Over the past couple of weeks I have had two very funny conversations about men and yoga. In the year since I opened Newmarket Mills Yoga I have wondered how to make classes more accessible to men. Obviously they reap the same benefits but for some reason do not make up as much of the population of yoga students. I have thought about different marketing strategies, or perhaps having "men only" classes. I have recently learned that the biggest obstacle for many guys may simply be nervousness about what to wear to class and how to keep things in their proper place.
The first conversation was with my chiropractor, Mike, and he mentioned that whenever he recommends yoga to his male patients they ask what they are supposed to wear. There are entire catalogs devoted to women's sports bras and keeping "the girls" in place. We have so many options to *ahem* support us. As Mike said, "Men fear the possibility of something falling out, twisting uncomfortably or showing up where it shouldn't, in a room mostly full of women. It's like junior high all over again." I can definitely see how that would be an obstacle.
The second conversation took place over Thanksgiving dinner among my husband's family. The fact that we spent about 20 minutes of Thanksgiving dinner talking about yoga would not have even been conceivable among this group of men ten years ago. However, one brother, J, started practicing as a result of a back injury and then another brother, S, has jumped into a Beginners program and has been going 2 - 3 times a week for the past few months. He feels and looks better than he has in years. So the conversation naturally turned to how to dress for comfort, mobility and how to protect from embarrassment. J said he hasn't figure it out yet, he wears sweatpants with loose ankles that slip down toward his ankles when he has any leg up in the air poses and finds it really distracting. He also said that bulkier sweatpants are too hot and tend to get in the way of some poses. S received birthday gifts of compression shorts which he wears under regular athletic shorts, and he is comfortable that everything is staying where it should, so he can focus on the class. This is a very suitable solution and it is easy to find these at any athletic store.
I did a little online research (it being Black Friday!) There are some great options for men's yoga wear which in no way resemble women's LuluLemon yoga pants. Prana carries a number of good looking options which have the benefit of not being called yoga pants - they have great names like Momentum and Mojo. They are also good for other activities, mainly climbing - which sounds super cool even to people who don't "get" yoga.
Here are a couple of links to check out:
So guys, please head on down to your local sports shop or choose from some of these online options to gear up and begin your practice in time for the New Year. And ladies - these make great holiday gifts to help encourage your guy to get down on the mat with you.