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Although yoga has existed for thousands of years, this unique form of exercise and relaxation has experienced a massive surge in popularity in the United States during the last ten years. According to, yoga has evolved from an ancient practice that attempted to discern the cosmic order through inner vision into a more outward experience and more physically demanding activity.

As a form of exercise, yoga has traditionally been stereotyped as an activity primarily for women. In addition, the marketing and promotion of yoga and yoga accessories has been largely targeted on the female demographic. This includes materials such as the covers of DVDs and magazines to the myriad of commercials and ads promoting the activity. As a result, many men maintained the perception that yoga was not a “male” activity, and consequently, missed out on both the spiritual and physical benefits of yoga.

This is not to imply that men have not been doing yoga at all--the ratios have just been markedly unbalanced. “When the yoga boom hit about 10 years ago, it was 10 to 1, women to men," said Matthew Solan, a senior editor at Yoga Journal. "Now it's about 8 to 1, but it's growing." Solan added, "Yoga looks gentle, but when men do it they realize it's a lot more difficult than it looks."

Breaking the Stereotypes
We’re all too familiar with the typical male stereotype that men are supposed to be strong and goal-oriented and identify physically and mentally with sports. However, what most men don’t realize until they try yoga themselves is that it can effectively teach them where physical imbalances and weaknesses lie and can help them to significantly strengthen the body. In addition, yoga can help enhance any athlete's performance by promoting proper breathing, relaxation and flexibility.

Getting Started
If you are a male considering taking up the practice of yoga, a good place to start is by enrolling in a class at a health club. And even if it seems initially difficult--don’t give up! If you persevere, you will be among the growing number of men enjoying the physical benefits of increased strength and flexibility as well as the spiritual balance that only yoga can provide.


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