licensed are just unaware that this a trademarked brand. However, in many cases, I know they are well aware that we exist. I wonder how they reconcile Asteya as yogis.
I added the class to my offerings. I am a yoga instructor who offers Broga®. I love the title of being a Broga® instructor but it does not negate or trump being a Yoga Instructor , it adds value to what I offer. I felt that the combination of what I was offering with my Relax Class- a mindful, deeper, subtle body class with the fun, community based, escapist Recharge Class would be complete by adding Broga® to the spectrum of practice I lead.
In my experience, Broga® brings more men to the mat, no doubt. It’s the class that many women are finally able to convince the guys in their life that they care about to attend. It opens the doors of yoga that we want to be opened. Men who started with me 4 years ago have gone on to take 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Trainings, I see them around the studio at Crystal Healing Bowl Meditations and Broga® usually becomes part of their practice, not their sole practice and studio owners who commit and give Broga® time to build see the benefits in their bottom line and the way it supports a diverse community.
Women love Broga® too. The physical challenges are unique from a traditional yoga class but they may feel not as comfortable in a gym, they way some guys don’t initially feel comfortable in a yoga studio, so it offers them that level of fitness in a place where they feel supported. This is not to say that Broga® can not be offered in a gym, in fact it often thrives there for the same reasons but in reverse. Men generally find their challenges in the flexibility elements of Broga and women with the upper body strength- the playing fields are leveled and it provides awesome opportunities for all to share in each others successes and breakthroughs.
I went on to become a director for Broga® corporate. I was able to influence the program in ways that I am proud of. Spearheading a campaign for Pride Season to highlight the inclusiveness of the company and perhaps counter some stereotypical reactions to what the word “Bro” may conjure up for some. To us on the corporate level the BRO signifies the Brotherhood of Man, that collective “one”, what is more yogic than that? I get to continue to learn from and work with Robert on teacher trainings and have some of my ideas incorporated into new class styles such as the type of music to play during a Broga Chill class.
As a teacher, it has helped to expand my visibility. There is great interest in Broga®. As a result of being a Licensed Broga® Instructor, I have been profiled in magazines, interviewed by the Washington Post and featured on NBC’s The Today Show for how I offer Broga® as part of a “Yoga at the Brewery” series where I also offer my Relax and Recharge classes, as well.
Since it’s creation 10 years ago, Broga® has helped to shift the perception of men practicing yoga. We get negative feedback on social media about “fragile male egos who can’t just go to a regular yoga class”. I sometimes wonder if they would say things about the ubiquitous Female Only fitness franchises where men are completely excluded. With Broga®, women are always welcome but the class is geared to make men feel comfortable, successful and challenged. What is a “regular yoga class” anyway? Is there the same response to Hot Yoga, Power Yoga even Vinyasa Yoga started in the 80’s in California? With more men joining the studio for Broga® class, the overall ratio of men to women changes and men feel more comfortable in class overall. The reality is that in my years of practicing and teaching I have been made to feel uncomfortable in yoga class as the only guy ” You might want to try this Chuck, while we all do this”. I have heard post class conversations where the one guy who did show up can not win ” I swear he put himself in the back of the class so he could check us out”. To be honest, I kinda like that Broga® pisses some people off. One of the tenants of Broga® is to meet people where they are at physically, mentally and spiritually with the goal of cracking open all the doors that yoga has to offer. If they don’t want to peek beyond the doors and they just dig the awesome physical body maintenance that the program offers, great, then it’s not time for them on their journey to discover all that yoga has to offer but I rarely find that to be the case for those who continue to show up.
Check out my Broga® classes or those of other instructors across North America and other foreign territories.
Watch our Video content on YFM.TV.
Become a Broga® instructor yourself next live training is March 30 & 31st in Woburn, MA with creator and co-founder Robert Sidoti. I will be present for part of the training as well.