Blog » Where're all the Dudes?!?
Where're all the Dudes?!?
About four years ago, a friend motioned me aside at a gathering. As he glanced nervously from side to side, he beckoned me a bit closer. As I sensed he was about to share a deep, dark secret, I glanced over his right, then his left shoulder for his would be assassin. Or perhaps something less lethal, maybe….that he was involved in the ritualistic puppy sacrificing sect and wanted me to join. He looked at me and asked… “Dude…you do that yoga right?” I could feel my breath release and relax. “Yes”, I replied, “love it!” “ME TOO!” he said in a raised voice which he then quickly lowered when realized he might be overheard. He then retreated to his hushed tone. “That shit is HARD!” he mouthed over the din of the people. I smiled and nodded in agreement. Since then, I must have talked to half a dozen yogi dudes all doing their thing to Tony Horton's P90X yoga in the safe confines of their basements.
A few guys have braved the interior of a studio, but several are still hiding out, working their extended side angles in private. So it begs the question, where are all the dudes? I teach at a one small town studio in Nova Scotia where we do have a lot of guys……for yoga, and that is terrific. There has been the odd class where men equal or outnumber women. I am very hopeful that my teaching at Pictou County Yoga, will help attract both men and women to explore this amazing practise. When reflecting back on the lineage of yoga with its 5000 year history, once highly practiced by males, I wondered I have to wonder....where all the guys went.
I think there are obvious changes. We now have a lot of organized sport, which did not exist 100 years ago and with the male brain already wired to defeat others for survival, the nature of competition in the “athletic” arena has only increased the desire to be the best. Therein exists the conflict with yoga and men of today. Ego. There is nobody to compete against, or worse than that, you are going up against your strongest competition ever….your own self!! “You mean I can’t beat anyone, and in fact, I gotta let that all go and that’s what it’s all about” !??!” What the hell kinda game is this yoga anyway!” At least tell me there’s checking or tackling!!! Nope…well, checking into your true self, and maybe tackling things you were too afraid to ever admit to yourself before!
Many students of yoga, especially the males whom I know, are distance runners. This was the reason I joined many years ago. The marathon training had taken its toll on my body and I was looking for relief . Running is most often a competition of you against your best time, always seeking to shave some off. Yoga is about continual growth but on a more spiritual plane and this may in fact scare some guys off.
I have never been a fan of “genderizing” yoga. Yoga is yoga. It’s your practice and it should not matter who is on the mat next to you. This was until I subbed in for a "Men Only" class one evening. There was a vibe in that room (and no it wasn’t from chain farting with high fives for the loudest or longest, much to my disappointment). This group of big macho guys were soaking up the mat, both externally and internally. I think there was safety in that room for them. And maybe, at that moment I appreciated and understood why there were female only sections in local gyms and why there were male only yoga classes. It brought yoga to them and that is all that matters. It may partially be that they felt less need to compete in the absence of women. There I said it….I think one of the reasons men don’t attend yoga as much is because the women in the room may be folding way more forward, planking longer and kicking the men’s asanas! And I think some guys may struggle with accepting that well. They want to make sure they are “performing” well for all to see and the fact that the females might be a bit further along in their practice, men may find challenging.
I think another reason they don’t share space as much, is that they may feel it is just stretching with limited benefit. Not so. There are tons of benefits for men. It is no small surprise that many of the Masters of Ashtanga, are gurus who have all lived past or are approaching 100 years of age. I know few former pro athletes that can claim such a thing. There has never been a known medical benefit to large bicep, but think of Krishnamacharya, Devi and Jois and many others who have gone before us. Can you argue with the benefits of a yogic life and how it can increase our longevity?
Western yoga tends to be a female focused “industry” with a male yogi featured on the cover of Yoga Journal about once every eight years. What a shame we haven’t more guys benefiting. I think it’s time we step up and get on the mat. We have to get the word out! Not only is yoga for everybody…it is especially for men, who need that ability to understand and process their energies toward the equally important goals of wisdom, equanimity and compassion. Cultivating and growing a strong practice both on and off the mat, takes commitment and for some guys, a lot of courage. So when you or your guy is ready to grow a set, we will be waiting, to welcome and encourage him. We might even give him a welcoming hug, you know a big, back slapping, manly hug! See you soon!
Namaste Brothers and Sisters!
PS: To read this and my other yoga blogs, please visit my Yoga Photography Website at www.currieyogagraphy.ca and choose the “Blog” tab.
PSS: I would love to know your thoughts on what may help more men share space. Why do you feel men are not as involved as they once were. Give us the scoop