Despite the fact that yoga was first developed in India by men, for men, here in the United States, its long been viewed as a "chick thing." That's changing-fast. "When I first started teaching, classes were all women," says New York City-based Sadie Nardini, yoga teacher and alternative wellness expert. "The only guys around were the ones waiting for their girlfriends to come out of class. Now, its almost 50% men."
And if the word yoga still seems too wimpy, now there is a style, and studio, geared specifically toward men, called "Broga." Co-founder and head teacher Robert Sidoti tells Shine, "I was seeing a lot of male friends and family in their mid-30s suffering and not knowing what do about it." He describes guys being worn down by stress and back pain and aging more quickly than they should be. He started creating a series of poses that would be geared towards men's bodies and strengths.
Sidoti co-founded Broga with Adam O'Neill. O'Neill's mother is a yoga teacher but he hadn't tried it himself until he was laid up with sports-induced sciatica in his mid-twenties. They say the name Broga sets the tone right away and lets men know that their classes will be accessible and that they don't take themselves too seriously. They have also designed the studio with men in mind. "Its not a man cave," jokes O'Neill, "but we did use neutral colors." As for women, they are welcome to join in. "Its less of a scene," says Sidoti. "They come it their sweat pants and just do their thing."
You may not hear much Sanskrit chanting in a Broga class but you will be rocking out your asanas (yoga postures) to the music of bands like Iron and Wine, Awolnation, and Bon Iver. Sidoti says the tone of his instruction is, "more like a buddy giving you pointers" than a traditional yoga class. The sessions mix it up with some core strengthening and cardio to appeal to men wanting to get a satisfying work out along "with all the side benefits of yoga," says Sidoti.
For now, Broga is only offered in Somerville and Martha's Vineyard Massachusetts. Sardini advises men who want to try yoga to check out a Vinyasa or Power Yoga class which are faster paced forms. Some men are reluctant to go to yoga because they don't want to make fools of themselves, especially in front of a bunch of women. Nardini promises that while women tend to be more flexible, men excel in asanas that require balance and strength and can show off with an awesome crow pose.
We all know that some dudes aren't self-conscious about anything and for those proud peacocks, there are special classes as well. Brooklyn's Naked Space offers a weekly nude yoga session for men only at a secret location. "Naked Yoga is a catchy name, but that has nothing to with Broga," says O'Neill.
Whatever type of class you take, always start at the beginner level. Yoga is challenging, and as with any form of exercise, can lead to injuries if done improperly. With a little Internet detective work, you can find yoga classes geared toward men in most major cities. Sidoti and O'Neill are currently developing online classes, a DVD, and a teacher training program to spread their message of Broga.
Also on Shine: