I have practiced yoga since 1980 and started teaching in 1994. In those years the majority of my students were women. Men have come late to yoga, not because of disinterest but because it was considered a feminine practice. Men did not want to be considered girly or incapable of doing more rigorous exercise. That is changing, particularly for older men. Men who are now in their 50's and 60's would never have considered going into a yoga class 20 years ago. Today they are comfortable participating in a yoga class, especially if they are with their peers.
I teach at the Harvard Club in Boston and the majority of my students are men in their 50's and 60's and 70's who seek a more balanced approach to their workouts and life. I had taught at the Harvard Club in the 1990s when my students were all women. It was and is a club designed for men with an Ivy League education. Competition was the basis for their exercise experience, but that is slowly changing. While they still compete on the racket ball court, when they come into my yoga class they are open to being receptive. Embracing this receptivity is key in the transformation that is taking place. This shift in awareness has created an openness for men to embrace their feminine energy and access and embrace their limitations.
Men who have played racket ball, lifted weights, and used the treadmill all their lives are taking my class on a consistent basis. Many struggle with flexibility and joint issues, but they are there to also receive the mental and emotion benefits of yoga. After years of pounding their joints and linear movement, many men have found they need to breathe and stretch to allow more energy to flow through their body to live a healthier life. They have found their workout routine limiting and are seeking (whether they know it or not) more depth and balance in their approach to health and fitness.
Yoga is no longer a gender specific practice. Younger men practice in yoga studios along side women who are more flexible and demonstrate tremendous strength. They are stepping out of old paradigms of masculinity and are reaping the benefits of yoga. In the 1980s and 1990s there were many blocks for men who wanted to practice yoga. There were very few male teachers and if a man entered a class, he would most likely be the only man there, and would probably not return to class. So, outdated standards have slowly disappeared and a new paradigm is forming. This change is bringing young and older men into yoga that is increasing the health and wellness of our population.
Carmela Cattuti is a long time yogi, painter, and writer. She has taught in many venues and every age group. She is interested in helping yogis achieve a sustainable practice that leads to vibrant health and longevity. She specializes in private sessions and also works via skypes.Visit her website www.ccattuticreative.com. She does FREE trainings in her facebook page www.facebook.com/carmelacattuticreative.