Have you ever scrolled through your Yoga-inspired Instagram feed and noticed the ratio of male Yogis to female Yoginis? Some of the most revered Yoga teachers are men but when it comes to Yoga imagery a lot of what we see is the female body. In most cases Yoga as an activity is advertised to gain women’s attention (often with promises to change her body!) and the men only appear when it comes to the more serious business of teaching Yoga – or to accompany a female teacher as a “guest DJ” to her Yoga event. So what many men don’t realize is that there is an ever-increasing number of male Yogis out there practising too. After all, Yoga can benefit everyone: physically, mentally and spiritually. Often the hardest thing for men starting out is to distance themselves from preconceived ideas that if they go to a Yoga class they will be the only guy in a room full of ladies doing gentle stretching and breathing exercises.
Yoga teacher and One for All founder, Jesse, was introduced to Yoga by a former girlfriend who adored Bikram Yoga and eventually persuaded Jesse to give it a go. (why is it that when someone you respect recommends you try something there is always some initial resistance?) Anyway, he took up Bikram’s 30 Day Intro Offer with the intention to practise a couple of times a week, but was put off after just two sessions – mainly due to being told off by the teacher for looking around the room – but also because he found this style of Yoga too dogmatic, too rule-bound, too one-size-fits-all in its approach. His brother convinced him to try another style of hot Yoga at a different studio, and this time he managed to stick at it! Despite having spent many years cross-country running, Jesse quickly realized how physically and mentally enduring hot Yoga is after signing up to a 40 Day Challenge (practising hot Yoga every day for 40 days straight!) Nevertheless this set him up to appreciate the benefits of a daily practice, which he continued once the challenge was over. When the founder of this particular style of hot Yoga, Jimmy Barkan, came to Melbourne to run a teacher training at the studio Jesse was practising at, it was a no-brainer to enrol – and the rest is history.
Men who do Yoga aren’t all hippies who start the day with a kale smoothie but are regular guys who care about their health and wellness, and a lot of them do Yoga to complement other sports and activities. Yoga is good for you regardless of your sex, and Jesse along with our other male teachers and students are living proof of that. Not only does Yoga make them more open-minded but the inversions, core work, stretches and arm balances do the male body plenty of good.
As a Yoga teacher with over a decade of experience, I have seen the consequences of both overuse and underuse of movement in the body in both males and females, young and old. If you don’t keep your body healthy and balanced you run the risk of injury, decreased mobility, and chronic pain as you get older. Your body only lasts so long; how you use it matters and this will change as you continue to age. Yoga balances muscular connection in the body and allows for increased space and mobility to create less joint compression and better range of motion. Yoga also allows you a mental and physical detox by employing breathing techniques that are known for their relaxation effects.
At the end of the day, the key to mobility and flexibility is consistency. Trying Yoga once or twice with your girlfriend won’t accomplish much – to improve endurance, cardiovascular health, injury prevention, mental fatigue, balance and stability takes time – you won’t be able to touch your toes after just one session! Each and every class will give you a total body workout as well as a detox if you practise in the heat – and with every challenging posture you can remind yourself that Yoga finishes with that sweet time at the end to just lie down and chillax!