As the In-house Yogi at Clif Bar & Co, I have enjoyed the challenge of introducing many dudes to yoga. After instructing sarcastic, athletic guys I now understand how to capture their attention and respect.
1. To build locker-room style camaraderie, refer to everyone by their last names.
2. Don’t hand out blocks. Use an underhanded toss. Anything that resembles playing catch will build competency.
3. Bring extra towels for the puddles of sweat. During abdominal breathing at the start of class, some guys have already started sweating.
4. Make the class challenging enough so they feel like they are getting something done. Suffering apparently equals productivity.
5. In each pose, emphasize the dristi (gaze points). The gaze rarely includes the cleavage bubbling out of the tight tank top on the neighboring mat.
6. With tight, seated twists or cobra give them a few extra moments to make the needed adjustments.
7. Downplay the competitive elements of the practice while noting which poses will improve their golf swing, marathon time, or cycling skills.
8. Avoid esoteric, new age language. However, don’t be afraid to throw out some obscure anatomical references. Any remotely “scientific” terminology will earn respect.
9. Unlike seasoned yoginis, tight dudes can’t always take a deep, physical adjustments. Be tender.
10. Reassure them that their hamstrings will get more flexible.
11. To ensure that everyone feels safe, don’t hit on students.
12. Have fun. While keeping the class on track, allow for self-deprecating humor and irreverent commiserating. Guys could teach us that we don’t need to be quite so serious about yoga.