Some people like to “hit” the gym, to “pump” iron for those “ripped” abs. See a theme, there?
Yoga, on the other hand, is all about movement and breath.
Fair or not, yoga has a reputation, in some circles, as an exercise for women.
Jessica Read acknowledges this thinking, and then goes back to her life in the real world.
She has taught yoga for 1,000 hours over eight years and has been the owner/operator of Breath of Life for the last two and a half years.
Many of her clients are men. Indeed, she was approached by a group of men, seven years ago, to teach them yoga. They had children at home and wanted to exercise after they were in bed.
Each was already active with skiing, hiking, running, and canoeing. But they needed the flexibility and breathing control yoga would give them.
It is interesting to note that, one year later, “broga” (yoga designed for men) became a thing in North America.
Today, Read has opened the class to any man who wants to join. She warns them, however: “This is not a beginner’s class.”
Typically, there are 12 to 17 men in the Monday night classes, that she now calls “broga”. Ages range from 30 to 45.
Now, to discuss yoga plus men, stereotypes must be addressed since they are as often wrong as they are right.
First, the biggie: Yoga is an exercise just for the ladies. “That’s entertaining,” says Read, “because, in India, it is a man’s exercise. “Of the famous yoga teachers, only two are women. “In California, where yoga has been around for a lot longer, (than the Yukon) classes are 40 to 60 per cent women.”
In the Yukon, Read sees her classes composed of about 25 per cent men.
She may get more than other instructors, however, because she teaches more strength and flexibility classes.
Numbers are increasing each year as more and more physiotherapists send patients to yoga class and more men realize, “Hey, this is good for you!”.
Then there is this one: Men don’t like exercising with women, and women don’t like exercising with men. “I haven’t noticed that,” says Read. “Actually, I get more people saying they don’t like seeing a lot of Spandex in class.”
But she can see how some men could be intimidated by exercising alongside a woman who is more flexible. “Broga is not like that,” she says. “I aim it at men’s strengths and weaknesses. They are more able to do stronger postures with stronger arms and chests, so we work a little bit on that. “But we also work on tight shoulders and tight hamstrings more than on women. “And they push themselves harder.”
After all, the stereotype about men being more competitive often feels true. “Yoga is about finding your edge and just being where you are,” says Read. “But a lot of men say, ‘Yeah, I can do it!’ and there is a lot more, ‘I need to be the best that I can be.’”
But some men have told her they don’t want to be in a class where high fives are shared.
Here’s another stereotype: Yoga is gentle and only benefits flexibility.
So? Can someone get “ripped” doing Yoga? “Oh, yeah!” says Read, probably more enthusiastically then she intended.
And a target heart rate can be achieved for improved cardio health.
Although she has never checked her own heart rate after a yoga session, Read says she feels the same way after a one-hour run. “When we do broga in the winter, you can’t see out of the window because it is so steamy.”
Classes are done for the summer, but will start again in September. Read says she is looking at a beginner’s class at that time. Anyone who is interested can go to www.breathoflifestudio.com or phone 336-3569.
Oh, and by the way, there is one stereotype that Read says has some truth to it: “At the end, we practise Savasana, where you lay down completely still for ten minutes. You settle into your body so that when you leave you just feel really rejuvenated.
“You are supposed to be awake but, in broga, a lot of time they are snoring.”