Broga = Manly Yoga

How do you get more men to join yoga classes? Change the name, give the instructor a paint gun, make sure there’s bacon and/or beer, and use bear rugs instead of yoga mats. Bam.

You’re welcome, yoga.

It’s always been a little bit of a mystery to me why there aren’t as many men in yoga classes as women. Yoga helps prevent injuries, stretches tight muscles, increases balance and core strength, and–blah, blah, blah–improves sex. You’d think men would be all over this.

One look at a forum tackling the issue reveals that men snub yoga for a variety of reasons. Some feel that it’s not a good enough workout, some feel like they’re crashing a ladies-only party, some are worried about flatulence (really, you guys? really?), and others feel intimidated because of a lack of flexibility. The rest just don’t like the way they look in yoga tights. It’s a hard look to pull off.

It’s not shocking that some men might feel uncomfortable getting their yogi groove on in a room full women who are outperforming them in every pose. Given that I once had a yoga instructor refer to “Barbie feet,” “bra lines,” and “that time of the month” within a span of 15 minutes, I get why some men enter yoga classes only to feel that they’ve unwittingly crashed a girls-only party and not the kind 18 year-old boys fantasize about.

Enter Broga. Broga, a yoga style and studio for men, is all about bringing yoga to the manly masses who could benefit from the practice, but feel a little out of place in a sea of Lululemon sports bras and yoga mats. There’s no chanting in sanskrit, no incense, and definitely no chatting about moon cycles and menstrual cramps. Unfortunately, there’s no bacon, beer, or bear wrestling either.

Speaking to the Boston Globe last year, Broga co-founder Adam O’Neill said, “I was thinking ‘Why isn’t yoga more attractive to guys? Why isn’t there a program that’s guy-oriented?’ The issue is that yoga has primarily been marketed to middle-age housewives.”

O’Neill, who turned to yoga after suffering from sciatica, highlights the importance of yoga in helping to prevent or recover from injuries. “A lot of guys come here after years and years of sports, but their bodies are out of whack — some have cement shoulders or really tight hips,” co-founder Robert Sidoti told Today.com.

Broga’s aim is to create a comfortable space for men to incorporate yoga into their exercise routine and daily life. The website assures potential students that, “Broga is a yoga class geared for men (where it’s okay if you can’t touch your toes).” Poses are clearly explained and simplified, however “this is not a dumbed down version of yoga,” Sidoti told the Boston Globe. ”There’s a lot of movement linking the postures, but adding push-ups and variations of squats.”

The scene is much more laid-back with neutral colors and more contemporary workout music. ”It’s not a man cave,”  O’Neill jokingly explained to Yahoo Shine. On that note, ladies are definitely welcome, but it’s less of a scene says Sidoti of the women who show up for Broga classes. “They come in their sweat pants and just do their thing.”

While some studios are seeing an increase in male participation and others are trying to cater to both male and female yoga enthusiasts, Broga is hoping to expand beyond its studios in Massachusetts, California, and Manitoba. There’s even some talk of launching a DVD series. In the meantime, here’s a video preview of a Broga class.

Just kidding.

Here’s the real one:

Broga also offers yoga retreats, the most recent retreat in Costa Rica featured surfing, fishing, and hiking in addition to daily Broga sessions.

By Nikki Hodgson

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