Broga: Men’s Yoga for Mind and Body

Posted on August 2nd, 2014 by in Yoga

brogaDrive 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.

The gender imbalance doesn’t surprise Robert Sidoti, creator and cofounder of Broga, a yoga program designed specifically for men.

“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.”

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About Portland Helmich

Portland is the creator, host, and producer of the Kripalu Perspectives podcast series. She's also is the creator, host, and executive producer of What’s the Alternative?, a series of 52 half-hour talk shows about natural and alternative forms of healing the body-mind on Veria Living TV, a natural health channel on DISH, FiOS, and Frontier. For 15 years, Portland’s been investigating natural health and healing as a host, reporter, writer, and producer. She's been an alternative medicine correspondent for Oxygen, a health reporter for The American Consumer on PBS, and was the creator, host, and executive producer of Journeys Into Healing on Wisdom Television. She produced for HealthWeek and Healing Quest on PBS and was a medical producer for WCVB-TV (Boston’s ABC News affiliate). She’s also covered the subject as a freelance writer for Body + Soul, Alternative Medicine, and Spa magazines. Portland currently lives in Boston and produces other natural health programming for Veria Living TV.
  • jen

    This approach is great since it takes into account the physical differences of men and women but it sells men short confining them to a very physical box and implying they cannot get things out of pranayama, mantra or meditation in a yoga class.

    • KripaluEditor

      Hi Jen,

      Interesting point! No minimization of anyone’s experience is intended here. The writer is simply articulating Robert’s perspective and differences between various populations in the yoga studio.

      Thanks for reading!
      Be well!

    • Tupelo

      That’s kind of where I get a little worried about it too. Why can’t men be brought to the same appreciation of all that you mentioned? Could it not be approached a different way? Most of the men I have taught are VERY open to all that, but if approached through a more analytical or scientific method, they are even MORE intrigued and willing to try.

      • KripaluEditor

        Hi Tupelo!

        Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

        Totally agree! Men can absolutely be brought to the same appreciation. What Robert and the writer discuss is more the different-strokes-for-different-folks approach. This isn’t about oversimplification and we don’t endorse dumbing down anything when it comes to yoga—ever!

        Best to you,
        Kim, Kripalu Editor

  • Tupelo

    Torn between the idea of dumbing it down because men “can’t handle it”. Could there be a happy medium, like finding a way for the more experienced practitioners to delve into the wonderful benefits of meditation, different breathing exercises, and to teach about the chakras in a more anatomical way? I teach chakra workshops and the men seem to really like the idea of “oh, this is where my solar plexus is? My thymus gland? What does that do? Oh wow, I didn’t know that!”

  • Samantha

    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. Actually you don’t have to talk about chakras and in Sanskrit to do yoga and be spiritual. In fact talking takes away from the experience. It’s ok that some choose not to chant AUM. It’s the silence that the postures brings one to that is the spiritual pool we all crave to dive into. It has nothing to do with the outer. That is just the means to an end. When we get too wrapped up in the means we forget to let go and experience the glimmers of that silence that is the byproduct of doing the poses. That is what is important. We are trying to bypass the mind. Not engage it in comparison and evaluations. Interesting that it’s really the men that are at the forefront of the yoga lineages that have endured and yet we have to start a separate yoga for the men. That is the interesting thing that is going on with Yoga in the West. We need not focus on the pelvic floor but on letting go of all pre-conceptions of what it should or shouldn’t be. Namaste. http://www.girlskirtmission.com