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Men in Yoga: We Did the Numbers

yogi lifted plank pose train station

In honor of Father's Day, we researched men in yoga -- one of our favorite topics. We turfed up lots of interesting info and even got into the nitty gritty numbers. Read on for reasons that more men are showing up to class, working yoga into their basic fitness, using it to hone athletic performance, and our predictions for the future.

The age-old protest that men are 'not flexible enough' to do yoga is increasingly being shattered. Says the founder of @boysofyoga, "that's like someone refusing to shower because they are too dirty, or refusing dinner because they are too hungry"..."yoga is exactly what guys need to do". Word. The proof is in the pudding, and as more guys snatch up the innumerable benefits that yoga brings, the image of men in yoga is shifting: rapidly.

yogi reverse warrior poseThe other oft-cited barrier of being surrounded by bendy women in class, deftly twisting into intimidating shapes is breaking down too, as more and more cool yoga dudes show up in class and show off their prowess on Instagram. There is now a plethora of male yoga role models IRL or online, that combine strength and toughness, with conversations about meditation, healing, calm and focus.

While American yoga's image has historically been more gal-dominated, the practice is really an integration of more 'yang' or masculine elements, and more feminine 'yin' elements. As men cautiously approach the practice (or stampede, really, as we'll see below) they find this blend to be incredibly helpful. Says @boysofyoga's Michael Wong, "If you're the type that lives in a high impact, high-speed, high-strung, hard-hitting, chaotic life, coming to yoga to 'soften up' is hardly a bad thing." Even hard-hitting tough-guy curator of top performers Tim Ferriss agrees that the cat's out of the bag: relaxation and de-stressing increases calm and focus, and permits better life and professional decision-making.

Articles now pepper even the most traditional male publications. Men's Journal lists the top reasons for men to jump into yoga despite initial sheepishness: (TLDR) relieve stress, get flexible, build more muscle, prevent workout injuries, better sex, calm your mind, and smell better. Hard to argue!

The data is even more impressive. In honor of dads everywhere, we brought out our inner geeks and got to work.

chart showing trends of men in yoga
According to Yoga Journal's last two Yoga In America surveys, the number of yogis in America increased from 20 million to a whopping 36 million in just three years! That's a 16% annual growth rate (CAGR). Here is the part that is not well known: the percentage of men also increased from 18% to 28% - 12% growth rate (CAGR) *per year*. That's not 'significant', that's a demographic shift. Unfortunately these surveys are only done every four years and YJ seems to be the main authority on this topic, so we we don't really know the statistics for today. *However*, using the magic of algebra, we can project these rates forward and come up with some really good guesses.

If historic rates continue, next year will see 66 million yoga practitioners in America, and 44% of those male. That's almost half! Was the initial period just an initial spike as word spread about the magic of yoga amongst men? Is there a natural leveling off point, or is there a massive stealth male yogi movement that will be revealed by YJ's report next year? If yoga classes aren't almost half men today, are they practicing at home and in gyms? Hard to say, but it's nice to think about.

For now it's safe to say that the rich benefits of yoga are beginning to overflow the out-dated gender stereotypes of what a yogi looks and acts like, and reach yogis of all persuasions.