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Is Yoga Useful For Men over 40

Yoga has been steadily gaining popularity over the last few decades. However, there is a common misconception that yoga is a discipline exclusively for women. Which begs the question – why are there so few men practicing yoga?

Yoga is useful for men in the same way it is useful for women or even kids. Yoga is great for all people regardless of gender or age. It comes with a long list of benefits, from physical fitness and endurance, to boosted confidence and improved mental health.

In almost any yoga class, the number of men is significantly smaller than the number of women. In fact, some yoga classes don’t have a single male student. This disparity is not exclusive to yoga students either. There are way more female teachers in yoga studios, gyms, and even yoga teacher training courses.

So, how did we end up with such an uneven ratio? Is yoga suitable for men? Is it at all useful for male practitioners? Let’s unpack!

Yoga useful for men

Where are all the male yoga students?

Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of female yoga practitioners and instructors creates an impression that yoga is better suited for women. This isn’t exclusive to in-person classes and workshops, it’s very prevalent in online spaces, too. Looking through social media, it seems as though yoga was designed with women in mind. After all, many yoga poses featured online focus on flexibility and balance.

As a result, men who might be interested in taking up yoga are left with the impression that they won’t fit in, won’t be flexible or graceful enough. Others might assume that since yoga is a discipline dominated by female practitioners, it’s way too easy for them. Some might even consider yoga an emasculating experience.

Yoga: Back to Basics

Historically, things were very different. As a matter of fact, the ancient practice of yoga was developed by men. If you look at the foundational yogic texts, they were all written by male practitioners, respected gurus and sages.

This includes Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras which defined ground breaking concepts still followed by millions of practitioners worldwide.

As yoga started evolving into a more physical practice, the poses and transitions were developed and further popularized by male yogis, including Sri K. Pattabhi Jois and B. K. S. Lyengar. The prevalence of women in yogic spaces is a relatively recent development; initially, women were not even allowed to practice!

At some point, as yoga gained popularity as a form of exercise, the practice reached a turning point. More and more women were drawn to a workout that focused on strength and flexibility and didn’t require much equipment.

Should I Start Yoga Practise

You might be asking yourself, why should men give yoga a try? If it’s just a form of exercise, there are many of other options!

There are plenty of reasons yoga is useful for men:

1. Get comfortable in your body

Women are not the only ones insecure about their bodies. Male beauty standards are no more forgiving than the women’s, which results in many boys and men feeling insecure, experiencing body dysmorphia, or suffering from eating disorders.

Yoga can be a great tool for men to feel more comfortable in their body. Partly because yoga practice is focused on functional movement as opposed building vanity muscles. And partly because getting stronger and more flexible can be a great boost for one’s confidence.

2. Improve your flexibility

Speaking of getting more flexible, yoga can do wonders for male practitioners. Most physical activities traditionally associated with men focus on athleticism or muscle building, while completely disregarding mobility.

As a result, plenty of men struggle with flexibility, including gym buffs and professional athletes. Yoga is an inclusive and accessible way to improve one’s flexibility, as opposed to more strict disciplines like dance or gymnastics.

3. Get in touch with your emotional side

Sadly, even in this day and age, men are discouraged from expressing emotion. As a result, many men struggle with their mental health, experiencing anxiety, depression, or anger issues, among others.

Thanks to extensive self-reflection, yoga can be a great way to connect with the inner self and get in touch with one’s raw emotions. This can help resolve milder issues, as well as encourage men to come forward and seek help for the more serious struggles.

4. Relieve stress

It’s obvious that men face an immense amount of pressure every day. As well as being expected to provide for their families, there are other societal expectations when it comes to status, appearance, and behaviour.

Every aspect of the yoga practice, including breath work, meditation, and physical movement, can help relieve the stress that men experience on a daily basis.

Tips for Men in Yoga

Despite the numerous benefits, some men might not feel comfortable turning up to a yoga space full of female students.

Below are a few tips for men who want to get into yoga but are hesitant to attend their first class.

1. Find a male teacher

Even in a space dominated by female students, you may feel more at ease practicing with a male yoga teacher. This is also useful because a male instructor will have a better understanding of your physical abilities and limitations due to their own experience.

2. Consider a men-only yoga class

While it’s not accessible in all parts of the world, some gyms and studios offer classes specifically aimed at male practitioners.

Alternatively, some places with a predominately male clientelle (e.g. boxing gyms or climbing gyms) may offer a yoga class with a more balanced ratio of male and female students.

3. Invite a friend

Who says you have to practice alone? Chances are, if you suggest a yoga class to your buddies, someone will say yes.

Who knows, they might have been wanting to try yoga for a while, stopped by the same misconceptions as you.

4. Practice online

Nowadays there is plenty of yoga content available on the internet: YouTube videos, live classes, subscription platforms, smartphone apps – practicing yoga using online resources is a great way to get into it in the comfort of your own home.

Some online classes are designed specifically for male students, which should give you a good headstart before attending an in-person class.