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How women colonised yoga We dominate a practice that was designed for men

Yoga poses are not designed for women. Credit: Godong/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Yoga poses are not designed for women. Credit: Godong/Universal Images Group via Getty Images


April 28, 2023   5 mins

Last year, my husband and I got into a curiously heated debate, along with two other couples, about whether or not it is manly to eat fruit. A surprising consensus emerged among the men, that fruit was categorically feminine. The argument then turned to the question of whether certain fruits could cross the line into manly territory. To paraphrase T.S. Eliot, a man might dare to eat a peach and remain secure in his masculinity; a banana, on the other hand, suggests entirely too much.

The genesis of this conflict is hard to explain, but the passions it inflamed were real. For all our avowed belief in the equality of the sexes, we still can’t help but assign gendered valences to even our most mundane behaviours and experiences, associations which can sometimes abruptly reverse polarity. Pink was once the boldest and most masculine of colours, until it suddenly wasn’t. Computer coding was the purview of female “calculators”, until it was overtaken in the Eighties by hungry hordes of Tech Bros.

And then there’s yoga: an athletic and spiritual practice originating among Indian men as early as the 10th century, and exported to the West by male gurus, beginning in the Twenties. One hundred years later, how things have changed. The gurus are gone — in some cases defenestrated by the #MeToo movement — and the entire enterprise has been fully subsumed by the same willowy-white-woman-wellness industrial complex that gave us Soul Cycle, Goop cleanses, and 500 different kinds of barre workouts. So complete is yoga’s feminine positionality in the West’s collective consciousness that it is now apparently necessary for niche varieties to crop up just for men.

So we have Broga, “a yoga class geared for men (where it’s okay if you can’t touch your toes)”. And among male professional athletes, per a recent New York Times write-up, we have “Joga”, a portmanteau of “yoga” and “jocks”, which suggests that something new, exotic and very, very manly is happening here. The JogaWorld website concurs: “Similar to Yoga, Joga involves physical postures, breathing, and relaxation techniques. However, where the goal of Yoga is to become more flexible and spiritually aware, Joga’s aim is to enhance performance, improve concentration, and reduce recovery time within the context of an athletic environment.”

That said, if there’s a difference between improving flexibility and awareness via yoga and enhancing performance and concentration with JOGA, it’s not readily apparent (even if, as I did, you have watched the better part of a 56-minute explanatory YouTube video titled, “How is Joga REALLY Different?”) Much like goat yoga, power yoga, hot yoga and the briefly trendy “vino vinyasa” classes that involved sipping chardonnay between poses, Joga is really just yoga by another name, and marketed to a particular audience. Nevertheless, one gets the sense that we should not tell the men as much, lest we spook them off the mat.

The gender trajectory of yoga is a complicated one, a winding journey through a decades-long miasma of gender stereotypes, fitness fads and shifting, sex-specific beauty standards about what constitutes an ideal physique. Jane Fonda, Gwyneth Paltrow and the ubiquity of the phrase “long and lean” in fitness marketing certainly played their part here. But so too has the Marvel Cinematic Universe — and before that, Fight Club — for which the male actors cast as superheroes adopt a much-vaunted and highly publicised fitness regimen that transforms them from normal-looking human beings into walking sides of beef.

The lithe male physique of the Seventies and Eighties, the sinuous grace of a Baryshnikov, or even the androgynous sensuality of a David Bowie, have been side-lined in recent decades. In their place is a creeping conviction: that the ideal man should be so swole that he can barely fit through a doorway without turning sideways, let alone be able to touch his toes or balance gracefully on one leg. One thinks of Kevin Kline in the film In & Out, receiving lessons in manliness from a cassette book: “Men do not dance. They work. They drink. They have bad backs. They do not dance!” the instructions sneer. “Think about John Wayne! Arnold Schwarzenegger! Arnold doesn’t dance, he can barely walk!”

Arnold also did not do yoga (or if he did, he wasn’t telling anyone about it). In fact, for men who look like him, the practice can be challenging: the massive muscles that are so essential to the contemporary superhero aesthetic don’t just compromise flexibility but also create a literal obstacle to various yoga poses that require you to wrap one body part around another. There’s a reason the male gurus who popularised yoga in the US were all built like string beans. But these days, the aesthetic distinction between the body of an athlete versus a movie star versus a bodybuilder is increasingly non-existent; these men all aspire to the same physique, and they all follow the same weightlifting regimen and ingest the same substances (legal or otherwise) to get there.

Meanwhile, the few male celebrities who do announce themselves yogis tend to be, if not exactly effeminate, then certainly not beacons of wholesome, Captain America-style masculinity. It’s a type embodied by Adam Levine, perhaps the best-known of the male Hollywood yoga evangelists, who famously told a reporter from Details: “You know what yoga’s good for? I’ll tell you what yoga is good for: Fuuuu-k-ing!” (all while pointing at his penis and gyrating, apparently). As for Arnold himself, he still seems to consider body awareness and flexibility something of a joke.

Of course, the things that make yoga unappealing to men also make it a natural home for women, who continue to aspire to a sylph-like aesthetic — and to gravitate toward workouts that promise to “sculpt” and “tone” the body without bulking it. At the entry level, yoga is more accessible to women — not just because our bodies are naturally more flexible and hence better suited to bending, twisting and stretching, but because of the vibes. Women are more drawn to group fitness classes in general and to the barefoot, spa-like aesthetic of yoga in particular. So, as night follows day, dozens of brands have cropped up to serve the bougie athleisure-wearing wine mom who is yoga’s perceived consumer base, which reinforces its feminine reputation. And that is not to mention the poses themselves, which do often look most lovely when expressed in the lines of a female body — or at least, a female body that looks terrific in a pair of skin-tight pants, which just happens to be the one currently deemed most desirable by the standards du jour. Put it all together, and it’s no surprise that this spiritual practice designed for young Asian men has now transformed, in the age of influencer culture, into a contemporary showcase for Western female beauty.

The irony is that yoga’s feminine trappings do not reflect an actual feminisation of the physical practice itself. The traditional yoga poses I teach — many of which haven’t changed for centuries — were designed with a male default in mind and require modification for female bodies, with their broader hips and lower centre of gravity. (“Hop your back foot wider!” I say, as female students struggle to square their hips in Warrior A.) Men may be intimidated (or repulsed) by yoga’s apparent incompatibility with their masculinity, but foundationally, it is still a practice ultimately made for them.

Still, if they need “Joga” — or broga, or whatever — to realise as much, it’s certainly better than the alternative: a world in which they do no yoga at all. Likewise, “bromance” — and its near sibling, the bromantic comedy — represented a silly but desperately needed correction to the notion that men couldn’t enjoy close same-sex friendships without there being something a little bit gay about them. In some senses, this yoga rebrand is just another example of the practice’s infinite capacity to be modified so that people with different bodies, different backgrounds and different limitations can access it.

Here’s something interesting, though: in recent years, as yoga has become synonymous with a particular brand of Western womanhood, it has also become a magnet for cancellation. In public op-eds and private Facebook groups, the yoga world’s self-appointed culture police are eternally wringing their hands over the “colonisation” of yoga by Westerners, or the scourge of those high-end leggings, or the permissibility of “namaslay” shirts. After all, any activity that reliably brings together a bunch of upper-middle-class white women in a single room must be problematic. About the emergence of male-dominated Joga, meanwhile, there has not been so much as a peep.


Kat Rosenfield is an UnHerd columnist and co-host of the Feminine Chaos podcast. Her latest novel is You Must Remember This.

katrosenfield

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N Forster
N Forster
11 months ago

Every few weeks Kat seems to convince the editors to have her write another article about her hobby. But the pickings are getting a bit slim. 

It might be a time for Kat to do some research and write about something worth reading on the topic.

“The traditional yoga poses I teach – many of which haven’t changed for centuries – were designed for men.”

There is no evidence that yoga poses (asanas) go back centuries. We can assume people have exercised for centuries and there is evidence that people practised formal meditation whilst sitting, standing, lying down and walking. But there is no evidence to support the idea that Indians practised “yoga postures” for centuries. Also the notion that asanas in and of themselves constitute a spiritual practice is without scriptural support.

There is evidence that modern yoga practice can be dated back to 1930s Mysore, and that the postures then were designed with pre pubescent Brahmin boys in mind. Not men.
What we can also say is that the main source of the postures was the British Army training manual, which itself owed much to Swedish Ling Gymnastics. Which was founded in the early 1800s.
With this in mind Kat might like to swap her Sanskrit prayer at the beginning of class for the first verse of “God save the King.” It would be more authentic. 

An accurate history of modern yoga would be interesting. Whinging that men aren’t being criticised, isn’t.

