I had an interesting conversation with a student practitioner this week. He noticed a flyer that had yet another female model and commented that it would be nice to see a male model on, well, just about
anything. As our conversation progressed, we noted that female models are the standard - to my recollection Yoga Journal has not used a male cover model in the 5 years I've had a subscription, I have not seen a male model on Yoga International or Yoga Fit, the other two magazines I occasionally pick up. To the best of my knowledge, I have seen one poster advertising a Yoga Journal Convention with a guy on it - but that was one out of 3 or 4 they do yearly and I haven't seen any since then.
He went on to extrapolate that when he's out on a date or talking to other gals, he has to get to know them - and their attitudes toward yoga - before telling them he does yoga because they might take it the wrong way. I found that simply appalling.
How ever did yoga shift to this female dominated presence? And why such negative attitudes towards guys doing yoga? Or guys modeling yoga?
Let's review the history of yoga here folks:
It's from India.
It's over 5000 years old.
It was practiced by guys. In some sects, you could only practice if you were a Brahman, a renuciate, or a young male.
Women were not allowed to practice yoga until the early 1900's and even then many were discouraged from doing active postures.
Krishnamacharia was the first to be willing to teach a woman (1920s), and he was a harsh taskmaster. Indra Devi had to prove she could handle anything he challenged her with, and she exceeded her teachers expectations and went on with his blessings to become a world renown yoga instructor.
Pattabhi Jois began teaching women in the late 1960's early 1970's.
Even in India today, classes are predominantly male with most female students from other countries.
As we talked, I also pointed out that the majority of weekend workshops (Ashtanga based) I attend are led by male instructors: David Williams, Doug Swenson, David Swenson, Manju Jois, Govinda, Matthew Sweeney. Upcoming workshops are again, male dominated: Michael Gannon, Michael Hamilton, Govinda. My favorite in town instructor is a guy. I've attended only two workshops (again, Ashtanga based) led by women. I know there are fantastic female instructors out there: Kino MacGregor, Beryle Bender Birch, Nancy Gilgoff all come to mind, but they are in a minority.
I popped over to the YJ website and perused their yoga photos. 98% are women. I googled yoga photos under free clip are. Again, predominately women. I begin to understand why guys don't want to do yoga in the States. They are constantly bombarded with pictures of young uber flexy-bendy women in their fashionable outfits doing pretzel poses. I can see where a guy would draw the conclusion that a yoga class is going to be full of flexy-bendy gals and there is no place for a lumpy stiff-as-a-board middle aged-fellow who just wants to get in shape. Ya know, all that marketing turns me off too.
So I come back to my main question, why is it so unpalatable to have a male model on the cover of a magazine or a flyer? Afterall, guys do yoga too, and have been for 5000 years.