Updated: Oct 10, 2019
I have always been bothered by the lack of men in yoga. For some time I was also actively trying to recruit more dudes, because I felt it would be a good thing for everyone.
And I saw a little spike in XY-chromosome attendance, but now it's back to how it's mostly been, 0,1,2 sometimes 3 or even 4, every now and then 5 male yogis per class.
Guys come and go. They claim to enjoy the practice. They say it was challenging and that it made them feel good. They ask questions, and they say that they'll be back. Yet, they very often don't come back.
Whenever and wherever I attend class, the count is very similar. Even when I go to male teachers.
Yesterday I watched a short documentary, where two young female journalists put an ad on a website pretending to be an 18-year old girl selling sex. With a hidden camera, they captured the meetings with these Johns (this was in Sweden, where it's illegal to buy sex but not to sell it), where they revealed that in fact they had been lying about their age, and where actually only sixteen. Buying sex from an underage girl (A.K.A a child) is a serious offence. But none of these men where bothered. When the girls told them that they had never sold sex before and they really didn't want to, but they just needed money badly, the men preceded to try to convince them that it would be fun, and that maybe they could just start with a little blow job in the car.
In the newspaper this morning, The Greta (Thunberg) affect was reported. It should come as no surprise to anyone that women care more about the environment than men do. But it's still infuriating.
A (male) friend of mine (who does practice yoga, but more sporadically than I think would be good) has started a men-only society, where men help each other help themselves. Normally I would be highly suspicious of a male-only space, as nearly the whole fucking world once was just that, a male-only space. But I do think that this is extremely important work.
This friend feels that men rarely talk about anything REAL. They shoot the shit but they don't deep-talk, like women do. Men suffer alone because that's how they've been raised.
We (still) live in a patriarchy. This is sadly the case, even in the my native land, Sweden, where we supposedly have a feminist government, and rank very high on UN's gender equality statistics (third best last time I checked behind fellow Nordics).
I think I started to become aware of gender inequality, sexism and how girls and boys are conditioned differently in my mid to late teens. And once I had started to see the disadvantage women were at, it was impossible to un-see.
In the last few years, in my role as a yoga teacher, and with the avalanche of #metoo, I've also become increasingly aware of how patriarchy fucks everyone, including men.
There was a time when I wished that I had been born a man, rather than a woman. Now, there's no fucking way in hell I would ever trade in my so called womanhood to be a man.
Men rarely have close friends. So when they are going through stuff, whether it's break-ups, depression, or just general confusion about life and what direction it will take, they have nobody to talk to about their problems. Unless of course they happen to be a lucky dude with female friends.
And talking really helps. Opening up helps. Being vulnerable takes a lot more courage than pretending to be cool and to not care. Loving more rather than less is a sign of strength, not weakness.
Through the years I have often observed that whenever a heterosexual couple within my circle of friends breaks up, the man tends to move into a new relationship more quickly than the woman. And I believe this is because the girlfriend probably was the only person in the dude's life that he could talk to about things that matter (if in fact he could ...), and so he quickly needed to find someone else so that he wouldn't be totally isolated.
I don't want to come across as a man-hating feminist (although watching things like the aforementioned prostitution documentary makes it easy to slide into male-bashing). I actually am blessed with many amazing, switched on dudes in my life. My brother, my boyfriend, my ex-husband, the many, many beautiful (male) humans that I'm friends with. And the few brave yoga dudes that I have the honour of having in class and on retreat regularly.
I think this is part of the problem. That due to patriarchy's fucked-up conditioning, the less strong and brave men feel too uncomfortable to practice in a room full of women.
For many reasons. They may feel competitive, like they can't be as 'good' or 'better' than the generally more flexible women. They may feel afraid that the women don't want them there. They may feel that yoga is an un-manly thing. They may feel too challenged.
I still wish that I would have more men in yoga class. Because that in turn would then attract even more men. And the numbers would continue to grow. And men need to connect with their bodies, to deeply feel them, feel the emotions in them. Let go of stress and maybe even trauma. Because they have all of this too. Men, just like women, need to figure out what's truly good for them, and who they really are, beyond the conditioning. And if men would learn to to this, it would be hugely beneficial for women too.
For now, I'll be happy with the few men who do keep coming, even if they often happen to be the only XY chromosome creature in a room full of powerful, badass females. Which is proof that they are pretty badass and secure in themselves. Otherwise they wouldn't be there.