Last edited 11 months ago by N Forster
Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
11 months ago
Reply to  N Forster

…well there all that ancient kama sutra stuff which looks the people had to do are fair bit of stretching.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
NS
Nicky Samengo-Turner
11 months ago
Reply to  N Forster

have you had your sore treated?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago

It’s time you got banned, Nicky.

Richard Craven
RC
Richard Craven
11 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

It’s time you people got banned, Clare.

Richard Craven
RC
Richard Craven
11 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

It’s time you people got banned, Clare.

Clare Knight
CK
Clare Knight
11 months ago

It’s time you got banned, Nicky.

MARK TEAGUE
MT
MARK TEAGUE
11 months ago
Reply to  N Forster

Hilarious burn. I disagree and joined Unherd specifically to read her, but I laughed out loud!

Simon Neale
Simon Neale
11 months ago
Reply to  N Forster

Every few weeks Kat seems to convince the editors to have her write another article about her hobby. But the pickings are getting a bit slim. 

It might be a time for Kat to do some research and write about something worth reading on the topic.

Nevertheless, may she be happy, may she be well, may she be free from all suffering, eh?

Sayantani Gupta Jafa
Sayantani Gupta Jafa
11 months ago
Reply to  N Forster

Yoga has always been a deeply linked regimen to Hindu spiritual celibacy. All saints and sadhus practiced it as did any householder going on to the ” vanaprastha” stage of life – essentially middle age when celibacy was to be attained.
It was also practiced by warriors to establish control over physical desires.
It certainly doesn’t arise from Swedish exercises.

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
11 months ago
Reply to  N Forster

…well there all that ancient kama sutra stuff which looks the people had to do are fair bit of stretching.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
11 months ago
Reply to  N Forster

have you had your sore treated?

MARK TEAGUE
MARK TEAGUE
11 months ago
Reply to  N Forster

Hilarious burn. I disagree and joined Unherd specifically to read her, but I laughed out loud!

Simon Neale
Simon Neale
11 months ago
Reply to  N Forster

Every few weeks Kat seems to convince the editors to have her write another article about her hobby. But the pickings are getting a bit slim. 

It might be a time for Kat to do some research and write about something worth reading on the topic.

Nevertheless, may she be happy, may she be well, may she be free from all suffering, eh?

Sayantani Gupta Jafa
Sayantani Gupta Jafa
11 months ago
Reply to  N Forster

Yoga has always been a deeply linked regimen to Hindu spiritual celibacy. All saints and sadhus practiced it as did any householder going on to the ” vanaprastha” stage of life – essentially middle age when celibacy was to be attained.
It was also practiced by warriors to establish control over physical desires.
It certainly doesn’t arise from Swedish exercises.

N Forster
NF
N Forster
11 months ago

Every few weeks Kat seems to convince the editors to have her write another article about her hobby. But the pickings are getting a bit slim. 

It might be a time for Kat to do some research and write about something worth reading on the topic.

“The traditional yoga poses I teach – many of which haven’t changed for centuries – were designed for men.”

There is no evidence that yoga poses (asanas) go back centuries. We can assume people have exercised for centuries and there is evidence that people practised formal meditation whilst sitting, standing, lying down and walking. But there is no evidence to support the idea that Indians practised “yoga postures” for centuries. Also the notion that asanas in and of themselves constitute a spiritual practice is without scriptural support.

There is evidence that modern yoga practice can be dated back to 1930s Mysore, and that the postures then were designed with pre pubescent Brahmin boys in mind. Not men.
What we can also say is that the main source of the postures was the British Army training manual, which itself owed much to Swedish Ling Gymnastics. Which was founded in the early 1800s.
With this in mind Kat might like to swap her Sanskrit prayer at the beginning of class for the first verse of “God save the King.” It would be more authentic. 

An accurate history of modern yoga would be interesting. Whinging that men aren’t being criticised, isn’t.

Last edited 11 months ago by N Forster
Pat Rowles
PR
Pat Rowles
11 months ago

A surprising consensus emerged among the men, that fruit was categorically feminine…a man might dare to eat a peach and remain secure in his masculinity; a banana, on the other hand, suggests entirely too much.

I usually enjoy Kat’s articles, but the first paragraph is just b0ll0cks of the highest order.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
11 months ago
Reply to  Pat Rowles

Dunno, Pat, I don’t do fruit either. Or, at least, only when processed into actual food. Apple (crumble), pear (belle Helene), strawberry (jam), banana (.. offee pie), raspberry (trifle), pineapple (upside down pudding).

