“How to Get Your Guy into Yoga” That’s the big question. But let me tell you, I’m tired of seeing people try and “convert” men to do a form of yoga that men are uncomfortable with. There’s yoga for men and yoga for women. And I’m not being sexist here, we’re built differently and different styles focus on different parts of the body. I really encourage you to share this article so that we can help the yoga community understand what’s going on.
Why You Should Stop Trying to Get Your BF to Do Yoga
Seriously. Stop trying to make more men do yoga. Guys really don’t like their girlfriends telling them to come to yoga with them. It’s emasculating, and even if they grudgingly go, they’ll probably stop going once the relationship is over. To your credit, your argument for why men should do yoga is spot on.
It is a completely rational argument. Better sex? Great. Feel better? Cool. Less stress? Sounds awesome, sign me up! So why aren’t more men doing yoga?
Here are the two reasons why more men don’t do yoga, from a guy whose job it is to make more men do yoga:
1) Guys do not feel comfortable in yoga studios.
2) They believe that yoga does not give them the appearance they desire.
The Average Man & Yoga
Here is your typical male, Joe.
My name is Joe. I go the gym three times a week. I enjoy weight training, and I enjoy doing cardio. I have heard that flexibility is great for you, and I know that yoga is supposed to be good for it because I read that one article in Men’s Fitness on how it helps you increase flexibility and reduce stress.
Apparently it’s a really good workout, too! But I don’t want to try something that I’m potentially not good at it in front of other people – especially a class made up of a female majority! I don’t want to be embarrassed. Plus, I’m not really into the namaste thing. I like the way I live my life, and I don’t want to be lectured on opening up my feelings, meditating, or any of that other weird Buddhist stuff when I’m just trying to get a workout to help my flexibility.
That’s what a yoga class is anyways, right? Stretching? I don’t know. Maybe I’ll just stretch after I lift, I’m sure it’s just as effective. And anyways, I’ve seen the guys who do yoga. They’re really skinny, and that’s not what I want to look like.
THIS is your typical guy. Now how do you get Joe to do yoga?
The Solution: Getting Your Guy to Do Yoga
That’s the million-dollar question. Fortunately for you, I actually have an answer. Recall Joe. Now forget everything that Joe said, except for the last part. Yeah, the part about guys they see that do yoga, and how they don’t want to look like them.
You know how I was saying before that a rational argument doesn’t work? Try adding some photos to that argument. Try evoking emotions such as desire, envy, or inspiration. Make the decision to do yoga an emotional decision instead of a rational one.
Instead of putting a photo of a guy in white linen pants on a mountain doing yoga, put up a picture of a guy who looks like a professional football player with a chiseled chest, a six-pack, and prison arms striking a Virabhadrasana 2 in the middle of the dumbbell section of his gym.
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Why The Solution Works
Given the above statement, have you figured out yet why Joe won’t do yoga? It’s because he wants to look like the guy who is repping out 225 on the bench press (that’s two big weights on either side of the bar, for you non-lifters), who has the six-pack, defined abs, and who has the arms that they believe women fantasize over.
MEN WORK OUT BECAUSE THEY LIKE TO LOOK GOOD.
They want to feel good. They want to feel confident. Sure, they enjoy the feeling of satisfaction they get after a workout, but would they do it if it made them look unattractive? No! We live in a vain society, and no amount of yoga is going to change that. Even though yoga fosters a culture of non-judgment, no day soon will that aspect of yoga transcend to mainstream culture.
We exist in a culture that, first and foremost, makes judgments based on appearance. And as long as that is reality, men will continue to explore physical fitness firstly as a way to make themselves look and feel good.
Joe will always view yoga primarily as a form of physical fitness. His whole life he has viewed fitness primarily as a way to stay in good shape, so that he can be attractive and have confidence, be healthy, and be happy. Unless Joe approaches yoga himself as the result of a decision to significantly change his life, yoga will never be for him what it is for you.
So what do you do? Do you change the yoga industry? Sounds like a silly question, of course we’re not going to cha-
Yoga That’s Meant for Men
Let me cut you off right there. Yes. You need to change the yoga industry. You need to make yoga a service that caters to individuals. You need to make yoga into something so that Joe can walk into a yoga studio and say, “Hey, yeah this feels good. This reminds me of the gym that I work out at”, instead of “What in the world is that weird looking god with all those arms?”
Back to my original statement, the namesake of this article. Instead of saying “stop trying to make men do yoga”, I should alter that to say “stop trying to make men do YOUR yoga”. You want more men to do yoga because you want to increase the population of the yoga community. (Whether or not that is for higher attendance and more profits or for the joy of teaching a larger audience is irrelevant.) The benefit of a community is that it connects like-minded people.
Considering this fact, if your goal is to grow your community, why would you want somebody in it who doesn’t belong? If Joe thinks about yoga in a completely different way than you do, do you really want him doing yoga with you? Will you be happy when Joe turns out to be the psycho that leaves during savasana? If your goal is to simply get more men into the yoga studio because you want larger numbers for more income, than I think you have some reevaluating to do.
