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do many men practise yoga?
Yes, as I mentioned, at very least, 40% of all my students are male and I have many private clients who are men. And while it may appear in society that only women practise, the truth is very different. With no disrespect to women, the majority of yoga masters and gurus of this subject are male (in India at least). Be it physical masters or spiritual ones, it is a male dominated activity in the country where yoga grew up.
If you visit the many yoga institutes and colleges in India, 80% of pupils are male. This comes from the fact that yoga is in fact a science. Remember, the word yoga means unification. But unification (with the Spirit or God) can be achieved in many ways. In India, the women were generally Bhakti yogis, (Devotional people) who found God through prayer and chanting. It was in fact, the men who took to the structured, disciplined path of Patanjali’s yoga system.
I strongly believe that yoga is a mixed subject. That is to say that to be successful at this subject you would need a combination of the two innate sides to a person’s character – reason and feeling. At the higher end of the yogic spectrum lies meditation, which when taken to its greatest possible end (that is Samadhi – the unification of the soul and the Spirit) requires the masculine qualities of discipline, endurance, and focus, and the feminine traits of love and devotion (to the Spirit).
When I was studying yoga in India in 2002, I remember a teacher telling me, and I quote, “It is easier to go into the jungle and tame a wild lion, than control your own mind”. Yoga’s tools enable one to completely control their own mind. It takes more than external physical shows of strength to succeed in yoga; you need the inner strength of a thousand men to control the rampant mind full of ego, desire, and despondency.