Last edited 11 months ago by Dougie Undersub
Pat Rowles
PR
Pat Rowles
11 months ago

Fair enough, Dougie, but I’d wager that’s a matter of personal taste rather than perception that the fruits are inherently masculine/feminine (unless there’s a level of irony I’m missing here!).

Clare Knight
CK
Clare Knight
11 months ago
Reply to  Pat Rowles

Methinks our Dougie was jesting.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago
Reply to  Pat Rowles

Methinks our Dougie was jesting.

Kirsten Walstedt
KW
Kirsten Walstedt
11 months ago

I’ve heard people (well, idiots) say that eating dessert isn’t masculine

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
11 months ago

I eat two or three bananas every day for the electrolytes.

Pat Rowles
Pat Rowles
11 months ago

Fair enough, Dougie, but I’d wager that’s a matter of personal taste rather than perception that the fruits are inherently masculine/feminine (unless there’s a level of irony I’m missing here!).

Kirsten Walstedt
KW
Kirsten Walstedt
11 months ago

I’ve heard people (well, idiots) say that eating dessert isn’t masculine

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
11 months ago

I eat two or three bananas every day for the electrolytes.

Clare Knight
CK
Clare Knight
11 months ago
Reply to  Pat Rowles

Banana eating can be a bit tricky for both sexes.

andy young
andy young
11 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

I slice mine up. What is the symbolism there I wonder? Or perhaps otherwise they won’t fit in the dessert bowl.

andy young
AY
andy young
11 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

I slice mine up. What is the symbolism there I wonder? Or perhaps otherwise they won’t fit in the dessert bowl.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
11 months ago
Reply to  Pat Rowles

Dunno, Pat, I don’t do fruit either. Or, at least, only when processed into actual food. Apple (crumble), pear (belle Helene), strawberry (jam), banana (.. offee pie), raspberry (trifle), pineapple (upside down pudding).

Last edited 11 months ago by Dougie Undersub
Clare Knight
CK
Clare Knight
11 months ago
Reply to  Pat Rowles

Banana eating can be a bit tricky for both sexes.

Pat Rowles
Pat Rowles
11 months ago

A surprising consensus emerged among the men, that fruit was categorically feminine…a man might dare to eat a peach and remain secure in his masculinity; a banana, on the other hand, suggests entirely too much.

I usually enjoy Kat’s articles, but the first paragraph is just b0ll0cks of the highest order.

tom j
tom j
11 months ago

“Computer coding was the purview of female ‘calculators’, until it was overtaken in the Eighties by hungry hordes of Tech Bros”
This is utter nonsense. I get it than here in 2023 you can pretty much make up your history if it sounds good politically, but programming has always been an almost entirely masculine pursuit. To take one example the key building blocks for modern computing, the Unix operating system and the C language, were built by Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie in the late 60s and early 70s.

William Shaw
William Shaw
11 months ago
Reply to  tom j

There were women employed as “computers.” They were called that because they computed numbers.
Apparently, the writer doesn’t understand the difference between using an adding machine and writing computer code… or maybe she’s bending the facts and inventing a side story that supports her main message.
Whatever, she failed.

Last edited 11 months ago by William Shaw
Aidan A
Aidan A
11 months ago
Reply to  tom j

So true. NPR, here in the US, propagated this nonsense too in their radio shows. There is a Wiki article on this topic and it coyly explains that there was a time when women used computers more than men simply because they were secretaries. At the time when manual typing machines were replaced by computer. But, these women were never software developers. Nonetheless, this doesn’t stop many articles, radio shows, etc. to postulate that it was the patriarchal society that flipped this around by discouraging women to use computers and play with dolls instead. And because of that men end up in technology and women in other fields. Crazy and insidious.

George Heingartner
George Heingartner
11 months ago
Reply to  tom j

“overtaken in the Eighties” 
I like Kat’s pieces but this is dead wrong.
Born in ’67, I’ve had a ringside seat for the rise & reign of personal computers and related IT.
From the Altair to the Apple ][ to the 5150 to the Mac to the x86 ascendancy to the dawn of the Internet (the one we’re using now, not ARPA or NSF), the whole shebang was, from the start, such a Boys’ Club as to make Mt Athos look like Smith College.
Same thing was true for mainframe/mini computers, the academic Unix scene, CGI tech in Hollywood and so on.
It’s going too far to claim there were NO women – but they were few and far between. Only in recent years (post-2000) have things begun to shift but even now, five decades on, it’s nowhere near 50/50.

