Breathe in, bro out… Your new morning mantra?
Somewhere along the line, what may have begun as a joke among men who do yoga, Broga became, well, an actual thing. Last year, a photo essay called “Broga: The Manly Mindfulness Movement That’s Sweeping the Nation” by conceptual artist Hannah Rothstein, had a ripple effect on the Internet. It even led to a legitimate book deal. Rothstein parodied what she perceived as the seriousness of some yogis with the absurdity of bro culture, creating a hilarious body of work that features models bro-ing out in poses like “Linebacker II,” and “Man-Child’s Pose,” or instructed to “inhale epic amounts of beer” in “Kegstand.” She even designed a commemorative Broga T-shirt, with delightful little footballs arranged together like a lotus flower.
Fast Company’s Co.Exist has more:
Broga, the word, was just begging to be born. It was so inevitable that it became a sincere fitness class and a parody of itself almost simultaneously. Rothstein says she had the idea for her art project before hearing that Broga® was a real thing—a fitness movement co-founded several years ago by Massachusetts yoga trainer Robert Sidoti to create a “safe space” for men who can’t touch their toes. Claiming 450 certified instructors in 25 states and 5 countries, there may even be a Broga class near you.
Really, Rothstein’s made-up version of Broga seems more fun. She gets the Broga trend though: “I don’t believe it’s hit the West Coast; it’s reasonably accepted for guys to go to regular yoga here, at least in the Bay Area, but having lived on the East Coast, I understand the utility of branding yoga classes for dudes,” she says.
You read that right—all satire aside, Broga is indeed a real, systematic practice. But you won’t see any fist pumps, chest bumps or head-butting, and yet, incense, deities, and holy texts are also obsolete. More fitness than flow; less mantra and more manly, Robert Sidoti’s Broga yoga attracts men who may have dismissed regular yoga classes before. Whether it was their inability to touch their toes, or feeling polarized or off-put by spiritual connotations, many men have long avoided what has been labeled in the West as a woman’s world, despite the fact that the practice was originally developed by men.
Broga is straightforward, with simple cues and instructions designed for men—and even women—who are more drawn to the physical, rather than spiritual side of the practice. Throughout the class a dialogue exists between the instructor (who is often a woman) and students, which might make some budding brogis more comfortable in an unfamiliar setting. The popularity of Broga has attracted over 12,000 students over recent years.
Broga still claims to help you connect with your body, achieve mental clarity, relieve stress and get fit, and is accessible to the out of shape beginner or fitness buff. Class structure will place emphasis on strengthening the back, chest and core, while modifying poses that require hamstring flexibility, since many men are known to have tight hamstrings. Broga is just one of the many ways that yoga and fitness have converged, putting a contemporary spin on an ancient discipline. Sweat it to get it, bro.
Read more on the Broga trend from Reuters:
Men who crave the benefits of yoga, but recoil at sharing the experience with a room full of women are turning to Broga, a rugged take on the 3,000-year-old practice of movement and breath. Broga celebrates the physical over the spiritual, and strength over flexibility. Experts say it sets men free to flex tight hamstrings without hearing invocations to Hindu deities or feeling inept next to a woman twisted like a pretzel.
“I consider myself an athletic guy, but have never been flexible and didn’t like the thought of embarrassing myself in front of a group of women,” said financial analyst Eric Wright, 22, of San Jose, California. Wright and his male colleagues use the video streaming service Grokker to practice.
“On Wednesdays we have a standing Broga appointment and anywhere from five to eight others will join me,” he said.
Grokker founder and Chief Executive Officer Lorna Borenstein said more men are adding yoga to their exercise routines as a cross-training tool for flexibility and improving recovery time.
“Men are a little late to the party, but we’re seeing more men in the workplace who find time to do yoga together a few times a week,” she said.
Better late than never, right? While more men are certainly hitting the yoga studio these days, if a less dogmatic, idealized form of the practice can appeal to an even larger male demographic, then why not bro-down? Whatever allows that inner (man)child to come out and play is a spiritual experience, and is still representative of what yoga is really all about. If anything, Broga is a welcome reminder not to take our practice so seriously.
Andrea Rice is the Practice and Community Editor for Wanderlust Media. She is also a writer and yoga teacher. Her work has also appeared in The New York Times, Yoga Journal, SONIMA, mindbodygreen, and a variety of online magazines. Her teaching style is a blend of her love for music and intuitive movement, with emphasis on core strength. You can find her regular classes at shambhala yoga & dance center in Brooklyn, and often as a guest teacher for Deep House Yoga. Connect with Andrea on Instagram and Twitter.