I mentioned to Maile the other day that I think yoga might be one of the most misunderstood things I'm aware of. I feel like I can speak with some small amount of authority on this because I never used to do yoga for many of the same reasons I hear now from my male counterparts, and because I now have a regular yoga practice. While I suppose I'm still a relative newbie at it all, I at least have some sense of what it's about.
The most common misconceptions I hear about yoga, and that I used to have too, are:
1) It's easy
2) It's basically a bunch of stretching
3) It's 'girly'
4) It's not a good enough workout
I'm a little ashamed to admit that I think a big part of the reason for these perceptions is singularly and solely because Yoga does indeed draw in more women than men. And because of that reality, the aforementioned perceptions persist. And because of those perceptions among men, they continue to stay out of the studio. And so the cycle goes 'round and 'round.
But I think I understand what's happening here and maybe I can clarify a few things for men as it relates to yoga.
First, yoga is an amazing workout. It's hard. You get sweaty. You lose your breath. Your heart rate increases. The reason yoga draws so many women is not because it's easy.
It's because it's holistic.
Most people are aware of the differences between men and women as it relates to the laws of attraction for example. If you ask a man what body part he finds most attractive, very often you'll get an immediate response.
But for a lot of women, it might be difficult to narrow down attraction in this way. It might have more to do with someone's overall stature and a combination of many things. The body may be one component of course, but that alone likely wouldn't be enough.
I think it's the same thing with yoga.
The women I know that do yoga are drawn to yoga not because it's easy and is just a little stretching. It's that the holistic nature of yoga nourishes you in numerous ways, not just the physical. Likewise, you won't find yourself in a yoga class, looking in a mirror, focusing on how to make your left bicep a little bigger or your abs more ripped.
Yoga is more than that.
To men who might be considering a yoga practice, I'd encourage you to drop any preconceptions and just give it a try. What I can tell you is that you get all the benefits you might be used to from a 'normal' workout, but with the additional mental and emotional nourishment we're often afraid to seek.