Last edited 11 months ago by George Heingartner
Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago
Reply to  tom j

That makes sense, Tom. It didn’t seem right as I read the female calculators bit.

William Shaw
William Shaw
11 months ago
Reply to  tom j

There were women employed as “computers.” They were called that because they computed numbers.
Apparently, the writer doesn’t understand the difference between using an adding machine and writing computer code… or maybe she’s bending the facts and inventing a side story that supports her main message.
Whatever, she failed.

Last edited 11 months ago by William Shaw
Aidan A
AA
Aidan A
11 months ago
Reply to  tom j

So true. NPR, here in the US, propagated this nonsense too in their radio shows. There is a Wiki article on this topic and it coyly explains that there was a time when women used computers more than men simply because they were secretaries. At the time when manual typing machines were replaced by computer. But, these women were never software developers. Nonetheless, this doesn’t stop many articles, radio shows, etc. to postulate that it was the patriarchal society that flipped this around by discouraging women to use computers and play with dolls instead. And because of that men end up in technology and women in other fields. Crazy and insidious.

George Heingartner
George Heingartner
11 months ago
Reply to  tom j

“overtaken in the Eighties” 
I like Kat’s pieces but this is dead wrong.
Born in ’67, I’ve had a ringside seat for the rise & reign of personal computers and related IT.
From the Altair to the Apple ][ to the 5150 to the Mac to the x86 ascendancy to the dawn of the Internet (the one we’re using now, not ARPA or NSF), the whole shebang was, from the start, such a Boys’ Club as to make Mt Athos look like Smith College.
Same thing was true for mainframe/mini computers, the academic Unix scene, CGI tech in Hollywood and so on.
It’s going too far to claim there were NO women – but they were few and far between. Only in recent years (post-2000) have things begun to shift but even now, five decades on, it’s nowhere near 50/50.

Last edited 11 months ago by George Heingartner
Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago
Reply to  tom j

That makes sense, Tom. It didn’t seem right as I read the female calculators bit.

tom j
tom j
11 months ago

“Computer coding was the purview of female ‘calculators’, until it was overtaken in the Eighties by hungry hordes of Tech Bros”
This is utter nonsense. I get it than here in 2023 you can pretty much make up your history if it sounds good politically, but programming has always been an almost entirely masculine pursuit. To take one example the key building blocks for modern computing, the Unix operating system and the C language, were built by Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie in the late 60s and early 70s.

William Shaw
William Shaw
11 months ago

I always thought women liked yoga because it was an excuse to dress up in clothes that would otherwise be considered age inappropriate. Plus there’s the whole female group activity aspects which replace the berry gathering of our distant female ancestors.
p.s. Anyone who has a heated debate about fruit obviously doesn’t have any real issues in their life.

Last edited 11 months ago by William Shaw
Kirsten Walstedt
KW
Kirsten Walstedt
11 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

Oh God not the berry gathering again. I also just heard someone saying that women can’t help shoplifting as it’s a displacement activity for our ‘instinct’ to gather nuts and berries

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago

Really?!! That’s laugh out loud funny. Thanks.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago

Really?!! That’s laugh out loud funny. Thanks.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

There were other female group activities after the berry gathering like quilting, knitting, scrapbooking, cards, food preparation and on and on.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
11 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Really? What else did you people get up to?

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
11 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Really? What else did you people get up to?

Kirsten Walstedt
Kirsten Walstedt
11 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

Oh God not the berry gathering again. I also just heard someone saying that women can’t help shoplifting as it’s a displacement activity for our ‘instinct’ to gather nuts and berries

Clare Knight
CK
Clare Knight
11 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

There were other female group activities after the berry gathering like quilting, knitting, scrapbooking, cards, food preparation and on and on.

William Shaw
William Shaw
11 months ago

I always thought women liked yoga because it was an excuse to dress up in clothes that would otherwise be considered age inappropriate. Plus there’s the whole female group activity aspects which replace the berry gathering of our distant female ancestors.
p.s. Anyone who has a heated debate about fruit obviously doesn’t have any real issues in their life.

Last edited 11 months ago by William Shaw
Keith Payne
Keith Payne
11 months ago

Since when has fruit been a gender issue? I’ve always eaten loads of them without the urge to wear skirts.

Terry Davies
Terry Davies
11 months ago
Reply to  Keith Payne

That made me chuckle!

Stevie K
SK
Stevie K
11 months ago
Reply to  Keith Payne

Agree with you completely. I think from experience that it’s a US culture thing, and quite hilarious.

