Common Misconceptions Men Have About Yoga
In today’s world, most people are at least somewhat familiar with yoga. In the West, yoga continues to gain respect and recognition as a healthy practice. Yoga studios are popping up on every corner, and you can find endless supplies of yoga tutorials online . . . just look here.
Yet men still represent a small portion of the Western yogi community. Why is this? In general, men aren’t any less concerned with their health, so what gives? Could the smaller male percentage be due to the stigmatization of yoga?
Suggested read: Stop Gendering My Yoga Practice
Most practicing yogis, male and female, have tried to share their love of the lifestyle with a man they know. The response to this varies, but commonly with “manly” types, there is rejection.
By exploring the common thoughts and assumptions often made about yoga, we can debunk the blockages and shed some light on the beneficial philosophy and lifestyle that is yoga.
Yoga is one of the most beneficial health practices known to mankind and has been for thousands of years.
Here are some of the common misconceptions that men might have about yoga:
1. Yoga is too girly
When ‘yoga’ comes up, a lot of people picture girls in yoga pants, doing back bends, on colorful mats. Western media shows yoga to be largely of interest to women, yet yoga has been mainly taught and practiced by men since its inception!
Male celebrities like Russel Brand, Colin Farrell, Matthew McConaughey, Richard Gere, and Robert Downey Jr. are a few who love yoga. If it’s cool enough for Iron Man to do it, why not try it, guys?
Suggested Read: Male Celebrities Who Do Yoga
2. Yoga is a religion
This topic is understandably touchy for some. This misconception comes from the fact that yoga has such a close relationship with other Eastern belief systems.
Yoga is about bringing mind, body, and spirit into balance. There is no specific requirement of religious belief. By bringing you into greater awareness of your inner self, yoga can be transformative regardless of religious preference.
If you’re not interested in the philosophical aspects of yoga, performing the asanas (poses) is enough, and has nothing to do with who you pray to! There is no rule that says you have to pray to Shiva or Ganesh or at all to be a practicing yogi.
3. I can’t do that
One of the most common excuses for not doing yoga is, “I’m not flexible enough.” If you can’t touch your toes, no problem – that’s what yoga will help you with! If you stay consistent with your practice, you’ll be surprised how quickly you will gain both strength and flexibility.
Yoga is about starting where you are and growing. It is very likely that you won’t be able to jump into an advanced pose right away. Try to release your expectations and know that things like flexibility come with time and practice.
4. What would other guys think?
First and foremost, who cares?! Yoga can be very transformative and beneficial for you on a personal level. Don’t let other’s opinions get in the way of that.
Yoga is one of the most beneficial health practices known to mankind and has been for thousands of years. In the same way that someone would pick up a new workout regimen or a better diet, you can begin practicing yoga.
Focus on the aspects of yoga that interest you. Maybe it’s the calming, stress-relieving effects, or the fitness enhancing benefits. Maybe you’re drawn to the philosophy behind the practice. Or maybe you just want to try something new and meet like-minded people.
Whatever your reason may be, don’t let anyone else get in the way of exploring yoga. You never know . . . if it becomes something you like, you may inspire others to try it as well.
5. How would I look in a yoga class?
Ladies, if you’re not aware, you scare the majority of men socially. The thought of being the only dude in a yoga class can be very intimidating. It’s easy to see why your ‘t-shirt and jeans’ average Joe might shy away from this crowd.
Yet the entire point of yoga is to go inward. It’s not about competition or comparison. A good yoga teacher will remind you to focus as if you’re the only person in the room.
Yoga is about gaining a deeper connection to self, and your fellow yogis know that, so try to let go of worrying about anyone else.
Release your ego and preconceived notions, and hit the mat. You’ve got nothing to lose and so much to gain.
Still don’t want to venture into a yoga studio? There are countless options online that will allow you to do yoga from home. Also, you can hire a personal yoga instructor the same way you would a personal trainer.
If you’re a guy ready to try a class, find someone you feel comfortable with to join you. If you’re a yogi encouraging a guy you know to attend a class, try tagging along until they feel familiar. This may require a commitment on your part, but it’ll help ease them comfortably into the practice.
If you’re reading this, take it as a sign that you’re ready to try yoga. And if you know someone who could benefit from yoga, share this article with them! Remember that we all have to start somewhere. With a little patience and compassion, you may discover a new passion in yoga.