CARE about Joe. Think about what Joe wants when he considers walking into the yoga studio, and not what YOU want. Don’t try and change his ways because you think it best for him. Joe is a 45 year-old lawyer with three kids who can make his own decisions. The best that you can do is give him an honest presentation of your brand of yoga. If Joe likes it, and it’s a good fit, then that’s fantastic. But if it’s not, and it isn’t something that he feels comfortable doing, don’t force him to do something that doesn’t align his lifestyle.
Don’t make men do yoga. Make men want to do yoga by appealing to their interests and their preferences. If you can’t, move on.
About the author, Dean Pohlman, Founder & CEO of Man Flow Yoga, Author of Yoga Fitness for Men, Expert on Yoga Fitness for Men.
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7 thoughts on “How to Get Your Guy into Yoga?”
Great article Dean! What you’re doing with Man Flow Yoga seems to be a start to changing the yoga industry and the way people think about yoga. Awesome stuff, sharing with my older brother who has an interest in yoga but has been a seasoned athlete and basketball player with his own workout and lifting routine.
Excellent article, Dean. It’s also interesting to note that back in the day, men were the only ones who did yoga so we’re talking about our current culture and its drum beat. When we change a cultural mind-set issues like this become mute. Yoga also asks us to get past our bias and prejudice or any ideas that are limiting like what it means to be fit and attractive. Yoga is also getting past name and form. It’s a fascinating topic and our culture certainly has some very contracted viewpoints.
I WANT to enjoy yoga. Really. I’ve gone to more than a handful of places hoping that one of them would be a good fit. It still hasn’t happened. There’s a “top rated” yoga studio at the end of my street. I went once and got in a good bit of stretching, but seriously almost fell asleep. I completely, 100%, absolutely agree with what you said. I feel like yoga would be a good start to getting into better shape. I’m so inflexible that I run a higher risk of injury while working out.
Well until there is a MFY studio in every city, you can at least use the videos to learn the basics and establish a practice. Cheers!
I’m going to have to disagree with the two previous comments and say I kind of think this is a giant load of malarky. I totally disagree that you should “change” what you’re doing as a teacher to cater to Joe. Market to him in a different way…great. But if Joe doesn’t like my heart centered yoga and wants something to suit his type A personality then recommend that he find a heated, power vinyassa class or go hang out with the Bikram peeps. Why should I change what’s in my soul just to fit Joe?
On top of that when you say, “Joe will always view yoga primarily as a form of physical fitness,” is also total malarky. My first yoga class was mid-stream in my training to run Tough Mudder. I bought a Groupon and decided to “give it a try.” Two months later I found myself saying, “this stuff is actually making me feel better on the inside so I’m going to stop using it as a fitness tool and reap the benefits of a more spiritual practice.” If everyone starts catering to type A Joe then where does he go when he screws up his back doing dead lifts and needs a restorative practice or when he does want to go a little deeper and can’t find anyone who actually does chant in Sanskrit and worship Shakti?
Lastly, why on earth should a yoga studio look and feel like a gym? If Joe wants that then tell him to go to a yoga class AT HIM GYM…there’s plenty to choose from? I think you’ve totally got it backwards. Yes, the yoga industry does need to change. It needs to stop solely emphasizing an image based asana practice and recognize that that the yamas, niyams, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana and samadhi can also be part of your practice. Start teaching Yoga rather than yoga…if you teach it they will come.
1) Who says that yoga for fitness wouldn’t fix your back? That would be the point. Do you need to have a class with esoteric aspects in order to heal a physical injury? What is rehab, after all?
2) Why would Joe ever want to go to a class to chant in Sanskrit? Joe doesn’t want to chant. Joe wants to be in shape and continue to live his life they way he wants to live it.
3) Man Flow Yoga promotes yoga for fitness. That’s why it should feel like a gym.
1) Me…I’ve tried every kind of type A, pita yoga I could find to fix my back (post Crossfit injury). A restorative practice was the only thing that worked. And restorative doesn’t have to be esoteric or filled with chanting, it’s just a much gentler practice that I would have never experienced had I not opened myself up to more possibilities than those that exist purely in a gym setting.
2) I was Joe…then my practice evolved. Joe doesn’t know what he wants until he wants it but if teachers purposely withhold 3,000 years of practice all in an effort to make the guys in the class feel comfortable they’re doing Joe a disservice.
3) I think this site is amazing, and introducing men to yoga through a purely physical practice is a great way to entice more to practice. I just disagree with the tenor of your post suggesting that 3,000 years (or 8,000 depending on which scholar you’re reading) of tradition should change so Joe feels like he belongs. Joe needs to find his own path but it’s not the teacher’s job to tell him which direction to walk. Present “your” path and let Joe choose.