The number of men practising yoga is growing. According to the 2016 Yoga in America Study by Yoga Journal and the Yoga Alliance, of those practising yoga in America, 28 percent are men. Though that may not sound very high, it’s up significantly from the mere 17.8 percentage of men identified in the 2012 edition of the same study. But while the male yoga population is slowly growing, some feel yoga still isn’t very accessible to men.
Bradley Lyon founded Men’s Yoga Community in Washington DC in November 2016 to address this issue. The community hosts regular all-men yoga classes around DC, some of which are taught by Lyon, to create a safe space and raise awareness for men who want to practise yoga.
Lyon claims many men are intimidated by hyper-flexible women, and put off attending class for fear of not being ‘good enough’ at yoga, according to a popularised image of yoga as an activity for bendy females.
“When you are seeing a female demonstrating the full expression of the posture…it’s not necessarily helping someone else who has less flexibility,” says Lyon, who aims to give men “an easy access point rather than reinforcing intimidation.”
Yassir Islam, a member of Men’s Yoga Community, says that while he has no problem practising yoga in any setting, he understands the fear factor.
“Some guys feel intimidated getting into yoga,” says Islam. “It’s mostly women who practice it in the U.S. and it’s not always seen as ‘manly’ by some. So having a Men’s Yoga Community provides a space for guys to explore and enjoy the benefits of yoga.”
The classes are designed to bring in more moves that emphasize upper body strength as well as emphasising holistic wellbeing, with the community also offering nutrition, meditation and breathing training. The age range of men in the community is wide, with the emphasis on forming a community of male yogis of all ages.
So are women welcome? Lyon says that he has had a woman instructor lead one of the the community events and she was well received. But the classes are aimed at men.“There is still a need for men to come together and to be really able to express themselves in a safe place,” says Lyon. “I think doing that with just men is important.”
Read the full story at The Washingtonian.