We are loving this interview from YogiApproved.com with Dylan Werner and Patrick Beach on their thoughts, insight, and inspiration on men’s participation in yoga!
Walk into any yoga studio and chances are men will be in the minority. One or two dudes are typical… maybe a third of the class will be men at best. So while we know yoga was created in ancient India around 1900 BCE, it may be surprising for some to learn that yoga was actually created by men. In fact, yoga was originally practiced by Indian warriors to prepare themselves both physically and spiritually for battle (making Warrior Pose all the more aptly named). 16th to 18th century India even saw some areas hire out bands of yogis as mercenaries! Now that’s a killer asana.
Suddenly, the Seattle Seahawks’ mandated yoga practice as part of their football training doesn’t seem so hippy dippy anymore. In fact, men’s general participation in yoga has skyrocketed in the past few years, rising to 23% in 2012.
Part of this is due to the work of male yogis such as Patrick Beach & Dylan Werner, who have helped show the world through their Instagram accounts and YouTube videos what yoga can be, and how it is not just for women.
“When yoga came to America it was all stretching postures, so there was this huge stigma with it not being physically challenging, or not for people who lacked flexibility,” says Patrick Beach. Yoga in America has come quite a long way, with an array of challenging Ashtanga, Hatha, Power, and Vinyasa yoga classes becoming the new norm. However, for guys the dissonance between expecting a yoga class to be “easy stretching,” and then struggling for an hour to hold poses can be a big deterrence from returning to the mat again.
Dylan Werner explains, “Having a lot of weight in the arms, like Warrior Two with the arms out, that’s hard for people. And then you take it with the girl who’s next to you who’s 100 pounds and can hold down-dog all day, sometimes it’s discouraging or emasculating.”
But Yoga is all about balance. What men lack in “natural” flexibility, they make up for in strength. In fact, the advanced yoga poses Beach & Werner have become famous for – such as pressing up into a handstand – are poses that some women cannot achieve in the same amount of time as men, due to natural differences in muscle mass.
Dylan served in the military then became a firefighter before making the switch to yoga instructor, and “Is an amazing athletic talent. He has moves that probably 5 people in the world can do,” says Patrick of his fellow yogi. Dylan and Patrick knew of each other, but hadn’t met in person until they worked together on an online yoga video series – one of the first of its kind – that covers advanced inversions & transitions. “There was a mutual respect for each other,” says Dylan, of working with Patrick for the first time.
Here are three insights from Dylan & Patrick on men’s growing participation in yoga: