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yoga for men

Why don’t more men practice yoga?

It is slowly changing but most yoga classes are still 80% female. But why? There are many reasons, the one I’d like to focus on first is pain.

Physical pain. I believe Yoga is the gateway to our problems, but it does not necessarily solve our problems. It brings to light what we need to work on.

So, in a world where men say ‘I’m good’ or ‘I’m fine’ when we and we are not, Yoga can be very confronting. 

I’ve asked different men why they don’t practice yoga and I’ll share their stories in upcoming blogs but to begin with, I’ll start exploring this subject from my own experience. 

I arrived on the mat seven years ago, physically broken. I came because my injuries were impacting my work and my life.

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I’d taken too many drugs, fallen down some concrete stairs, and continued to party for another 48 hours. Got the 6 am mega bus from Manchester back down to London just in time for an eight-hour shift at a supermarket. It was my job to replenish the water aisle.

I went to lift a heavy pack of water and I felt my back rip. My body had had enough. I couldn’t lift anything heavy for some time and worryingly the only time my back didn’t hurt was when I took tramadol or got drunk and high.  

I tried physio and other treatments, but people kept telling me ‘You should try yoga’. A visceral aversion flared up within me. I’m not doing the same hippy shit my mum does.

The hippy stigma is a big one that deserves its own blog so alas back to the physical pain. Once I gave ‘Yoga with Adrienne’ things started to change. She gets a lot of stick in the yoga world, but I think she’s incredible, she’s made yoga accessible and fun. So slowly my pain started to diminish. Nothing major but it was helping. 

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Then I went to my first yoga class and realized I had been doing everything wrong. The physical pain was so strong. I was completely out of alignment, and I was compensating in ways that could worsen my injuries. In a room full of 30 women, what washed over me was shame.

I felt useless and pathetic. In the end, as I lay in a pool of my own sweat, it became so clear that I had not taken care of my body and I believed everyone in the room was better than me. Stories ignited in my mind ‘It’s too painful’ ‘This isn’t right’ ‘I don’t belong here’ ‘I can’t get anything right’ ‘I’m a piece of shit’ I wanted to run away. And almost did. 

What happened during that Savasana is the same thing many other male friends and clients have told me – “my mind goes crazy”.

The physical pain had brought to light what was really going on. The emotional pain. 

That’s why yoga is the gateway. It’s the bridge that helps us realize it’s all connected. And that can be scary. Seeing into that window of our thoughts and feelings. Not turning away when we feel discomfort. 

I thought I was a physical mess but turns out I was an emotional mess as well. Yoga was the first step to dealing with my emotions. So, this is one reason why men don’t do yoga. They don’t want to take that first step but I’m so glad I did. Thanks for reading and keep practicing.

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