To Broga or Yoga? That is Not the Question.

This weekend, during a post-yoga class discussion, I was introduced to the term “Broga Yoga”.  People were debating the merits of this relatively new approach to yoga pedagogy tailored specifically for men who seek the benefits of yoga and the overall intensity of a fitness regime from a male perspective.

I had never heard of Broga Yoga before this weekend.  The term both confused me and also intrigued me. As I tend to do when I’m confused (or intrigued), I do some research into the topic.

Here’s what I’ve found so far:

Broga Yoga was co-created by Americans Robert Sidoti (Creator & Co-Founder, certified yoga instructor and personal trainer) and Adam O’Neill (President of Broga LLC & Co-Founder; B.S. in Environmental Economics & Entrepreneurship from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst).

On its website, the Broga “system” of Yoga claims the following:


  • Our Mission

…is to offer men real tools for coping with daily stresses and demands through an accessible yoga-based fitness program taught from a man’s point of view. Broga is for every “body,” from the beginner yogi to the professional athlete.

  • Our Brograms©

…help men to live in their most organic selves: strong, peaceful, guided, internally and outwardly connected, powerful and compassionate from the inside out. Our Brograms, services and merchandise enable men to walk, compete, and live stronger, balanced lives.

  • Our Vision…

…is to increase the number of men, worldwide, practicing Broga and living authentically through our classes, workshops, retreats and teacher trainings in gyms, yoga studios, universities, high schools, prisons, police and fire departments, community centers, corporations, small and big businesses and in private family homes.  Our Broga retreats offer unique, world-class programming, from father and son health-adventure-vacations to corporate professional seminars.


I also found the below two videos featuring the Broga Yoga model which appear on Vimeo. The third video in particular features Robert Sidoti in a Broga sequence:


There is nothing particularly threatening about Broga Yoga; it’s another option in the marketplace

I suppose I am not in a position to weigh in on the merits of Broga Yoga at this juncture.  That’s because I haven’t had the chance to try one of these classes designed specifically for my gender.  There are no formal Broga Yoga class offerings in Edmonton (as far as I know).

Nonetheless, I would make the following comments (for what they’re worth).

There does not appear to be anything particularly threatening about the methodology employed in Broga Yoga class. Overall, from the videos I have watched, the instructors deploy a largely Vinyasa-based methodology with all manner of cross-training elements built into the overall flow and sequences. It is a high intensity workout. It is not as if the instructors are throwing out the baby with the bath water and starting afresh in their pedagogical approach to yoga for males.

Interestingly, Broga’s mission statement says that their class is designed with a “man’s point of view” in mind, but actually there seem to be a number of females who are taking up the class (at least evidenced in the videos I’ve posted above).

So, that brings me to another (hopefully) interesting point:  if women are taking the Broga Yoga class, which is designed in principle for men and men’s needs, where then does this leave Broga Yoga in fulfilling its mission statement, indeed its overall vision?   Are we not left with what we have had since the beginning – that is, just simply, and purely, yoga for all?

To Broga or Yoga?  That is not the question that matters.  What matters in the end is you (your mind as much as your body) and not the banner under which you carry out your yoga practice  

As in any marketplace, there are typically a variety of options to choose from before one selects their vendor of choice. Yoga is no different; it is a marketplace.  There are any number of yoga studios to choose from in any typical urban setting – each offering different styles of yoga and different instructors (although in many cases instructors will teach at different studios throughout the city).  The difference is this:  none of these yoga studios have yet to offer classes strictly for one gender or another.  Yoga, in my view, is not gender-selective.  I suppose that really is the point for many who know much more on the subject than I.   If my male colleagues are too afraid of how inferior or delinquent they may appear in front of their female counterparts during a typical Vinyasa class, perhaps this is a perception which ought to be promptly debunked by the class instructor sooner rather than later.

I can say that in my own experience, my yoga instructors have always explained how important it is that a student not compare their progress to another student – whether male or female.  That would defeat the basic point of yoga, wouldn’t it? Yoga is not about others. It’s fundamentally about you, as you find yourself in this moment.

This brings me to my last point.

Yoga is foremost a meditation.  Why should it be intermixed with cross-training tools? 

I suppose in a way, I am a traditionalist when it comes to the practice of yoga. For me, I am wed to the notion that yoga is foremost a meditation.   A meditation through breath, movement, strength and balance.  There is no need in my view to inject elements of cross-training into the overall flow or sequence.  Indeed, if the point of injecting these cross-training elements is to increase the intensity of the workout (i.e. increased heart rate), they need look no further than a regular hot flow class in a heated room at 38 degrees (Celsuis).  This class, I assure you, will leave any guy dripping in sweat after a 60 minute hot flow class.  It is one of the best cardio workouts I have stumbled upon in my yoga journey, and it does not involve push up sequences or any other comparable cross-training element at all.  What it does focus on the most, is the breath. And the breath is something which has been shown in the medical literature to lower one’s heart rate and blood pressure. These are both things that many, if not most men, come to monitor as they age.

Having said this, I can only speak to how for myself, I have found a gender-neutral yoga approach to have materially changed my body and my mind these last 9 months. My high blood pressure is gone; my gout – non-existent now.  And my arrhythmia?  I cannot think of a time in the last 9 months when I could feel my heart palpating out of my chest.

One of the aims of Broga Yoga is to help men to “…live in their most organic selves: strong, peaceful, guided, internally and outwardly connected, powerful and compassionate from the inside out.”  That, I cannot quarrel with.  If the evidence bears it out – and only time will tell – then Broga Yoga will be doing something very neat, indeed remarkable for the overall physical and spiritual health of my male counterparts.  There must always be a focus on the mind-body connection in yoga.  It should not be usurped in favour of the physical over the spiritual.

In the interim, I will be on the look out for a Broga Yoga class in Edmonton, but will continue to carry out faithfully my yoga practice with an ever increasing intention to live life in the here and now, and always mindfully.

The highest in me honors the highest in you. I hope you have a great week everyone.

Namaste,

Alex

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