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More Men Embracing Challenge and Flexibility through Yoga

April 26, 2011
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Image via montrealgazette.com.

The standard gender ratio in yoga classes has always been around three ladies to every one man. But that stat seems to be changing, as men increasingly are incorporating yoga into their workouts in order to build core strength and flexibility.

A recent article in the Montreal Gazette addressed the idea that, in Western cultures, yoga has typically appealed to female audiences due to marketing and the perception that it’s a practice suited  for more flexible bodies. But in recent years, more men are understanding how yoga practice can provide balance to their workout routines.

From montrealgazette.com:

“Yoga classes break down to about 75 per cent women and 25 per cent men, that’s the standard statistic,” [yoga instructor Yasmin] Fudakowska-Gow said. “But I’ve definitely noticed a change in recent years; now I often teach classes that are half men, half women.”

Moreover, upwards of two thirds of her private clients are men.

“My speculation is that maybe they were shy to come to a class, or they have back or body issues that need to be targeted and addressed specifically, which can be hard to do in a big class,” Fudakowska-Gow said

The yoga expert attributes the increase in male participation to a growing understanding of its benefits.

“I think men are starting to realize that as they get older, it’s extremely important to maintain flexibility and strength,” Fudakowska-Gow said. “It’s necessary to prevent injuries, and that’s true for athletes, former athletes and people with desk jobs alike.”

In addition to improving strength and elasticity, yoga is also believed to enhance stability, concentration and relaxation; all things that benefit both sexes.

But men often approach the activity with the preconceived notion that it isn’t competitive enough, said Fudakowska-Gow.

“I think one thing that deterred men from doing yoga in the past was the stigma that it’s easy,” she added. “But as people are discovering, that’s simply not true, it’s quite challenging.”

Bruce Chase-Dunn, a 51-year-old contractor, has been practicing yoga at [Fudakowska-Gow’s studio] OM West Holistic Centre regularly for over a year.

“I wanted to fit it in on days where I wasn’t doing gym work, but I quickly realized that it’s very challenging and is a workout in itself,” said Chase-Dunn. “I think men don’t embrace yoga as openly as women do, but the benefits are huge.”

There are many reasons why yoga has become female dominated in recent history.

“I think it’s because yoga is an activity women can do without an enormous amount of strain and it’s associated with lean toning as opposed to bulking up,” Fudakowska-Gow said.

Another explanation is how the activity is marketed, she added.

“It’s shown as gentle and relaxing, and is often advertised with things like flowers and peaceful music, which tends to appeal more to a female clientele,” Fudakowska-Gow explained. “The impact marketing has had on it is incredible.”

Morales noted that at Club Mansfield, for instance, more men attend the Power Yoga class as opposed to the Ashtanga Yoga class.

“It’s the same type of exercises, but having Power in the name is more attractive to men,” he said. “It’s interesting.”

But as people become more educated about yoga and other exercise classes, both Morales and Fudakowska-Gow say they expect to see the number of men in their classes continue to increase.

“I think it’s really exciting that men are realizing what yoga can do for their bodies and their well being,” she said.

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