Since I started teaching yoga at the library, I get asked a lot of questions. Surprisingly, the question I’m asked most often is if the classes are for everyone. More specifically, are the classes for men?

I’ve found that this question tends to be even broader than whether men can come to our free classes. It’s more a question of whether men are allowed to practice yoga at all. The short answer is an exuberant yes!

While yoga in the west tends to be female-centric, the practice and philosophy of yoga was dominated by male yogis for centuries. Yoga is fundamentally beneficial to all bodies.

Whether a male or a female participates in a yoga class, students can expect to walk out feeling calmer, more flexible, and with fewer aches and pains.

Yoga has taken on certain stereotypes that feed into an idea of being exclusively for women. It’s much different in tone and tempo than more generically “masculine” workouts like weight lifting or high intensity training.

It isn’t the cultural norm for men to slow down, give themselves space, connect to their breath, or practice mindfulness. I’ve found that men are hesitant to attend a class where they know they will be outnumbered because they don’t want to be uncomfortable or make the women uncomfortable.

Yoga classes are vulnerable spaces, and men tend to remove themselves from the equation. With yoga offering so many benefits, it’s important all students feel like their class is safe, supportive, and accessible.

Men are very much in need of yogic benefits. The male body is more prone to tightness, tension, and a decrease in mobility. High blood pressure, sleep problems, and weakened physical vitality are also issues that men may face in their lifetime.

The practice of yoga targets these concerns by lengthening muscular tissues, extending the joints, and emphasizing the breath, making yoga an excellent practice for athletes and non-athletes alike, including those who may be just returning to a fitness routine.

We invite men of any fitness level to try Bro Yoga, a free class designed with them in mind. It will include the basic poses of yoga, easy sequences, and target large muscle groups through step-by-step instruction.

Limited yoga mats, props and towels are available to borrow, but we encourage you to bring your own yoga mat and water bottle.

Bro Yoga will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19 in the Community Room.

Alyssa is a teen librarian at Derby Public Library and a 200-hour registered yoga instructor.

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