1. Why men’s yoga? Men who have taken coed yoga classes may well have been greatly outnumbered by women, who are generally more flexible and betterat yoga than men. In some cases and despite everyone’s best intentions, classes can sometimes become an unhealthy gender-based competition. Also, like most anonymous classes, commercial coed yoga classes tend to cater to the majority, so the less flexible and less active participants – most often the men – can easily feel left out.
Just like women-only classes, men-only classes can better focus on a homogeneous group of participants whose abilities are generally more similar. The atmosphere of a men-only class therefore tends to be non-judgmental, non-threatening and non-competitive.
2. I’m not flexible: can I do yoga? If you're not flexible, you're strongly encouraged to try yoga since it builds flexibility as the body becomes more open. The benefits may be small or great, but there will be benefits, no matter where participants start.
3. What is the age range of participants? There are guys in their 20s and guys in their 60s; not surprisingly, the average age lies somewhere in the middle.
4. At what level are the classes taught? Unless otherwise indicated, all classes are taught incrementally for all levels of participants. Yoga is a personal process, so everyone is individually encouraged to practice and progress at his own pace without feeling pushed or held back. Classes are not necessarily gentle, but participants can practice the poses at their own level and leave the subsequent variations or add-ons for when they’re ready. Even those with specific, physical challenges find their place in the classes. It is not a competitive experience, but rather an experience of developing greater mind-body awareness.
For those with specific, acute health issues, a recommendation from a health-care provider is strongly suggested.
5. I go to the gym pretty regularly; why should I do yoga? Much of our body’s energy and flexibility actually get closed off from doing concentrated or excessive weight training. Yoga complements all forms of training because it gently opens the body. Participants will often feel more open and alive by adding yoga to their physical activity. Also, as we age, our joints need better care, and yoga works the joints in a very subtle but effective way. In general, those who do yoga age more gracefully because they look after their body in a very gentle yet sustained way as it progresses through the aging process.
6. What will yoga do for me? Yoga will: improve your ability to relax; clear your mind, even if for just a short while; improve your digestive system; potentially help you get rid of some bad habits; likely help you sleep better; improve your sexual energy; improve your balance, on and off the mat; help you breathe more efficiently; open your heart; help you get unstuck; heal emotional wounds; bring you joy… In short, yoga will do for you whatever you would like it to because it’s your individual practice, and you set the intention.
7. Why nude yoga? Doing yoga without clothing is incredibly liberating – an activity closely compared to skinny dipping. In addition to not being constrained by clothing during some poses, shedding clothing removes the barriers that “brand” us and offers us a rare opportunity to not hide behind layers and labels.
Being nude among other men can also be very powerful in building self-esteem and self-confidence for many of us who have body-image issues. Self-acceptance and acceptance of others go hand in hand: The former is often tougher, but once it happens, the latter as well as so many other hangups suddenly become easier to deal with and disappear. By baring ourselves, we are able to simply be without judgment or expectations.
8. Are nude classes clothing optional? No. My experience with naturism has taught me that the notion of clothing-optional simply doesn’t work for so many reasons, so nude classes are nude. Voyeurs and exhibitionists need not apply, and those exhibiting those behaviours will be escorted out.
9. What happens if I get aroused? To be perfectly honest, arousal is extremely rare in a yoga class since we’re generally a lot more focused on the flow of breath and movements than on other bodies in the room. Yoga has us looking a lot more at the floor, at our mats, at the ceiling or at the walls than at each other; yoga also offers ample opportunity to have our eyes closed. If someone has a lot of time to look at others during class, chances are he’s not really paying attention to the yoga, and it’ll quickly show.
Having said that, if arousal does happen, the “sporter” should simply enjoy the energy without embarrassment. We live in a sex-negative and judgmental society and we’ve all internalized some societal ideas that sex and sexual organs should be concealed. An erection in the company of other men may well happen and there is really no need to conceal it.
10. Do the classes get sexual? No. We sometimes access the energies that make us healthy and whole sexual beings in the classes, but they are not acted upon in any way. If men come to men’s yoga classes to be sexually aroused, they may well be disappointed. It is definitely a warm and inviting yoga setting, but it's not a warm and inviting sauna.