Terry Davies
TD
Terry Davies
11 months ago
Reply to  Keith Payne

That made me chuckle!

Stevie K
SK
Stevie K
11 months ago
Reply to  Keith Payne

Agree with you completely. I think from experience that it’s a US culture thing, and quite hilarious.

Keith Payne
Keith Payne
11 months ago

Since when has fruit been a gender issue? I’ve always eaten loads of them without the urge to wear skirts.

Rob N
Rob N
11 months ago

Also strange how horse riding has gone from being a manly warrior skill to being a woman’s past time.

Now that men are rarely manly let alone warriors they seem to be losing many of those manly pastimes eg dancing, fighting, standing up for the oppressed etc

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
11 months ago
Reply to  Rob N

Just standing up straight. Maybe even tucking our shirts in occasionally

Kirsten Walstedt
Kirsten Walstedt
11 months ago
Reply to  Rob N

All you need to do to reclaim your manly arts is to do them. Women aren’t trying to stop you

Rob N
Rob N
11 months ago

You are right and, incidentally, I do ride, do martial arts etc but lots of manly skills are nowadays derided and / or toxic so clearly some women, and men, are trying to stop manliness.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago
Reply to  Rob N

Why would derision stop you from doing anything you wanted to do if you’re manly?

Clare Knight
CK
Clare Knight
11 months ago
Reply to  Rob N

Why would derision stop you from doing anything you wanted to do if you’re manly?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago

Well said, Kirsten.

Rob N
Rob N
11 months ago

You are right and, incidentally, I do ride, do martial arts etc but lots of manly skills are nowadays derided and / or toxic so clearly some women, and men, are trying to stop manliness.

Clare Knight
CK
Clare Knight
11 months ago

Well said, Kirsten.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
11 months ago
Reply to  Rob N

Just standing up straight. Maybe even tucking our shirts in occasionally

Kirsten Walstedt
Kirsten Walstedt
11 months ago
Reply to  Rob N

All you need to do to reclaim your manly arts is to do them. Women aren’t trying to stop you

Rob N
Rob N
11 months ago

Also strange how horse riding has gone from being a manly warrior skill to being a woman’s past time.

Now that men are rarely manly let alone warriors they seem to be losing many of those manly pastimes eg dancing, fighting, standing up for the oppressed etc

Karl Juhnke
Karl Juhnke
11 months ago

Wow. Some interesting discussions in your house. The food pyramid shows us what to eat. I don’t remember seeing any gender attached to that.

Karl Juhnke
KJ
Karl Juhnke
11 months ago

Wow. Some interesting discussions in your house. The food pyramid shows us what to eat. I don’t remember seeing any gender attached to that.

Sayantani Gupta Jafa
Sayantani Gupta Jafa
11 months ago

Yoga was always a masculine pursuit in India, but also practiced by women who took up a ” sadhvi” role of renouncing conjugal life. See for instance Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay’s novel Devi Chaudhurani where the heroine is a lady escaping marauding Muslims to take up a life of arms and strict physical discipline through Yoga.( This was a novel loosely based on a true story).
So Yoga is not strictly either a masculine or feminine pursuit in Hindu ways. Rather it is connected with the celibate life of strict discipline and internal control over pleasurable senses.
What the 1960s counter culture has made of Yoga is something entirely different to Yogas deeply spiritual Hindu roots.
Some of the comments below are steeped in ignorant prejudice of both Hindu philosophy and practices.
As a believer in the Hindu way of life I request that loose dinner party chatter style bon- mots denigrating Yoga and it’s spiritual Hindu roots are not made.

Last edited 11 months ago by Sayantani Gupta Jafa
Kirsten Walstedt
KW
Kirsten Walstedt
11 months ago

That novel sounds fascinating. Off to find a copy…

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago

Ah well, there you go trying to control people in the name of religion. Nice try. How about getting a sense of humor.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
11 months ago

“As a believer in the Hindu way of life I request that loose dinner party chatter style bon- mots denigrating Yoga and it’s spiritual Hindu roots are not made.”
I say what I like when I like to whom I like, and will make it my business henceforth to denigrate Yoga and its spiritual Hindu roots at every dinner party I attend.

