“This ain’t your mama’s yoga,” he says. “I’m taking away the yogi parts and sneaking in the back door and rebranding it as a strengthening workout where guys see results. Because that’s what guys want.”
Maybe so. But traditionalists point out that if you erase yoga’s soft-and-spiritual side, it’s no longer yoga. A wiser approach may be to dial back the New Ageisms and preach the Zen of Zach Galifianakis in The Hangover: Happiness comes only when a man opens his “one-man wolf pack” for others to join.
“Men are taught this ridiculous image of John Wayne or Tom Cruise alone, fighting against the world,” Yee says. “But as humans, we’re all yearning for a deeper connection, and that’s what yoga teaches us: the power and strength of connectivity.”
Which brings us to the most obvious way of selling men on yoga: as a way to connect with women.
“There’s no better place to find smokin’-hot women than in a yoga studio,” Page says. “Sure, these women have their soft, namaste side. But they’re also really cool women who take care of their bodies.”
Most teachers are understandably leery of turning yoga into the new meet market. Yoginis come to class to stretch, not to get hit on by some would-be Romeo on a mission to free his chakra — or at least not one as buffoonish as “Ogden: The Inappropriate Yoga Guy” of YouTube fame. But in a field where all other efforts have failed, spreading the word about yoga’s high female-to-male ratio may be the last great hope for getting more men to do a camel, an eagle or a royal pigeon.
“It seems so obvious: ‘Wow! If you want to meet women, go to a yoga class!’ ” Yee says. “It’s actually quite strange more men haven’t figured it out.”
And even if desire is what first brings men into the studio, so be it. Chances are they’ll soon fall in love with the true nature of yoga.
As David Sunshine of the Dallas Yoga Center puts it: “A lot of guys say, ‘I came wanting to see good-looking [ladies]. … But now, after I’ve been on the mat for a while, I’ve learned to turn my awareness inward.’ ”
Thor Christensen is an author, a journalist and a longtime yogi who is based in Dallas. His handstand is pathetic, but he does a mean flying crow.