So we solved the problem of Indians finally accepting yoga and now it’s everywhere in India. There are lots of studios, instructors, yoga teacher training institutes, however just one problem- there aren’t enough Indian men taking up yoga, especially the fit variety of men! I have rarely come across a yoga class full of men.
Either there are none or there are just a very few standing at the far end of the class!
It’s intriguing to see why the trend isn’t catching up with my fit male runner friend! That he is obsessed with strength training but not so sure about trying Yoga! Actually he does – once in a while! Like in a very exotic way – like it’s something cool-ish to give it a try! But not on daily basis and not as a practice!
Can the following be the reasons as to why Indian men still haven’t taken up to Yoga as an active practice?
- Is it because Yoga is not competitive? Being competitive goes against the very existence and nature of Yoga. One can see an element of competition even in gyming! Like how many push-ups can you do? And for a lot of people– Inner peace is just not their thing, especially not when they are working out! The challenge here is a different kind! Try the inversions and the other advanced poses!
- Is Yoga a real workout? My superfit male friends have a perception about yoga not being a killer workout! They say it can’t match the cardio and the weights training! You are saying this because you haven’t taken an Ashtanga or a Vinyasa Flow class! Or you haven’t done a Bikram Yoga class with weights! One Ashtanga class of 90 minutes will show you how yoga can give you the ribbed abs and the bulging biceps too. It’s butt-kicking but in a different way! You’ve only got part of the picture if you think it is only about stretching, toning, relaxing! Try the warrior pose 1 for about 30 seconds! You just might get a fraction feel of what a proper yoga workout means!
- Do men worry about not having flexibility? Isn’t that all the more reason you need it? Men in general have stiff bodies especially the hip flexors and hamstrings. Hence yoga works through these areas! You need regular yoga practice which leads to increase in flexibility and strength.And come on –won’t you lift weights even if you were too weak to lift them?
- Do they feel it doesn’t look macho enough to be contorting in those asanas? Blame it on how Yoga is marketed! In the Indian scenario barring the jarring Baba Ramdev, there aren’t enough yoga male models/ proponents to follow! BKS Iyengar doesn’t cut off for my generation either! It’s basically Shilpa Shetty, Lara Dutta and Bipasha Basu as our Yoga ambassadors and they have failed miserably in getting the men on the yoga mat! How I wish John Abraham got off his cool bikes for a bit and got on that Yoga mat!
- Does practicing yoga make men feminine? – I’ve heard this many times! Some very good friends of mine have discussed this with me and my answer is NO! It does not! There is no data on such a thing happening! Intensive stretching elongates muscles and increases flexibility! It does carry the stigma of being a ‘woman’ thing however it does not make a man feminine.
I enrolled myself in an Iyengar Yoga class in a renowned ashram in Rishikesh in 2012. And a class of 50, there were 22 male foreigners, 26 female foreigners, and 1 Indian girl and 1 Indian male. In 2016 – the class had 2 Indian males, 2 Indian girls, 18 male foreigners and 22 female foreigners. I see progress.
There is nothing to be shy of taking up yoga seriously! It’s an amazing mind-body experience. Prevents injuries, sculpts your muscles and leaves you invigorated even after a leg breaking session! You don’t leave the session sore with aches and pains! The internet is flooded with reasons why athletes should and do yoga!
Sign up for a class and change your perception! Yoga is meant for everyone!