Kirsten Walstedt
Kirsten Walstedt
11 months ago

That novel sounds fascinating. Off to find a copy…

Clare Knight
CK
Clare Knight
11 months ago

Ah well, there you go trying to control people in the name of religion. Nice try. How about getting a sense of humor.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
11 months ago

“As a believer in the Hindu way of life I request that loose dinner party chatter style bon- mots denigrating Yoga and it’s spiritual Hindu roots are not made.”
I say what I like when I like to whom I like, and will make it my business henceforth to denigrate Yoga and its spiritual Hindu roots at every dinner party I attend.

Sayantani Gupta Jafa
SG
Sayantani Gupta Jafa
11 months ago

Yoga was always a masculine pursuit in India, but also practiced by women who took up a ” sadhvi” role of renouncing conjugal life. See for instance Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay’s novel Devi Chaudhurani where the heroine is a lady escaping marauding Muslims to take up a life of arms and strict physical discipline through Yoga.( This was a novel loosely based on a true story).
So Yoga is not strictly either a masculine or feminine pursuit in Hindu ways. Rather it is connected with the celibate life of strict discipline and internal control over pleasurable senses.
What the 1960s counter culture has made of Yoga is something entirely different to Yogas deeply spiritual Hindu roots.
Some of the comments below are steeped in ignorant prejudice of both Hindu philosophy and practices.
As a believer in the Hindu way of life I request that loose dinner party chatter style bon- mots denigrating Yoga and it’s spiritual Hindu roots are not made.

Last edited 11 months ago by Sayantani Gupta Jafa
Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
11 months ago

Can’t Unherd find anything else to write about?!!!!

Nicky Samengo-Turner
NS
Nicky Samengo-Turner
11 months ago

Can’t Unherd find anything else to write about?!!!!

Kirsten Walstedt
Kirsten Walstedt
11 months ago

I was raised in the 1970s when loads of men, including my Dad, did yoga, and fruits and foods were not divided into masculine and feminine. There was no Lulu Lemon, no “namaste,” no Gwyneth, no nothing. It was just people in shorts and leotards on cheap mats doing stretches and poses. Men were secure enough in their masculinity that they did not obsess about every food, gesture, or piece of clothing and whether it was coded male or female. What a stunning relief it would be if I could go back to that time now.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago

You can. You don’t have to follow the herd.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago

You can. You don’t have to follow the herd.

Kirsten Walstedt
KW
Kirsten Walstedt
11 months ago

I was raised in the 1970s when loads of men, including my Dad, did yoga, and fruits and foods were not divided into masculine and feminine. There was no Lulu Lemon, no “namaste,” no Gwyneth, no nothing. It was just people in shorts and leotards on cheap mats doing stretches and poses. Men were secure enough in their masculinity that they did not obsess about every food, gesture, or piece of clothing and whether it was coded male or female. What a stunning relief it would be if I could go back to that time now.

David Little
DL
David Little
11 months ago

I’m a retired US military and married and in excellent condition. I swim three days per week, walk 12 miles per week and do Yoga at home two days and in a morning class every Monday. I am the only male in my class. I enjoy the workout which is challenging. The women there are pretty much as the author describes. They mostly ignore me. There is much to be said about doing poses in a room full of attractive women wearing spandex!
BTW, I eat lots of fruit.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago
Reply to  David Little

Apparently.

Clare Knight
CK
Clare Knight
11 months ago
Reply to  David Little

Apparently.

David Little
DL
David Little
11 months ago

I’m a retired US military and married and in excellent condition. I swim three days per week, walk 12 miles per week and do Yoga at home two days and in a morning class every Monday. I am the only male in my class. I enjoy the workout which is challenging. The women there are pretty much as the author describes. They mostly ignore me. There is much to be said about doing poses in a room full of attractive women wearing spandex!
BTW, I eat lots of fruit.

Filipa Antonia Barata de Araujo
Filipa Antonia Barata de Araujo
11 months ago

I’ll just leave here this information: Tom Hiddleston, one of the few actors who played in super-hero films without becoming an advertisement to steroids and injectable testosterone, (in Portugal, an actor who used to brag about exercizing almost died due to illegal injections of testosterone) used to practise yoga to achieve fluid movements.

Filipa Antonia Barata de Araujo
FB
Filipa Antonia Barata de Araujo
11 months ago

I’ll just leave here this information: Tom Hiddleston, one of the few actors who played in super-hero films without becoming an advertisement to steroids and injectable testosterone, (in Portugal, an actor who used to brag about exercizing almost died due to illegal injections of testosterone) used to practise yoga to achieve fluid movements.

