Skip to content

Why yoga is a stretch for men

University of Southern Queensland researchers are investigating why men don't commonly practise yoga.

Novak Djokovic practises it daily, Prince Charles is a fan and big-name Hollywood stars Robert Downey Jr and Colin Farrell credit it for turning their lives around. 

Yoga is practised in various forms around the world and continues to grow in popularity, yet only two per cent of Aussie blokes, compared to 11 per cent of women, roll out a mat.

Researchers at the University of Southern Queensland have spent the past three years exploring the perceptions, barriers and motives of yoga practice among men.

PhD student and qualified yoga instructor Jonathan Cagas is leading the research, which aims to address the low participation of men in yoga.  

“The common perception among men is yoga is something only women do because they see classes made up of almost entirely women or they think yoga is not ‘manly’ or challenging enough,” he said.

“These are the main reasons why men are quite underrepresented in yoga, but our research has found there may be other factors as to why they don’t get involved or don’t want to get involved.

“These insights have allowed us to identify some potential strategies and initiatives that could help men overcome these barriers and increase the uptake of yoga and continued participation among men.”

Mr Cagas, who moved to Australia from the Philippines in 2017 to pursue his doctoral studies, said highlighting different aspects of yoga could appeal to a broader group of men.

“One of our key findings was men didn’t know there are many different styles of yoga, including some that might appeal more to them,” he said.

“There are styles that focus on relaxation or the restorative aspect of yoga, but there are also types that are physically challenging.

“On top of this, most yoga marketing and classes are geared towards women, which make men feel like they don’t fit in.

“Tailoring programs and promotions that meet the different needs and interests of men could draw more men into yoga and encourage continued participation, which is essential in gaining the long-term benefits of yoga.”

On International Day of Yoga (June 21), Director of the University of Southern Queensland’s Centre for Health Research Professor Stuart Biddle has encouraged blokes to not let stereotypes stop them from stretching into something new.

“The evidence is very strong that yoga is extremely beneficial for physical and mental health, and possibly even spiritual, but it’s more than that,” said Professor Biddle, a yoga enthusiast himself.

“It’s what we call a holistic movement practice as it engages not only the physical body, but also offers opportunities to engage other elements of holistic wellbeing, like connecting mind, body and breathing.”

International Day of Yoga is a United Nations-sanctioned awareness day, aimed at highlighting the many benefits of yoga.

“The message of yoga in promoting both the physical and mental wellbeing of people has never been more relevant with the COVID-19 pandemic still having an impact on many people’s lives,” Professor Biddle said. 

yoga instructor holding pose in class
University of Southern Queensland PhD student Jonathan Cagas is leading research into what deters men from taking more yoga classes.