I’ve taught yoga for over 20 years, and the number of men in my classes has always been a scant few. Why is that? My husband has been practicing for over 20 years and I see how yoga is helping him stay mobile, active, and young. He plays sports with much younger guys and holds his own. He walks with ease, can bend over to pick things up, and doesn’t have the big tummy so many men his age tend to have. He seldom complains about body aches, and overall is in very good shape. Bottom line, yoga helps him take care of himself. When we ask men why they won’t even try yoga, their answers usually include one of more of the myths below.
My goal in this blog is to bust them up, one by one. Let’s get started.
Myth #1 “Yoga is for women”
Buster: Yes, most yoga classes are filled with women, but that shouldn’t stop you from joining in. The same benefits that apply to women also apply to men – better sleep, more satisfying sex life (my husband says that should be listed first J), improved flexibility and mobility, better posture, and stress relief, to name just a few. To think that females are the only gender that can benefit from yoga is, simply put, just dumb. Myth #1 = BUSTED!
Myth #2 “I’m not flexible enough to do yoga”.
Buster: Do you have to be an expert skier in order to start skiing? Do you need to know the information before you do the research? No! You start skiing so you can BECOME a skilled skier. You do the research so you can BECOME more educated. Applied to flexibility and yoga, you DO yoga so you can BECOME more flexible. It’s not the other way around; otherwise very few people (men OR women) would do yoga because most people (men AND women) are not naturally flexible. This quote says it all, “Saying you’re not flexible enough to do yoga is like saying you’re too dirty to take a bath.” Get it? Myth #2 = BUSTED!
Myth #3 “Yoga isn’t really exercise.”
Buster: The truth is, yoga is as challenging as you want to make it. If you think putting your body into specific, unusual (and yes, sometimes uncomfortable) positions and holding them while breathing deeply is not challenging…well, I challenge you to TRY it and I bet you will change your mind. Yoga has a positive effect on large and small muscle groups, joints, connective tissue, and bones. Yoga improves your circulatory and respiratory systems while also helping your digestion, balance, body awareness, and a whole lot more – all while breathing and moving mindfully. Your mind cannot wander. Your concentration is on the here and now. Yoga is exercise for the body AND the mind, and is an effective way to improve the functions of both. Myth #3 = BUSTED!
Myth #4 “I don’t know anything about yoga and I’m afraid I will look stupid.”
Buster: Ok, this may be completely true – you may NOT know anything about yoga and you MAY feel afraid that you will look stupid, but the Buster is – anyone who ever started something new had the same fears, but DID IT ANYWAY. Who CARES if you don’t know what a Down Dog is? You will learn it (probably during your first class) and then you will know what it is and won’t worry about looking stupid anymore! The truth is, everyone comes to class for their own personal practice. The other students do not take inventory on how you are doing your poses – instead, they focus on what is happening in their OWN bodies. A good teacher will help you find the correct positions that work for your body, even though it may look different from someone next to you. As you progress in your practice, your poses will change because your strength, flexibility, balance, body awareness and understanding of the poses will deepen. It’s a journey that continually evolves and begins with the refusal to let the fear of looking stupid stop you – in other words, it begins with courage. Myth #4 = BUSTED!
Author: Mrs Lori Redlinger, Yoga Provider