In the UK there are close to 460,000 people taking yoga classes each week. Despite an increasing number of classes like ‘Broga’ and ‘Stiff Guy Yoga’ geared towards men, and countless male yoga ambassadors from Andy Murray and Ryan Giggs to David Beckham and Russell Brand, (not to mention every superhero from Batman to Wolverine…), there is still a vast difference in the number of men and women who practice yoga, with men making up just over a quarter. But since the 2020 coronavirus quarantine, when search interest in yoga went through the roof, this may all be set to change. Couples yoga may be on the rise, as lockdown provided an opportunity for many men to get acquainted with the ancient tradition in the comfort of their own homes, often with encouragement from their partners.
One such couple is founder of Mad to Live Retreats, Sophie Everard and her scientist fiancé, Skye, who, after spending an intense amount of time together during lockdown, emerged the other side, engaged and with a shared love of yoga.
Couples yoga goals
Whilst Sophie has been practising yoga for 15 years and has tried just about everything from power and ashtanga to yin and vinyasa, Skye was fairly new to it before meeting Sophie. “I never really had someone I could consistently do it with”, he says.
Now, thanks to Sophie’s encouragement, they practice regularly together at home during calming couples yoga “Sunday sessions” and in the studio when they get a chance, at Move Your Frame in London.
“Sophie and I are always go-go-go and it’s really nice to have these calming yoga sessions together to unwind”, Skye says. “Usually it’s on the weekend and it’s amazing how it just puts you in this place of great mental and physical wellbeing. It also really helps that she has a few moves up her sleeve, so we can just spontaneously do a session when we’re in the mood.
I wish we did yoga together more
We always joke that Sundays are for lovers and somehow that’s usually when we get to do yoga together” he says. “For me, it brings a calmness that’s really nice to enjoy together over the weekend – to just slow down. To take some time to enjoy being in each other’s company. I just wish we did more”.
Sophie adds: “With both our lives so busy and mentally (and physically for me) demanding, we can find it hard to slow down and tune out, we’re both kind of adrenaline junkies too. It creates time for us to just breathe together, to be still, and if we’re doing more energetic yoga, play and enjoy our bodies”.
Why more guys should practice yoga
While meditation is a new age practice that is a growing trend among business leaders, many of them male, yoga continues to present a barrier for men. According to journalist Eric Niiler of the Washington Post, this is due to “yoga myths” such as: “Yoga isn’t a decent workout; it’s too touchy-feely; you have to be flexible to do it; men’s bodies just aren’t built for pretzellike poses”.
But despite being new to yoga, Skye says he doesn’t feel intimidated by going to classes. “Even though I am a complete beginner I am honest with myself and with the instructors and don’t push my ability too much. It’s sometimes nice doing it at home but I do like the change of scene of a class and learning new things”.
On why more guys should practice yoga, he says: “Too often, we guys just focus on physical exercise and it’s easy to get obsessed with just one thing. Hitting the gym all the time, surfing, cycling or running. But Yoga is a great way to round out that fitness and I really notice that flexibility helping me in all the sports I do. But more importantly, it teaches you about yourself, about your body, about how you feel and about what it feels like to decompress and change your perspective. I know, based on my own experience and from conversations with other guys, that this isn’t something most of us routinely experience or do. So Yoga, which I like to view as a form of meditation, is a must!”
On how else Sophie gets him out of his comfort zone, Skye says: “Where to start. She’s always encouraging me to find my limits physically, pushing me to get healthier and fitter! I’ve always enjoyed getting fit but frankly, needed some whipping into shape. I never knew a HIIT class could be that tough until I did a few with her… It’s humbling to be thrashed at exercise by your partner and it really motivates you to get fitter.”
Sophie & Skye’s top yoga instructors, accessories and kit
Sophie: “My favourite instructors are Marc Laws, Nick Ellisias and Lucy Sweeney. I love kit that hugs but also has that chill, soft feel, especially in yoga pants. Give me a comfy sports bra, some supportive but soft and relaxed pants, and I’m stoked”.
Skye: “For me investing in a good mat is a must! Also, I love wearing long stretchy trousers and a long baggy shirt so it’s not always riding up. Feeling covered with good freedom of movement is really nice for yoga. And I have to say the long t-shirt from Nike really did the trick!”
Feeling inspired to try some couples yoga? Sophie and Skye share the 3 reasons why everyone should practice yoga with their partner:
1. It’s a great practice of self-love, where your phone can’t bother you and you can really tune into yourself. Sharing that with a partner is amazing, listening to each other’s breathing, having fun and supporting each other.
2. It’s a fun and relaxing activity to do together.
3. It’s a great way to put you both in the same mood.
This is a partnership feature with Nike
Get your weekly DOSE fix here: SIGN UP FOR OUR NEWSLETTER