The Rise of Men Doing Yoga

The Rise of The Brogi

I thought it was just a coincidence that last week that, for the first time ever, I had more men in my yoga class than women. Just a one-off, I thought. The strange thing was that they were all different ages, shapes, sizes and fitness levels, so I couldn’t put my finger on why this had happened.

Then this weekend, I was alerted to a feature in a national newspaper on this very subject, with the following headline, “Why Real Men Are Doing Yoga”. The term “brogi” has been coined to describe the new tribe of “brothers doing yoga”. My Dad, bless him, thought they were talking about comfy shoes.

Apparently, there’s a quiet revolution going on in the gym world too, and yoga has become the “macho” choice. Personally, I think that it has become the smart choice, with more and more sportspeople turning to yoga to improve their game, and as we become more educated about the benefits for body and mind.

I love it when people come along thinking it’s just all stretching and relaxing, only to discover it’s a full body workout as well. There is as much strength involved as flexibility, and this is perhaps why this feature focused on the muscles gained.

My worry is that it’s kind of missing the point. “It’s not about what it looks like, it’s about what it feels like”, I say in my classes. It’s about being healthy from within, the aesthetic improvements are just a by-product.

I also worry that it’s the kind of statement that sounds like an advert for a chunky chocolate bar. “Real Men Do Yoga”. What is that saying about those who don’t do yoga? It reminds me of those posts that go around social media with statements like “Real Women Have Curves”. What about those who weren’t blessed with the perfect hourglass or an ample bust? Does that make you less of a woman?

What are these messages saying? We don’t need to be under any more pressure to do more, and although I think the more people that do yoga, the better, I think that people need to find their own reasons for doing it, reasons that help them on the path to health and happiness, and if it’s not for them, then that’s still ok.

I’m a great believer that if it works for you, then do it, and always give it a try to find out. A lot depends on the teacher so shop around and see whose approach you resonate with, and be clear on what you want to achieve.

My “brogis” are all quite diverse. I have the young sportsmen who want to have a long career like Ryan Giggs and improve their flexibility, quite a few with niggling back problems, some on more of a spiritual mission, those seeking an antidote to the stress of modern living, and some wanting to maintain their physical condition going into their later years.

I’ve even got my fellow columnist and fitness guru Graham coming along tonight, that should be fun!

But one thing I haven’t seen yet is the “macho” man depicted in the feature, seeking the big muscles and perfect yoga body for selfies. Maybe it’s because I don’t work in gyms anymore, maybe it’s because we’re in Devon, and we’re a bit different here. Or maybe it’s because the brogi is actually no different to any other yogi. Or any more or less “real” than any man not doing yoga.


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