If we asked you to think of a stereotypical yogi, the person in your mind is likely a (green smoothie drinking) young woman. Yet despite the majority of yoga classes being filled with more women than men, there are a whole host of benefits that absolutely everyone can gain from regular yoga & mindfulness practices.
Here at Neat we’re wrapping up an awesome month celebrating all things Men’s Health, so to encourage some more guys to hit the mat, we’ve asked Neat friend and expert yoga teacher, Will Wheeler about his thoughts on the gender-gap in yoga, and for his top tips for anyone getting started…
Why do you think the practice of yoga is stereotypically quite female-dominated?
I think yoga has often been seen from the outside as something only women practice. Young women in particular are often the poster girl for doing a yoga move, but yoga really is for everyone, old and young, male or female. There’s so much more to yoga than one move and it’s certainly not a comparative or competitive practice. More recently, I think we are starting to see more men as the face of yoga in various places.
Why do you think more men should give it a try & what benefits could they find?
Yoga is an amazing life tool with so many mental health benefits, from coping with stress to encouraging us to live more mindfully. The crossover between yoga and strength training is huge. For example, yoga practice can help guys hugely in the gym when it comes to form and function, but then back in the yoga room it’s a brilliant way to clear the mind or stretch out after sport or a tough workout.
A fair few guys have often been surprised by how hard yoga can be too, they often say as they leave the class a sweatier than when they came in having worked their body from head to toe!
What are your top tips for any beginners?
I would say for anyone new to yoga, just keep practicing and getting to class. It can take several yoga styles, classes or teachers before you click and find the perfect one for you. But, when you do find it, I think it’s something that will remain a part of your lifestyle. At LEVELSIX we run numerous 1-1 classes for guys who want a more personalised PT approach, plus small group sessions and our very popular Yoga for Sports class. It’s a mobility focused class that week by week works through some of the tightest muscle groups for guys, like the shoulders and hamstrings. It’s great for easing lower back pain and of course, giving the benefits of breath and some down time.
Is this stereotype something you’ve seen changing, particularly in London?
I see more men than ever before at yoga classes. I think we have a way to go to keep moving it into the mainstream but with so many yoga studios, gym classes and places to do yoga, there’s more choice and more people than ever are starting to get in on the good yoga vibes! Find me at a class at LEVELSIX or visit my page here to learn more about what I do.
For more from Will, find him online, on Instagram, or at Level Six Studio.