Yoga, an ancient form of meditation and exercise, has been practiced for many centuries. Somewhere along the way, however, in America at least, people have formed a perception of yoga as a feminine art form.
That’s why 44-year-old yoga instructor Robert Sidoti developed a different technique to the practice, with the purpose of attracting more men to the activity. He calls it “Broga Yoga.”
Broga Yoga was designed for men who seek the benefits of yoga, but are hesitant to share the experience with a room full of women.
“A lot of guys were saying, ‘I can’t touch my knees, let alone my toes. I would never go to a mostly-women class and do things I’m no good at,’” said Sidoti, who taught his first Broga class in 2009 and has so far trained about 200 instructors in the technique in at least 22 states. “We rarely go into poses that require deep forward bending, twisting, and binding.”
Sidoti created Broga on the foundation of yoga, but with more of a workout approach, adding functional movements and high intensity interval training.
The Broga website describes the technique as “the best core-strengthening, muscle-toning, cardio-working, stress-reducing, clarity-enhancing yoga postures with functional fitness exercises for an amazing workout.”
One way Sidoti differentiates Broga from yoga is that his technique eliminates the “hypothetical subtle body randomness” present in traditional yoga.
“An example is we never really use the word heart,” Sidoti said. “In most yoga classes they say something like, ‘Now open your heart.’ But to brand-new dudes, it’s like, ‘Come on!’”
Basically, the spiritual aspect of yoga is removed and a more physical aspect is emphasized for those men who feel that the spirituality of it isn’t macho enough for them.
The music in the class also sets Broga apart from yoga. Artists like The Black Keys and Led Zeppelin replace soothing sounds and chanting.
But Sidoti says the core aspects of yoga remain present in Broga. “The breaths and the mindfulness is of the utmost importance to me as the creator of this program,” he said. “But I also want this to be fun.”
The real question, however, is how exactly did an ancient practice that benefits both the mind and body, for both sexes, become a female-dominated activity?
In the United States, yoga has exploded into a $27 billion dollar industry with more than 20 million people taking part, 83% of whom are women. In addition to classes, the yoga lifestyle includes designer sportswear, mats, towels, water bottles, juice cleanses, and retreats.
Ultimately, the feminization of yoga can be traced back to the fact that the industry has long been using images of thin, statuesque, and often white women to sell its products.
“If you ask the average person what yoga is, they immediately think of a beautiful woman doing stretches and bends. That tells you how commercialized it has become, and how limited,” said Phillip Golderg, spiritual teacher and author of American Veda. “What yoga has meant for thousands of years is not just that.”
When it comes to the portrayal of yoga in the media and consumerism, the inclusion of both genders would be valuable to the de-feminization of the practice. Broga Yoga, however, is certainly a good start, bro!
- Broga Yoga website. https://brogayoga.com.
- Calderone A. There is now yoga for dudes: Broga! People Magazine website. May 7, 2015. http://www.people.com/article/broga-fitness-yoga-guys.
- Gregoire C. The real reason yoga is still dominated by women. Huffington Post website. Updated December 28, 2013. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/carolyn-gregoire/yoga-women_b_4163938.html.