Yoga, like any sport, doesn't come without its risks, however. And some research suggests that the risks to men could actually be greater than those to women. When New York Times reporter William J. Broad, author of "The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards," began reading mail from readers about his book, he realized that many more men were writing in with tales of yoga injuries than women.
When he investigated, he found that although men made up about 16 percent of the yoga population they seemed to account for between 24 and 30 percent of injuries occurring during yoga practice -- injuries like torn muscles, damaged ligaments, broken bones and dislocations. One instructor told him that because men have more muscle than women, "they can thus force themselves into challenging poses they might otherwise find impossible." Unfortunately, that can also lead to pain, muscle strain and injury. Broad also found a wide body of evidence citing the inert flexibility differences between men and women, specifically in the pelvis area. [Source: Broad]
One way for men to avoid particularly strenuous and potentially dangerous poses is to attend classes designed just for men. Some cities have guy-only studios, such as YoGuy in Vancouver, Canada; Broga, in Martha's Vineyard, New York City, San Diego, and Manitoba, Canada; and Le Male Yoga in New York City.
If you can't find a male-focused class near you, however, don't be discouraged. The number of men in yoga classes is on the rise, and most instructors are happy to have a better gender balance in their studios. Introduce yourself to your instructor before class and mention any injuries, concerns, or flexibility issues you have. He or she will be able to suggest modifications to any postures that might be too difficult, so you can have a safe and enjoyable workout.
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- Broad, William J. "The Perils of Yoga." New York Times. December 22, 2012. (June 2, 2013) http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/23/sunday-review/the-perils-of-yoga-for-men.html
- Broga. (June 3, 2013) http://brogayoga.com
- Burkhart, Laura. Founder, Yoga Reach International, and yoga instructor. Personal interview. March 21, 2013.
- Greenfield, Paige. "The 10 Best Poses for Men." Men's Health. (June 2, 2013) http://www.menshealth.com/yoga/basics/10_best_poses_for_men.php
- Hobday, Erin. "A First-Timer's Guide to Yoga." Men's Health. (June 2, 2013) http://www.menshealth.com/yoga/basics/first_timers_guide_to_yoga.php
- Le Male Yoga. (June 3, 2013) http://www.lemaleyoga.com/
- Miller, Tracy. "Yoga for Bros: As More Men Try Yoga, Retailers Roll Out Guy-Centric Yoga Products." New York Daily News. February 26, 2013. (June 2, 2013) http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/yoga-bros-retailers-roll-guy-centric-yoga-products-article-1.1274203
- Tilin, Andrew. "The Man Factor." Yoga Journal. (June 2, 2013) http://www.yogajournal.com/practice/2804
- Tilin, Andrew. "Where Are All the Men?" Yoga Journal. (June 2, 2013) http://www.yogajournal.com/lifestyle/2585
- Yoga Journal. "Yoga in America Study 2012" (June 2, 2013) http://www.yogajournal.com/press/press_release/40
- YoGuy (June 3, 2013) http://yoguy.ca/