Broga fills an exercise niche for guys



By Mary Austin

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Why is yoga more popular among women in the U.S.? The colorful, rolled-up mats and skin-tight pants may be to blame. Perhaps it’s the sitting in peace without beating each other up that turns men off of the exercise, but don’t be quick to judge this ancient practice.

The leaders of the pack are often men. In sixth century B.C., Buddha emphasized movement and meditation. B.K.S. Iyengar brought yoga to the Western world in the 1960s. Bikram Choudhury popularized hot yoga, during which the room is made to feel as sweltering as India.

Often urged by their wives, men have started coming to class. UK President Eli Capilouto told the Kernel when he first came to the school that he sometimes does yoga because it, and exercise in general, makes him “healthy in mind and spirit.” Even hip-hop king Russell Simmons, who founded Def Jam Records, shares this passion and has launched a yoga clothing and lifestyle line.

Some guys are using yoga to get ahead. Former UK linebackers Micah Johnson and Danny Trevathan took yoga to up their game. In the Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg flick “Celeste and Jesse Forever,” a character admits to going to class to meet girls. A friend of mine is dating a guy who is getting his teacher certification in India. He said going into a yoga class that is predominately women was intimidating at first.

He is not the only one who felt this way, so Robert Sidoti and Adam O’Neill designed Broga for their studio in Massachusetts. On the one hand, I applaud the founder of this class for making men feel welcome. However, ‘bro’ is a tad exclusive among men. Yes, it sends the message that you do not have to check masculinity at the door, but not every guy is interested in the bro aspect. Still, as the class description says, everyone is urged to come, including women.

What exactly can you expect from yoga? While mental and physical clarity come from all sorts of exercise, yogis will testify to the powers of hitting the mat. An uplifting session depends on the style, teacher, class level and your attitude.

Yoga is not simply about relieving stress. The postures and breaths can actually keep you energized throughout the day. “Asanas,” or poses, help regulate every bodily process, from sleep and brain functions, to appetite and digestion. Like any style of yoga, Broga has its distinctions. It focuses more on upper-body strength, and it offers the benefits of yoga as it leaves out the New Age vibe and other spiritual traits.

A teacher once described yoga’s power: at the start of yoga class, your mind is in pieces and your body is a brick, and when you leave, your body is in pieces and your mind is a brick. It is the action that matters, not the title, so if Broga can get more guys willing to try yoga, then it has accomplished everything it should.