-Naomi, Free People
Why do you think some men are scared of yoga?
I think there are a couple reasons why men have a real fear about attending a yoga class:
1. The class will be too “preachy.” That they are going to end up in a class where they will sit around in a circle and chant to a yoga god they don’t care about. They fear teachers might offer their personal opinions about what they should and shouldn’t be thinking, eating, and doing.
2. They won’t be flexible enough!
3. It won’t be challenging enough or that they will be bored.
4. The hyper-bendy teachers won’t have the proper variations to keep them from getting hurt.
All of these fears are warranted. I’ve experienced them all myself. You have to pick the right classes. That’s why, with the right teacher, yoga classes specifically for men work!
What techniques do you use to break down barriers and get males into yoga?
I make it more practical and accessible. I make them comfortable being themselves. They don’t have to be flexible and they don’t have to chant to practice yoga. I give them proper variations for their limitations and ailments. I’m open to conversations and answering every question that they might have. I make it challenging, interesting, and fun!
What are some great poses for men?
Arm balances! Inversions. Standing poses. Men are committed. Give them something to work on, and they will get good at it.
Do you find that, in the end, men are more attracted the spiritual or physical aspects of yoga?
Men like to see real, clear results. At first, yoga makes them feel great physically. When you feel great in your body, your mind will also be clear and sharp. There’s a sense of overall wellness and health that infiltrates all arenas of life. This just happens naturally with yoga through time.
How did you first get into yoga? What were your fist impressions and what hooked you?
I was dragged to my first yoga class, kicking and screaming, by an ex-girlfriend. At first I was a bit confused and lost, but I felt amazing afterwards! I was hooked after two months of yoga! I went to class nearly every day. I lost 40 pounds, my chronic back pain subsided, my knees and joints didn’t hurt and I felt better than I ever had in my life. I wrestled for 15 years, and I never thought I would be able to find anything nearly as challenging and fulfilling. Yoga delivered challenge without an addictive, competitive mind-set.
How do you suggest that one coax their male friend into giving yoga a try? What have you heard that usually works?
Only preach to the choir! If someone doesn’t want to hear about yoga, they won’t. Also do it without sounding “preachy.” Try to encourage them and keep it positive. Give them some of the benefits that come hand in hand with yoga – it will help with pain and injuries, it’s intelligent exercise that won’t wreck your body, etc.
You’ve dedicated much of your career to teaching men yoga, why?
Greater connectivity. Making a greater impact. At some point, I realized that by focusing on the people that I enjoy working with the most, and those I can help the most, I get more accomplished. It makes it easier for students to find me. After all, my past-self was a very big, strong, injury-plagued, inflexible regular dude. I couldn’t even touch my knees when I bent over! I’ve been there, and I can speak to their challenges and strengths. I know the proper variations and how to get them out of pain. Then I take their health to whole new level!
Thank you for your insights, Jake! If you have more specific questions that you’d like to ask Jake, be sure to leave them in the comments below.