Yoga marketing, clothes, classes and support seem to me to be geared towards women. However the benefits gained from a regular yoga practice are universal. How can men become more interested in yoga so they too can also benefit?
Consider these two adds I pulled from websites for yoga clothing for both men and women. While thumbing through the sites, the one for the women had *tons* of pictures in active, friendly, community (just appealing in general) poses. For us guys, this model had this and one other pose for everything he wore.
The women’s ad was pulled from HardTail, and the men’s from Vickerey.
In addition to the clothing ads, I have thought about this quite a bit. I have a number of friends who are men and yoga teachers and they have all had various levels of success in trying to attract men into their classes. I am left wondering where the disconnection is. So today I would like to explore what might be a man’s more ideal yoga class. For this, I go back to my own first impressions of yoga studios, what I did and did not like at the time and what kept me coming back.
First, some dislikes:
- The music –singing about goddesses made me feel uncomfortable.
- The sayings and posters – they were geared towards women and I felt like and outsider invading a foreign land.
- Chanting, Bells and Sanskrit – forget about a feminine refuge, I felt like I had stepped into some sort of church and I nearly ran from the room; I don’t want to subscribe to a religion here.
- The lack of optional postures and modifications – and I will preface this with not being true of every studio, but the ones I started with were not so strong here. As a beginner, I was strong and flexible, but not familiar with the postures and there were new ways of moving my body. Sometimes a modification was needed to get me into using new muscles or stretching differently.
- The sometimes openly suspicious looks from the female students – yes, sad but true. It’s a yoga studio; isn’t it about peace and acceptance and growth? Then why did I feel like I needed to justify being there?
- The clothes – there are just not enough decent yoga clothes for men. I like tighter fitting stretchy mid-thigh shorts. Way too few options here. The basketball shorts that are being pushed today just aren’t comfortable to me.
What kept me coming back:
- The staff – the people working the front counters and the teachers were always friendly, down to earth and funny.
- The workouts – they were typically pretty good. With the caveat noted above, I would have liked more options for modification of the postures when I was struggling to understand them.
- Curiosity – why is yoga so popular? What draws all these people back time and again? What am I not understanding?
And last for today, what might make it more inviting for men:
- “Ease into it” classes – these are classes specifically designed to not have chanting, more popular style music and focused on the class; offering appropriate options, props and a good sweat.
- Throw a masculine targeted poster up – Goddess Heart Opening Retreat to Express and Experience Your Natural Femininity 2013 posters are creepy to me; and very uninviting. Mix in a few posters covering the story behind the Warrior series of postures. Something that does not make men feel they are in a strange and foreign land.
- Male only classes – this is something that is already starting to take off, but I hope continues to grow. There are entire gyms that are dedicated to women who want the freedom to work out without feeling like they are being watched. I completely agree that that type of environment should exist. The flip side is that guys might also benefit from a similar environment with yoga.
I am not saying the chanting, Om’ing and stuff needs to go. It has grown on me and I now prefer classes with that experience. But not when I first started. My idea of getting in touch with my feelings was punching a bag really hard. I know I needed to ease into this type of environment. If it can be made a little more guy oriented, I truly believe that more men will find their way to yoga. And in my opinion, that can only be a good thing.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this. You agree, disagree, think I have missed the boat completely?