This picture was taken at the Indian Embassy, Dubai on the International Day of Yoga 2017. Me and my friend Anna went with my yoga teachers and gurus Harikumar and Babu (far right) and took part in a class with over 100 people.
To me, there are lots of striking differences between this picture of yoga and the interpretation of yoga that we are used to seeing in the West. The main one being the number of men.
Yoga is thought to have originated in India over 5000 years ago and was traditionally a male only practice. Even today, yoga in India is not perceived as a ‘female’ form of exercise. In the group of people that I first practiced with, men outnumbered women,
sometimes two to one.
Many of the stretches are designed to strengthen and stretch the body, important for everyone, but especially those who play football, go to the gym or run (and often don’t stretch before or after). Yoga can help to prevent and recover from injuries, whilst improving balance and flexibility.
As well as the physical impact, yoga can also have a positive effect on mental health. The breathing techniques learnt can help to manage stress and anxiety, while the time taken to be quiet and still can provide the space needed to recharge and relax.
Gradually, the stigma of yoga being for middle-class skinny women is starting to change. If you are a man and want to give yoga a go but don’t know where to start, get in touch with your local studio (often certain classes will have more men than others). Better still, try a class with a friend or with your partner. It really isn’t as daunting as you might imagine. Feel free to send me a message or email if you have any questions :) and I’ll try my best to help.
If you’d like to give yoga a go during isolation, I have lots of classes on my YouTube channel: