Why Don’t More Men Do Yoga?

Male Yoga Participants at Sunrise Yoga, Clemmons

Larry Schonhofen (back) and Toby Gordon (front) practicing yoga at Sunrise Yoga Studio.

If you are male and reading this, you’ve either asked yourself the same question or you at least have an opinion on why more men don’t do yoga.  According to the 2012 Yoga in America study, 82.2% of yoga practitioners in the United States are women and that number is up from the same study of 2008.  And, though the top five reasons for starting yoga were: flexibility (78.3 percent), general conditioning (62.2 percent), stress relief (59.6 percent), improve overall health (58.5 percent) and physical fitness (55.1 percent), benefits appropriate for both genders, men are less likely to think of starting yoga for these benefits.

A recent article in the Washington Post by Eric Niiler cited several misconceptions men hold when it comes to yoga.  The lack of flexibility is commonly mentioned but Adrian Hummel, a male Bikram yoga instructor in Bethesda, MD, responds, “It’s almost a joke when guys say, ‘I don’t think I should do yoga because I’m not flexible.  It’s like saying, ‘I’m too weak, so I can’t lift weights.’ ”  Other myths, according to the article include “yoga isn’t a decent workout; it’s too touchy-feely; you have to be flexible to do it; men’s bodies just aren’t built for pretzellike  poses.”

Loren Fishman, MD, a frequent prescriber of yoga for a variety of ills and a practitioner of yoga since the 1970’s, notes, “When it came to the United States, yoga became a sort of gentle gym, a noncompetitive, non-confrontational thing that’s good for you. Yoga has this distinctive passive air to it. You get into the pose and stay there.”  But many athletes have learned that practicing yoga regularly helps them avoid injuries and frequently cite its benefits.

So, what’s your take?  Read the full Washington Post article HERE and let us know what you think.