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Monday, February 1, 2010

Yoga Myth #7: "Real Men Don't Do Yoga"

I couldn't really do this blog series without addressing this Western phenomenon of yoga. Somewhere along the way our culture became biased towards women practicing yoga. This is a bit ironic given how the practice evolved in the East. It was first and foremost a spiritual discipline in a patriarchal society. That said, the original yoga practitioners, the Nathas, did not exclude any sincere seeker from the initiation. Where did this shift happen?

Perhaps because it was because the classes were reminiscent of group fitness classes that were already dominated by women. Maybe women really are more receptive to a practice that serves to catapult us past the ego and into a space of unconditionality. Women, with their gift of motherhood seem to be more able to let go of their own selfish pursuits in favor of the child. this spirit of selflessness invariably comes into play along the path of yoga.

Regardless of the reason, the practice is in no way more suitable for women and less suitable for men. After teaching yoga for over a decade it is amazing how decisive many patterns are in the behaviors of students. The men come into the class extremely tense with bodies stuck in place like the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz. They look around them at what the others in the class are doing and they grit their teeth and try to go deeper and push harder. They are so often resistant to instruction because they are stuck in the "No Pain No Gain" mentality. Often that is the last I see of them....They probably leave feeling defeated and wake up feeling sore though they "have not done anything". Many men (and women) also look at the relaxation as a waste of time. C'mon guys, time to get real!

Yoga is a martial art that prepares one for the battle of their life...the battle with the ego. Perhaps men are more resistant to addressing and embracing this enemy. So, in lieu of men suddenly getting over themselves and embracing the grace and power of yoga, it will be up to the women to share what they are learning in bite-sized nuggets with their other half.


Yogi Jayanta


  1. Great post. We need more men like you in the world to help men create this balance in their lives!

  2. Namaste Jayanta! The technological dinosaur has awoken and wants to express itself, and to react to your great posts :-)

    Well, it is true that the Soul has no gender and that when immersed in the Formless, these petty gender distinctions seem far away and irrelevant. But in the world of Form, masculine and feminine is one of the main duality. The main? And (feminists won't like what I say next, I know my beloved wife doesn't), women are so much more powerful, spiritually, than men. And it is not only that their connection with the Spirit and the moment is naturally much stronger, it is that reaching liberation for men necessarily implies becoming a woman, energy wise. (No such necessity for women). Says the Tao Te King: "Know the male, yet keep to the female: receive the world in your arms. If you receive the world, the Tao will never leave you and you will be like a little child" (28).

    So to me, men's lower involvement in spiritual practices is a natural sign of their spiritual immaturity. Devotion to the women of our lives, mother, wife, sisters, daughter, is the only way...

    Yann Hanumanji