By Faye Martins
The world has changed and women are experiencing more freedom. If you’ve attended classes, a yoga teacher training, boot camps, or workshops, you have no trouble finding women. Men who enter a class full of women are very comfortable in their own skin. This is a good thing, but how can we encourage more male participation in our yoga classes, studios, and workshops.
The history of yoga began thousands of ago in ancient India. Archeological evidence of civilizations practicing yoga for spiritual enlightenment can be found in India. Over the years, yoga has transformed into a modern version that we typically associate with flexibility, strength, and meditation. Western yoga is still based on the founding principles of yoga, but the gender of the vast majority of practitioners has changed. If you glance into the majority of yoga classes today, you’ll see a room full of women with a few brave men sprinkled in. The first yogis were all men. Where did all the men go? It’s time to let go of some of the stereotypical images associated with yoga in our society and get both genders reaping the rewards a yogic lifestyle provides.
Create a Welcoming Environment
Perhaps men are intimidated by a room full of women, chatting endlessly about husbands, kids, what’s for dinner, and the latest fashion trends. It takes a fairly strong and confident man to enter this room voluntarily. We all know that once class begins, it becomes about each individual student, not about gender. Yoga studios might consider catering to men by creating a more masculine environment. Include gender neutral decor or a sports-based theme. Bring yoga to men in areas where they are already comfortable, by offering outdoor classes, or classes at the gym where many men work out.
Offer Men Only Workshops or Classes
Let men experience yoga without the added pressure or awkwardness of women in the class. Men-only classes can allow men to try yoga and experience the benefits in a safe, comfortable, all-male environment. Once men begin to see and feel the results, the environment will likely become much less important. Make sure the instructor is also a man.
Employ Male Instructors
When the leaders of the yogic community are all female, that might be sending the message that yoga is for women. A gender-diverse teaching staff is important. In many styles, the participants of yoga teacher intensives are more than 90% women. Train men to become yoga instructors and act as male role-models for all men. The more male yoga instructors there are, the more likely men will be to try it.
Focus on Specific Benefits
Yoga can actually be particularly beneficial to men, because they often work and strain their muscles more than women. Yoga plays an important role in keeping the body’s muscles stretched and balanced to avoid injuries, strains, and overuse. Instructors can point this out and talk about famous athletes that include yoga as a part of their training on a regular basis.
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