The Gender Divide in Yoga

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malefemaleMy simplest comment is that my classes taught by male teachers tend to be more physically challenging than my classes taught by female teachers, even when the class “level” on the schedule is the same. This might be sexist of me. It might be because what is physically challenging for me personally is not the same as what is physically challenging for most men – perhaps my man teachers are not making classes hard objectively, but rather the sequences and poses they choose are just hard for me.

However I suspect there is a different cause:

I think men are less culturally conditioned to please everyone. I wonder if, when female teachers see students struggling, or tired, they are tempted to choose easier, slower sequences, and more basic poses, to make students feel more confident. I think male teachers are less likely to feel this pressure to please students. Perhaps if the class is hard and the teacher is female, students tend to think the teacher did something wrong, whereas if the class is hard and the teacher is male, students tend to think they need to work harder (or something).

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2 responses »

  1. Take arm balances as an example, where you hear stuff such as: now JUST lift yourself up. – sorry, what? I don’t have the upper body strength to go from down dog in hand stand without jumping. 😉 And unsurprisingly, most pregnancy yoga teachers are female, even though they might not have children themselves.

  2. Interesting – and true! I guess as much as we might try, it can be hard to understand when others struggle with something that comes naturally to us, you know? Like, I really can’t understand how someone cannot do eagle arms … but lots of guys can’t and it’s because of (shoulder? forearm?) muscles. And even now that there are poses I can do easily that I struggled with before – it’s hard to remember what that was like.

    I guess I didn’t make it very clear, but usually I like going to classes with male teachers, because I like to be challenged!

    Now I want to write a post about arm balances too!… 🙂

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