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Dude, Where’s My Mat? An Interview with Dylan Werner and Patrick Beach

Sophia Herbst
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Walk into any yoga studio and chances are men will be in the minority. One or two dudes are typical… maybe a third of the class will be men at best. So while we know yoga was created in ancient India around 1900 BCE, it may be surprising for some to learn that yoga was actually created by men. In fact, yoga was originally practiced by Indian warriors to prepare themselves both physically and spiritually for battle (making Warrior Pose all the more aptly named). 16th to 18th century India even saw some areas hire out bands of yogis as mercenaries! Now that’s a killer asana.
 
Suddenly, the Seattle Seahawks’ mandated yoga practice as part of their football training doesn’t seem so hippy dippy anymore. In fact, men’s general participation in yoga has skyrocketed in the past few years, rising to 23% in 2012.
 
Part of this is due to the work of male yogis such as Patrick Beach & Dylan Werner, who have helped show the world through their Instagram accounts and youtube videos what yoga can be, and how it is not just for women.
 
dylan-and-patrick
 
“When yoga came to America it was all stretching postures, so there was this huge stigma with it not being physically challenging, or not for people who lacked flexibility,” says Patrick Beach. Yoga in America has come quite a long way, with an array of challenging Ashtanga, Hatha, Power, and Vinyasa yoga classes becoming the new norm. However, for guys the dissonance between expecting a yoga class to be “easy stretching,” and then struggling for an hour to hold poses can be a big deterrence from returning to the mat again.
 
Dylan Werner explains, “Having a lot of weight in the arms, like Warrior Two with the arms out, that’s hard for people. And then you take it with the girl who’s next to you who’s 100 pounds and can hold down-dog all day, sometimes it’s discouraging or emasculating.”
 
But Yoga is all about balance. What men lack in “natural” flexibility, they make up for in strength. In fact, the advanced yoga poses Beach & Werner have become famous for – such as pressing up into a handstand – are poses that some women cannot achieve in the same amount of time as men, due to natural differences in muscle mass.
 
dylan-and-patrick-1
 
Dylan served in the military then became a firefighter before making the switch to yoga instructor, and “Is an amazing athletic talent. He has moves that probably 5 people in the world can do,” says Patrick of his fellow yogi. Dylan and Patrick knew of each other, but hadn’t met in person until they worked together on an online yoga video series – one of the first of its kind – that covers advanced inversions & transitions. “There was a mutual respect for each other,” says Dylan, of working with Patrick for the first time.
 
Here are three insights from Dylan & Patrick on men’s growing participation in yoga:
 

1. Yoga is definitely not just for women…

Patrick & Dylan both had something in common when they began practicing yoga: they didn’t walk into the studio with stereotypes in their heads.
 
“I never felt like it was a “woman’s” sport, especially because of how you can take it, and how strong you can get from it,” says Dylan.
In fact, sometimes it’s more fun without the girls.
 
“I do ‘Acro,’ which is AcroYoga. It’s usually a male & female, with the man as the base and the woman flying. Except a lot of times I like to fly and I like to do all that stuff, because when you have two guys who are strong you can do different moves. Sometimes we’ll coin that as ‘Man-cro’, like ‘Man-Acro’.”
 
We sincerely hope ‘Man-cro’ catches on.
 
Likewise, Patrick “never thought about yoga as being a male or female thing, I thought of it as something where I could learn.” Patrick, who is known for his work with inversions, first got into yoga when he tried out a local studio. “There were a few people in there doing crow and headstand, which was the first time I had ever seen people do things like that… It was like ‘wow, look at how much fun yoga can be.'”
 
dylan-and-patrick-2
 

 

2…But Yoga can be a good place to meet women (if that’s your thing)

“Taking yoga classes full of girls is never a bad thing,” says Dylan. In fact he met his fiancé, another prominent yogi, Ashley Galvin, through yoga. When Ashley began to pursue her teacher training certification, Dylan went along to support her and they eventually became Internet phenomenons together.
 
Patrick admits, “When I started there were attractive girls at the studio, so I think that actually helped. I was single at the time and there weren’t many other younger fellas in there.” He is now also business partners with his fellow yogi girlfriend, the Carling of Patrick & Carling Yoga.
 
 

3. Men on the Mats, for the right reasons:

While some men’s publications try marketing yoga to their readers with promises of improved sex lives (not that this is untrue), the real shift of men in yoga has come from a deeper understanding of what yoga is, thanks to guys like Dylan & Patrick. Yoga trains not just for strength, but for holistic strength: balance, flexibility, body awareness, and eventually even self-discovery.
 
Time to say ohm and get strong!
 
If you want a taste of Dylan and Patrick’s teaching styles, you can watch one of their joint yoga classes here:
 

 
This interview was originally published on Yoga.com
 

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Sophia Herbst

Sophia Herbst is a Seattle-based freelance writer, blogger, and proud feminist. When she's not writing for Cody, a health & fitness startup, she's practicing yoga and CrossFit.

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