Brendan Ross
BR
Brendan Ross
11 months ago

Namaslay?
Probably no better word exists to encapsulate the upper middle class female obsession with yoga currently.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago
Reply to  Brendan Ross

White females.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
11 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

You people.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
11 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

You people.

Clare Knight
CK
Clare Knight
11 months ago
Reply to  Brendan Ross

White females.

Brendan Ross
BR
Brendan Ross
11 months ago

Namaslay?
Probably no better word exists to encapsulate the upper middle class female obsession with yoga currently.

Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
11 months ago

Men work out; women go to fitness classes. amiright?

James P
JP
James P
11 months ago

My wife works out and walks hills that cause others to have heart attacks. No fitness classes
In the last 40 years.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago
Reply to  James P

Not everyone has access to big hills, or a year-round, outdoorsy climate.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago
Reply to  James P

Not everyone has access to big hills, or a year-round, outdoorsy climate.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago

You’re right.

James P
James P
11 months ago

My wife works out and walks hills that cause others to have heart attacks. No fitness classes
In the last 40 years.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago

You’re right.

Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
11 months ago

Men work out; women go to fitness classes. amiright?

Aphrodite Rises
AR
Aphrodite Rises
11 months ago

I guess the author is a member of the chattering classes: People come and go, talking of Michelangelo.

Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
11 months ago

I guess the author is a member of the chattering classes: People come and go, talking of Michelangelo.

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
11 months ago

…lovely.

Bernard Hill
BH
Bernard Hill
11 months ago

…lovely.

TheElephant InTheRoom
TI
TheElephant InTheRoom
11 months ago

Snore.

TheElephant InTheRoom
TheElephant InTheRoom
11 months ago

Snore.

Simon S
SS
Simon S
11 months ago

Just found this article. I guess I am too late for anyone to ready my comment but here goes.
I started practicing yoga in Miami in 2016. At most classes where I go, just under half are guys. And just for those who are wondering and want it spelled out, none of us are gay or even effeminate. In fact, in my experience yoga is a distinctly heterosexual world – unlike gyms, where gays make themselves so evident and often seem barely able to walk in a straight line because some of their muscles are so over-developed.
On the physical side, yoga builds strength, balance and flexibility. Yet yoga asana (just waiting for the giggling at that word) – the postures – are only one arm of what Patanjali about 2,000 years ago described as the “eight arms” of yoga, the others being: moral restraints (4 of these), positive observances (4 also), breathing techniques, withdrawing of the senses, focused concentration, meditative absorption, and bliss.
Yoga is heady, exciting stuff. At times it has produced for me extraordinary transcendental experiences. What is evident from the article as well as the commentators, however, is a complete disdain for the spiritual aspect of the practice, which is a sad reflection on the materialism that dominates Western culture.

Simon S
Simon S
11 months ago

Just found this article. I guess I am too late for anyone to ready my comment but here goes.
I started practicing yoga in Miami in 2016. At most classes where I go, just under half are guys. And just for those who are wondering and want it spelled out, none of us are gay or even effeminate. In fact, in my experience yoga is a distinctly heterosexual world – unlike gyms, where gays make themselves so evident and often seem barely able to walk in a straight line because some of their muscles are so over-developed.
On the physical side, yoga builds strength, balance and flexibility. Yet yoga asana (just waiting for the giggling at that word) – the postures – are only one arm of what Patanjali about 2,000 years ago described as the “eight arms” of yoga, the others being: moral restraints (4 of these), positive observances (4 also), breathing techniques, withdrawing of the senses, focused concentration, meditative absorption, and bliss.
Yoga is heady, exciting stuff. At times it has produced for me extraordinary transcendental experiences. What is evident from the article as well as the commentators, however, is a complete disdain for the spiritual aspect of the practice, which is a sad reflection on the materialism that dominates Western culture.

John Riordan
JR
John Riordan
11 months ago

If the ladies want to shimmy about in leggings that look, frankly, as if they were sprayed on, I personally have no objection whatsoever. They don’t just wear them in the yoga studio, they wear them everywhere, it seems.

I do find it odd that this is acceptable to a generation of women that made such a fuss about banning Page 3 girls in the newspaper, but I’m not complaining.

John Riordan
JR
John Riordan
11 months ago

If the ladies want to shimmy about in leggings that look, frankly, as if they were sprayed on, I personally have no objection whatsoever. They don’t just wear them in the yoga studio, they wear them everywhere, it seems.

I do find it odd that this is acceptable to a generation of women that made such a fuss about banning Page 3 girls in the newspaper, but I’m not complaining.