Not just for women: More Vancouver yoga options for men

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      The other day, I told my five-year-old nephew that I was going to yoga.

      "Yoga's for girls!" he exclaimed.

      Aiyah, even tykes think yoga isn't for guys.

      I've been doing yoga for over a decade, and what I've noticed is that there tend to be more men in the more physically challenging or active classes, such as power or hot yoga, compared to more passive or gentle yoga, such as yin or candlelight yoga.

      I've also seen a range of guys, from powerhouse musclemen and jocks to heavyset men. As YoGuy founder Stacey Reeves told me (in an interview with him for my article about men's yoga), body type doesn't determine flexibility, as he's seen overweight guys who are extremely flexible, and has also had some skinny guys who lack the strength to do some poses.

      Yoga poses have also increasingly been integrated into stretches for warmups by everyone from personal trainers to coaches. So even if you don't think you've ever done yoga, you actually may have and not realized it.

      Here are a few more options for yoga for men to consider.

      While there are many yoga studios that match Reeves' observation that a lot of yoga environments feature a "feminized" space, there are numerous yoga studios that are unisex, such as Yyoga and classes at community centres.

      (The North Vancouver Recreation and Culture Commission lists a course called Real Men Do Yoga, which is based on hatha yoga but it's not currently available for registration.)

      Bikram's hot yoga, which is co-ed, lists some benefits of hot yoga for men on their site. Hot yoga has raised some debate among yoga practioners whether or not it is beneficial or detrimental.

      (As I mentioned before, I have noticed a lot of guys seem to be attracted to this form of yoga because it is much more challenging. I personally wouldn't recommend hot yoga as a starting point for newbies to yoga. I'd suggest taking a basic yoga class, to learn the proper elements of yoga without having to contend with the challenge of enduring the heat, humidity, and length of hot yoga classes. Maintaining a good fitness level is also beneficial before starting hot yoga as well.)

      For those interested in immersing themselves in a yoga retreat, the 10th 3HO Men's Camp will take place this summer (August 11 to 16) at Camp Raj Yog on the Sunshine Coast. There's everything from kundalini yoga and martial arts to meditation and workshops.

      For gay, bisexual, and queer men interested in practising yoga in a queer-positive space, Health Initiative for Men has been holding extremely popular free or by-donation Yoga With HIM classes led by certified instructors since 2009.

      The drop-in Vancouver classes, which usually pack in approximately 40 attendees, are held at the Scotiabank Dance Centre.

      Meanwhile, the new HIM in Surrey, which officially opened in December, now offers classes on Wednesdays.

      For more information, visit the HIM website.

      Finally, for those guys who want to be truly free from all restrictions and are interested in body acceptance, there's Nude Dude Yoga (founded in 2012). It's a club, rather than classes, where guys can practise yoga at sessions led by either professional instructors or experienced members but they've also offered workshops on meditation and tantric yoga.

      Something for guys to keep in mind is that you may have to shift your thinking and approach to yoga from other physical activities such as sports.

      As Yoga4Stiff Guys's Kate Misurka told me in an interview, it's best to be inspired by, rather than competitive with, others who may be more flexible than yourself. If you do tend to feel competitive or discouraged by others who are more advanced than you, then a basics class, rather than an all-levels class, is best.

      That's why patience is particularly important in yoga.

      "Patience and practise come hand-in-hand because if you don't practise patience, then you don't move forward," Misurka said.