Yoga for Blokes was founded by Alan Dedman in 2016 to counter a dearth of yoga classes in his immediate locality. It is designed to encourage Western males to participate in the activity. Online imagery and pre-internet yoga classes seem to assert the subject (in the West) as being almost exclusively for and by females.
People in Britain live in a chilly, damp climate. Their dietary habits and exercise behaviours operate within a narrow spectrum, largely dictated by the demands of work (or not). Western males tend to be shackled to a ‘gotta pay the mortgage’ mentality; there is little attitudinal change regarding this or the concomitant ego persona required for it.
Yoga for Blokes (& Blokettes) is a fusion of Ayurvedic lore within the parameters of Western life-style, acknowledging the customs and habits of the UK. Fast cars, beer, weight-lifting, underpants and all. We recognise our salvation might not be in wearing a loin cloth whilst pole-squatting and we do sometimes eat ‘Rajasic’ foods instead of mangoes and lentils etc.
Women have a larger pubic symphisis than men, to facilitate child-birth. The architecture of the female pelvis influences body geometry. Women also have less muscle mass and their reproductive hormones (Progesterone, Oestrogen, Relaxin etc) make them more supple and able to relax physically – putting men at what seems an unfair disadvantage (eh? what? well I never!!), when it comes to practising hatha yoga.
Women also tend to have more freedom in their schedules, allowing them to attend classes. Built around child-care, flexi-working and the home, to date it seems little has changed in that respect. If (as a man) you turn up at a 10 am yoga class in a village hall, you are a) very likely to be the only male present b) to be taught by a woman c) find yourself pondering: ‘They all think I’m a work-shy pervert or a poofter’.
During 2020, Yoga for Blokes has been disrupted by the Coronavirus pandemic. We morphed into a home based, online phenomenon. Whilst it is possible (and legal) to convene single sex events, up to a point, it would be asking for trouble to insist on the same format in people’s homes – via the internet. Thus we now welcome partners to our Tuesday evening class as ‘Blokettes’.
We maintain links with a local Hindu temple, we perform Suryana Maskar at the Summer Solstice at Stanton Drew stone circle. We meet for curry evenings and have discussions after meditation. We chant together and there are readings from the scriptures. Yoga for Blokes is by men – for men.
The focus still remains on asanas, vinyasas, pranayama and meditation – for the Western male life-style. We do not promote yoga as a competitive activity. There have been copy-cat attempts to replicate what we do (which is feeble), but the eccentricity and breadth of teaching experience brought to the subject by Alan Dedman and his motley crew, means Yoga for Blokes (& Blokettes) remains the original and best.
Roger says ‘OM’ drawn by Alan Dedman with kind permission from the editor and editorial board at Viz magazine.
All photos by Alan Dedman
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