Men in Yoga
A topic that has interested me for a long time. Being a regular practicing and committed Yogi for 6 years, I have seen a positive increase in men practicing Yoga throughout studios in the World. Not only that but I have also seen an increase of men in yoga from all different professional and personal backgrounds starting to practice.
The stereotypical view has been that Yoga is for women to keep fit and look good, and men belong in the gym or playing sports, something that is completely incorrect historically and in present. Yoga is 99% for internal reasons, and the external side is just a fortunate part of the package for those that do take care and want to enhance their looks. In fact, historically Yoga comes from young boys practicing to get ready for days of meditation, but as it travelled into the Western world it’s origins and truths were lost and the beauty was lost via marketing and advertising in the modern world to match the modern mind.
Beth Crivelli, a fantastic teacher (and one of my personal favourites) here at Kula has written the following detail regarding the history of Yoga which stems from male priests (Brahamans).
“The beginnings of Yoga were developed by the Indus-Sarasvati civilization in Northern India over 5,000 years ago. This gave rise to the vedas, the first known yogic texts.
The Vedas were a collection of texts containing songs, mantras and rituals to be used by Brahmans, the Vedic priests.
Yoga was slowly refined in the pre-classical period (1000BC – AD200) and developed by the Brahmans and Rishis (mystic seers) who documented their practices and beliefs in the Upanishads (the Bhagavad Gita is from the Upanishads), a huge work containing over 200 scriptures.
The classical period (AD 200) was defined by Patanjali’s Yoga-Sûtras, this text describes the path of Raja Yoga, Patanjali compiled the sutras into an “eight limbed path” outlining the steps and stages towards obtaining Samadhi or enlightenment. The Yoga-Sûtras still strongly influence most styles of modern yoga.
Post-Classical Yoga (post AD 200)
A few centuries after Patanjali, yoga masters created a system of practices designed to rejuvenate the body and prolong life. They rejected the teachings of the ancient Vedas and embraced the physical body as the tool to achieve enlightenment. They developed Tantra Yoga, with radical techniques to cleanse the body and mind (Hatha Yoga Pradipika) to break the knots that bind us to our physical existence. This exploration of these physical-spiritual connections and body centred practices led to the creation of what we mainly think of as yoga in the West today: Hatha Yoga.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, yoga masters began to travel to the West, attracting attention and followers. In the 1920s and 30s, Hatha Yoga was strongly promoted in India through the work of T. Krishnamacharya, Swami Sivananda and other yogis. Krishnamacharya produced three students that would continue his legacy and increase the popularity of Hatha Yoga: B.K.S. Iyengar, T.K.V. Desikachar and Pattabhi Jois.
Still yoga was only trickling to the west until Indra Devi opened her yoga studio in Hollywood in 1947. Since then, yoga has gained a lot of momentum through western and Indian teachers gaining millions of followers. Hatha Yoga now has many different styles, all emphasizing the many different aspects of the practice.”
Yoga is for all
Learning the history and in-depth Yoga is fantastic, but it also opens my eyes to where it all started, and how so much has changed some truths have been lost, this is a post to really let men out there that want to try yoga, and maybe a bit apprehensive about it or think it’s not a male practice that Yoga is for everyone, for all walks of life, there is no creed, culture, religion, gender, physical appearance, race or anything that divides us as humans and Yoga is the absolute forefront of that.
Yoga means union of all, so please do drop by to the studio and try it out for yourselves.