In recent years yoga in all its forms has gone from being a marginalised exercise to a way of life for many and its popularity is largely down to the undeniable health benefits, including improving posture, alleviating pain and reducing stress.
According to statistics, the interest in yoga in the UK rises by 73pc every year – with close to 460,000 of us participating in yoga classes every week. There is still a vast difference, however, in the number of men and women who practice yoga, as men make up just over a quarter of those practicing.
But, spurred on by a recurring bulging disc issue in his spine, men’s style editor Stephen Doig was enticed by the USP behind Stiff Guy Yoga and explored the incentives behind it.
How did Stiff Guy Yoga start?
Lawyer-turned-yoga teacher Nikki Lynds-Xavier set up Stiff Guy Yoga at a studio in Winchester to counter ‘airy-fairy’ perceptions of yoga and appeal to the average man who might otherwise be put off. Lynds-Xavier found that the idea of twinkly Indian music, incense and ‘oms’ was off-putting to men, particularly beginners. ‘Men were nervous about joining up, expecting classes full of advanced people bending themselves into all sorts of shapes. But with my class, it’s just about the yoga, nothing else,’ she says.
Why is it yoga just for men?
For the reasons above and also because men’s bodies have different needs – our hips are naturally just tighter, for example. Lynds-Xavier also points out that men tend to do more physical activity when they’re young and either stop, in which case muscles seize up, or continue and experience tight hips and hamstrings. Traditional ‘men’s’ exercise also tends to focus on leaning forward – rowing, lifting weights, cycling etc – which can lead to more back problems. This is why Lynds-Xavier’s routines focus on alleviating all of these issues. ‘It’s about gentle, targeted and adapted poses so that my clients can open up gradually,’ she says.
What are the work out sessions like?
Lynds-Xavier takes a class in Winchester, as well as seeing private clients. We meet in a blustery park near my south London home and immediately the poses are different to ones I’m used to – there’s less strain on my problematic back …….