Why Your Man Is Afraid Of Yoga

This post comes from our contributor FP Naomi.

While the male presence in most yoga classes has steadily risen over the years, we all have to admit, things still seem a bit…out numbered. The benefits of a yoga practice are clear and broadly known, but yet we all know men who are too scared to try it. Where does the fear come from, and how can we influence our male friends to take the leap?

Too many of us devoted yogis listen to our male counterparts complain of muscle problems, injuries, or that beer belly they can’t lose. If you know a man like the one I’m describing, you’ve probably tried to get him to a yoga class, and his response was most likely a laugh or a “hell no.” The truth behind his defiance is that he’s scared.

To delve deeper into why our men are scared of yoga, I actually convinced my own boyfriend to serve as a test subject. Documenting his feelings before and after, we took a private yoga class together. The man has never once stepped into a studio, and anytime I tried to get him to free up his back with some “cat-cows”, we were done quicker than we’d started. Admittedly, his biggest fears before class were that he wasn’t going to be flexible enough, that it was going to be painful, and that he was going to be made to do things he didn’t want to do. Other than that, his understandings of yoga – the spiritual side, etc. – were pretty spot on. Afterward, he was surprised with how good he actually was, and I must say, I was too. He felt a sense of accomplishment from what he was able to do, and was ecstatic to find how sore he felt the next day. He even went as far as to tell a friend it was “f*cking awesome,” and that he would do it again!

why your man is afraid of yoga

So there is proof that we can take a man who is scared of yoga and change his mind. I caught up with expert, Jake Panasevich, instructor of Yoga for Dudes, to hear more on how we can help surpass the fears and spread the yoga love to our better halves.

Why do you think some men are scared of yoga?

I think there are a couple reasons why men have a real fear about attending a yoga class:

1. The class will be too “preachy.” That they are going to end up in a class where they will sit around in a circle and chant to a yoga god they don’t care about. They fear teachers might offer their personal opinions about what they should and shouldn’t be thinking, eating, and doing.

2. They won’t be flexible enough!

3. It won’t be challenging enough or that they will be bored.

4. The hyper-bendy teachers won’t have the proper variations to keep them from getting hurt.

All of these fears are warranted. I’ve experienced them all myself. You have to pick the right classes. That’s why, with the right teacher, yoga classes specifically for men work!

What techniques do you use to break down barriers and get males into yoga? 

I make it more practical and accessible. I make them comfortable being themselves. They don’t have to be flexible and they don’t have to chant to practice yoga. I give them proper variations for their limitations and ailments. I’m open to conversations and answering every question that they might have. I make it challenging, interesting, and fun!

What are some great poses for men?

Arm balances! Inversions. Standing poses. Men are committed. Give them something to work on, and they will get good at it.

Do you find that, in the end, men are more attracted the spiritual or physical aspects of yoga?

Men like to see real, clear results. At first, yoga makes them feel great physically. When you feel great in your body, your mind will also be clear and sharp. There’s a sense of overall wellness and health that infiltrates all arenas of life. This just happens naturally with yoga through time.

How did you first get into yoga? What were your fist impressions and what hooked you?

I was dragged to my first yoga class, kicking and screaming, by an ex-girlfriend. At first I was a bit confused and lost, but I felt amazing afterwards! I was hooked after two months of yoga! I went to class nearly every day. I lost 40 pounds, my chronic back pain subsided, my knees and joints didn’t hurt and I felt better than I ever had in my life. I wrestled for 15 years, and I never thought I would be able to find anything nearly as challenging and fulfilling. Yoga delivered challenge without an addictive, competitive mind-set.

How do you suggest that one coax their male friend into giving yoga a try? What have you heard that usually works?

Only preach to the choir! If someone doesn’t want to hear about yoga, they won’t. Also do it without sounding “preachy.” Try to encourage them and keep it positive. Give them some of the benefits that come hand in hand with yoga – it will help with pain and injuries, it’s intelligent exercise that won’t wreck your body, etc. 

Thank you for your insights, Jake! If you have more specific questions that you’d like to ask Jake, be sure to leave them in the comments below.

yoga with jake

(Last image courtesy of YogaWithJake.com)

Check out Naomi’s blog Numie Abbot!

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9 years ago

I loved the article! The only sentiment that struck me as a bit odd, was that a man is automatically deemed ‘scared’ when he doesn’t want to do yoga. Just because a man or a woman doesn’t want to do something, doesn’t automatically mean that they’re scared. They could very well just not be interested. Maybe yoga just doesn’t appeal to them..

9 years ago

Holly – that is a very fair criticism! You are 100% correct. Let’s just say that MANY men are scared. :)

9 years ago

Ah so interesting. Very wonderful article! I have had a great deal of yoga instructors over the years, and only one has been male. And he has been one of my favorites!

xo, Juliette Laura

9 years ago

Totally sending this to my husband. He is scared of yoga like no tomorrow, but I know it would help his back and stress issues.

9 years ago

Great post! I am a yoga teacher in San Diego and the fears Jake had explained in the interview are pretty spot on. But once a man (or woman) tries their first class, their hooked!
I found yoga because of a car accident so I especially have a lot of sympathy for students who are working through injuries. Here is what I tell them in class:
There is no end goal in yoga. We never going to get a trophy or ribbon saying we have finished or perfected yoga. It is a daily practice, your body is in a different sate each day, and since we continue to use our bodies everyday, the practice is taking the time to draw our attention inward and give back to and nurture ourselves. So we can let go of any expectations that we may have for yoga and just allow ourselves to be as we are, here, in the moment. True liberation! Be free! <3 xoxo Annejelina

Visit my shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/CrownofCreationShop

9 years ago

It was the same with my boy, lol. He was resisting it like it would be the worst thing in the world. But I slowly convinced him into practising with me and now he love it.
Great article :)!


9 years ago

My boyfriend and I actually took a couple of college yoga classes together and he was concerned about not being flexible enough. Unfortunately, he actually isn’t the slightest bit flexible… but he enjoyed it anyway! I’m not sure if he even got any more flexible over the course of the classes, but he gets up early to meditate sometimes and I think he appreciated the meditative aspect of yoga.

9 years ago

@Lizzie, Let me know what your husband thinks of the article and how his class goes! If he ever has yoga questions or would like to try Yoga For Dudes online, let me know! yogawithjake.com

9 years ago

It is funny this is a post because a few months ago I was at school about to attend a yoga seminar and invited a male friend of mine and he also turned down the opportunity and his fear was that he would fart, it cracked me up

9 years ago

*Sigh* Yoga boys make my heart melt. Surprisingly my bf was pretty enthusiastic to try yoga, after peeking in on my practice and noticing the positive changes it brought into my life I think he was just waiting for my suggestion! He tends to enjoy yin yoga more. I am surprised there aren’t more male yogis in the West, since originally it was a male dominant practice…where did yoga acquire this “feminine” stereotype? Either way, I associate yoga with many other wonderful things other than gender :)

8 years ago

I’m curious as to why it’s so important that your mate enjoy *your* activities. We all have a list of hobbies, interests and pastimes that make us special; why does yoga need to be spread? Are you afraid that if someone doesn’t love yoga, they won’t love you?

6 years ago

I do yoga at home, I educated my husband about all the diseases yoga releases. My husband is now practicing yoga with home at our home, says, “I feel better today. I noticed when he walks, his body doesn’t lean towards a slouch position, when getting up from a chair, or while standing and/or walking, YEAY

6 years ago
Reply to  Athena

How cool! Yoga is very medicinal!