It occurred to me the other day, whilst searching in a newsagents for a yoga magazine, that I automatically went to the section that dealt with hobbies and pursuits for women. I asked myself why this is so.
Looking first at the covers of the yoga magazines with elegant young women smiling and looking serene I then turned to the section of men's fitness to see veins bulging as the guys were running, cycling or catching or shooting something. From a purely advertiser's viewpoint it didn't seem that yoga had anything to offer for men.
Of course, I knew this not to be the case. Yoga has been a delightful journey of physical, mental and spiritual development for myself and men should be open to the benefits of yoga as much as women are.
I remember the apprehension I felt when I first ventured out to a yoga class. I was visualising a room full of middle-aged women in leotards and leggings and myself being the only man. It turned out my premonition was correct! However, things have moved on since then. Some of the classes at my studio have been 50% men. Even if men are the minority in a class, they are not viewed as trespassers in a female environment.
I have taught yoga to sports people, rugby teams and outdoor pursuits enthusiasts so yoga is becoming a mainstream discipline.
So why is yoga good for men?
Physically, yoga strengthens, builds stamina, focus, balance, flexibility and coordination and so is the perfect companion for other physical and sporting disciplines like running. It can help prevent injury and can lengthen your sporting career.
Many men say they aren't flexible enough to do yoga, however with regular practise yoga will help with this - take a look some of the suggested classes below if you think this applies to you. Flexibility always needs to be balanced with strength and stability anyway. This is one of the main principles of yoga practice.
And yet yoga offers so much more.
In the world of men, some thoughts, feelings and (dare I say!) emotions, can become buried or be put aside as we strive to become more productive and successful in our daily lives.
To fully realise our potential and find balance and harmony we need to embrace all of our different aspects physically and emotionally. Yoga provides an ideal platform for this growth.
If the thoughts of joining a local class seems intimidating, yoga can be introduced into your life through media such as EkhartYoga.com bringing your practice to you at home or even to your office.
Your own personal journey begins when you first unroll your mat.
Where to start?
Here are some suggestions from around EkhartYoga
Looking for yoga to compliment other sports? Select 'Cross training' from the specific use filter.
Working on flexibility? Read about some of the factors which affect it and how yoga can help in Yoga and Flexibility.
Enjoy your practice.
Originally posted 26 March 2013, updated 4 Feb 2015.