Drive through just about any town these days and you’re bound to see a yoga studio. More and more are popping up every day; a 2012 Yoga Journal survey showed that 20.4 million Americans now practice yoga. Of those, 82 percent are women.
“Men’s bodies move differently than women’s,” Robert says. “So many guys go to a regular yoga class and they can’t even sit with their legs crossed. They’re just not as flexible as women. They’re more muscle-bound; they have a different pelvic structure. They walk into their first yoga class and feel defeated from the start.”
Enter Broga. Rooted in vinyasa and hatha yoga, Broga combines basic yoga postures (minus those Seated Forward Bends that are typically challenging for men), flows, and breathwork with high-intensity interval training to bring the heart rate up, enhancing cardiovascular fitness. In a Broga class, it’s not unusual to move from Plank to push-ups, or from Chair pose to a series of squats. Intense moves, like 60 seconds of mountain climbers or burpees, are often followed by more restorative postures.
“We bring them to the point of dripping sweat, where they’re riding their edge, big time,” Robert says. “It’s definitely a yoga class, but with more of a workout element.”
A personal trainer as well as a yoga instructor, Robert created Broga because he understands that not only do men’s bodies move differently than women’s do, their minds work differently, too.
“Yoga feels too soft to a lot of guys,” he explains. “They just want the basics. They want to know if yoga will help them with their bad back or their golf game. They want concrete results they can count on.”
With this in mind, Broga does not emphasize the spiritual aspects of yoga. No Sanskrit is spoken in class; language is kept simple and accessible; and teachers don’t focus on the more subtle body experiences. “For example, we don’t talk about opening the fourth chakra—but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. We just don’t talk about it.”
What’s spiritual about Broga, according to Robert, is that it brings men into greater connection with themselves. He sees them develop greater balance, mobility, flexibility, and strength—and also greater confidence. “Broga lifts your spirits—that’s how it’s spiritual,” he says.
Yes, regulars tell him they’ve lost weight and feel stronger. But, just as often, he hears how they’re managing stress better and feeling a greater desire to connect with their families.
“Through the experience of Broga,” Robert says, “men begin to have a deeper respect for their bodies and the quality of their lives. It’s empowering.”