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Men’s Yoga – it’s not for girls

Just like a Yorkie bar, it turns out that Yoga was also originally conceived for men. It is only in more recent times that it has been perceived as a feminine activity, but at its inception, yoga was predominantly a male practice. Yoga was slowly defined through The Vedas – a collection of texts containing the mantras and rituals used by the Brahmans, the Vedic priests in India, over 5000 years ago. Conflicting ideas beliefs and techniques mingled over time and in the second century were re-defined by Patanjali and the Pantanjali Yoga-Sutras evolved as the first systematic presentation of yoga. His Yoga-Sutras still strongly influence most modern yoga techniques today.

In the West however, yoga was adopted relatively late in comparison with the East, but it was still a male oriented practice. It was first introduced by Swami Vivekananda during a landmark speech to the Parliament of World’s Religions at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. His message – that all religions are valid and can co-exist harmoniously – was well received and his successful US tour introduced the concept of yoga to America and from there the idea began to spread…

Yoga in its more modern form was championed by men such as Vishnu-Devananda – who was the founder of the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres and Ashrams and established the Sivananda Yoga Teachers’ Training Course, one of the first yoga teacher training programs in the West. His alignment with The Beatle’s during the height of Beatle-mania in the 1960’s gave his teachings amajor boost in popularity. Vishnu met the Fab Four in the Bahamas while they were filming Help!

Following this, George Harrison was inspired to study sitar in Bombay, where he discovered Transcendental Meditation via the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and profoundly influenced the music on The White Album and The Beatles could lay claim to being partly responsible for yoga’s popularity in the West where it’s male domination began to shift as yoga was adopted mainly by women who had the time and means to pursue self-care. As such companies began marketing to women, which perpetuated the idea of yoga as more of a lifestyle than a discipline and not a masculine practice at all.

However today, with the likes of Katie Rose’s ‘Broga Yoga’ classes, we are seeing a welcome resurgence of men coming back to the mat and at Ikigai we are supporting this movement with our own male focused yoga classes. There are huge physical and mental health benefits for men who regularly practice yoga;

Yoga cultivates strength and flexibility, lung capacity, muscle tone and supports a dynamic range of movement resulting in greater performance and endurance, enhanced injury prevention and boosts energy and the immune and metabolic systems. Yoga is also hugely beneficial for stress reduction and emotional well-being. The breathing control and meditation required in yoga poses cultivates mindfulness, improves mental clarity and reduces sensory overload which helps relax the mind and stabilise the autonomic nervous system, resulting in a faster activation of the body’s relaxation responses, which builds greater resilience to stressors in everyday life.

A holistic practice which exercises and strengths the mind, body and spirit – Yoga is not competitive, but it is a challenge with one’s self and it can be very physically demanding. So if you’ve been thinking about giving it a go try one of our Men’s Yoga classes on Tuesday evenings from 6:30pm – 7:30pm. You are of course welcome at any of our classes but the Men’s Yoga class is specifically tailored to the male physique and is a men only class.

Wear clothes that are comfortable, easy to move in (stretchable / lightweight) and sweat absorbent / moisture wicking and loose, but not too loose (you don’t want a t-shirt that falls in your face when you bend over!). It is a work-out and while we can’t guarantee you’ll come out looking like him (see handsome yogi pic above), we do promise you will leave feeling calmer in mind, stronger in body and lifted in spirit. So join the growing revolution and come along and give it a go…